Another EMHC question

I am part of a group who visits local nursing homes every Sunday to administer Holy Communion. At the end of the Mass, the priest calls all the EMHC’s to the alter, where we receive our filled pyx. Then he says a short prayer over us and sends us off, as I’ve seen at many parishes.

However, there is one priest who regularly forgets and he basically relies on us to remind him. Basically, we just walk up to the alter uninvited, then he remembers and gives us our pyxes and the prayer. Many of the EMHC’s are very bashful about doing this, but reminding the priest has to be done or it will cause other problems. So by default, I have become the person in charge of leading this mob of EMHC’s to storm the alter at the end of Mass.

My question is: Specifically at what point of the Mass is the priest supposed to send the EMHC out to their ministry?
This is how the end of the Mass goes at my parish:

  • Distribution of Holy Communion
  • Short silence
  • “After Communion prayer” lead by the priest
  • Lector reads announcements
  • Blessing and dismissal of the congregation

So, when do I storm the alter? Up until now, I just try to get there before the organist begins the recessional hymn, but on a few occasions, it has been almost disruptive. If I time this properly, it won’t add any more awkwardness than necessary.

When I took the Eucharist to the sick and home bound we received our pyxes after mass. There is nowhere in the rubrics that says “EMHC process to the alter to receive pyxes.” Remember the use of EMHCs is supposed to be an exception and not a norm. As such there is no reason for it to be done in the Mass.

If Father doesn’t mention it during mass I would remain in the pew and then lead the group up after mass and kindly ask father to distribute the pyxes at that time.

This would leave the Blessed Sacrament unattended on the alter.


My first suggestion is a major change of attitude.

We have a slightly different problem in my parish. Even though it’s in the presider’s book, the priest often forgets to dismiss the catechumens from Mass after the homily.

We solved this by having the catechist leading the dismissal walk along the side aisle to a spot just outside the sanctuary when the priest finishes the homily. He sits down and the catechist moves forward unobtrusively. The catechist is standing just outside the sanctuary, the priest notices him or her at the point where he’s ready to continue with Mass, and he calls the catechumens for their dismissal. People in the pews don’t notice anything, it’s all done with respect, and we haven’t had problems with not having the dismissal.

Perhaps something similar would work for you. At the appropriate time, one person can move toward the sanctuary so the priest can see him or her and remember to call forward the other ministers.


No one should be storming the altar.

I agree with everything you write. My question is what is the appropriate time to move towards the alter?
If I do this at the appropriate time, it will happen seamlessly and without distraction, which is the goal. (Mentioning we “storm” the alter was a small attempt at humor, I guess not a great attempt…)

You should talk to your priest about when he wants you to go up to the altar. He is actually the one in charge of that.


and add to that: why is this being addressed here? Why not ask the priest himself how he would like to be reminded or when he would like all the EMHCs to come forward?

At one parish I go to, those who take Communion to the home bound are called up by the priest after Communion is distributed, and gives them the pyxes. He gives them a blessing, says a prayer, and dismisses them at that point. That would be a good way to handle it.

That’s what is done in our parish, too.

At my parish the EMHCs have been instructed to go up as the distribution on communion is completed but before the remaining hosts have been reposed. Each person has their empty pyx and we quietly begin to line up in the side aisle. When then each goup to the altar, receive the hosts, and leave directly to the nursing home or homebound. Each person receives a blessing from the priest or deacon, so there is no need to stay until the end of Mass.

Please speak to your priest. He will tell you when he would prefer it to happen. It may be that he’d really like this to wait until after Mass is completely over. That decision is his to make.


I would add that if there is really so many EMHCs that you characterize it as “storming”, it may be the least dispruptive to distribute the pyxes after the Mass is over. If you are concerned with them being on the altar, they could be placed into the tabernacle with the Ciborium after Communion and then the group could gather there after Mass for the pyxes to be distributed.

FWIW, most of the parishes where I have been do not have a formal procedure for this. I have seen some of what you describe when visiting in other parts of the country. Almost always, it is after the post-Communion prayer but before the announcements.

EMHCs do not receive the pyx or the Eucharist from the Altar at our parish. After Mass we approach the tabernacle and fill the pyx and then we go directly to the hospital/nursing home.

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