Holy Orders provides a spiritual pathway for activating the priesthood already embedded in every human being. Holy orders are conferred by a bishop in an ordination service. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ's priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles; thus, the Catechism of the Church refers to the Sacrament of Holy Orders as "the Sacrament of Apostolic Ministry."
Priestly formation is erudite, esoteric, informed, and meaningful. Seminarians possess a strong desire to practice the Sacramental Way, a spiritual practice involving daily prayer and the regular celebration of the Eucharist (aka Mass, Liturgy). Since we are talking "apostolic," and Apostolic by definition refers directly to the students (apostles) of the Man from Galilee, seminarians are required to have a love for the great Teacher and Way-Shower, Jesus the Christ (ΣΩΤΗΡ-Soter). Candidates must have an interest in his life, and a strong desire to spread his Zen-like teachings of Awakening to their fellow humans.
There are Seven Holy Orders. First, seminarians go through the four minor orders, (Porter, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte). After these four Minor Orders are the three Major Orders: Subdeacon (or f. Deaconess), Deacon (or f. Diakonissa), and the Holy Priesthood. The apostolic line of Holy Priesthood originated with Iesous Kristos (Ο Ίους Κρίστος) himself. The Apostolic authority has been passed from bishop to bishop and bishop to priest for two millennia now.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders can be validly conferred only on baptized individuals. A person cannot demand ordination; the Church has the authority to determine eligibility for the Sacrament.
All families of the Exarchate are encouraged to help their children listen to the call of The Divine. We often use the term "discernment" when talking about this process which simply means "to know" or "to find out". If you believe you or someone you know has a call to serve The Divine as a member of the ordained one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church community, contact the office of the Bishop. Click HERE for more information.
For additional information regarding our Theological Seminary and priestly formation please click here, or contact The Program Administrator, The Most Reverend Angela DeBry, Th.D., D.D., at BishopAngela@theseminary.org.
‘Receive the power to offer the Sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Masses, both for the living and the dead.’
‘Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained.’ (John 20:22)
Tonsure is not an order, but a preparation for orders. This is when a seminarian becomes a cleric.
Porter, the first of the minor orders. The Porter has the responsibility of guarding the church building and making sure that no one disturbs the priest(ess) while offering the Sacred Liturgy.
The Lector (Reader) is to read in church in a clear and distinct voice from the Old and New Testament, especially those which are read during the Nocturnal Office or Psalmody. S/He also teaches the fundamentals of the Catholic faith.
Exorcist is given the power to invoke the name of the Lord over those who are possessed by unclean spirits.
Acolyte has the duty to attend and serve the ministers who are in Major Orders in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. They are called candle-bearers and take care of the lights and empty cruets during the Holy Mass.
A Subdeacon (f. Deaconess) is the first of the sacred orders. They are to serve the Deacon at the Altar. They prepare the altar-linen, vessels, host, and wine for Holy Mass. The Subdeacon presents the water to the Bishop or priests to wash their hands. S/He reads the Epistle and guards the celebrant against being disturbed during any sacred ceremony.
Deacon (f. Diakonissa) the second degree of Sacred Orders. Duties are to be always on the side of the bishop, guard while Bishop preaches, serve both the Bishop and the priest(ess) during the celebrations of the Sacraments. The Deacon is also who reads the Gospel during Holy Mass. S/He reminds people to be attentive to the holy mysteries. S/He also administrates the Precious Blood in areas of the world that the faithful receive the Eucharist under both species. S/He also distributes the Church’s goods to the needy. S/He reads out the list of the catechumens and presents them to the bishop those who were to be admitted to holy orders. S/He can read the Gospel from the pulpit only if the Bishop or priest is not present.
The highest degree of Sacred Orders is the priesthood. There is the Internal Priesthood and the External Priesthood. The internal priesthood is what all people, (the faithful), are given at baptism. The External Priesthood is only given to those who have been ordained and consecrated to God by the lawful imposition of hands and by the solemn ceremonies of the Church through the bishop. This is Holy Order of the Priesthood.