Conduct of Eucharistic Ministers


Is there a code of conduct, or requirement of respect for all parishioners when acting as Eucharistic Minister that should be expected?
Given our human nature, we don’t always “like” everyone. This is true in my life experience. St.Therese writes her experiences of this in Journey of A Soul. I do not expect everyone to like me and I have not always liked another- but I am respectful and would care if something happened or I could help- this I would do. my personal emotions really would take very low priority.
And I distinguish a difference from loving one another- always hoping for the good of another - as Christ commands us.

But what about a EM/reader/singer (generally is near or on the Altar in one capacity or another during each Mass)- who gives sarcastic looks, refuses to ever smile or acknowledge someone in return, who waves their hand away from their body -during the Mass sign of peace- like rudely saying by hand language “get away, don’t look at me”?

if this was another parishioner, well its easy to just give people their space, but when involved in the Mass, is this different and I wonder what others would do?

( have to smile when I see St Teresa’s quote below…is this not so?! :slight_smile:

thank you!


I think you have to know that person very well to know of their intention. They may look rude to someone who don’t know them, but they could be shy or something or been given a helping hand by the priest to help them in some way. I don’t know am not there. If you are at all concerned raise it with the priest, not as a complaint because He won’t respond to that especially if he is trying to give that person a stepping stone. But in a questionably sort of way. But our conduct of the Altar is not governed by what we do of the Altar or so it seems and although am Anglican we are just as strict about things etc. People are very human and we need to think very carefully before we complain to the priest about another as thus. When I first started to serve (again) someone complained about me to the stand in priest who known me from that era and knew the circumstances far better than the complainer who weren’t around and don’t know how well the stand in priest actually knows the parish. I had overheard but I know he was very firm and put the complainant in their place a bit. A wise tip is to raise it if you are concerned but not as a complaint, but as a learning curve for yourself may be. People tried to tell this priest my past and I had ‘already’ told him, I had to with being on the Altar, knowing someone would say and far better he knew from me the facts and anything he wanted to know from the facts and had to face what he might do and in return I got his support and understanding and he told me what he think if they did try to tell him. A month or so later he said what he ‘thought’ in the sermon so I guess people did actually try to tell him.
So be careful if you do raise it with the priest because the priest may well fully know the actions etc of that person and if they are at all shy etc it may appear rude but shyness is a killer to some and you have no idea if the priest has actually tried to give them some kind of stepping stone support in this way


A Special Minister of Holy Communion might be reluctant to exchange handshakes at the Sign of Peace because they want to keep their hands clean for distribution of the Eucharist. Not all parishes have hand sanitizer routines worked out prior to Communion.


An EMHC is acting in that capacity only when distributing Communion. There is no such thing as an EMHC’s role during, for example the sign of peace.

In our parish, the readers sit right behind the altar servers so they don’t typically participate in the sign of peace (except to each other) since it would mean leaving their places. But no person should be expected to use any particular sign of peace - it can be a handshake, a nod, a bow, a smile, etc.


It could simply be a case of the OP being too sensitive.


Generally speaking, when the member of the baptized acts that way towards you, it isn’t a bad idea to ask if things are going OK. For instance, during the Sign of Peace, it may be that an extraordinary minister has washed his or her hands with soap and do not want to exchange a handshake. Maybe they’re just not as gracious as possible about getting that across. Another possibility, unfortunately, is that something really and truly awful is going on in their life, and they’re taking it out on everyone else. This can happen without a person really appreciating that no one they’re being nasty to has done a thing to them–kind of like the old cliché where the guy gets bawled out by his boss at work and then goes home and kicks his poor unsuspecting dog or yells at his kids for nothing. Whatever the reason for bad behavior, though, the antidote for it is to meet unkindness with love. Sometimes direct correction is needed, but for those not burdened with being pastors or religious superiors, often it is best to look past these minor offenses, instead.

This is an excerpt from Story of a Soul, by St. Thérèse of Lisieux:
*“A holy nun of our community annoyed me in all that she did; the devil must have had something to do with it, and he it was undoubtedly who made me see in her so many disagreeable points. I did not want to yield to my natural antipathy, for I remembered that charity ought to betray itself in deeds, and not exist merely in the feelings, so I set myself to do for this sister all I should do for the one I loved most. Every time I met her I prayed for her, and offered to God her virtues and merits. I felt that this was very pleasing to Our Lord, for there is no artist who is not gratified when his works are praised, and the Divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not stop at the exterior, but, penetrating to the inner sanctuary He has chosen, admire its beauty.
I did not rest satisfied with praying for this Sister, who gave me such occasions for self-mastery, I tried to render her as many services as I could, and when tempted to answer her sharply, I made haste to smile and change the subject, for the Imitation says: “It is more profitable to leave everyone to his way of thinking than to give way to contentious discourses.” And sometimes when the temptation was very severe, I would run like a deserter from the battlefield if I could do so without letting the Sister guess my inward struggle.

One day she said to me with a beaming face: “My dear Soeur Thérèse, tell me what attraction you find in me, for whenever we meet, you greet me with such a sweet smile.” Ah! What attracted me was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul—Jesus who maketh sweet even that which is most bitter.”*


Please take this in the spirit of charity, but quit focusing on the person distributing the Eucharist and focus on the Eucharist. Don’t focus on what others are doing in the pew, focus on what is going on on the altar or at the ambo.

