Ministry of Eucharist
In every celebration of the Eucharist, there should be enough Ministers of Holy Communion so it may be distributed in a reverent and orderly manner. Bishops, priests and deacons distribute Holy Communion in virtue of their office as ordinary ministers of the Body and Blood of the Lord. (1) (SSV, (2) 27).
When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, priest or deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, priests, or deacons. If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, "the priest may call upon Extraordinary Ministers to assist him, i.e., formally instituted acolytes or even some of the faithful who have been commissioned per the prescribed rite. In case of necessity, the priest may also commission suitable members of the faithful for the occasion (GIRM 162)."
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence. In all matters, they should follow the guidance of the diocesan bishop (THLS, 28). When recourse is had to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, especially in the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, their number should not be higher than what is required for orderly and reverent distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord. In all matters, such Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should follow the guidance of the diocesan bishop (IBID).
All ministers of Holy Communion should show the greatest reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist by their demeanor, attire and the way they handle consecrated bread or wine. Should there be any mishap — as when, for example, the consecrated wine is spilled from the chalice — then the affected "area . . . should be washed and the water poured into the sacrarium [GIRM, 280]." (THLS, 29).
Liturgy of the Eucharist
As the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God is begun, the bishop or priest alone breaks the Eucharistic bread. This can also be done with the assistance of the deacon and, if necessary, concelebrating priests.
Other empty chalices and ciboria or patens are then brought to the altar if this is necessary. 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. If it is not possible to accomplish this distribution in a reasonable time, the celebrant may call upon the assistance of other deacons or concelebrating priests. This action is usually carried out at the altar, so that the sharing of all from the one cup is signified; in the case of large assemblies, it may be done at the side table within the sanctuary (presbyterium). (THLS, 37).
Initial Training for Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist
Trainings occur throughout the year. Information on sessions will be updated upon scheduling scheduled. Additionally, if you are a training site and would like to have your program listed, please contact us. If needed, we can assist with the recommendation of the presenters and with the explanation of the structure of the program. In the meantime, with questions, please reach out to:
How to Structure the Training for Ministers of Holy Communion at Mass
When training ministers of communion for the parish, religious community or institution, certain things should be included in the formation. This includes a theology of the Eucharist as celebrated in the Roman Catholic tradition, background and historical catechesis on the evolution of Eucharistic practice and devotion and assistance for ministers in fostering well-rounded spirituality of the Eucharist. Other aspects to be considered in the formation include the exploration of how baptism calls us to be a worshipping assembly and people of service, a practicum for the proper manner of distributing communion in the local community and time for prayer and reflection together.
After Ministers have been trained, please provide to the Office of Divine Worship on your parish or institution letterhead a list of names of those to be mandated. The Office will then provide a template which parishes can use to make certificates for the pastor or chaplain’s signature and distribution. Please address this request to:
Office for Divine Worship
Cardinal Meyer Center
3525 S. Lake Park Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653 -1402