Priesthood, Ordination and the Seminary
What is ordination?
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop and enabled to minister in Christ’s name and that of the Church. There are three ordinations in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: deacon; priest and bishop. The ordination ceremony includes various rituals, rich in meaning and history, e.g., the prostration, laying on of hands, anointing of hands, giving of the chalice and paten, sign of peace.
When does the ordination actually take place?
The essential rite of the sacrament, i.e., when it takes place, is the laying on of hands and prayer of consecration. This is an ancient tradition in the Church, mentioned in the Bible.
Who can ordain priests?
Only a bishop can ordain a priest because he shares in the ministry of Jesus passed down through the apostles.
What is the meaning of the laying on of hands?
By this ritual the ordaining bishop and the other priests invoke the Holy Spirit to come down upon the one to be ordained, giving him a sacred character and setting him apart for the designated ministry through the apostles.
Why do the ordained lie prostrate during the ordination?
It symbolizes his unworthiness for the office to be assumed and his dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.
What is the meaning of the newly ordained priest receiving the stole and chasuble?
These are vestments which pertain to his office and have symbolic meaning. The stole symbolizes the authority and responsibility to serve in imitation of Christ. It reflects the line from Scripture: “For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11:30). The chasuble is the principal garment of the priest celebrating the Eucharist and is the outermost vestment.
What does the anointing of the hands signify?
Anointing with oil stems from the Old Testament and indicates that someone or something is being set apart for a sacred task or duty. The anointing of the hands signifies that the hands of the newly ordained priest are being prepared for the sacred duties and vessels which will be part of the priestly ministry, for example, offering the bread and the wine, anointing the sick and blessing people. The bishop says as he anoints the hands: “The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.”
Why does the ordaining bishop hand the ordained a chalice and paten?
The Eucharist is at the heart of the priesthood and the Church and this ritual highlights the importance of celebrating the Eucharist in the life of the priest and its meaning, as seen in the words which are spoken by the bishop: “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross of Jerusalem.”
How does one prepare for ordination to the priesthood?
A man has to engage in a challenging program of priestly formation which lasts from five to thirteen years, depending upon his background and the seminary he attends.
There are three levels of seminary: high school; college or pre-theology; and theology.
Seminaries address four types of formation: human; spiritual; academic (intellectual); and pastoral. In addition to the academic course work, seminarians participate in a full schedule of spiritual activities, e.g., daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours (Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer), and spiritual direction and retreats. At each level of seminary training, the seminarian prepares for future pastoral ministry in various settings, such as schools, religious education programs, hospitals and parishes.
All of the formation takes into consideration the human person; human growth and development is fostered by community living, workshops and other programs. The formation of future priests includes practical learning, too, for example, preaching, saying Mass, and pastoral counseling.
Do priests take vows?
Priests who belong to a religious order (e.g., Benedictine, Dominicans, Franciscans, etc.) take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Diocesan priests make one promise, obedience; this promise is part of the ordination ceremony. It is also expected that diocesan priests will lead a life of simplicity consonant with the people they serve.
Is God Calling You to Become a Priest!
Through Baptism every Christian has a vocation, that is, a call from God to serve the Church. The Holy Spirit invites all of us to share our gifts, talents and lives in some unique way. It may be as a single person giving witness to Christ by living a life directed by Gospel values. It may be as a married person dedicating one’s life and love to another person and sharing faith within a family. Or it may be as a vowed priest, sister or brother.
A call to diocesan priesthood or to the religious life may occur over a long or a short period of time. It may be a sense that Christ is calling you to serve the people of God. Listen to the voice within: Come and follow me.
Do you have a call to the priesthood?
This site is intended to help you find out about your call from God. Everyone has a call and a purpose. Is your call to join the priesthood? This is the place to find out!
God works in many ways to call people to His service in the Church . Sometimes that call comes when one is still in grade school or high school or even in younger years. Sometimes it is during college. Sometimes the call comes to those who already have a career in there lives.
There is no one way that God calls us. Each call is unique, each call is specific to who and where we are in our lives with Jesus. The call to priesthood is not a knock on our house door or a heavenly vision. It is the movement of God in our hearts and how we practice our faith. In the book of Jeremiah Chapter 1:5. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
You will find a yearning in your heart to be significant beyond corporate or worldly success. You will want to make a lasting impact on the lives of those around you, your family, friends, co-workers, Previous dreams will grow stale and fad away. You will notice a desire to be closer to God and to serve Him with your whole heart when you know Him more in your relationship with Him.
You will also find that others will see priestly talents in you and ask you if you have considered priesthood. Real men are needed in the Church to become a Priest. Listen carefully to your call. God sends personal prophets priests, and Bishops to point out our call.
What to look for:
· Do You adore the Eucharist at Mass and Benediction
· Have you ever truly believed you have a desire to become a Priest
· A desire to grow in prayer with God
· A Love to serve God and His people in the Church
· Do you love to offer yourself for others needs
· Do you care for people
. Is God Calling you?
If so, Come and join us in serving as a priest, deacon or religious.
Saint James Theological Seminary
of the Palestinian Orthodox Church
Archdiocese of Pennsylvania
His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedeck
27 Main Street
New Millport, PA 16861
All Seminarians are required to have a Four Year College and Masters of Divinity prior to Ordination into the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Vocations
You have called me to life
and gifted me in many ways.
Through Baptism You have sent me
to continue the mission of Jesus
by sharing my love with others.
Strengthen me to respond to
Your call each day.
Help me to become all You desire of me.
Inspire me to make a difference in
Lead me to choose the way of life
You have planned for me.
Open the hearts of all to listen
to Your call.
Fill all with Your Holy Spirit that
we may have listening hearts and
the courage to respond to You.
Enkindle in my heart
and the hearts of others the desire
to make the world a better place
by serving as a
Priest, Deacon, Brother, Sister or Lay Minister.
Father, we're your people, the work of your hands. So precious are we in your sight that you sent your Son, Jesus. Jesus calls us to heal the broken-hearted, to dry the tears of those who mourn, to give hope to those who despair, and to rejoice in your steadfast love. We, the baptized, realize our call to serve. Help us to know how. Call forth from among us priests, deacons, brothers, sisters and lay ministers. With our hearts, you continue to love your people. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen!