The Sacrament of Holy Orders
As people of God, we all share in the priesthood of Christ, and so the Church speaks meaningfully of "the priesthood of all believers." Each of us is to exercise our priesthood by strengthening and serving one another. Within the Church there are many means of service. One way of service stands out as a sacrament, namely Holy Orders, which ordains the recipient to the office of bishop, priest or deacon.
The priest's special calling is first and foremost to preach the Good News of God's love and humanity. In offering himself as a candidate for the priesthood, he must give evidence of wisdom and spiritual maturity, as he is called to lead the Christian community with patience and kindness. The priest celebrates Mass and administers the Sacraments, taking an active role in offering Christ's gift of Himself.
From earliest times, deacons have had a special place in the pastoral work of the Church, preaching, ministering at baptisms and weddings, and caring for the poor and hungry on behalf of the whole Church. Nowadays, married men are more and more frequently ordained to the diaconate, where they have a strong role in assisting priests and bishops and serving the people.
Finally, bishops are chosen and ordained to supervise and lead priests and deacons, to unify, bless and teach the people and act as a sign of Christ in the local church and community.
“Holy Orders 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: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1536).
As successors to the apostles, bishops share fully in the three-fold apostolic mission given by Christ to his Church, namely that of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, and by ordination they are given the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders. A diocesan bishop is the chief pastor of a local church, or “diocese,” which normally consists of the faithful within a given geographical area. The Sacred Heart and St Margaret's Parishes are parts of the Archdiocese of St Andrew's and Edinburgh, and which is under the pastoral care of Most Rev. Leo Cushley.
Priests are “co-workers” of the bishops insofar as their ministry depends upon the Episcopal order for its exercise. Through the sacrament of holy orders, priests “are signed with a special character and so are configured to Christ the priest in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ the head” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1563).
The primary role of the priest is to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Depending upon his state in life (for example, whether a secular or religious) and particular assignment, a priest will also engage in other areas of ministry. The Sacred Heart Church and St Margaret's Church have as their Parish Priest Fr. Tadeusz Majcher SDS, a priest of the religious order of the Salvatorian Fathers.
Deacons are special co-workers of the bishop in his task of “diakonia” or service, and they therefore receive the sacrament of holy orders in such a way that they are specially configured to Christ the Servant. While deacons may be assigned any number of duties for the good of the local community, as with the bishop and priest their public ministry finds its pinnacle and source of strength in the Divine Liturgy of the Church, especially in the Holy Eucharist, at which they are the prime assistants of the bishop and priests. The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions examples of other common duties of the deacon, including “...the distribution of Holy Communion..., assisting at and blessing marriages..., the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching..., presiding over funerals..., and dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church,1570).