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We refer to Holy Orders and Marriage as the sacraments of vocation, a word that comes from the Latin for “call.” We are all called by God. In fact, we are called at many levels, and progressively throughout our lives. We are called into life, into human dignity and responsibility, and into certain relationships, communities and tasks. Most importantly of all, we are called into an intimate communion with God that does not come naturally but must be sought and cultivated within the grace, or special outreach, of God. Therefore vocation is a key theme of Christian life, and a key component of the way we think about sacraments.

The most basic calling or vocation of a Christian is the call into discipleship of Jesus within a community of disciples. Therefore the most basic sacrament of vocation is actually Baptism. Nothing is really higher or more intimate in the relationship we have with our creator than the grace and calling of baptism. However, that calling expressed by baptism, that vocation of the baptized, plays out in various ways for various people.

Priests are ordained for ministry, which at its heart is a call to lead the members of the Church to holiness by loving and serving the people of a parish or diocesan community. They have a unique call to lead parish communities by bringing them the sacraments and other means to holiness offered through the Church. It is especially through presiding at Eucharist that priests live at the centre of the Church and offer members of the Church the most profound gift of God's grace and presence.

In addition to presiding at sacramental celebrations, priests have the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel in ways that inspire and challenge the members of the Church. If you have a love of Scripture and desire to lead the people of God in celebration of the sacraments, you may be called to the priesthood.

Just as Christ's role was to be a reconciler, bringing the broken back into a renewed relationship to God, so reconciling people to God and one another permeates the ministry of a priest. In order to bring healing and health to the Body of Christ, a priest lives close to the people, knowing their triumphs and failures, the pain and joy of the community. He stands with the members of the community at significant moments—when they are joined in marriage, when they bury their loved ones, in times of sickness. It is in these moments that his special relationship to the Body of Christ is most visible. He is at one and the same time the presence of Christ for the community and the representative or voice of the community in its celebrations.

If you feel a deep desire to be at the heart of the Church community, to lead the people by example, you may be called to the priesthood.

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