Extraordinary minister of the Eucharist


Due to the shortage of priests in my diocese (Ireland) we have a deacon who is present Monday through Friday for Eucharistic celebration only. On a Saturday a minister of the Eucharist gives out Communion to those of us who wish to partake but I notice that some who are present do not partake. I am wondering if distribution under these circumstances is in breach of Canon Law and I’m assuming our bishop is aware. Any thoughts?


The answer to your question is no, it is not a violation of Canon Law for a non-Cleric to distribute the Eucharist or to preside over a communion. A deacon should do it if one is present but a deacon is not essential for communion service.

A point on terminology…

Only a priest or bishop can be a Eucharistic Minister. The Minister of the Eucharist is the priest who stands at the altar with the bread and wine and says, “This is my body” and “This is the chalice of my blood.” The Minister of the Eucharist is the priest or bishop and no one else.

With the exception of the celebrant priests, everyone else who distributes the Eucharist is a Minister of Communion. The deacon is never a Minister of the Eucharist.

Minister of the Eucharist has to do with confecting the Eucharist.
Minister of Communion has to do with distribution the Eucharist.

The Deacon is an ordinary Minister of Communion because it is his rightful task. Members of the laity who distributed the Eucharist are extraordinary Ministers of Communion because it is not ordinarily something they are supposed to do.



Tarsus Paddy,
The reasons for some not receiving Holy Communion are numerous; such as they are not in a state of Grace (have sinned and not been to confession), or they just will not receive from anyone but a priest, There is no requirement to receive at every Mass.

Cheers :slight_smile:


Me too.

The Deacon is an ordinary Minister of Communion because he is ordained. Members of the laity who distributed the Eucharist are extraordinary Ministers of Communion because they are outside the membership of the ordained.



I disagree.

A deacon is ordained but he is not the ordinary minister of the Eucharist. Neither is a deacon an ordinary minister of baptism even though he is ordained. Only the Bishop is the ordinary minister of confirmation - when a priest confirms he is an extraordinary minister.

The terms ordinary and extraordinary have nothing to do with ordination but with circumstances. A deacon is an ordinary minister of communion because he is supposed to do it under ordinary circumstances. The laity are extraordinary ministers of communion because they are only supposed to do it under extraordinary circumstances.

But the answer to the OP’s question is that what he is seeing is allowed.



My previous post incorrectly stated that a deacon is not an ordinary minister of baptism. That used to be true but is not the case now according to Canon 861.

*Can. 861 §1. The ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, a presbyter, or a deacon, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 530, n. 1. *



Thanks to all of you for your input. I am happy now that I am not receiving the Eucharist in error. AND thanks also for defining the correct terminology for those who present the Eucharist to us. May GOD bless all Amen


I’ll have to try and find a source. FTR, I do not deny that the word *[extra]ordinary *may be used in more than one sense.
(And it is entirely possible that I have been duped by someone attempting to explain away the *ordinary *use of an *extraordinary *resource?)

I never said he was.



We have to distinguish between Eucharist and communion here.

The ordinary minister(s) of the Eucharist is/are the bishop or (concelebrating) priest(s). They are also the ordinary ministers of communion. The deacon has no power to confect the sacrament; therefore he is not the ordinary nor extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. He is, however, an ordinary minister of communion only. Lay people are extraordinary ministers of communion only.


Apologies for a few days’ absence. A quick web search yields nothing explicit to back my opinion, but it is certainly implicit. And I can only testify that I have been told this explicitly by orthodox sources, but repeat that it is quite possible I have been misled.

I have not researched these sites to check their veracity, I merely picked them from the first page of my Google search.


The “ordinary” minister is a deacon, priest, or bishop (namely, one who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders). The “extraordinary” minister is one, who meeting certain requirements, is appointed and commissioned by the bishop at the request of the pastor to assist in distributing Holy Communion at Mass when needed as well as bringing Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.


An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is an un-ordained person appointed by the bishop or his delegate to assist ordained ministers in the distribution of Communion. The “ordinary” ministers of Holy Communion are bishops, priests, and deacons, all of whom have received the sacrament of Holy Orders.


He [the priest] is the “ordinary” minister of Holy Communion by virtue of ordination. He shares that role with other priests who might be concelebrating the Eucharist. If a deacon is serving during the Mass, he is an “ordinary” minister of Holy Communion as well. Others who share in the distribution of the Body and Blood of Christ do so to assist in the orderly flow of the communion rite. They are of the laity (which means they have not received Holy Orders), and they are the extra-ordinary, as in “in addition to the ordinary” ministers of Holy Communion.



I think that the first and the last link show understanding of how things work but ignorance of the origin and use of words.

The ordinary ministers of Communion are ordained people but that does not mean that there is a lexical causation between “ordained” and “ordinary” they just come from the same root “ordo” but for two different reasons. Infact we should note that the deacon, an ordained man, is the ordinary minister of the cup, when he dsitributes from the ciborium he is acting in an extraprdinary manner.


[Apologies for bumping an old (but not too old) thread :o]

The deacon is the ordinary minister of the cup, but I shall not deny he is an ordinary minister of holy communion in other circumstances when that title is inscribed in Canon Law.

Can. 910 §1. The ordinary minister of holy communion is a bishop, presbyter, or deacon.



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