Holy Orders

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” (Isaiah 6:8)

Ordination to the priesthood is always a call and a gift from God. Christ reminded His Apostles that they needed to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest.  Those who seek priesthood respond generously to God’s call.  This call from God can be recognized and understood from the daily signs that disclose His will to those in charge of discerning the vocation of the candidate.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Jesus Christ’s priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles.  There are three levels of participation in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: as bishop, as priest, and as deacon. Each level of ordination confers special graces, from the ability to preach, granted to deacons; to the ability to act in the person of Christ to offer the Mass, granted to priests; to a special grace of strength, granted to bishops, which allows him to teach and lead his flock, even to the point of dying as Christ did.

Consecrated Religious Life is for those men and women who feel called to serve God in a community of people sharing a similar apostolate. Religious life mostly fall into one of two categories; those with simple and renewable vows and those with solemn vows.  Within religious communities of men, there are those who are also called to the priesthood.  This differs from diocesan priesthood in that the religious priest pledges affinity to the order and its superiors rather than to a bishop of a diocese.  Religious orders have a wide variety of ministries ranging from teaching and nursing to missionary work and contemplative prayer.  Parish clergy or the Diocesan Vocation Director is available to answer questions about religious life as a lay brother or sister as well as the cloistered monk or nun.

Pope The bishop of Rome, vicar of Christ on earth, successor of St. Peter, visible head of the whole Catholic Church.
Cardinal An honorary title given to priests or bishops because of their important positions in the Church; Cardinals elect the new Pope.
Bishop Rules over the people and priests of his diocese; can give Confirmation and Holy Orders.
Monsignor A priest gets this honorary title from the Pope because of his important position in the Church.
Pastor Rules over a parish; is subject to the bishop of the diocese.
Priest Diocesan priests work in a diocese; religious priests belong to a religious order – like the Franciscans, Dominicans, etc…
Monk Monks live in a monastery, follow a strict rule under a superior – like the Benedictines and the Trappists; some are priests, others are brothers.
Brother A man dedicated to teaching, hospital work or contemplation; takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but does not receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Sister A woman dedicated to teaching, hospital or social work, or contemplation; takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and belongs to a religious order or community.  Cloistered sisters are usually called nuns; loosely speaking, all sisters are often called nuns.


Is God calling you to live the religious life as Priest, Brother or Sister?  Please call the Rectory (609) 585 7049  to arrange a meeting with one of our priests who will assist you in this journey.  In turn you will be entrusted to one of the diocesan staff who will assist you in discerning a possible vocation –  Ministry of Vocations of the Diocese of Trenton.