Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist

Perhaps I am simply a stickler on words and their meanings because they often conjure up images that are not appropriate.

In this instance I find myself annoyed with the way some EMs describe their ministry. “I am going to serve Holy Communion today.” I object to the word serve, We have Altar Servers but we have Ministers who bring us Holy Communion, administer the sacrament, etc. but not serve. I want to say in response I am going to serve cocktails at happy hour today.

Am I being picayune?


First of all, there is no such creature as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. The ordinary mnisters of the Eucharist are the priest and the bishop because only they can confect the Sacrament (meaning consecrate the species into the Body and Blood of Christ).

The ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the bishop, priest and deacon. The deacon is added here by virtue of his reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Note that he cannot confect the Sacrament, but, he is the ordinary minister of its distribution.

The laity who are commissioned to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion are called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. All we are commissioned to do is to distribute Holy Communion, either assisting the celebrant when the numbers are too great or to the sick in the hospitals or at home.

With regard to the word “serve” – in the Eastern Catholic Churches we say we will “serve the Liturgy” because we do serve it, whether bishop, priest, deacon, subdeacon or lay person. There is nothing wrong with saying that we “serve Holy Communion” since we are of service to the community.

Deacon Ed

Yes you are. Leave them be. At least they are serving Lord and being active in the community. That says more than for the rest of the 80% that don’t ever volunteer to do anything.

From littleness and nothingness to Uselessbeggar, hope your well. Yes, we minister to people and administer the “Sacrament” of the Sacred Eucharist, the Eternal Life that begins right hear on earth for those that believe, trust, love God and keep His comands. We are called to live it, celebrate it and contemplate it. Live the Gospel message of salvation in Christ and living the spiritual life. That’s the message from Heaven to Earth. Only in God’s grace and mercy! We are not alone.
God bless you Lissette

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I, for the life of me, cannot understand why “Extraordinary Ministers” are allowed as a role in the Latin Church. The title itself suggests that they should be used rarely, yet as we all know, that is certainly not the case. They might as well be called “Ordinary Ministers.” It’s an example of the laity trying to usurp the clerical orders, IMO. The same thing happened with Lectors and Altar Servers (e.g.,allowing women to serve).

I know my opinion is in the extreme minority, but is there a need for them at all? I hear people complain about the time issue. That’s a very sorry reason, in my opinion. If you’re there for the Eucharist anyway, why complain about it taking so long? :shrug: I know people will be offended by this post, but this is just one man’s opinion. Take it or leave it. :thumbsup:

In Christ,

I take it! I agree with you. =] I can see them being used in extraordinary cases… but not every sunday… i think everyone needs a little patience. Mass and Holy Communion should not be rushed.

I agree with you and wish it could be so in my parish. Here we do have an extraordinary circumstance. There are over 6000 parishioners and only one priest and no deacons. The pastor offers the Holy Sacrifice 3 times on Sunday, having offered it also at a vigil on Saturday. At any given Mass there are hundreds of people lining up to receive Holy Communion. It would be physically impossible for this great shepherd to give Holy Communion to all the people. He is worn out by the end of Sunday morning as it is because he puts his heart and soul into offering the Mass and delivering a homily worth hearing. But, this is not the case in most parishes.

Let us pray for the salvation and sanctification of priests and worthy new vocations.

Thanks for your input.


I wouldn’t say that about “the other 80%”. I mean, if you look at other threads on this forum, it is a fact that many parishes do have ugly politics when it comes to parish ministries. Some people just don’t want to get involved with all that. I don’t think that the ones serving in ministries are any better than the ones who don’t. With that said, I am part of a ministry. :smiley:

We have 10 Masses every Sunday and around 800 plus at each Mass. It would be impossible to receive Holy Communion without EMHC’s.

Sounds like it’s time to build another church, and bring in a few more missionary priests. :slight_smile:

There are 6 Catholic churches within 15 minutes of where I live. All the Masses are full.

I didn’t say that the ones serving were any better than the ones who don’t. We don’t have the politics in our parish ministries. But I wish more people would volunteer. It is hard getting volunteers. We always have to beg for catechists, volunteers at picnics, committees, etc. etc.

there is no such animal

there are ordinary ministers of the Eucharist (priests and bishops)
there are ordinary ministers of holy communion (the above, and deacons)
there are extraordinary ministers of holy communion (lay persons selected, trained and commissioned for that office if there is a need)

If these in the third category do not know how to properly describe their office, or to carry it out, it follows they have not been properly trained, usually a lack on the part of the pastor. Or they may have been trained, and did not pay attention or have disdain for what was taught.

with one priest and one retired deacon who assists when his health allows, and 5 weekend Masses, EMHCs are of great help, but we still don’t have enough, and for that reason the Precious Blood is not offered outside solemnities and seasons of Christmas and Easter. It is not a matter of taking more time (although there is already not enough time between Masses) but of sparing the priest, who is also getting on in years, from fatigue.

or, they were properly trained, did pay attention, but simply forgot what he correct title is.

or gave up trying to use the correct terminology, because nobody know what they are talking about

I just noticed that you’re in the Philippines. Great people! :thumbsup: :slight_smile:

I didn’t realize they were allowing EMs in the Philippines? I thought they had a more traditional culture. :confused:

Have you ever heard of giving someone the benefit of the doubt? I’ve never seen so many people get so uptight over issues like these. If you notice, it was the OP commenting on an EMHC saying they served communion. The OP never did say that the EMHC called theirself an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. Most people probably didn’t know there was a difference between Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. Most people who serve in these roles have very good intentions.

Unfortunately, it has become a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

The less Catholics see a need for priests, the less vocations to the priesthood that will be fulfilled.

The problem is that too many people say
"we need extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion because we don’t have enough priests"
instead of saying
"we need more priests so that we won’t need EMHCs"

Even the communications from my diocesan office speak of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Matter of fact, I had to resist the urge to cross out Eucharist and write in “Holy Communion” on the stats sheets I was filling out for the chancery today

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.