Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

The name "minister of the Eucharist belongs properly to the priest alone, because only the priest can confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist in persona Christi. Moveover, also by reason of their sacred Ordination, the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the Bishop, the Priest, and the Deacon, to whom it belongs therefore to administer Holy Communion to the lay members of Christ's faithful during the celebration of the Mass.[i]

Pope John Paul II wrote: “... one must not forget the primary office of priests, who have been consecrated by their ordination to represent Christ the Priest: [ ] for this reason their hands, like their words and their will, have become the direct instruments of Christ.  Through this fact, that is, as ministers of the Holy Eucharist, they have a primary responsibility for the sacred species, because it is a total responsibility: they offer the bread and wine, they consecrate it, and then distribute the sacred species to the participants in the assembly who wish to receive them.” [ii]

However, when reasons of genuine necessity prompt it, and in favor of the spiritual good of the faithful, a non-ordained member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the local Ordinary to act as an extraordinary minister to distribute Holy Communion in accordance with the norm of law. [iii] Such liturgical service is a response to the objective needs of the faithful especially those of the sic and to those liturgical assemblies in which there are particularly large numbers of the faithful who wish to receive Holy Communion.[iv]

 

Some Basic Questions about the Ministry of an
Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita

 

Q. What is necessary to exercise the ministry of an extraordinary minister of Holy
Communion?

A. An individual must receive a mandate [v]from the local Ordinary.[vi]

 

Q.  Where may an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion serve?

A. Only in the parish or institution for which the individual received delegation.[vii]

 

Q. How long does one serve as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?

A. The term of service is no more than 5 years[viii] , always expiring December 31st of each year[ix]; the term may be renewed.[x]

 

Q. Who determines candidates to be deputed as extraordinary minister of Holy
Communion?

A. It is the responsibility of the pastor, parish administrator, chaplain, or religious
superior to discern those to be nominated to receive authorization to exercise this
ministry.
[xi]

 

Q.  What are the necessary qualifications?

A. Mature age [xii]; outstanding Christian life in faith and morals[xiii].

 

Q. In what circumstances is the ministry as an extraordinary minister of Holy
Communion exercised?

A. There must be a true necessity.[xiv]

1.  An ordinary minister is not available or is engaged in another pastoral ministry;

2.  The priest presiding at the liturgy is impeded by poor health or advanced age;

3.  The number of faithful to receive Communion is so great that the Mass would
be unduly prolonged;

4.  When Communion under both kinds demands it;[xv]

5.  The sick and homebound would otherwise be deprived of the sacramental
help and consolation of the Eucharist.

 

Q. What is the process to become or renew the faculty to serve as an extraordinary
minister of Holy Communion in the Diocese of Wichita?

A. 1.  The pastor, administrator, chaplain, or religious superior registers a qualified
individual for a
formation session by submitting his/her name to the Office of
Worship.
[xvi]

2.  The nominated individual attends a formation session [xvii] provided by the
Office of Worship;
[xviii]

3.  The pastor, administrator, chaplain, or religious superior receives a letter from the
Office of Worship verifying the individual’s attendance at a formation session and
a certificate from the local Ordinary deputing the individual to exercise the ministry
of an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in the particular parish or
institution.
[xix]

4.  After the letter and mandate granting the faculty to serve as an extraordinary
minister of Holy Communion has been received, the pastor, administrator, or
chaplain commissions the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion according
to the rite “Order for the Commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy
Communion
” from the Book of Blessings and presents the certificate to the
individual.
[xx]The faculty is then effective.

 

Q.  What if an unexpected need arises and there are no other ordinary or
extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion available?

