The word ‘order’ comes from Latin referring to a civil or governing body. The Church borrowed this term for certain groups of persons, such as widows, virgins, spouses, catechumens … as well as bishops, priests and deacons.
A Brief History of Orders: The bishops or episcopos (Greek for overseers) were the first to be recognized as special recipients of sacramental grace, beginning with the Apostles commissioned by Christ at the Last Supper, and then their successors. As the Church grew these men were assisted by the prebyteros (Greek for elders) and the diakonoi (Greek for those who served or assisted.) The order of presbyter or priest did not become sacramental until around the third to fourth century, when the bishops were no longer capable of caring for the rapidly growing Christian communities on their own. The office of deacon was at first one of charitable care for the community, leaving the bishops free for liturgical and sacramental responsibilities. In the fourth century they changed into assistants to the bishop at liturgical services, and then began to fade out of existence around the 10th century, except as a transitional stage leading to priesthood. After Vatican II the diaconate was reinstated, and is commonly known as the permanent diaconate.
Ordination refers to a rite, a religious and liturgical act, which integrates an individual into one of the three orders or degrees of Holy Orders (bishop, priest or deacon.) Ordination confers that gift of the Holy Spirit which permits one to exercise a “sacred power.” The priesthood comes from Christ himself, and is established for a life in service to the Church Ö the People of God. The ministerial priesthood shares in the one priesthood of Christ. Ordination, like Baptism and Confirmation, is said to leave a permanent imprint or indelible mark upon the character of the recipient. It is the culmination of a process of (1) discernment, where a call from God to a life of service is realized, (2) a period of study or preparation, and spiritual growth, and the (3) confirmation by those given the responsibility of testing that call.
Father Michael Suszynski
Telephone: (813) 885-7861
or our Diocesan Vocations Director Father John Blum
Telephone: (727) 345-3338, ext. 348