Extraordinary Ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion are properly formed, instructed and commissioned lay persons. EMHCs may be male or female. They should reflect the cultural diversity of their parish community. These ministers are appointed for a given parish community to aid in the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass and to the sick and homebound when ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are unavailable. EMHCs are not to function apart from their parish community. Ordinarily, EMHCs do not perform any other liturgical ministry at the Mass at which they serve as an EMHC.

When the situation requires, the presider of the Mass may call upon members of the faithful who are not EMHCs to aid him in the distribution of Holy Communion on that one occasion. Those called must be Catholics in good standing who are themselves able to receive the Eucharist.

As the Church teaches, the bishop is the chief liturgist of his diocese and all other liturgical ministries in collaboration with the pastors of the parishes of the Archdiocese.

Selection Criteria

Formation and Training

 In order for a person to be appointed as an EMHC, the following conditions must be met:

• Be a Catholic living in harmony with the teachings of the Church and be able to receive the Eucharist

• Be of sufficient age and maturity to perform the duties of an EMHC at Mass or to the sick and homebound in various locations (i.e. private homes, nursing homes, hospitals)

• Be chosen and appointed by the pastor for the parish entrusted to him
 Prior to beginning their ministry, EMHCs should be formed and trained in the following:

• Theology of the Eucharist and understanding of the Mass

• Theology and spirituality of ministry

• Universal church, archdiocesan and parish guidelines and procedures for their ministry EMHCs should participate in ongoing theological and ministerial formation at the parish and/or Archdiocesan level.


After preparation for this ministry is completed, a formal commissioning of EMHCs takes place, normally at a Sunday Eucharist, by the pastor or his delegate. EMHCs are to exercise their ministry only in their own parish or institution. An “Order for the Commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” can be found in the Book of Blessings, Ch. 63. (see also a sample rite at the end of this material)

Length of Service

Reverence and Attire

Since ministry is a call both from God and the community in which it is exercised, it is appropriate that the choice of ministry and renewal of the term of service be mutually agreed upon by the individual and the parish. EMHCs generally will serve for a period of at least two (2) years, after which time an evaluation should occur. This evaluation may lead to a determination that the minister

• be re-commissioned as an EMHC for another term,

• is being called to another ministry,

• leave ministry all together at this time.

It is helpful that each parish keep accurate records of each EMHC’s training, ongoing formation and their term(s) of service.
EMHCs show utmost reverence for the Eucharist. This reverence is reflected in their demeanor at Mass (full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy; CSL 14), their attire, and the manner in which they handle the Eucharist.

A neat and reverential appearance is in keeping with the minister’s role and belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The minister’s attire should be appropriate and should not detract from that role. EMHCs should refrain from using strong cologne, perfume or aftershave because some recipients of Holy Communion have sensitivities to these scents and because these fragrances often remain on one’s hands and can be transferred to the Eucharist.

In the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, EMHCs do not wear albs or any other special liturgical garb.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion Procedures Before, During, and After Mass

Before Mass

During Mass

• EMHCs should arrive at the church at least 15 minutes before the scheduled Mass to both check in, and prepare themselves interiorly for their ministry

• Every parish should have clear, written, check-in procedures that are known to all priests, deacons and EMHCs. The procedures should include: o Where and how to check-in o How to find out the assigned Communion station and whether you will be distributing the Sacred Body or Precious Blood of Christ o How to prepare the appropriate amount of Eucharistic bread and wine to be brought in procession (if this is your duty) o Note that when Holy Communion is distributed under both kinds, the deacon is to distribute the Precious Blood (GIRM #182)

• EMHCs should sit within the assembly of believers; they should not be part of the opening or closing procession, nor sit in the sanctuary

• EMHCs should not perform another ministry during the same Mass, unless an emergency situation arises

• EMHCs are called, as is the entire assembly, to full, conscious, active participation in the Eucharistic celebration

• Because EMHCs are models for the ritual behavior of the assembly, they should do all the ritual gestures of the assembly with strength and reverence, and make all verbal and sung ritual responses with faith and enthusiasm

• If EMHCs do not regularly model the current church and parish practices during liturgy, they should be counseled, re-trained or perhaps relieved of their ministry

Procedures for Distribution

• EMHCs may enter the sanctuary during the Fraction Rite, but should not approach the altar until after the presider has received Holy Communion; follow specific parish procedure

• Ordinarily no ministers should go to the tabernacle to bring previously consecrated hosts to the altar; all hosts for distribution should be consecrated at that Mass

