Extra-ordinary Eucharistic Minister dress code?


Hi everyone,

I was wondering if there are Church guidelines or teachings regarding a dress code for the extra-ordinary Eucharistic ministers. At the Mass I attended today, One of the extra-ordinary Eucharistic ministers wore Bermuda shorts. Is that a little too casual, especially since she was giving out Holy Communion?

Thanks for your answer.


There is no such thing as an extraordinary Eucharistic minister. Except, perhaps, a laicized priest.


The correct term for a non-ordained person distributing communion is
Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. You will find that things can get very contentious around here if you don’t use the proper terminology.

As to your question, I don’t believe there are any “offical” directives from the Vatican on dress code. I do know that in my diocese, all decisions as to the use of EMHC, including dress code, are given to the individual pastors, so I would say talking with your pastor would be the best place to start.


I’m wonderinf if the priest said anything to that person. I have seen inappropriate dress there also, though I’ve never seen shorts. Perhaps some parishes have a dress code but I have never seen any evidence of it. But there should be. I’m afraid we don’t live in a modest age and Catholics are not much better than the general run of the public.



When i serve in that capacity I am also serving as Acolyte and so I am wearing a borrowed Alb, with the permission of my Prior.


I always wear slacks (result of leg injury - cannot wear any flats, so have thick “clodhoppers” for shoes) so I don’t wear dresses or skirts. But we certainly do encourage proper dress, especially for EMHC’s. We do have one lady who serves as EMHC who wears very clean jeans and a nice blouse or sweater. I’m not sure she owns more than one or two dresses (used for weddings) since she drives her children 50 mille each way every day to Catholic schools (& pays the tuition) and they live on a farm, where she does a lot of work no one with any sense would do wearing a skirt! She has a teenage daughter who is an Altar Server and two boys still in grade school. All are Catholic-schooled as a result of her driving them to the nearest Catholic schools across some mountains! No one has complained about her dress code, we know the sacrifices she makes. The rest of us (women) wear pant suits or nice slacks and blouse/sweater combinations. The (very few) men who serve in this capacity wear a nice shirt and slacks in summer (no shorts!) and long sleeved shirts and slacks in winter, with occasionally sport coats. Suits only at Christmas and Easter – considering the comfort levels of wearing a tie when it’s around 100 degrees outside in summer – I have no problems with that. We do have a great many visitors who come to Mass during vacation in the summer wearing shorts (some a lot too short!) but at least they do come to Mass while on vacation, although most of us (locals) don’t approve of wearing shorts to Mass. (Except when our air conditioner broke down, then quite a few came wearing the longer “Bermuda” shorts! But it was over 100 inside the sanctuary! Quite a bad couple of weeks. I don’t wear shorts at all, but that has to do with my age – who wants to see the legs of a woman in her 70’s?? LOL:p


Thank you for your responses and for teaching me the correct term.

I apologize about using the wrong terminology. I did not mean to offend anyone in any way. I will try to not make that error again. Sorry.


Don’t give it another thought. There are a few folks around here who look for reasons to be offended.


It varies from pastor to pastor, there is nothing official so far as I am aware. I have seen parishes where they wear suit/tie or nice dresses, others (much rarer, thankfully) where they dress “just like folk” in t-shirts and jeans – in most they dress like most of the laity, which is to say reasonably nice and professional if not very formal, e.g., dress shirts and nice slacks. It really depends on the sensibilities and initiatives of the pastor. I know of at least one parish where the pastor, in an effort to induce the laity to take Mass more seriously and dress more carefully for it, required all his readers and EMHCs to dress formally (e.g., coat and tie for the men) or be dismissed from service, for instance.

Generally, yes, I would say shorts are extremely inappropriate for Mass, but they are inappropriate in a moral or devotional sense, not necessarily a legal/canonical one.


Not offended in any way, except defending the sensibilities of priests who may be offended by the kind of anticlericalism that the wrong terminology implies. Unfortunately the Church is divided among herself in this matter because so many priests and parishes called and continue to call them by the wrong name even after the release of Redemptionis Sacramentum which was abundantly clear on the correct terms, the meanings thereof, and the reasons for them.


This is something that would be dealt with parish by parish.

