(A Sacrament of Service)
"Here I am, send me." (Is 6:8)
Like Marriage, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is built upon the Sacraments of Initiation and is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. Properly speaking, it is the sacrament of the ministry of the Apostles and is composed of three degrees: Episcopate (Bishops), Presbyterate (Priests), and Diaconate (Deacons). Those who can be admitted into the Sacrament of Holy Orders are men who have received the Sacraments of Initiation. Sacramental ordination takes place by a bishop and imparts a "sacred power" which comes from Christ himself, through his Church. The ministerial priesthood, imparted by reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, is at the service of the Baptismal Priesthood in the celebration of the Sacraments so that Christ's body may continue to be build up in its members to evangelize as faithful disciples. Like Confirmation and Baptism, Holy Orders places a mark or character on the soul of the recipient so that they may act "in the person of Christ, the Head of the Church."
You can go to the Archdiocese of Hartford's website for priestly vocations, hartfordpriest.com, to begin finding answers to these questions and many more.