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  #1  
Old Jan 13, '10, 8:00 am
hgaldys hgaldys is offline
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Default Communion for the handicap

I am an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist (the correct title for Eucharistic Ministers I am told) and am facing controversy about bringing communion to the handicap present in the church. Some would like specific designated areas for the handicap, others think we should walk all over the church making sure everyone has received communion. Sometimes I feel like I am delivery popcorn/peanuts at a baseball game looking for people. Is there any documentation that I can read up on?
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  #2  
Old Jan 13, '10, 8:19 am
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

Quote:
Originally Posted by hgaldys View Post
I am an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist (the correct title for Eucharistic Ministers I am told) and am facing controversy about bringing communion to the handicap present in the church. Some would like specific designated areas for the handicap, others think we should walk all over the church making sure everyone has received communion. Sometimes I feel like I am delivery popcorn/peanuts at a baseball game looking for people. Is there any documentation that I can read up on?
In our parish, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHCs), will take Holy Communion to those who are unable to come forward at the end. The ushers will escort the EMHCs (or, the priest, or the deacon) to the areas where they are and these individuals are able to receive Holy Communion. After these have received, then the choir receives. We do not have designated seating for individuals who are impaired.

As for the correct term, please note what Redemptionis Sacramentum says:

Quote:
[156.] This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not "special minister of Holy Communion" nor "extraordinary minister of the Eucharist" nor "special minister of the Eucharist", by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.
I hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old Jan 13, '10, 8:30 am
Philomeena Philomeena is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

I am so thankful that the EMHCs at our parish did not feel like they were running around delivering popcorn and peanuts when they brought holy communion to my father in law who sat with us (his family) at Christmas Eve mass, instead of being forced to sit in one area reserved for the "handicapped".

Maybe this is not your calling? I know it is not mine. That is why I only bring Eucharist to the sick and homebound instead of serving at mass. I think sometimes our feelings are intuitions that we should listen to. If you REALLY feel the way you described, and I understand you may have said that out of discomfort and frustration, then maybe you should listen to that inner voice and serve your parish in a different way.
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  #4  
Old Jan 13, '10, 8:49 am
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

Obviously, someone with a wheel chair or walker can reasonably expect Communion to be brought to him, regardless of where he is sitting.

In our small parish, because of fire laws, there are some spaces reserved for people in walkers or chairs or scooters. It's not a question of segregation, but for egress for all in case of an emergency.

If I'm on crutches (which with gout I am occasionally), i tell one of the ushers to let the priest know to bring me Communion. But since he passes right before me at the Little and Great Entrances (where I usually sit in the back row), he usually knows.
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  #5  
Old Jan 13, '10, 8:49 am
dconklin dconklin is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

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Originally Posted by hgaldys View Post
Sometimes I feel like I am ... looking for people. Is there any documentation that I can read up on?
You sure should be looking for people. As followers of Christ, we are called to do as He did. He did not only serve those that came looking for him, but he sometimes went looking for them (Good Shepherd) and sometimes he had to be asked by an intercessor (Mary at Cana) to serve others.
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  #6  
Old Jan 13, '10, 9:02 am
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

At our parish, those who will be receiving Holy Communion without leaving their pews generally sit in the same area, either in the front row or on an aisle. Others who do not want to sit in that area let an usher know.

The EMsHC and the priest distribute to the choir and those in the designated area first. Very Important: whomever is distributing under the species of bread always waits for the one distributing under the species of wine. The ushers also hold up those lining up for communion until those ministering to these front rows have taken their regular places. This lowers the likelihood that the ministers with the cup, in particular, will be jostled while trying to make their way to their post.

Those who don't come forward in the regular line and who do not want to sit in the designated area are ministered to at the end, when those on foot have cleared the aisles. It is not practical to have someone walking farther than necessary through church with a full common cup when they might have a line of people to contend with due to a misunderstanding or impatience. This also gives the ushers a chance to check to make sure someone has not escaped their attention, and covers those who weren't really aware that walking isn't a good option today, so only one trip to the back of church needs to be made, too. Don't want to miss anybody.
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  #7  
Old Jan 13, '10, 9:38 am
SuscipeMeDomine SuscipeMeDomine is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

In my parish the ushers make note of the people who need to have communion brought to them. At the end of communion they accompany the EMHCs to show them where to go. It's a good partnership and meets everyone's needs.
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  #8  
Old Jan 13, '10, 9:45 am
amgp amgp is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

In the first 1969+ years of the Church, a lay person was never allowed to handle the sacred hosts (or the precious blood). Also, all Communicants who wished to receive had to present themselves at the Communion rail (the priest did not leave the Sanctuary during Mass).

