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266 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated

mission of all the churches in union with and under the authority of the

Pope—the head of the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome, and the

successor of St. Peter.


By ordination, “priests are united with the bishops in [priestly] dignity

and at the same time depend on them in the exercise of their pastoral

functions; they are called to be the bishops’ prudent co-workers” (CCC,

no. 1595). With the bishop, priests form a


(priestly) commu-

nity and assume with him the pastoral mission for a particular parish.

The bishop appoints priests to the pastoral care of parishes and to other

diocesan ministries. The priest promises obedience to the bishop in ser-

vice to God’s people.


The title


comes from the Greek word


meaning “ser-

vant.” A deacon has a special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of

service and is configured to Christ, the Deacon—or Servant—of all (cf.

CCC, nos. 1569-1570).

“There are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priest-

hood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate. The diaconate is

intended to help and serve them” (CCC, no. 1554). The three degrees

of the Sacrament of Holy Orders—bishop, priest, and deacon—are all

conferred by ordination.

Deacons receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders from a bishop and

are ordained not to the ministerial priesthood but to the ministry of ser-

vice. Through ordination the deacon is conformed to Christ, who came

to serve, not to be served. In the Latin Church, deacons may baptize,

proclaim the Gospel, preach the homily, assist the bishop or priest in the

celebration of the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages, and preside at

funerals. They dedicate themselves to charitable endeavors, which was

their ministerial role in New Testament times.

Whether they are involved in the Church’s liturgical or pastoral life

or in her social and charitable endeavors, deacons are “strengthened by