All members of the Church participate in the priesthood of believers through Baptism. However, some men are called to serve Jesus and the Church through the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. By their leadership, priests help continue Jesus’ presence on earth in the tradition of the apostles.
Those who are called to be priests are ordained through the Rite of Ordination. In celebrating this Rite, men receive a permanent spiritual mark, called a character, signifying that they represent Jesus’ presence in the Church.
There are three levels of participation in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: as bishop, as priest (from presbyter, which is Greek for “elder”), and as deacon.
A bishop receives the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He is the head or Ordinary of the local church. The local area entrusted to him is called a diocese. A bishop is also a member of the episcopal college: this is all the bishops who, with the pope, guide the Church.
Priests serve the community in various ways. They may be called to serve in their dioceses or as religious order priests, carrying out the mission of a particular religious community. They preside at liturgies, preach, administer the sacraments, counsel people, serve as pastors, and teach.
Deacons help and serve bishops by serving the needs of the Church, proclaiming the gospel, teaching and preaching, baptizing, witnessing marriages, and assisting the priest celebrant at liturgies. ~ Jim Campbell, author of 52 Simple Ways to Talk to Your Kids about Faith
Learn more at Loyola Press-A Jesuit Ministry.