Holy Orders Answering God’s call to serve

"Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles is exercised in the Church until the end of time. It is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, Presbyterate and diaconate."

- Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1356

People who believe they are called to ordained ministry or to the religious life may visit the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul Office of Vocations or call 651.962.6890.


The word ordo or order is taken from the Roman times, when it designated a group of people. It was mostly used to refer to a governing body. The Latin word ordinatio means incorporation into such an ordo.

The Catholic tradition has numerous such orders: the order of catechumen; the order of virgins; the order of spouses; the order of widows; religious orders that denote groups of monks or nuns who live according the same religious rule. There also is the ordoepiscoporum (bishops), the ordopresbyterorum (priests) and the ordodiaconorum (deacons).

The Latin verb ordination, “ordering,” was used to incorporate a person into a specific order. These ordinations could be elaborate or simple ceremonies comprised of a consecration or blessing.

Today the word ordination is only used when referring to the sacramental act by which a man is integrated into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons.

Through the laying on of hands, a consecratory, and an anointing for bishops and presbyters, the ordaining bishop(s) confer(s) a gift of the Holy Spirit that allows for the celebration of the sacraments proper to the respective order of bishop, priest and deacon.


  • Bishops, presbyters and deacons are ordained for different sacred ministries.
  • Bishop: direct successor of the Apostles. His principle task is to teach,sanctify and shepherd the members of the Church.
  • Presbyter: assists the bishops in their ministry, celebrates the Eucharist,administers the Sacraments and spreads the Good News.
  • Deacon: assists the bishops and priests. A deacon assists at the Eucharist, distributes Holy Communion, baptizes, blesses marriages, proclaims and preaches the Gospel, presides over funerals and above all, dedicates himself to ministries of charity.

Role of the Community

Those celebrating this sacrament are called forth by the community and ordained to serve in the community. They are supported through the prayers and faith of the community.

All Christians are called to be a gift of self to one another, and not just with family members and friends. Some of us are also called by God to be total gift of self to the People of God, the Church — as prayerful catalysts of spirituality and active love among other disciples of Jesus Christ.