Eucharistic Minister

Diocesan Policy for the Diocese of Alexandria, LA (Art.1060, par 1 - 16)

Art. 1060, §1 - §16 | Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion

§1. An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is a layperson who assists the ordinary minister of the Eucharist, principally in the distribution of Holy Communion. This ministry is more than one of convenience; affirming the dignity and holiness of all the baptized, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is a sign that all are called to share the life and sustenance of Christ with each other. Thus, men and women should be chosen for this role to manifest a wide diversity of age, race, economic condition, material status, etc.

§2. In such situations where a need exists for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, in addition to the clergy, it shall be the responsibility of the pastor of the parish (and the administrator of an institution) to see to it that provisions are made for additional extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

§3. An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion must be nominated by the appropriate pastor or administrator and approved by the Diocesan Bishop for this ministry. The usual term of service for an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is three years and can be renewed on request by the pastor.

§4. The designation for service as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is valid only within the parish or institution of appointment.

§5. Special care should be taken in choosing those who minister to the “community in need.” Such a person must be properly instructed for this ministry; should have the Eucharist at the center of his or her faith; should be model of Catholic life to the entire Christian community, and should embody the Christian life of service.

§6. Before an extraordinary minister is appointed or reappointed, the person must attend a training session or workshop provided by the parish or through the diocesan office. Truly exceptional cases may be provided for in other ways approved by the Diocesan Bishop.

§7. The pastor or administrator is responsible for the continued spiritual growth and appreciation of the Eucharist. Periodic or annual “days of renewal” on a parish or inter-parish basis are strongly recommended.

§8. After appointment by the Diocesan Bishop, the extraordinary ministers should be formally commissioned by their pastor (or chaplain) in such a manner that a significant number of the people they serve can witness the rite. Commissioning ceremonies may be celebrated for re-appointments. The rite is found in the Book of Blessings # 1871-1896.

§9. On special occasions, when there is need for additional extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the celebrant may commission suitable persons for that particular occasion. This should be done only by way of exception.

§10. Care should be taken to avoid confusing extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and deacons because of their attire. The proper attire should be in conformity with their state in life; e.g., lay people are to dress as lay people, not in albs or special robes.

§11. Communion ministers may distribute Holy Communion only when there are not suffi-cient ordinary ministers present at the celebration.

§12. At each Mass, enough hosts for all present should be consecrated. Consecrated hosts needed for homebound, hospital patients and nursing home residents and private adoration are secured in the tabernacle. Consecrated wine must be consumed at Mass and may NEVER be re-served in the tabernacle.

§13. Communion is distributed according to the rubrics, among these, note:
1° The priest receives Communion first before it is distributed to the other ministers. The deacon receives next, even before concelebrants, then the Communion ministers and, finally, the rest of the assembly. Only priests self-communicate; all others, including deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion receive from another minister.
2° Communion should never be distributed hastily; friendly eye contact, posture and tone of voice should enhance the moment of reception for the communicant. The name of the communicant is not used.
3° The communicant, not the minister, chooses whether to receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue; similarly, when Communion from the cup is offered, the communicant decides whether to receive from it.
4° As a rule, if an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion notices a communicant acting improperly (e.g., being irreverent with the Eucharistic species, “self-intinction,” etc.), he or she should mention this fact to the pastor or chaplain after the celebration for his prudent action.
5° Special care should be taken in the purification of the ciborium, so that fragments are consumed and consecrated hosts do not remain for too long unused and become stale. The reserved consecrated hosts are ordinarily renewed monthly.

§14. Extraordinary ministers should not fulfill any other ministries at the Mass at which they distribute Communion (e.g. lectors, ushers, cantors, etc.).

§15. An extraordinary minister is to be present and participate fully at the Mass during which he or she distributes Communion. He or she should be seated in the assembly during the Mass; he or she is not part of the entrance procession. Extraordinary ministers are to move into the sanctuary as soon as they have offered the peace greeting, before the Lamb of God.

