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Joe Buie wrote:

Hi, guys —

Just as most Baptist churches have order, such as, bishop, pastor, elder, deacons, etc.

  • What is the order in a Catholic Church?
  • Is there some office called Acolyte?


  { What is the order in a Catholic Church and is there some office called Acolyte? }

Mike, Mary Ann, and Eric put together a team reply:

Hi, Joe —

Strictly speaking, the only sacramental orders today are:

  • deacon
  • [presbyter|priest]
  • bishop

Before Vatican II, their were eight clerical orders:

  1. porter
  2. lector
  3. acolyte, (the minor orders), then
  4. exorcist
  5. subdeacon
  6. deacon
  7. priest
  8. bishop

Among the various orders of deacon, priest, and bishop are positions with honorary or administrative titles. I've listed many below because you will probably hear these positions in reference to the Church.

From the bottom:

  • The Pope (divinely appointed and administrative)
  • (In the Eastern Rite only) Patriarch and Major Archbishop (administrative and honorary)
  • (In the Western Rite only) Archbishop  or Metropolitan (administrative and honorary)
  • the Cardinals (honorary)
  • the Bishops (administrative and honorary)
  • the Auxiliary bishops (helpers to the local bishop)
  • Vicar Forane (dean)
  • the pastor (administrative)
  • Monsignor (honorary)
  • the parochial vicar
  • the deacon

Note I said From the bottom. Through secular eyes, many think the Pope is the head of the Church.  On the contrary, he is the Servant of the servants of God.

  • He serves the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Metropolitans
  • the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Metropolitans serve the other bishops
  • the other bishops serve the Auxiliary bishops and pastors
  • the Auxiliary bishops and pastors serve the other priests
  • the priest serves the faithful
  • the deacons assist both the pastor and other priests in serving the people.
  • the people/faithful are called to carry out their specific calling within the Church and therefore serve others in the world. Part of this calling for all the faithful is evangelization.
  • Does this make sense?

The above positions in the Church are part of the clerical order called Holy Orders, a sacrament of the Church.

The following positions are not part of Holy Orders but still vital roles in the Church that many times are carried out by the faithful in the parish.

  • Acolytes, many times known as altar servers — They assist the priests during Mass.
  • Lector — Reader of the New and Old Testament readings among other things.
  • Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist — assists the celebrant in distribution of
    Holy Communion when the extraordinary need is required.
  • the head of the various ministries.
    e.g. Director of Religious Education also known as a DRE

Hope this helps,


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