My pastor got tired of complaints about the way various ministers at Mass dressed so he asked parish leaders to come up with a dress code. (He said he wasn’t brave enough to try and tell women how they should dress!) It applies to anyone who has a role at Mass – ushers, lectors, extraordinary ministers, altar servers, catechists leading a dismissal, etc. It doesn’t require the finest of clothing, but does remind people that modesty and respect are needed and prohibits clothing like shorts (even under an alb), strapless or low-cut tops, thongs, etc.


I always endeavored to use “EMHC” every time I wrote it at the parish but I was ordered by the pastor of the day to use Eucharistic Minister instead. Our present Pastor also writes Eucharistic Minister any time he’s referring to EMHCs.

The first document that allowed EMHCs back in January 1973, Immensae Caritatis, originally translated “De Ministris Extraordinariis S. Communionis Distribuendae**” as “Special Ministers Of The Eucharist” in English. Now it’s difficult to rid ourselves of the name.

Let’s face it, most people in the pews don’t read releases from the Congregation for Divine Worship and saying “Redemptionis Sacramentum” would only elicit blank stares. Back in 2004, our assistant pastor refused to even read R.S. He didn’t want to hear anything that it said.


I take your point well. It’s not the worst we have suffered under a bad vernacular translation of something :rolleyes:

I wonder though, in my dim memory of Church activities from 2000-2004 I thought there was already a push to use the term “EMHC” for some time before the release of RS. Am I remembering that right?

My mother is someone who is proudly ignorant of the document. I just can’t argue with her any more, she insists on using the old term, even though she isn’t one of them. Wants women to be ordained too, so well…


Yes, documents such as 1980’s* Inaestimabile Donum*[FONT=Arial] and 1997’s [FONT=Georgia]On Certain Questions on Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest called them Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist. [/FONT][/FONT]


At my mother’s church and also at churches a few other relatives attend, those who are EMHCs at Mass are to wear clothing that is clean, modest, decent, and appropriate. Items like jeans, shorts, tees, flip flops, tennis shoes, immodest/revealing item etc are not allowed. Items that can be worn should be suitable for a business casual or business professional dress code office. The same also applies for the ushers, lectors, cantors, musicians, and choir.


Looking back at my post, I guess it looks as if I was referring to you personally. Not really my intention. Mea culpa.

I pulled out yesterday’s copy of our parish bulletin and looked at the column, “Liturgical Ministers.” Listed are “Lector,” “Servers,” “Ushers/Greeters,” and…drumroll…“Eucharistic Ministers.” Yes, technically incorrect. The only Eucharistic Minister present yesterday was the priest. But if you use the term “Eucharistic Minister” in casual conversation, everyone knows you’re referring to the “civilians” who help distribute the Eucharist to 200 parishioners when there is only one priest present. Incorrect, but not an issue over which I’m going to get my knickers in a twist.


Neither am I! I am properly an EMHC, but our Bulletin also shows: Eucharistic Ministers, but we all know (those of us who serve in this capacity) the correct name, and even we don’t usually use it except with one Liturgical Minister who is (actually) in charge of the scheduling for both the Historic old Church and the Parish Center (which is handicap accessible). I do the scheduling for the Parish Center & she prints them out, but usually changes my schedule, which leaves me filling in every weekend, since I arrange the schedule according to those of my Parish Center who will be out of town on some weekends. With her, we must use the full title, since she’ll correct us very quickly (and not too kindly). But Eucharistic Minister is what most of the Parishioners use, so we don’t correct them, since all have been told the correct title. I don’t think it hurts anything. If they referred to the Priest or to the Blessed Sacrament by the wrong name, that would be very different.


In my parish everyone from Ushers to EMHC’ s are required to adhere to a dress code. For men that’s jacket and tie.


Is it possible that she wasn’t scheduled to serve, and was called up because someone else didn’t show up?
I was once called up because a scheduled reader wasn’t there; I wasn’t wearing bermuda shorts, thank goodness, but I was wearing (nice) jeans, sweater, and athletic shoes. When I went back to my pew, one of the parishioners very pointedly glared at my shoes.
And that was the last time I ever wore those to Mass! :smiley:


My pastor tried to institute a rule barring EMHC from exposing bare-toes when ministering - such as open-toed sandals without socks or hose. That didn’t go over very well with the female EMHC’s during the hot summer months and he seems to have dropped the issue. I kept thinking that someone with a foot fetish must have complained about all those sexy toes peeking out of tips of women’s shoes. Sheesh!

I’d rather have a rule about the inadequate t-shirt one congregant wears which exposes the almost naked women tattoos covering his arms.

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