§16. The role of the extraordinary minister encompasses the ministry of bringing Holy Communion to the sick and homebound. Ideally, this ministry will be done as an extension of the parochial celebration of Mass, but can be done at other times as well. In this regard:
1° When an extraordinary minister brings Communion to the sick and homebound, the proper, official rite is to be used. When this is done immediately following Mass, at least some public mention of this fact at the conclusion of the Communion Rite of that Mass is encouraged. It is not appropriate to bring a pyx simply while coming forward to receive Communion. What-ever is done by way of obtaining and bringing Holy Communion to the sick must be carried out with dignity, decorum and true respect exhibited for the Eucharistic presence.
2° In bringing Communion to the sick and shut-ins within the parish or institution for which they were approved, the extraordinary minister must have at least presumed permission of the pastor or chaplain. No extraordinary minister should bring Communion to persons elsewhere, even to fellow parishioners or family who may be hospitalized, without the expressed permission of his or her own pastor.
3° Extraordinary ministers are to know that they may and, indeed, should offer the Eucharist as Viaticum to those who are dying, using the proper ritual.
4° The Holy Eucharist is to be carried and possessed by an extraordinary minister only while bringing Communion to the sick; it may not be reserved outside of a tabernacle overnight or any longer than necessary.
5° If and instituted acolyte, deacon or priest is present, he gives Holy Communion, not the extraordinary minister, to the sick person.
6° In the absence of an ordained minister and with the expressed permission of the pastor, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist may expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament in either a ciborium or a monstrance for adoration, and may lead the faithful in prayer during this time. In such a case, the official form of the celebration is to be followed, noting that laypersons are not permitted to give the “benediction” in any form as part of the ritual.

The Eucharist

The Eucharist constitutes the Church's entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ himself, our Passover and Living Bread. 3 Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the USA

Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion:

When the size of the congregation requires it, ordinary ministers of the Eucharisit may be assisted by Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Comunion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence." Norms 28

Who may be appointed as an Extaordinary Minister of Holy Communion?

  1. Men, women and young people of High School age or older who are judged by the Pastor to be mature, sincere and capable.
  2. Persons who are fully initiated: Baptized, First Comunion and Confirmation, and living their faith seriously.
  3. And those who are respected in the parish for strong Catholic lives.

How does a person become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion?

  1. The Pastor alone makes the appointment of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
  2. The candidate must attend formation for this ministry that is in accord with number 28 of the Norms.
  3. Upon completion of formation:
  • The candidate is appointed by the Bishop.
  • The candidate is commissioned at a Sunday Mass. The Book of Blessings contains the Order of Commissioning Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, number 1874ff.

How does a person become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to the Sick?

The Pastor of the Parish may appoint lay men, women, and religious to bring the Eucharist outside of Mass to the sick and homebound under the following circumstances:

  1. The Priest is faithful to his obligation and privilege as the Ordinary Minister, and the Extraordinary Minister is seen not as a substitute for the Priest, but as a true extension of the local community's total concern for the sick and the elderly.
  2. Eucharistic Ministers to the sick are needed in the Parish who will be committed to regular or continuing ministry to the sick and elderly of the parish; a ministry that includes but is not limited to the ministry of bringing Holy Comunion.

Procedures for Distribution of Holy Communion

The following procedures are promulgated according to the document Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Diocese of the United States of America. 2002. All paragraph numbers refer to this document unless otherwise stated.

Reverence for the Holy Eucharist

All ministers of Holy Communion should show the greatest reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist by the demeanor, their attire and the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread or wine. (29)


Enough bread and wine should be made ready for the communication of the faithful at each Mass.

As a general rule, Holy Communion is given from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and not from those reserved in the tabernacle. the Priest or Extraordinary Minister should not go to the tabernacle during Mass for the reserved Blessed Sacrament except in the case of emergency. Precious Blood may not be reserved at one Mass for use at another. (30)

A suitable number of ministers of Holy Communion are to be provided at each Mass.

For communion from the Chalice, it is desirable that there be generally two ministers of the Precious Blood for each minister of the Body of Christ, lest the liturgical celebration be unduly prolonged. (30)

Before Mass begins, wine and hosts should be provided in vessels of appropriate size and number.

The presence on the altar of a single Chalice and one large Paten can signify the one Bread and one Chalice by which we are gathered into the one Body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise. When this is not possible, care should be taken that the number of vessels should not exceed the need. (32)

The Bread to be broken should be of sufficient size that at least some of the faithful are able to receive a piece broken from it.

The unity of all in the one Bread will be better expressed…When the number of the faithful is great. however, a single large bread may be used for the breaking of the Bread with small breads provided for the rest of the faithful. (33)

The Bread used at the Eucharist must be made only of wheat and water.

