Rite of Ordination of a Priest (1968)


1.  The ordination of a deacon should take place on a Sunday or holyday, when a large number of the faithful can attend, unless pastoral reasons suggest another day.  

2.  The ordination should take place ordinarily at the cathedra or bishop's chair; or, to enable the faithful to participate more fully, a chair for the bishop may be placed before the altar or elsewhere.  A seat for the one to be ordained should be placed so that the faithful may have a complete view of the liturgical rites.

3.  The priest concelebrates with the bishop in his ordination Mass.  It is most appropriate for the bishop to admit other priests to the concelebration; in this case and on this day the newly ordained priest takes the first place ahead of the others who concelebrate.

4.  The one to be ordained wears an alb (with amice and cincture unless other provisions are made) and a deacon's stole.  In addition to what is needed for the celebration of Mass, there should be ready: (a) the Roman Pontifical; (b) stoles for the priests who lay hands upon the candidates; (c) a chasuble for the candidate; (d) a linen gremial; (e) holy chrism; (f) whatever is needed for the washing of hands.

5.  When everything is ready, the procession moves though the church to the altar in the usual way.  A deacon carries the Book of the Gospels; he is followed by the candidate, then the concelebrating priests, and finally the bishop between two deacons.

Liturgy of the Word

6.  The liturgy of the word takes place according to the rubrics.

7.  The readings may be taken in whole or in part from the Mass of the day or from the texts listed....

8.  The profession of faith is not said, nor are the general intercessions.

Ordination of a Priest

9.  The ordination of a deacon begins after the gospel.  The bishop, wearing his miter, sits at the chair.

Calling of the Candidate

10.  The candidate is called by the deacon: Let N. who is to be ordained priest please come forward.

11.  The candidate answers: Present, and goes to the bishop, before whom he makes a sign of reverence.

Presentation of the Candidate

12.  When the candidate is in his place before the bishop, the priest designated by the bishop says: Most Reverend Father, holy mother Church asks you to ordain this man, our brother, for service as priest.

The bishop says: Do you judge him to be worthy?

He answers: After inquiry among the people of Christ and upon recommendation of those concerned with his training, I testify that he has been found worthy.

Election by the Bishop and Consent of the People

13.  Bishop: We rely on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, and we choose this man, our brother, for priesthood in the presbyteral order.

All present say: Thanks be to God, or give their assent to the choice in some other way, according to local custom.


14.  Then all sit, and the bishop addresses the people and the candidate on the duties of a priest.  He may use these words:

This man, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of priests.  Consider carefully the position to which he is to be promoted in the Church.

It is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ.  But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind.  He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.  Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops.  They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God's people.

Our brother has seriously considered this step and is now to be ordained to priesthood in the presbyteral order.  He is to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, grow into the people of God, a holy temple.

He is called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be molded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest.  By consecration he will be made a true priest of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God's people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord's sacrifice.

He then addresses the candidate:

My son, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate.  You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher.  Share with all mankind the word of God you have received with joy.  Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believer, and put into practice what you teach.

Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the people of God.  Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God's Church.

In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ.  Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it with Christ's sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands.  Know what your are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate.  In the memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.

When you baptize, you will bring men and women into the people of God.  In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church.  With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick.  You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world.  Remember that you are chosen from among God's people and appointed to act for them in relation to God.  Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ before your own.

Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effectively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father.  Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served by to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.

Examination of the Candidate

15.  The candidate then stands before the bishop who questions him:

My son, before you proceed to the order of the presbyterate, declare before the people your intention to undertake the priestly office.

Are you resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of priesthood in the presbyteral order as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishops in caring for the Lord's flock?

The candidate answers: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ's people?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience as the Apostle urges, and to proclaim this faith in word and action as it is taught by the Gospel and the Church's tradition?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer appropriate to your way of life and, in keeping with what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for the whole world?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the gospel and explaining the Catholic faith?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of his people, and to unite yourself more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice?

Candidate: I am, with the help of God.

Promise of Obedience

16.  Then the candidate goes to the bishop and, kneeling before him, places his joined hands between those of the bishop.  If this gesture seems less suitable in some places, the conference of bishops may choose another gesture or sign.

If the bishop is the candidate's own Ordinary, he asks: Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?

Candidate: I do.

If the bishop is not the candidate's own Ordinary, he asks: Do you promise respect and obedience to your Ordinary?

Candidate: I do.

Bishop: May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.

Invitation to Prayer

17.  Then all stand, and the bishop, without his miter, invites the people to pray:  My dear people, let us pray that the all-powerful Father may pour out the gifts of heaven on this servant of his, whom he has chosen to be a priest.

