An Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church is, under the Code of Canon Law, “an acolyte, or another of Christ’s faithful deputed”, in certain circumstances, to distribute Holy Communion.
It is a gift to be a Eucharistic Minister – to share the Body and Blood of Christ with another.The moment of communion is one that should be seized by both the minister and the communicant. This moment is unique because it is both personal and much bigger than the two people.
In every celebration of the Eucharist, there should be a sufficient number of ministers of Holy Communion so that 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. 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., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may also depute suitable faithful for this single 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.
All ministers of Holy Communion should show the greatest reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist by their demeanor, their attire, and the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread or wine. Therefore candidates should be selected accordingly to the responsibility.
- To be a Eucharistic Minister is to be intent on the work of liturgy caught up in singing, procession and even silence. To be a Eucharistic Minister is to know deeply that we are the Body and Blood of Christ. To be with the praying community is to learn how to be in this world with reverence, with a love of God that is incarnate in how we speak to others, how we move amidst the holiness of matter and of time.
- A fully initiated Catholic, having celebrated the sacraments of baptism, First Eucharist and confirmation.