Rather than question the poster's motives for being an EMHC, we should be attempting to answer the question; Is there a Church document that provides instruction on how handicapped people may receive during Mass? Hearing about how Holy Communion is distributed in different parishes is interesting, but it doesn't answer the question as to how the Church wants it to be done. (We all know that there are multitudes of abuses out there in parishes.) Can anybody provide a link to Church documentation on this subject?
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  #9  
Old Jan 13, '10, 9:48 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

Quote:
Originally Posted by hgaldys View Post
I am an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist (the correct title for Eucharistic Ministers I am told) and am facing controversy about bringing communion to the handicap present in the church. Some would like specific designated areas for the handicap, others think we should walk all over the church making sure everyone has received communion. Sometimes I feel like I am delivery popcorn/peanuts at a baseball game looking for people. Is there any documentation that I can read up on?
I think that would mostly be determined by the lay-out of your church. there is a document from the US bishops on their website about pastoral care of disabled persons which makes the point they cannot be denied sacraments. In general provision should be made for seating them in a manner and place most comfortable and accessible for them (including all applicable local laws about access, of course). even if that means removing some pews, providing chairs instead, close to the handicap access entrance, whatever it takes. that will also make it easier for the ministers, but in any case, it is easier for them to move all over the church than it is for some of the afflicted to come forward.
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  #10  
Old Jan 13, '10, 10:36 am
tinalewis tinalewis is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

This is a fabulous topic and one that I hope will attract more ideas from more posters. Please, though, let's treat our EMHC kindly and as we all do such an important job and we all want to do it well.

My parish has a widened pew to accomodate wheelchairs and walkers, etc. and also anyone who has trouble squeezing into the pews. The EMHC assigned to that side of the church is responsible for seeing that anyone in that pew who has mobility issues is cared for.

I admit that there have been times when I've forgotten to watch for the people seated in that aisle to be sure they have the opportunity to receive Holy Communion. Thank you for the reminder that no one should have to struggle to be in position to receive our Lord!
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  #11  
Old Jan 13, '10, 11:24 am
SuscipeMeDomine SuscipeMeDomine is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

Quote:
Originally Posted by amgp View Post
In the first 1969+ years of the Church, a lay person was never allowed to handle the sacred hosts (or the precious blood). Also, all Communicants who wished to receive had to present themselves at the Communion rail (the priest did not leave the Sanctuary during Mass).
And quite likely there were fewer people with disabilities who were present in the church and might need for the priest to step outside the sanctuary. Today people in wheelchairs aren't hidden away at home but are accepted and accommodated in society. In addition, churches being built or remodeled now are more accessible to those in wheelchairs or using walkers.

Quote:
Rather than question the poster's motives for being an EMHC, we should be attempting to answer the question; Is there a Church document that provides instruction on how handicapped people may receive during Mass?
Take a look at the Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities at http://www.ncpd.org/views-news-polic...shops/pastoral

