"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."
- Catechism of the Catholic Church #1536
Holy Orders, in the Catholic Church, is the sacrament through which men are ordained as deacons, priests and bishops. It maintains the continuity of the apostles whereby each ordained person is ordained by a successor of an original apostle of Jesus Christ.
There are three levels of participation in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: as bishop, as priest (from presbyter, which is Greek for "elder"), and as a deacon.
A bishop receives the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He is the head or Ordinary of the local Church. The local area entrusted to him is called a diocese. A bishop is also a member of the episcopal college: this is all the bishops who, with the pope, guide the Church.
Priests serve the community in various ways. They may be called to serve in their dioceses or as religious order priests, carrying out the mission of a particular religious community. They preside at liturgies, preach, administer the sacraments, counsel people, serve as pastors, and teach.
Deacons help and serve the bishops by serving the needs of the Church, proclaiming the Gospel, teaching and preaching, baptizing, witnessing marriages, and assisting the priest celebrant at liturgies.
Sacraments 101: Holy Orders (What Ordination Means)
Join Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, as he explains what Holy Orders are in the Catholic Church, what happens at an Ordination, and what it means to say YES to God.
What is the Permanent Diaconate?
We invite you to view this informative video on the diaconate, its origins, meaning and varied ministries, with Archbishop of Winnipeg Richard Gagnon, and Archbishop Albert LeGatt.
Visit the Archdiocese of St. Boniface website to learn more about vocations under the Diocesan Services tab.
Diocesan Prayer for Vocations
God, our Father,
you call us to believe in you,
to accept lovingly your Son Jesus
and to be open to the Holy Spirit
for the service of our brothers and sisters.
We thank you
for the confidence you show us
in calling us to share in your plan of salvation.
Help us to discern
how we can work with you
as committed lay people, married or single,
as priests or deacons,
as religious or missionaries.
Awaken in each of us
the courage to respond to your call
by an ever-growing gift of self.
Grant the grace of fidelity and eternal life
to those who are called, like the Apostles,
to follow Christ whole-heartedly.