• EMHCs receive Holy Communion after the priest (and deacon) have received, and before the reception of Holy Communion by the assembly; as indicated by the GIRM 2002 and the US Bishop’s Conference; all should make a bow of the head while saying “Amen” when receiving both the Body of Christ and the Precious Blood

• If there is no deacon, an EMHC may assist the presider in distributing Holy Communion to the other EMHCs; EMHCs are not to self-communicate either the Sacred Body or the Precious Blood

• After EMHCs receive Holy Communion, they are given their appropriate Communion vessel by the priest or deacon (In the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, when necessary, an EMHC may assist the presider in distributing the vessels for Holy Communion to the EMHCs, especially when there is no deacon present and there would be an undue delay in distributing Holy Communion to the faithful)

• Once all EMHCs have their vessels, they proceed reverently to their Communion stations

• In giving Holy Communion, the minister holds the host slightly above the vessel, looks at the communicant, and in a clear voice says, “The Body of Christ” to which the communicant responds “Amen”. These are the only words to be used. Nothing is to be added or subtracted, not even a name. Then the Sacred Body is placed in the hand or on the tongue according to the manner indicated by the communicant

• If a communicant begins to walk away carrying the host, the EMHC should say in a subdued voice, “Please consume the host now”

• Distribution of Communion under Both Kinds is recommended in all celebrations of the Eucharist; but it is the communicant’s option to receive from the Sacred Cup

• In giving the Precious Blood, the EMHC holds the Sacred Cup up slightly and says in a clear voice while looking at the communicant, “The Blood of Christ” to which the communicant responds “Amen”. These are the only words to be used. Nothing is to be added or subtracted, not even a name. Generally, the communicant should hold the Sacred Cup firmly in both hands and drink from it. However, in the case of a physical disability or weakness, the EMHC should be ready to assist in holding the Sacred Cup

After the Blood of Christ has been received, the EMHC should wipe the rim of the Sacred Cup, inside and out, with a purificator and turn the Sacred Cup slightly before presenting it to the next communicant. The EMHC should be careful not to wipe in a manner where the purificator is dipped into the Precious Blood.

• The Sacred Cup is always ministered to the communicant; it may never be left for self-communication, except in the case of concelebrating priests

• Intinction is not customary in the United States and is discouraged; the practice of self-intinction is not permitted

• Those EMHCs finishing distribution before others, can move to assist those ministers who still have communicants to serve; follow specific parish procedure in this regard

• It is recommended that there be two ministers of the Sacred Cup for every one minister of the Body of Christ. This allows for a smooth flow of the Communion procession

• It is recommended that ministers of the Sacred Cup are positioned a sufficient distance from the minister of the Body of Christ to ensure a smooth flow of the Communion procession

• It is recommended that every parish train enough EMHCs to be able to offer the Sacred Cup at every Mass

Accidents During Distribution

Procedures After Distribution


• If a host falls to the ground during distribution of Holy Communion, the EMHC should pick it up immediately and consume it then, or after distribution is over. It should never be put back in the vessel to be given to another communicant

• If the Precious Blood is spilled, the area should immediately be covered. It should then be blotted and washed after Mass with water and a purificator. The purificator should be rinsed and wrung out in the sacrarium. If there is no sacrarium, it should be rinsed in another vessel and the water poured into the ground in a secluded spot

• In either case, do not panic, and do not embarrass the communicant
• Once EMHCs are done with distribution, they return their vessels to the altar where any remaining hosts may be either consumed or prepared to be taken to the tabernacle; any remaining Precious Blood should be consumed at the altar by the priest, deacon or EMHCs (Norms #52)

• Communion vessels may be taken to the side(credence) table and cleansed after Mass, so that all may maintain a prayerful silence of word and movement after Communion; the vessels should be suitably covered

• EMHCs should return to their places in a dignified and reverent manner, not rushing

• Communion vessels should be purified by a priest or deacon; however, when a sufficient number of priests or deacons are not available, EMHCs may purify the vessels (special US Indult from the Holy See)

• EMHCs do not wash their hands in the ablution bowl in the sanctuary either before or after distribution of Holy Communion. All EMHCs are reminded to wash their hands in the sacristy or the rest room before Mass begins

• While performing their ministry, EMHCs do not bow or genuflect to the altar or tabernacle

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion Ministry to Sick and Homebound

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHCs) who take Communion to the sick and homebound have a role in sharing the Church’s total ministry to the sick after the manner of Jesus. In bringing Communion to the sick and homebound, the EMHC represents Christ and manifests faith and charity on behalf of the whole community toward those who cannot be present at Sunday Mass. This ministry is a sign of support and concern shown by the community for its members.

