The Orders of the Priesthood
In our churches, we promote the traditional orders of Priesthood being both minor/lay and major/ordained.
The major orders being,
Bishop/Mitred Abbess, Priest/Abbess, Deacon/Deaconess and Subdeacon,
The Minor or Lay orders being,
Acolyte, Healer, Reader, Doorkeeper/Steward, Cleric.
We also have need of specialist workers such as
Pastoral Visitors and Hospital or Prison Visitors,
Parish Catechist, Sunday School Teacher
Numerous other opportunities
music and singing, assistance with keeping the church clean and tidy, flowers, crafts and arts and other things for fund raising and therapy, and much much more.
All positions have formal and informal training offered through the Order of Sancta Sophia, found in another part of this website.
Let me describe some of these positions.
Priest - the position of priest is a vocation which requires much dedication and training, a Priest is a servant and leader; he shares particularly in the Apostolic authority of the Bishop to teach, to forgive, to bless and to offer.
The Priest is both Deacon -server and priest; his is a dual vocation to serve the Bishop and to share with the Bishop in leading the people.
Too often, people mistake or misunderstand the nature and vocation of Priesthood. It is not, as some people believe, to be "in charge"; a Priest's authority comes from his Bishop, by sharing in the Bishop's authority he has authority, but not his own authority only his Bishop's.
A Priest is bound Canonically i.e. by the Church's Law, in obedience to his Bishop; he cannot do anything without the Bishop's permission as it is the sharing in his Bishop's ministry that he is able to celebrate the Sacraments and most especially the Mass.
In this understanding of Priesthood (as explained above) forms the basis upon which we discern vocations to Priesthood. The length of time for discernment and seminary study reflects the on-going and careful discernment of the Church and the Bishop as to the suitability of the candidate and his understanding of priesthood. Commitment and dedication to the New Catholic Church, and primarily to the Bishop’s, is what will decide whether a candidate is Ordained or not to the Priesthood or Deaconate.
There are two types of deacon in the church.
The transitional and permanent.
An office of service and proclamation. You will see the deacon in the church serving the priest and proclaiming the Gospel.
The transitional deacons are to be made priest after completion of further training and experience and the permanent deacon has chosen to remain in the deaconate.
Deacons are intimately involved with the teaching in the parish and pastoral care.
SUBDEACON : Traditionally the office of transition from the lay-minor orders of the priesthood to potentially bring ordained as a deacon or priest. You will see the Subdeacon assist the deacon and priest in the celebration of the solemn offering of the Liturgy of the Church (Mass, Offices and Rites) in the Sanctuary. It is his/her special prerogative to read or sing the Epistle at High Mass whenever it is celebrated in the parish in which s/he resides and to assist in such capacity around the Diocese when invited to do so. A Subdeacon may also assist the deacon, priest or licensed pastoral worker in the pastoral provision in the parish.
The Minor /Lay Orders of the Priesthood
Some of those in Lay-Minor orders have specific rolls to play in church services.
Healer - Trained in prayer and healing and offer a ministry to those in need of this assistance. (Traditionally this office is known as Exorcist but this role is now given to a licensed member of the clergy with express permission of the bishop).
Reader - When no Priest, Deacon, Deaconess or other appropriate licence worker is available to lead a non-sacramental service of worship, the reader may lead part or all of the service with special adaption for lay people.
Doorkeeper or Steward - often in church before other people to welcome the congregation and give out books or service sheets, and collect the offerings. In the past they would light the sanctuary lamp.
Accredited and /or Licensed ministry.
PASTORAL WORKER: Responsible for representing the church or parish in home or health institution visitations or prisons, calls to new or potential members, and other contacts involving care and support. May coordinate the activities of lay volunteers or coordinate education or social out-reach activities in support of the parochial clergy; a licensed lay minister of the Church.
A person who shares in the pastoral provision of visits to members of the congregation who may be hospitalised or generally as part of the parish’s outreach activities to visit hospitals. They are to "befriend" the sick, visiting them regularly, providing what assistance they can to make their stay in hospital comfortable and endurable, to be a listener and to encourage their wellbeing.
CHRISTIAN LISTENING COUNSELLOR:
A specific activity in some parishes providing a drop-in service to the public generally for people who wish to know more about the Christian faith or who want to talk and to share a problem with someone objectively. This ministry is specialist in that certain courses must be completed. The role of a Counsellor is not to give advice but to listen and perhaps assist the person to find appropriate help from official and professional sources if necessary i.e. a spiritual problem, crisis of faith etc they would direct the person to a priest; an employment, health or social problem they would refer them to the appropriate public service provider, Housing Office, Jobcentre, Clinic etc.
SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER:
A person keen to assist in the development of the Faith with children properly belonging to the Church i.e. the children of parents who are members of the congregation. They inform the young of the basic teachings of the Faith, familiarising them with various expressions and practical aspects of the Faith and introducing and providing familiarity with the Scriptures and story of the Church.
PARISH CATECHIST: A person who assists in the education of young and mature adults in preparation for the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation. They may also assist in the provision of education for the laity generally in coordinating, running and facilitating Study Groups and other such activities designed to communicate the teaching of the Church and inform on the responsibilities of Confirmed members of the Church and of the Faith generally.
Are you ready to take your next step?