Specifically regarding EMHCs, no one, including the Pope himself, should distract you from what you are about to receive. Your entire focus should be on Christ.

Having said that, I understand that it is not always easy to do that, but we must strive to get to the point where we don’t allow any distractions during the Mass.




Are you trying to get the EM’s attention during Mass? If so, you should be paying attention to the Mass, not her. Someone else mentioned that she may not want to shake hands at the sign of peace to keep her hands clean. Another possibility, she may have arthritis. I’ve had problems with people squeezing my hand too hard - it can be pretty painful. I now offer my left hand, which doesn’t hurt as much.


100% agree with Tim on this one. The focal point must always be our Lord.

Just be glad (really glad) that you have the opportunity to receive our Lord through Holy Communion and focus on living an authentic life with Christ. It’s hard enough trying to live as Christ taught us to also worry about the actions of others.


Good reminder here not to judge others because we never can know their intentions or their heart, only God can do this. Thank you


I had not thought of this, but very good point! :thumbsup: at our parish we shake hands with those close to us and acknowledge or bow to others.


yes, this person does leave area to greet spouse. but thank you for clarifying what role of EM is as I thought it included many things, see now they separate in themselves, and our EM does just cross over ( not so many people to help) to do this or that. a lot to take in at first, and it still feels at first at 7 mos:-)


now this is the truth!. I am sensitive…which means in some situations I need to filter through this sensitiveness, and in other situations being sensitive allows me to be empathetic and compassionate.
for instance this same person…couple months ago, spouse was not there. during greeting time, was looking around and no one greeted. a look of sadness came over their face.
and after mass I walked up and said I was wanting to greet you but you did not see…and I make a greeting there. and a smile came over their face.
I do not think we need to be robots or act a certain way, I think Jesus in us wants us to
show caring and kindness and charity when it is spontaneous and sincere. I do care when someone feels badly :shrug:

But yes, I am too sensitive. AH! just thought…this is where humility comes in. to not be swayed by outer circumstances so much. and to rest in and trust Christ.


Thank you for posting this! I have book right here but you found the page:-) . Reading this again reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-18. I heard in sermon once on this passage…
.“stop being angry at people! the people are ok, its a spirit!” St Therese knew this.


Thank you . I do take this in spirit of charity…Your entire focus should be on Christ.and I think there are or can be many distractions that take our focus away… and I guess I know where this comes from. actually this whole situation is silly, confusing, distracting, dividing…and this is not from God


I am sorry you have arthritis, which is painful. and you still offer your hand:blessyou:
No, I am not trying to get their attention. I really am most focused on Mass and the gratefulness I have at God’s mercy. And praising Him.
But the situation has made me aware at how easily I am swayed by what others think
( too sensitive) and how this takes my focus away from the One who most loves me.
It is, I think, me learning humility. learning to let go of my ego. to not base anything on the world and to lean into Christ only.


Really, the EMHC should not be at the Altar during the Sign of Peace.

They are not to approach the altar until the priest has Communicated.


  1. The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. [Cf. Inaestimabile donum, 10; Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 8] In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.

These ministers should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion, and they are always to receive from the hands of the priest celebrant the vessel containing either species of the Most Holy Eucharist for distribution to the faithful.

And the Norms for the Reception of the Eucharist

PART II - Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds
At the Breaking of the Bread

  1. If extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are required by pastoral need, they should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion. After the priest has concluded his own Communion, he distributes Communion to the extraordinary ministers, assisted by the deacon, and then hands the sacred vessels to them for distribution of Holy Communion to the people.


Thank you Brendan , this is helpful. I did not know these things. but now I do.:)…but dare I to say anything.

I guess after contemplating all of these comments
I have to say…besides norms, besides possibilities of who knows - they are infinite-
I just think sometimes people act rude and immature- even in church- with an inability of communicating if they have a concern or issue with another person. We are not in high school anymore. this person and I. .

If we as a Christian church, are going to Mass to worship God our Father and participate in Holy Eucharist, I assume, and maybe wrongly so, that we all are there for this reason and we believe seriously what things Jesus said to us. I do not expect anyone to act like a child and snub or continue putting down anyone, on the altar, off the altar, as EM or in the pews.
But I can use the experience to lean in closer to Jesus. God Bless~



Becoming an EMHC, a reader, a Mass “captain” (LOL!), an adult server and to a lesser degree a cantor is akin to joining a club at my parish. A very high percentage begin with good manners and plenty of positive “fear and trembling.” Within 3-6 months I suspect that:

80% (at least) leave these liturgical ministries because they don’t want to become what most of the other “liturgical ministers” have become – loud and rude.

19% make the transition to being loud and rude themselves.

1% remain in ministry and retain excellent manners. This tiny minority is often ostracized from what I can tell.

Until the “coordinators” in my parish are purged (or die from old age), this will be the pattern.


Interesting that you assume it to be a woman. The OP never mentioned gender. Then again, it seems nowadays that at least 90% are women.

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