Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Rose Marie Patin, Coordinator,
[email protected]

Yvonne Bailey, Coordinator, [email protected]

A Brief History

In the early days of the Church, there were fewer restrictions about who distributed Holy Communion.  For example, a sick person could have asked a friend to bring the sacrament.  But by the Middle Ages, the ministry was restricted to priests and bishops.  Deacons were considered Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and on some occasions they administered the Blood of Christ.  Throughout Christian history, it was rare for laypeople to serve as Extraordinary Ministers.

The Second Vatican Council opened up the ministry of distributing Communion.  Because Deacons are ordained ministers, they became “ordinary” ministers.  “Extraordinary” means “outside the ordinary” and not “wonderful” people!  The reason for Extraordinary Ministers was due to the great demand for Holy Communion, mostly in the 20th century, since Pope Pius X started promoting regular Holy Communion.

Ministry Qualifications

  • The Extraordinary Minister will have a genuine love for the Eucharist, and a call to this ministry.  Some people feel unworthy of this ministry, to be allowed to touch the Body of Christ, to handle the sacred vessels, to place the elements in the hands of the faithful.  But consider this:  before we are called to receive Holy Communion, we say “Lord, I am not worthy…” – and Christ invites us anyway, He calls us to be an Extraordinary Minister!
  • This ministry is open to women and men who have been fully initiated into the Catholic Faith.
  • They should be practicing Catholics (generally for at least a year), in good standing with the parish community, and possess a love of the Eucharist.

Spirituality and Formation

  • Extraordinary Ministers are commissioned by the Diocese after attending an approved workshop given at the parish or at various locations throughout the Diocese.  This applies to new ministers as well as to Eucharistic Ministers commissioned in another Diocese.  After training the Extraordinary Minister is “commissioned” for a 4 year term.
  • A commissioned Extraordinary Minister then receives a brief training and orientation at St. Edmond’s.
  • Extraordinary Ministers are required to attend a re-certification class every 4 years.