A. In exceptional or in unforeseen circumstances, the priest presiding at the liturgy may authorize suitable member of the faithful for a single occasion.[xxi]It is never allowed for the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion him/herself to delegate anyone else.[xxii]

 


 

[i] Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 154.
[ii] Dominicae coenae, ch. 3, sec.2.
[iii] Redemptionis Sacramentum n. 155.
[iv] Ecclesiae de mysterio, Art. 8.
[v] Fidei custos, n 6; Liturgicae instaurationes, n. 6d; Immensae caritatis, n. VI; Book of Blessings, n. 1872; Ecclesiae de mysterio, n. 8§ 1; Norms for the Distribution & Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, n. 28; Redemptionis sacramentum, n. 155, 160; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 162.
[vi] Fidei custos, n. 6, 8; Immensae caritatis,  n. I.I, VI; Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, n. 17; Pastoral Care of the Sick, n. 29; Book of Blessings, n. 1871, 1872; Ecclesiae de mysterio, n. 8§ 1; Norms for the Distribution & Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, n. 28; Redemptionis sacramentum, n. 155, 159; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 162.
[vii] Gerber, Bishop Eugene, Letter to Priests: (May 20, 1991, Sept 17, 1991); Clergy NewsNotes: (Jan 9, 1995).
[viii] Presbyteral Council, Minutes: (March 8, 2001, Dec 13, 2001); Liturgy Matters: (Jan 2002, Jan 2004).
[ix] Presbyteral Council, Minutes: (March 8, 2001).
[x] Gerber, Bishop Eugene, Letter to Priests: (May 20, 1991); Presbyteral Council, Minutes: (Dec 13, 2001); Liturgy Matters: (Jan 2002, Feb 2004).
[xi] Geber, Bishop Eugene, Letter to Priests: (May 20, 1991, Sept 19, 1991); Clergy NewsNotes: (Jan 9, 1995); Presbyteral Council, Minutes: (March 8, 2001, June 7, 2001); Liturgy Matters: (Feb 2002, Sept 2003).
[xii] Fidei custos, n. 5.
[xiii] Fidei custos, n. 5; Liturgicae instaurationes, n. 6d; Immensae caritatis, n. IV.
[xiv] Fidei custos, n. 1a, 1b, 1c; Immensae caritatis, n. I, I.Ia, I.Ib I.Ic; Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, n. 17; Inaestimabile Donum , n. 10; Code of Canon Law, n. 230.3; Pastoral Care of the Sick, n. 29; Book of Blessings, n. 1871; Ecclesiae de mysterio, n. 8, 8§ 2; Norms for the Distribution & Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, n. 28; Redemptionis sacramentum, n. 151, 155, 157, 158; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 162.
[xv] General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 264; Gerber, Bishop Eugene, Letter to Priests: (Sept 17, 1991).
[xvi] Liturgy Matters: (Feb 2002, Sept 2003, April 2004, May 2004).
[xvii] Fidei custos, n. 5; Ecclesiae de mysterio, n. 8; Norms for the Distribution & Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, n. 28; Gerber, Bishop Eugene, Letter to Priests: (May 20, 1991, Sept 17, 1991); Clergy NewsNotes: (Jan 9, 1995); Liturgy Matters: (Jan 2002, Feb 2004).
[xviii] Gerber, Bishop Eugene, Letter to Priests: (May 20, 1991, Sept 17, 1991); Clergy NewsNotes: (Jan 9, 1995); Presbyteral Council, Minutes: (June 7, 2001); McKnight Proposal: (Dec 13, 2001); Liturgy Matters: (Sept 2003).
[xix] McKnight Proposal: (Dec 13, 2001); Liturgy Matters: (Sept 2003).
[xx] Fidei custos, n. 6; Immensae caritatis, n. VI, Book of Blessings, n. 1872, 1873; Ecclesiae de mysterio, n. 8§ 1; Redemptionis sacramentum, n. 155; Clergy NewsNotes: (Feb 8, 2001); McKnight Proposal: (Dec 13, 2001); Liturgy Matters: (Sept 2003).
[xxi] Ecclesiae de mysterio n. 8§ 1; Norms for the Distribution & Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, n. 28; Redemptionis Sacramentum 155; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 162.
[xxii] Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 159.