It talks about the attitudes we need more than specific actions. For example:
14. In the case of many people with disabilities, integration into the Christian community may require nothing more than issuing an invitation and pursuing it. For some others, however, full participation can only come about if the Church exerts itself to devise innovative programs and techniques. At the very least, we must undertake forms of evangelization that speak to the particular needs of individuals with disabilities, make those liturgical adaptations which promote their active participation and provide helps and services that reflect our loving concern.
23. It is essential that all forms of the liturgy be completely accessible to people with disabilities, since these forms are the essence of the spiritual tie that binds the Christian community together. To exclude members of the parish from these celebrations of the life of the Church, even by passive omission, is to deny the reality of that community. Accessibility involves far more than physical alterations to parish buildings. Realistic provision must be made for persons with disabilities to participate fully in the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations such as the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick. The experiences and needs of individuals with disabilities vary, as do those of any group of people. For some with significant disabilities, special liturgies may be appropriate. Other will not require such liturgies, but will benefit if certain equipment and services are made available to them. Celebrating liturgies simultaneously in sign language enables the deaf person to enter more deeply into their spirit and meaning. Participation aids such as Mass books and hymnals in large print or Braille serve the same purpose for blind or partially sighted members.
I'm just thinking about going to Mass with my mother in the last few years of her life. She used a walker at that point or would lean on my arm when she walked. It wasn't impossible for her to go up for communion, but it was difficult. She felt so treasured when the priest or an extraordinary minister would bring communion to her. She appreciated that they cared enough about her to make that extra effort.
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  #12  
Old Jan 13, '10, 1:35 pm
zab zab is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

Quote:
Originally Posted by hgaldys View Post
I am an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist (the correct title for Eucharistic Ministers I am told) and am facing controversy about bringing communion to the handicap present in the church. Some would like specific designated areas for the handicap, others think we should walk all over the church making sure everyone has received communion. Sometimes I feel like I am delivery popcorn/peanuts at a baseball game looking for people. Is there any documentation that I can read up on?
I think every parish is faced with similar problems. Those in charge of instructing the EMHC in your parish would have a better idea of the layout of your church and so on in order to make those decisions. In our parish, we have the two front pews set aside for those in frail health , who use walkers or for those in wheelchairs the end of the pews are cut out to accomodate up to 4 wheelchairs. Most of the time this is sufficient space, however, some refuse to sit up front. The ushers take note of those in the back who will need assistance and usually has them to sit at the end of the pew on the side aisle (wheelchairs remain in the aisle) so that when the EMHC going to the choir loft will give them Communion on the way up.
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  #13  
Old Jan 13, '10, 1:37 pm
thomas jd thomas jd is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

Quote:
Originally Posted by hgaldys View Post
I am an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist (the correct title for Eucharistic Ministers I am told) and am facing controversy about bringing communion to the handicap present in the church. Some would like specific designated areas for the handicap, others think we should walk all over the church making sure everyone has received communion. Sometimes I feel like I am delivery popcorn/peanuts at a baseball game looking for people. Is there any documentation that I can read up on?
Have the Pastor address the issue. It is his responsibility not yours to set policy.
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  #14  
Old Jan 13, '10, 1:45 pm
ProVobis ProVobis is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

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Originally Posted by SuscipeMeDomine View Post
And quite likely there were fewer people with disabilities who were present in the church and might need for the priest to step outside the sanctuary. Today people in wheelchairs aren't hidden away at home but are accepted and accommodated in society. In addition, churches being built or remodeled now are more accessible to those in wheelchairs or using walkers.
You're right. However, I have yet to see where there are attempts to make the confessionals remodeled for the handicapped. Seems as if this sacrament should be just as important as the Eucharist in our spiritual lives. When I walk into a church for the first time, the confessional is usually the first thing I look for. Besides the tabernacle, of course.
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  #15  
Old Jan 13, '10, 2:08 pm
amgp amgp is offline
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Default Re: Communion for the handicap

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Originally Posted by SuscipeMeDomine View Post
And quite likely there were fewer people with disabilities who were present in the church and might need for the priest to step outside the sanctuary.
Interesting. Do you have any reliable stats to back this? There never was a "need" for the priest to leave the sanctuary because it was not allowed. That isn't to say that people with disabilities weren't present. How do people with disabilities arrive at Mass to begin with? What method did they use to arrive at their pew in the first place. A friend of mine is an amputee with prosthetics who uses two crutches to walk, and insists upon kneeling at the communion rail to receive...quite a witness to the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuscipeMeDomine View Post
Take a look at the Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities at http://www.ncpd.org/views-news-polic...shops/pastoral
Yes, we all know that we should accommodate people with disabilities. However, the question is HOW the Church would like us to do so in a proper manner that respects the dignity of the recipient, and yet shows proper reverence for our Eucharistic Lord. From what I've seen here in these postings, this has not been addressed. There have only been accounts of what various parishes do.
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