EMHC: Training? Appointments?


#1

Hi all,

My question concerns protocol for training and/or assigning Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

It seems I have heard different things from different people at different parishes and seek to know what the rule is, regardless what one parish does or does not do.

Are “EMs” appointed for a specific term?
Are they appointed or selected by the bishop, or their pastor?
Is training provided or required, or is it up to the individual parish?

I have been eager to serve in this way for a while and was just given an opportunity. I suppose I will soon learn how my parish handles things. But I believe it’s important to know what the Church expects and requires, just in case something about our routine is lacking.

In other words, I am psyched to serve but I do not wish to take shortcuts, even if “that’s how we do it” at my parish.

Thanks for your help.


#2

[quote="Dodge_pursuit, post:1, topic:332000"]

Are "EMs" appointed for a specific term?

[/quote]

That is up to your pastor.

[quote="Dodge_pursuit, post:1, topic:332000"]
Are they appointed or selected by the bishop, or their pastor?

[/quote]

Your pastor.

[quote="Dodge_pursuit, post:1, topic:332000"]
Is training provided or required, or is it up to the individual parish?

[/quote]

That is up to your pastor.

[quote="Dodge_pursuit, post:1, topic:332000"]
In other words, I am psyched to serve but I do not wish to take shortcuts, even if "that's how we do it" at my parish.

[/quote]

Canon Law does not establish any of these parameters. If your bishop has established particular law in his diocese, that is what would be in force so you would have to ask your pastor.

Can. 228 §1. Lay persons who are found suitable are qualified to be admitted by the sacred pastors to those ecclesiastical offices and functions which they are able to exercise according to the precepts of the law.

Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

§3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

Can. 231 §1. Lay persons who permanently or temporarily devote themselves to special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation required to fulfill their function properly and to carry out this function conscientiously, eagerly, and diligently.


#3

[quote="Dodge_pursuit, post:1, topic:332000"]

Are "EMs" appointed for a specific term?
Are they appointed or selected by the bishop, or their pastor?
Is training provided or required, or is it up to the individual parish?

[/quote]

I believe in the formal sense "EMHC"s are appointed by the priest for individual Masses.

In the practical sense, most dioceses will have rules and policies about whatever training is required or recommended. There will probably be a length of time for which the EMHCs are expected to serve (which can probably be "renewed".) And there will be a schedule for EMHCs to be available at Masses and to take communion to the sick.

I suggest you check your diocesan website to see if there is any information posted.


#4

Thanks for the thoughtful responses.

Here’s the situation as of today. I was asked to join a number of EMHCs in visiting a local health care facility. It was terrific. We celebrated an abbreviated liturgy, shared the mass readings for today, etc. Always good to brighten up the day of a sick and/or lonely person with the Word of God and some prayer. After the service, we visited many individuals in their rooms.

What surprised me was, when it was time to distribute Communion, one of the EMs turned to me and asked me to assist. Up to this point, she has had a few conversations with me, knows me to be a faithful Catholic who attends mass regularly and is eager to serve. She knew I read a few books about lay ministers in the Church and she had observed me interacting with patients a bit and doing one of the readings.

I was absolutely ready, willing and honored to serve as needed and asked. My only concern is whether this was proper. Having read the rite for Communion of the Sick, I just followed what I recalled from the text- I conducted myself with reverence, treated the Blessed Sacrament with utmost respect and clearly announced “The Body of Christ” to each communicant as I presented the host.

It was wonderful to bring Jesus to the sick in this way and I felt humbled and very close to the Lord as I did so, praise God. I’m just concerned, as I said in the original post, about taking “shortcuts” or breaking any rules, despite how my parish seems to conduct things. I was told that our parish traditionally offers very little training or formal installation of EMs. Apparently, our pastor said that if someone from our parish felt called to this role and “had the heart” to show up and minister to the patients with our EM team, that that was enough to convince him that he or she ought to serve.

I don’t wish to step on anyone’s toes, especially as a new guy being given the chance to serve in such an awesome way, but I feel like I need to speak to one of our priests before the next opportunity to serve arrives.

I have heard that some parishes have installation masses while others received a specific blessing or rite to appoint them to the ministry. I tend to be orthodox or nothing, if you know what I mean. I just want to make sure I’m not acting outside of the rules.

Thanks again for any comments or advice and have a blessed week.


#5

It is not OK for an EMHC to ask anyone to serve as an EMHC on their own. Perhaps she had discussed it with the pastor after witnessing your practice of faith and the pastor agreed that you would be a good addition to join the team to bring Communion to the homebound/health care facility. If you have a question of whether or not your pastor has given permission for you to serve as an Extaordinary Minister of the Eucharist in that capacity then you should ask him. And also ask him about training in his parish.


#6

In our parish/diocese, EMHC’s are trained by the parish office manager. She trains the altar servers and EMHC’s both. We had about a 1 hr training session on the basics of where to stand, what to say, etc. We were given tips on how to handle people who come up wanting a blessing, the easiest way to give the host to those who want to receive on the tongue, what to do if someone drops a host or tries to leave without consuming it, etc.

After the training, they sent paperwork to the Bishop saying we had been properly trained and I have a certificate saying that I’m “officially” an EHMC.


#7

In our diocese candidates have to be nominated by the pastor who sends the names to the bishop. Then they have to attend a 4 hour class on the theology and spirituality of the Eucharist and a practicum on what to do (and not do). If the person wants to bring communion to the homebound or hospitals they have to take an additional 4 hour class on ministry to the sick and procedures for bringing communion to people who are ill. They also have to have a background check and Virtus. After that the parish is notified and they are supposed to do a specific training for the parish procedures. An EMHC is commissioned at a parish ceremony and that is good for 3 years. After that they have to recommit upon approval of the pastor. The parish is supposed to have 2 or 3 enrichment sessions for EMHC each year/


#8

Thanks all.

I forgot to mention, I have been assigned as a catechist starting this fall, and that process did include an interview and background check. I know that is an apple and the topic of this thread is an orange, so to speak. But I wonder if that accounts for some of the fast-tracking.

As several of you have said, I realize what I really need to do is speak to my pastor and put my concerns in his hands. I suppose I will just tone down the "I know the rules" talk and be as humble as possible. :blush:

Once again, let me share that I am just so thankful to be used by the Lord in ANY capacity in his church to bring the love of Jesus to people! Praise Him! Thank you Lord. Amen!


#9

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