What is Holy Orders?
There are three degrees to the Sacrament of Holy Orders: Deacon (diaconate), Priest (presbyterate) and Bishop (episcopate). You may be called to a special ministry in the church as a Permanent Deacon, or may be ordained a Deacon for the last year of the journey towards priesthood. Generally after 6 or 7 years of study, discernment and practical ministry at Seminary (a 'trainee priest college') a Seminarian ('trainee priest') will be ordained as a priest to serve in the particular Diocese they applied for (usually their home Diocese).
A Catholic priest who administers the Sacraments acts not on the basis of his own power or moral perfection...but rather 'in Persona Christi'. Through his ordination, the transforming, healing ,saving power of Christ is grafted onto him. Because a priest has nothing of his own, he is above all a servant. The distinguishing characteristic of every authentic priest, therefore, is humble astonishment at his own vocation
(Taken from the YouCat)
A small minority of priests will be ordained as a Bishop, called to this particular service and ministry by the Pope himself, the Bishop leads the priests and deacons and is the visible foundation and shepherd of all the faithful in the local church (the Diocese).
"The priest continues Christ's work of redemption on Earth"
St John Vianney (Patron Saint of Priests)
Without the priesthood there would be no local church and we need to encourage vocations in our families and parishes. Please continue to pray for the Bishop, Priests, Deacons and Seminarians in our Diocese and for more of the faithful to respond to the call of the priesthood in their lives.
Who is it for?
Ordination to Deacon, Priest or Bishop is open to any baptised, un-married, Catholic man. There is a lot of prayer, education, training and practise that a man will go through if accepted as a seminarian to train for the priesthood. The calling may come at any time in life so seminarians range from those that are young adults through to those who are closer to retirement age.
What happens during Holy Orders?
Once accepted as a seminarian you will be invited to join the seminary which means you will move to live and learn at the college (often Oscott college in Birmingham for our seminarians). There you will enter into community living with fellow seminarians at different years of their journey towards priesthood. You will learn, pray, eat, socialise and grow together while also receiving guidance and leadership from experienced Priests and tutors who serve in the seminary. As we know well in Corby, seminarians will have short and long placements in parishes as part of their journey so they can experience the daily life of a Priest in the world today.
At the end of the penultimate year of seminary the seminarian will be ordained a Deacon and at the end of their final year will, God willing, be ordained a Priest. Traditionally the ordination Mass will take place at the Cathedral of the Diocese, with all those that are ready being ordained in the same celebration. The newly ordained Priest will celebrate their first Mass in the following days at their home parish, starting their life of priestly ministry for the Church.
The call to Holy Orders is a beautiful vocation in life. Like marriage it is a lifelong commitment and as such is an important decision to think and pray about (discernment). To help with this discernment the Diocese offers vocations weekends for young men thinking about the priesthood as a chance to join with others who are in a similar situation, and to explore what this calling could mean. If you are thinking you may be called to the Priesthood the best place to start would be to talk with one of our priests. It might be helpful just to have the conversation but they will also be able to point you in the right direction for any next steps.