Disabilities and extraordinary ministers

So i was an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at a parish nearby, and when i went up around the altar during the lamb of God, one of the other EM had a hearing ear dog accompany her (i’m pretty sure thats what was on the dog’s vest). she had the dog under control and everything, but i’m still not sure if thats allowed. i’m feeling yes, but i’m checking to be sure.

specific question: can a hearing ear dog accompany an EM as she does her ministry?

general question: Can people with disabilities be EM? (that sounds bad re-reading it, but you know what i mean)

I don’t believe there are any rules against it.

My grandfather was blind, and a Presbyterian Minister for many many years.

He utilized “Seeing Eye”, or “Guide Dogs” quite extensively both inside and outside the church during his years as a minister.

From my own personal experience, I can tell you that dogs that are certified as “Service Animals”, are better trained and better behaved than many adults I have encountered.

These animals are trained to avoid many types of distractions, including things falling on the ground around them (in the unlikely event the Eucharist may be dropped), as well as many other events. They are trained to assist on command, and not to interfere other than to notify their partner (human) of any dangers that may be present.

I will say this, there were a couple of my grandfather’s seeing eye dogs I didn’t care for, but they provided invaluable assistance that gave him great independence.

And going “up around the altar during the lamb of God” IS against the rules. :frowning:

the layout of this church i went to is really screwy. its setup like a coliseum of sorts. the altar is at a lower level than the rest of the pews. i guess there is a step between the pews in the first row, so the altar is kinda elevated.

i was told to walk up behind the altar during the Lamb of God, get some hand sanitizer, and just wait behind the priest as he does the “happy are those who are called to this table” line.

I understand but you shouldn’t be approaching the altar until after the priest completes his own reception of Communion.

Now, I also understand that you are just doing what you were told to do. My point was that the parish evidently encourages some actions that are prohibited so I wouldn’t worry too much about those that are just unusual but not prohibited (service animals).

Chair mobile (ie wheelchair) paraplegic EM here…

Unlike the other EM’s at my parish I dont go up behind the alter after Fr has partaken…I stay down off to the side…

As long as the Eucharist and Precious Blood are safe I see no reason why those of us who happen to have medical conditions cant serve in this kind of ministry…

Now if someone had a medical condition where they were physically off balance and may drop or spill Blood or drop the Host it wouldnt not be the wisest ministry…

How do you distribute Communion on the tongue to standing communicants from your chair?
…or does your church have a Communion rail?

I place it on their tongue. My arms are fine. :slight_smile:

Glad to hear that you have such good reach from your chair.:slight_smile:
Some of the more vertically challenged EHMCs have trouble reaching my tongue even when standing on their feet.
:smiley:

Then you have a perfectly valid reason to kneel then :wink:

But I know what you’re saying. I’m a tall person myself and instead of tilting my head back to receive, I sort of bow my head down a bit

Not to be rude, but it isn’t a ministry, per se… An ad-minister, perhaps and only to be used in Extraordinary cases.

I realize this gives one a sense of duty and the sense that they are really doing something great for the Lord. But, it is a false sense of duty, something some people on a diocesean lay committee thought would give the appearance that the laity are now truly involved in the liturgical life of the church.

Except under Extraordinary circumstances, it boils to down to mere busy work and head petting.

It isn’t the fault of the “Eucharistic Ministers,” most don’t know any better. However, pastors should know better and when you see it for what it is, it is really a juvenile, distracting and sometimes, sacrilegious exercise.

Adaptive aids are not the issue here, pjMerluza. What is troublesome is the lack of adherence to the GIRM as far as when the EMHCs are supposed to approach the altar. The GIRM specifically states that:

  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.97 In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.98

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.

In my opinion, adherence to the GIRM is the real issue, not whether or not a legitimate adaptive aid can be used.

Great post! It’s very nice. Thank you so much for your post.


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How is it “juvenile”? How is it “sacrilegious”? :rolleyes:

The GIRM allowes for the use of EMHCs. While it’s a legitimate question as to whether there is a legitimate need or not in a particular parish situation, seems that you’re saying that the GIRM is in some way “juvenile” and allows for sacrilege, no?

No offense taken… :slight_smile:
All the different areas that our parish community has were the laity can serve are called “ministries”…Im guessing its just the term they chose to use. :slight_smile:

I know that there is a difference of opinions in this area and people tend to be strong in those opinions.

Our parish is neither the more modern nor is it strictly traditional…My pastor finds himself in a duel responsibilities of not only being the pastor of our parish, but he is the Director of Divine Worship for our Archdiocese…

It was he who approached me about being a EMHC a few years back…My thoughts were that if he was comfortable with no concerns that I should be too and not worry…

Our parish Masses average 300 people and he choose not only the Host but the Precious Blood to be available…

LOL. :slight_smile:

I can see your point. Thus far that has never been in issue. :thumbsup:

Our parish has a man in a wheel chair who substitues as an EMHC on occassion. He and his wife are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to the homebound and his wife is an EMHC at Mass as well. I am not sure if he has ever been on the schedule to serve at Mass. But there has been many times when an EMHC was in need of a replacement and father allowed him to fill in. He alway distributes the Host and never the Precious Blood. I don’t know if that was his request or Father’s rule. Most people who receive on the tongue usually squat down making it a little easier for him to reach their tongue. Some will temporarily receive in the hand from him because they have that option. So far it has not been a problem.

I only distribute the Host by my request. It’s just wiser, IMO. Distributing the Precious Blood I think would be taking a serious chance of spillage.

My son gets around in a wheelchair and I hope that he could someday be an altar server just like his able-body sister. We are in the starting phases of building a new church and hope the altar is wheelchair accessible. I have already lobbied for remote actuated doors.

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