In the distribution of Communion the Priest may be assisted by other Priests who happen to be present. If such Priests are not present and there is a truly large number of communicants, the Priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, that is, duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been duly deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the Priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion. (GIRM 162)
Requirements for Ministry
- Membership in parish 1 year: At pastor's discretion but encouraged from point of view of fidelity to the community one wishes to serve.
- Age: Any man or woman (from high school age on), acknowledged by peers and pastor to be active Catholic.
- Sacramental: A Confirmed practicing Catholic; if married, in a marriage recognized as valid by the Catholic Church.
- Names to be submitted to the bishop: The pastor's signature required on the letter of request; the list will be acknowledged by the Chancellor and returned to the parish.
- Preparation document says "the faithful should be properly catechized" on the following:
- The ecclesial nature of the Eucharist as the common possession of the whole Church;
- The Eucharist as the memorial of Christ's sacrifice, his death and resurrection, and as the sacred Banquet;
- The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic elements, whole and entire, in each element of bread and wine (the doctrine of concomitance);
- The kinds of reverence due at all times to the sacrament, whether within the Eucharistic liturgy or outside the celebration;
- The role that ordinary and, if necessary, extraordinary ministers of the Holy Communion.
- "Hands-on" training
- Importance of fulfilling commitment as scheduled
The Book of Blessings contains under Part VI, "Blessings for Various Needs and Occasions" a Rite of Commissioning Special Ministers of Holy Communion (Chapter 63).
We suggest that commissioning should take place only once or twice a year, e.g. on the Feast of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or on one of the "Eucharist Sundays" of Cycle B - 17B to 21B. These choices are not exclusive of other times.
Parishes which need the Rite in Spanish may contact the office of Liturgy & Worship.
Length of Service
3 years. The minister may request to renew at the end of this time. We suggest a yearly renewal which would give the ministers an opportunity to withdraw without embarrassment if they have found it difficult to be faithful to their commitment.
Support of Ministry
We suggest a gathering for renewal each year, e.g. an evening which might have the following format:
- A prayer service in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament
- Some kind of renewal or refreshing of their central ministry (perhaps a deepening of their understanding of the Eucharist.)
- A session of "clean-up" where some details of the practical aspects of their ministry may be given attention.
- Social time
This might be done within a parish, in collaboration with a neighboring parish or by deanery groups.
Dcn. Don Warner
Director of Liturgy & Worship
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