Patients who are in the hospital find it a comfort and source of healing to have Holy Communion brought to them as often as possible. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may make Communion visits any day of the week in accordance with the schedule and the protocol of each hospital or long-term residential facility.

The EMHC becomes a vital link between the parish community and the member who is sick or homebound. It is beneficial for visits to the sick and homebound to occur after Sunday Mass so that the link between the parish liturgical celebration and the parishioner is maintained. Taking a parish bulletin also helps maintain that link. The parish may also have a special blessing and dismissal for EMHCs after Communion; the assembly is sending them forth to do their ministry on the behalf of the whole parish community.

EMHCs do not replace the ministry of the priest to the people, but rather extend and expand it so that all will have more regular contact with Christ in Holy Communion.

EMHCs who minister to the sick and homebound should be empathic and compassionate. They should be sensitive to the sick and homebound person’s needs including the spiritual, emotional, and material. They should always take care to maintain the confidentiality and dignity of the individual. They should also maintain contact with the pastor and/or parish pastoral care coordinator and inform them if the person is in need of sacramental anointing, the sacrament of reconciliation, or a pastoral visit. In addition, if EMHCs observe a particular physical or social need of a homebound person, they should bring this need to the attention of the pastoral care coordinator as well so that the parish may respond appropriately According to the document Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, “The Eucharist for Communion outside of church is to be carried in a pyx or other covered vessel; the vesture of the minister and the manner of carrying the Eucharist should be appropriate and in accord with local circumstances”.

The EMHCs dress in appropriate lay attire when bringing Communion to the sick or homebound. Consecrated hosts are usually taken from the EMHC’s home parish or from the particular hospital’s tabernacle. Follow the procedures of the parish or hospital.

If the sick/homebound person is well enough to participate in the full ritual, “Communion Under Ordinary Circumstances”, use that ritual. If the person is not very well, use the shorter ritual “Communion in a Hospital or Institution”. Both of these rituals are found in the rite, Pastoral Care of the Sick or in the smaller booklet, Communion of the Sick available from the Office of Worship.

EMHCs serving in hospitals or institutions should always be sure that they are giving Holy Communion to the correct person. If there are Catholic family members or Catholic staff present, the EMHC should ask them if they would like to receive Holy Communion as well. When EMHCs have completed their assigned distribution, they should return any extra hosts to the hospital tabernacle or consume the hosts privately.

Extraordinary Ministers of Communion who are taking Holy Communion to the sick, homebound or to those in hospitals are to present the host in a prayerful manner. They are not to make judgments regarding the suitability of the person to receive the Holy Communion; such concerns are to be referred to the pastor or pastoral care coordinator.

Ordinarily, the parish pastoral care coordinator makes assignments and communicates assignments to the EMHCs and the sick and homebound.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion Dos and Don’ts of Bringing Communion to the Sick and Homebound



1. Make an appointment to visit. Ask how the person is feeling and if there will be others present so you will have sufficient hosts for all to receive. Also ask if they can prepare a table with a cloth, candle, cross or crucifix.

2. Use the ritual “Communion of the Sick” (Chapter 3) from Pastoral Care of the Sick and bring a Bible to read the scripture readings.

3. Begin informally. Introduce yourself to those who are present and briefly explain what you have come to do. Pay attention to how the sick/homebound person is feeling.

4. Invite those who are present to participate in the prayers. If they feel comfortable, enlist the help of family or friends to do the readings.

5. Based on the person’s strength/attentiveness, share with them the day’s homily.

6. Offer them the host, or a small piece of the host and have a cup of water handy if the person has difficulty swallowing.

7. Create links to the parish, e.g., bring a parish bulletin, share news from the parish, ask if there is anything the parish can do for them, if they need to see a priest for the sacrament of reconciliation or anointing of the sick.

8. Thank the person for the opportunity to pray with them and for their hospitality.

1. Don’t visit a sick person if you are not feeling well yourself. Find a substitute.

2. Don’t stay too long or take the role of a counselor or confidant.

3. Don’t compete with a television or radio. Politely ask if these can be turned off during the service.

4. Don’t carry the consecrated host in a plastic bag, purse, pocket or other unsuitable container. Instead, use a pyx to carry the consecrated host.

5. Don’t leave the consecrated host if the person cannot receive it. Instead, return at a later time to see the sick person. Consume any consecrated host or return it to tabernacle in the church or hospital chapel. Don’t take hosts home or leave them in your car.



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