Holy Orders is the sacrament of apostolic ministry through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. It includes three degrees: episcopate (bishops), presbyterate (priests), and diaconate (deacons). The Sacrament can be received by fully initiated Catholic men after years of discernment, studies, spiritual preparation and approval from the Church Magisterium. Like Baptism, Holy Orders mark the recipient with an indelible mark. It is only ever received once.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders essentially confers graces which enable and empower the recipient to witness the Gospel of Christ in a special way and perform specific liturgical roles in the Church. For instance, a Bishop can administer all Seven Sacraments of the Holy church. A priest can consecrate the bread and wine during the Liturgy of the Eucharist as well administer the Absolution which forgives sins during the Sacrament of Penance, and a Deacon can witness the Sacrament of Matrimony.
What if I am thinking of a Vocation to the Priesthood or Diaconate?
The church says that everyone has a vocation in life. Some are called to be married, some are called to be single lay, some are called to a consecrated life in religious orders or as a diocesan priest. If you are wondering whether you are called to become a priest, pray on it. If prayer fortifies your impression, talk to a priest or call the Office of Vocations at the Archdiocese of Newark where you will be helped in yout discernment.