Jesus chose 12 men to be apostles. One of them, Judas, betrayed Jesus, and then hanged himself. After Jesus’ ascension, the apostles had the important mission of spreading the news about Jesus, but they were lacking one member. At a gathering of Jesus’ disciples, Peter told the group that a replacement for Judas was needed. The man to be chosen needed to have been a witness to Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Two men were proposed, Justus and Matthias. Peter and the apostles prayed for the Lord to show them whom to choose. Matthias was chosen and became the new apostle.
The apostles chose a new Church leader to be a witness to Jesus Christ and continue his work. Today the pope and bishops have been called and chosen to continue Jesus’ work; they are successors to the apostles.
All members of the Church participate in the priesthood of all believers through Baptism. However, some men are called to serve Jesus and the Church today through the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Through their leadership in the Church, they help continue Jesus’ presence on earth in the tradition of the apostles.
Those who are called to be priests are ordained through the Rite of Ordination. In celebrating this Rite, men receive a permanent spiritual mark, called a character, signifying that they represent Jesus’ presence in the Church.