Holy Orders PDF Print E-mail

The sacrament of Holy Orders configures a man to Christ as head and shepherd within the Church. There are 3 levels within the sacrament of Holy Orders: Deacon, Priest, and Bishop.


All Christians are called to charity, but the deacon is the one who is officially sent or ordained by the Church to bring Christ to those in need by his actions and deeds. The deacon also inspires and supports others in charitable work taking care not to minimize or overshadow their efforts.

Single men can be ordained to the Diaconate as part of their formation for Priesthood.  These are considered “Transitional Deacons.”  In these cases they are still in formation for Priesthood and serve for a limited time (anywhere from 3-16 months).

After the second Vatican Council, the Church restored the ancient practice of the Permanent Diaconate.  These are married men who the church intends will serve as deacons on a permanent basis, and will most likely not be ordained to the Priesthood. The mandate of the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Toronto is to work with those pushed to the fringes of society by crime, poverty, age, or sickness. At ordination, following four years of formation, the deacon is appointed as an assistant to the Vicar for Deacons for a specific ministry of service. He is also assigned a specific parish in which to celebrate this ministry liturgically.


A Diocesan Priest is a man who belongs to a community of men dedicating their lives to the service of God and the Salvation of Souls within a given territory, called a Diocese, under the leadership of a local bishop (Ordinary). The Diocesan Priest is often described as a parish priest because he ministers in a particular parish within a diocese. The Priest who leads the parish is called the Pastor; if there are any other priests assigned to help the pastor in his ministry in the parish, these are called Associate Pastors.

A Diocesan Priest lives a life much like others in his parish. Although he is involved in sacred things such as the Celebration of the Eucharist, baptizing, officiating at Weddings and Funerals etc., he is also a man of the world - he forms friendships, has hobbies, goes on vacations, participates in recreational activities etc., just like others in his parish. The Diocesan Priest is called to be involved in his parishioners lives; he is to be one of them and at the same time apart from them, for he brings Jesus to them in his very self.

A Religious Order Priest is first a member of a religious community and can serve the Church a number of different capacities: in a parish setting; as an educator in a School or University; or in a specific ministry of service connected to the work of the religious community (serving the poor, preaching retreats, etc.).  Members of Religious communities can more frequently move outside of a particular geographic area, unlike Diocesan Priests.


The office of Bishop is the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. As our chief shepherd the Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, has been given the task of teaching, sanctifying and serving the people of God in the Archdiocese. The Archbishop has the duty of fostering the good of the entire Church, which he does in communion with the College of Bishops, whose head is the Pope. This ministry is exercised by means of his relationship with the Holy See and his membership in the national conference and provincial assembly of Bishops. It is the role of the Archbishop to foster the unity of the faith in the Archdiocese and to promote and coordinate its apostolic works. It is his duty as well to promote the common discipline of the Church in the Archdiocese and to foster the observance of ecclesiastical laws. In collaboration with the auxiliary bishops, his priests, deacons, and those engaged in pastoral ministry, he oversees the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the Saints, and the administration of church property.

Vocations Office

Within the Archdiocese of Toronto there is a Vocations Office. The Office of Vocations exists to promote, encourage, and help in the discernment process of individuals who sense a call to Diocesan Priesthood, Consecrated Religious Life, and the Permanent Diaconate. They are considered the official contact for those who feel called to a ministry of 'Service' in the Church. The goal is to help guide individuals in their unique journey to hear the "Call" of God. The Office of Vocations supports discerning candidates by providing the atmosphere and resources by which they can discern God's "plan" for their lives. When a discerning candidate responds willingly, with full freedom and knowledge in God's "plan", he/she ultimately finds the 'Joy', 'Peace', and 'Happiness' that God has had in store for him/her since the foundation of the World.

The website for the Vocations office in the Archdiocese of Toronto is: www.vocationstoronto.ca