By virtue of our Baptism, all Christians are part of a common priesthood of believers. We are all called to participate in Christ’s mission. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops and priests are given a special role in carrying out this mission. They exercise a ministerial priesthood. Deacons also receive a special grace through ordination and are called to assist the ministry of bishops and priests (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1547, 1554).
Through ordination, priests become representatives of Christ to the Church—as witnesses of holiness and love, preachers of the Gospel, shepherds of the faithful, conveners of divine worship, and builders of the Church. Through their ministry, priests are called, in imitation of Christ, to “preach good news to the poor . . . proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Lk 4:18-19)” (Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis [I Will Give You Shepherds], no. 11). Deacons, too, are ordained to imitate Christ in his ministry of service and charity to the poor and needy in the community.
In a recent article in the Catholic Spirit, correspondent Mary Walker interviewed current vocations director Fr. Brian McMaster who explained, “Although Deacon Craig DeYoung is the only man being ordained a priest in 2014, he expects five or six priests to be ordained annually in the coming years. In addition, this fall’s class of incoming seminarians is one of the largest ever.” Fr. McMaster also added that “A year with one ordination reminds us to keep on praying for vocations and to invite men to consider the priesthood.”
If you would like to get more information about discerning a priestly or religious vocation, please contact the Diocese of Austin Office of Vocations at 512.949.2430.