"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…It includes three degrees of order: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate" (CCC 1536). Deacons, priests and bishops are essential to the Catholic Church because we believe that they continue the work begun by the apostles.
Ordination is the rite at which the Sacrament of Holy Orders is bestowed. The bishop confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders by the laying on of hands which confers on a man the grace and spiritual power to celebrate the Church’s sacraments.
Who Receives Holy Orders?
The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men, whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. (CCC1598)
In the Latin Church the sacrament of Holy Orders for the presbyterate is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate for the love of God's kingdom and the service of men. (CCC 1599)