Deacon (except during the Easter season): Let us kneel.

Litany of the Saints

18.  The candidate prostrates himself and, except during the Easter season, the rest kneel at their places.  The cantors begin the litany...; they may add, at the proper place, names of other saints (for example, the patron saint, the titular of the church, the founder of the church, the patron saint of the one to be ordained) or petitions suitable to the occasion.

19.  The bishop alone stands and, with his hands joined, sings or says: Hear us, Lord our God, and pour out upon this servant of yours the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the grace and power of the priesthood.  In your sight we offer this man for ordination: support him with your unfailing love  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  R.  Amen.

Deacon: Let us stand.

Laying on of Hands

20.  Then all stand.  The candidate goes to the bishop and kneels before him.  The bishop lays his hands on the candidate's head, in silence.

21.  Next all the priests present, wearing stoles, lay their hands upon the candidate, in silence.  After the laying on of hands, the priests remain on either side of the bishop until the prayer of consecration is completed.

Prayer of Consecration

22.  The candidate kneels before the bishop.  With his hands extended over the candidate, he sings the prayer of consecration or says it aloud.

Come to our help, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God; you are the source of every honor and dignity, of all progress and stability.  You watch over the growing family of man by your gift of wisdom and your pattern of order.  When you had appointed high priests to rule your people, you chose other men next to them in rank and dignity to be with them and to help them in their task; and so there grew up the ranks of priests and the offices of levites, established by sacred rites.

In the desert you extended the spirit of Moses to seventy wise men who helped him to rule the great company of his people.  You shared among the sons of Aaron the fullness of their father's power, to provide worthy priests in sufficient number for the increasing rites of sacrifice and worship.  With the same loving care you gave companions to your Son's apostles to help in teaching the faith: they preached the gospel to the whole world.

Lord, grant also to us such fellow workers, for we are weak and our need is greater.

Almighty Father, grant to this servant of your the dignity of the priesthood.  Renew within him the Spirit of holiness.  As a co-worker with the order of bishops may he be faithful to the ministry that he receives from you, Lord God, and be to others a model of right conduct.  May he be faithful in working with the order of bishops, so that the words of the Gospel may reach the ends of the earth, and the family of nations, made one in Christ, may become God's one, holy people.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   R.  Amen.

Investiture with Stole and Chasuble

23.  After the prayer of consecration, the bishop, wearing his miter, sits, and the newly ordained stands.  The assisting priests return to their places, but one of them arranges the stole of the newly ordained as it is worn by priests and vests him in a chasuble.

Anointing of Hands

24.  Next the bishop receives a linen gremial and anoints with chrism the palms of the new priest as he kneels before him.  The bishop says: 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.

25.  While the new priest is being vested in stole and chasuble, the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus or the following antiphon may be sung with Psalm 110: Christ the Lord, a priest for ever in the line of Melchisedak, offered bread and wine.   The antiphon is repeated after every two verses.  Glory to the Father is not said.  The psalm is interrupted and the antiphon repeated when the hands of the priest have been anointed. Any other appropriate song may be sung.

Then the bishop and the new priest wash their hands.

Presentation of the Gifts

26.  The deacon assists the bishop in receiving the gifts of the people and he prepares the bread on the paten and the wine and water in the chalice for the celebration of Mass.  He brings the paten and chalice to the bishop, who hands them to the new priest as he kneels before him.  The bishop says: 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.

Kiss of Peace

27.  Lastly, the bishop stands and gives the kiss of peace to the new priest, saying: Peace be with you.

The priest responds: And also with you.

If circumstances permit, the priests present also give the kiss of peace to the newly ordained.

28.  Meanwhile, the following antiphon may be sung with Psalm 100: You are my friends, says the Lord, if you do what I command you.   The antiphon is repeated after every two verses.  Glory to the Father is not said.  The psalm is interrupted and the antiphon repeated when all have received the kiss of peace.  Any other appropriate song may be sung, or:

No longer do I call you servants, but my friends, because you know all that I have done among you (alleluia).  Receive the Holy Spirit as an Advocate among you: it is he whom the Father will send you (alleluia).  You are my friends if you do the things I command you.  Receive the Holy Spirit as an Advocate among you.  Glory to the Father....  It is he whom the Father will send you (alleluia).

Liturgy of the Eucharist

29.  The rite for the concelebration of Mass is followed with these changes:

a.  The preparation of the chalice is omitted.

b.  In Eucharistic Prayer I, the special form of Father, accept this offering is said: Father accept this offering from your whole family and from the one you have chosen for the order of priests.  Protect the gifts you have given him, and let him yield a harvest worthy of you.  [Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.]