Holy Orders is one Sacrament in three degrees: the episcopate (bishop), the presbyterate (priest), and the diaconate (deacon). These Orders are a participation in the apostolic offices of teaching, sanctifying, and governing given by the Lord Jesus to the Twelve. Bishops are the successors to the Apostles, and a bishop is the chief shepherd of his diocese. Priests are special co-workers with the bishops, ordained and appointed by their bishops to especially administer the holy Sacraments to the faithful. Deacons are ordained for service, proclamation of the Word, and for charity.
At ordination, the soul of a priest is forever changed, and he is then enabled to act in the person of Christ the Head. The Church chooses her priests from those also called by God to a life of celibacy – perpetual chastity – for the sake of the Kingdom and total devotion to the Bride of Christ, the Church (read Matt. 19:12 & 1 Cor 7:32-34 – serving Christ with an undivided heart). As a married man is called to devote himself completely to his wife and family, so the priest is called through the gift of celibacy to devote his entire self to the Church and his family born of Baptism, the parish to which he is assigned.
If you are a man who is feeling called to serve Christ as a priest, contact one of our priests here at St. Mary’s; or you may contact Fr. Rhett Williams at the Vocations office of the Diocese of Charleston.