Other additives may not be used. (Canon 924:2).

The Office of Worhsip has licit recipes for eucharistic bread.

Sacred Vessels

Sacred Vessells should be of the highest quality and made of materials that are noble and suited to sacred use.

328 GRIM: "Sacred vessels are to made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, then ordinarily they should be gilded on the inside."

329 GRIM: "In the Dioceses fo the United States of America, sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials that, according to the common estimation in each region, are precious, for example, ebony or other hard woods, provided that such materials are suited to sacred use and do not easily break or deteriorate."

Care should be taken that crystal, glass or pottery chalices or ciborium used at Mass are created specifically for sacred use at the Eucharist. Glass wine glass or bowls created for ordinary use are not acceptable.

330 GRIM Chalices and other vessels that serve as receptables for the blood of the Lord are to have a cup of nonabsorbent material. The base may be of any other solid and worthy material.

The Communion Rite

"As the Lamb of God is begun, the Bishop or Priest alone, or with the assistance of the Deacon, and if necessary of concelebrating Priests, breaks the Eucharistic Bread." (37)

The Deacon or Priest places the consecrated bread in several Ciboria or Patens and if necessary, pours the Precious Blood into enough additional Chalices as are required for the distribution of Holy Communion." (37)

The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion approach the Altar as the Priest receives Communion.

After the Priest has received Communion, he distributes Communion to the Extraordinary Ministers, assisted by the Deacon. (38)

The Priest or Deacon gives the Body of Christ to each Extraordinary Minister. The Priest or Deacon then gives the Blood of Christ to Extraordinary Minister. If the number of Extraordinary Ministers is large, the Priest may give the Blood of Christ to one or two Extraordinary Ministers, who then assist the Priest or Deacon in giving the Blood of Christ to the rest of the Extraordinary Ministers.

The Priest or Deacon hands the Ciborium or the Chalice to each individual Extraordinary Minister. Extraordinary Ministers may not pick up the Chalice or Ciborium from the Altar. The Priest, Deacon, and Extraordinary Ministers then go to the assembly to distribute Communion.

Neither Deacons nor Lay Ministers may ever receive Holy Communion in the manner of a concelebrating Priest (39).

The practice of the Extraordinary Ministers receiving the host and communicating at the same time as the Priest is not allowed.

The practice of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion waiting to receive Holy Communion until after the distribution of Holy Communion is not in accord with liturgical law. (39)

Extraordinary Ministers receive after the Priest, and before the assembly.

Body of Christ

When administering the Body of Christ, Extraordinary Ministers hold the sacred vessel in their left hand (opposite for left-handed persons) and taking the host in their right hand…hold it for the communicant to see…and say:
The Body of Christ
to which the communicant replies:

Sensitive to the wishes of the communicant, the minister places the Body of Christ in the communicants hand or on the tongue. (41)

The Blood of Christ

When administering the Precious Blood, hold the cup for the communicant to see, and say:
The Blood of Christ
to which the communicant replies:
and taking the cup, drinks some of the Precious Blood.

The Extraordinary Ministers then wipes the lip of the cup with the Purificator and turns the cup one quarter of a turn before the next communicant.

What do you do if…

You spill the Precious Blood? If the Precious Blood is spilled while giving Communion to the congregation, position yourself over the Precious Blood so no one can step in it. After Communion it needs to be diluted with water and rinsed in the sacrarium in the sacristy.
You drop a host? The consecrated host is to be picked up, placed to the side in the Ciborium ann brought to the attention of the celebrant that it was dropped.
A communicant tries to dip the host in the Precious Blood? Don't do or say anthing, but tell your Pastor and have him quietly educate the communicant sometime after the liturgy. A person may never self-communicate and this form of intinction is self-communication.
What to do if a person genuflects before receiving Communion or kneels to receive Communion? Do not refuse them Communion, but have your Pastor quietly educate that communicant sometime after the liturgy regarding the wishes of the Church in this matter.

While the heart of the celebration of the Eucharist is in the Eucharistic Prayer, the consummation of the Mass is found in Holy Communion whereby the people purchased for the Father by his beloved Son eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ. They are thereby joined together as members of Christ's mystical Body, sharing the one life of the Spirit. In the great sacrament of the Altar, they are joined to Christ Jesus and to one another. (Norm 4)

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