Holy Orders

Holy Orders
The sacrament of Holy Orders confers on men, called by God and the people of God to carry on Christ’s mission in the world today. The sacrament assures the continuation of the apostolic succession which began when Jesus gave authority to Peter and the other disciples to minister in His name. Peter and the Apostles then passed on this authority to other men who assisted in spreading the Gospel. The Sacrament of Holy Orders leaves an indelible mark on the soul of the one ordained therefore it can only be conferred once. St Teresa puts into words the essential vocation of the priesthood:

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth, yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now” (St Teresa of Avila)

Are there different levels of Ordination?
Yes, there are actually three levels of Holy Orders; The Diaconate where men are ordained to assist at the altar of the Eucharist and proclaim and preach the Gospel. There are two types of Deacons; 1) permanent Deacons, usually reserved for men who are married; 2) Transitional deacons, those who will later be ordained to the priesthood at a time determined by their bishop. The second degree is the presbyterate (priest). The priest is ordained to be a co-worker of the bishop. The priest is able to celebrate the Mass and be the minster in the sacrament of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick in addition to the performing the roles of the Deacon. The Third degree is the Episcopate (bishops) where the “fullness of this sacrament” is conferred (CCC1555).

Who can receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders?
Holy orders is conferred on baptized men who have been properly prepared to receive this sacrament, have demonstrated a virtuous life and are celibate (except men ordained to permanent diaconate). Jesus chose twelve men to continue His ministry and the Apostles, in like manner, further chose men to assist them and continue the ministry of spreading the Gospel.

How do I know if I am called to the Priesthood or Diaconate?
Determining if you might have a call is a process that takes prayer, spiritual direction and conversations with your pastor, family and friends. The call to the priesthood is a very personal experience and is different for everyone. The call requires a time of reflection, study, prayer and discernment. The Church is well prepared to help men seek and find God’s calling for their life.

How can I find out more about exploring a vocation?
Contact your pastor first. He will be the first person to help you in your discernment and he can also provide you with contact information for the vocations office in your Diocese.

What education is required for Holy Orders?
Candidates must have a four year college degree that includes courses in philosophy. In addition the candidate will attend a four year seminary for both theological studies and spiritual formation. The seminary is determined by the bishop.

Fr. Kevin M. Dillon, Pastor
203-453-2788 x207

Fr. Anthony Federico
Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Hartford

To contact the Office of Vocations, visit hartfordpriest.com or call (860) 761-7456.