Holy Orders

What Are Holy Orders?

“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate” (CCC 1536).

I think I might have a vocation to the priesthood.

Great! Our Diocese has a website dedicated to priestly vocations. Please check it out for more information, including how to get in touch with our Vocation Director.

Why does the Catholic Church only ordain men to be priests?

Since Jesus Christ founded it, the Catholic Church has reserved the ordination of priests to men. This is not because the Church believes that women have less dignity than men. The reason is simply that we strive to follow the lead of our Lord. Jesus did not ordain women to the priesthood. We do not really know why he did not do this, we simply know that he did not do it. We do know, however, that it had nothing to do with the social norms of the day. We see him breaking those thoughout the Gospel (see in particular John 4:1-42 where the disciples are amazed that he is speaking to a woman). Since Jesus himself did not ordain women, the Church feels that it has no authority to do it either. This is now a matter of faith, any priest who declares otherwise is wrong and against the definitive teaching of the Catholic Church: women will never be priests. The teachings of JP II are definitive and he has denied permission for any further discussion on this topic of woman priests. Here what he said in the apostolic letter ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS (1994): “In order that all doubt be removed . . . in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren, I declare that the Church has NO AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER [emphasis in original] to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitely held by all the Church’s faithful.” Apostolic Letter: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of John Paul II To The Bishops of The Catholic Church on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone

Why do Roman Catholic priests live celibate lives?

Catholic priests of the Latin Rite live celibate lives for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the priest strives to imitate Christ. Since Jesus lived a celibate life, priests of the Latin Rite in the Catholic Church also live celibate lives. This celibacy is lived for the sake of the kingdom of God. It frees the priest so that he can dedicate his entire life to the needs of the Church.