In 1946 when the CMHC was founded, there was much thought and prayer put into terms and offices of the Order. The goal was to define the structure of the Order while trying to make it clear that the Order is an “autocephalous” organization and to be in keeping with the Order being a Missionary Order. Being that both men and women could receive all offices of the Holy Orders, we wanted something that would not be sexist or imply that the offices were to be held by men only.
The following offices were chosen:
Non ordained offices:
Altar Servers: either youth or adults that assist the deacons and priests during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and other liturgical functions.
Acolytes: men or women that have entered the process for vows for Holy Orders at any level.
Brother/Sister: those that take Holy Orders and are consecrated as religious without being ordained as priest. All of these perpetually professed religious within the CMHC are Ordained as permanent Deacons, so that they may lead *Communion in the absence of a priest, they are also licensed as the other Deacons, and like them can choose which functions of that office they are called to participate in. *in these Communion services the elements have already been consecrated by a priest.
Lay Friars: those that take vows as a lay person to live their life within the rules for lay or secular friars of the CMHC. These vows may be made before a Priest or Abbott/Abbess within the order.
Deacon: those which are ordained permanently as Deacons.
Transitional Deacons are not ordained but consecrated to this office as this is the last step in the process of seeking ordination as Priest.
Priest: one that has been ordained to the Priesthood to perform the duties and Sacraments for the Office.
Abbott/Abbess: are ordained priests that are consecrated as an Abbott or Abbess and are overseers of the religious and congregations within a specific region. This includes the duty to ordain qualified candidates to the Holy Orders. Before being consecrated as an Abbott or Abbess they must have have been actively serving as a priest for 10 years.(Commonly called Bishops)
Arch-Abbott/ Arch-Abbess: are overseers of larger regions/areas, they must have been Ordained within the Order to be elected to this office. (commonly called Arch-Bishops or Metropolitans)
Shepherd: The Shepherd is elected from among all of the Abbotts/Abbess’ to serve as guide for the Order.
What is an Abbey?
Within the CMHC an Abbey is the Episcopal Seat for the region.