Holy Orders is the sacrament by which a man may enter the priesthood. Actually, there are three degrees of Holy Orders, the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate or bishops, priests and deacons.
When asked by a lay person what made them choose the life of a priest, many a priest will tell you that they didn't choose it, they were called to it. Perhaps it's analogous to the question that married people are asked about finding the right spouse. How do you know they are the right one? You just do.
Most people born into a Catholic family entertain the idea of a vocation at some time. Many are called in a different direction. We are all called to serve our Father in our own way. But there are those special few who are called to this very particular religious life. Again, each, in their own way, may receive the calling from the Holy Spirit to embrace this call to minister to and for the Church.
Like its vocational counterpart, marriage, it's not to be entered into lightly. If you, a family member, or someone you know is seriously entertaining the priesthood the next step may be a conversation with a priest or deacon or you may contact the Diocese of San Bernardino's Vocation's Office.
The role of a permanent deacon is one that is still not well understood even 40 years after its restoration as a sacred order in the Catholic Church. A deacon is no longer a layman but a member of the clergy. Deacons teach, assist at the altar, bless marriages, preside over funerals, proclaim the Gospel and preach homilies. On occasion they may be called into extraordinary service to assist in baptisms. They cannot consecrate the Eucharist and they do not hear confessions.
Celibacy is not a requirement for the diaconate. In fact, most deacons are married and have children. Wives of permanent deacons are required to give their support for his ministry so, in a sense, a married deacon takes this role on with the mutual consent of his wife. They are called to serve as an example of the sanctity of marriage and family. Since a deacon is ordained the decision to marry, however, must take place prior the becoming a deacon. If a married deacon loses his wife, he makes a pledge to remain celibate. It is at this time that they may entertain the elevation to the higher office of the priesthood.
If you are interested in pursuing this ministry you should contact a priest or deacon or the Diocese of San Bernardino Office of Diaconate.