Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. the faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood.”
The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace – a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit – the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.
In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in the person of Christ the Head.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1546-1548)
The whole Church, indeed the whole people of God, rejoices with you and prays with you full of hope as you discern the call to ministerial priesthood and the permanent diaconate. You are embarking on the journey of a lifetime!
Our church puts great emphasis on the process of discerning your vocation. Contact the pastor at our rectory for help in this process of discernment.
Distinctive preparation for embracing the call to Holy Orders, both the ministerial priesthood and the permanent diaconate, is provided and directed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood.
Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.
Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy.” This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church’s mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should “be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1570-1571)
Our diocesan seminary, St. Charles Seminary, hosts the School of Diaconal Formation for the preparation of men aged 29 through 55 for ordination to the permanent diaconate.
Contact the pastor at our rectory for further help.