If you are an EMHC . .


. . . and you distribute communion in the hand, you have a responsibility to make sure that the person who whom you give the sacred Host puts it in his/her mouth before [s]he leaves your station.

This morning I watched a young woman, part of a visiting group, take the host and drop it in her purse and walk back to her seat. The EMHC was oblivious.


The way we were taught for years was to receive the host then step aside and consume it. That makes it difficult for the EM to see what is happening sing the next peesin in que is before the. We have ushers stationed to watch that people are consuming the host.


You are quite correct. The EMHC does have the responsibility to ensure that each communicant puts the Host in their mouth before turning away, and, if they do not to tell them to do so, even if it means leaving their station to follow the person to be able to tell them.

However, some parishes do not train their EMHCs and the person you saw to be oblivious may never have been taught that they must be alert for such a situation and take action. When I was trained, this was emphasized to us. Perhaps you could mention what happened to the parish priest, who would then have the responsibility to deal with the matter.


I told the EM after he got back to his pew, and pointed out the person; he was going to confront her on the way out. I also told Fr. Pat after Mass.


FWIW, in my parish ushers are positioned appropriately to ensure that the hosts are consumed prior to the communicant leaving.


I am just curious… where is it stated that those who distribute communion in the hand are to watch to make sure the host placed is placed in the mouth?

Like another poster, I was always taught (as a communicant) to step aside before putting the host into my mouth. I have done this at parishes all over the United States and in Ireland.

My parish is another parish that has ushers stationed where they can watch to see whether would-be communicants actually consume the host. It’s not food proof since the ushers stand back to avoid blocking the aisles but they would likely notice someone who is just ignorant. (Someone who is out to deliberately profane the Eucharist is going to be harder to catch.)


The “Body Snatchers” are one of the prime reasons I think the Church should consider revoking CitH.


:blush: fooL proof


I was also taught to step to the side to consume the Host. It’s only a step sideways but the priest has his eyes on the next person by that time so he probably wouldn’t see if the person didn’t consume immediately.

I’m always surprised to read of parishes where they have ushers to supervise Communion. I’ve never seen that in any parish I’ve been in.

In mine we can find men who’ll take up the collection but they won’t do anything else that we would consider the duty of an usher.


Where I live, we don’t have ushers who do that either. Although, if it is super-crowded like at a first Communion, they will help people find seats. I also step to the side even though I was never taught to. It just feels normal.

As to the OP, I understand your distress! What a terrible thing to witness. I imagine it would be difficult for a Priest or an EMHC to be able to ascertain that a communicant has consumed the host and, at the same time, continue to administer to another communicant. The idea of ushers sounds like a good idea.


I am an EMHC.

Anyone who says that it is my responsibility to make sure that every single person consumes the host simply doesn’t know what they are talking about.

It is not true.



I looked; I couldn’t find an usher anywhere.


The first I’ve ever heard of having people (and it might not just be ushers) watching to see if people actually consume the host was a few years when my mother told me that there was a problem at her parish because people had been observed leaving the church after communion while still holding the host. Apparently some other nearby parishes have had problems too.

At my parish you see ushers, sacristans, and perhaps altar servers keeping an eye on things. My guess is that most people just think they are there to help direct communion traffic (which they do if necessary). When I see them they always make me think of bouncers.




If I may ask, where are any documents that say this is the responsibility of EMHC? From what I’ve read and understood, though I may be wrong, the responsibility should be determined by the parish pastor. That pastor can determine what best works for his parish (whether those who watch should be ushers, EMHC, altar servers, etc.).

It actually seems that it is correct to say it is all of our responsibility to ensure that the Eucharist is not desecrated.


It is not the sole responsibility of the EMHC to make sure everyone consumes the host. There was nothing stopping you from saying something to the lady.


I am an EMHC.

I’m sorry to tell everyone but it is not my responsibility to make sure that every person who presents themselves to me consumes. That is fact.

I do the best I can. I look when I am able and I have stopped at least one person. I pay particular attention to children and those who seem like they don’t know what they are doing. But I am not responsible for every single person who lines up in front of me.

This specific issue was discussed with the Pastor during EMHC training. It may be different in your parish but that is the way it is where I go to Mass.



In the same manner that it is not a priest’s duty. If the laity want to assume a priestly duty they must assume the respective responsibility assigned to that duty. If you concede that a priest is not responsible to make sure everyone consumes the host, then you’re consistent and I disagree with you. If you say that a priest has the duty but the EMHC doesn’t, that is irrational because the point of the EMHC is justified as a practical and logistical delegation by the priest.


My jaw dropped when I read that the OP waited to tell someone.

I would, and I have, stopped people from walking away with the Host. (Both times, the Communicant received from the priest.)


Oh, sure, I, a 60-something geezer, am going to step out in the aisle and stop a 20-ish female and say, “You eat that host, you naughty girl!” :rolleyes:

Obviously, there are no such documents, but see below.

We seem to have a conumdrum. The Blessed Sacrament is the Body and Blood of Christ, and therefore must be protected from desecration, but no one is willing to take responsibility for protecting it from desecration. Or it’s the priest’s responsibility, but not mine as an EMHC. Or everybody can jump up and confront anyone who, they think, might have palmed a Host.

Tim, what you stated is not a “fact;” it is the procedure that has been set up at your parish. Okay. But if it is important that the Blessed Sacrament be protected from desecration, then the Ministers of Holy Communion, whether Ordinary or Extraordinary, are the ones who are on the front lines of this protection. And if they are unwilling or unable to exercise their responsibilities, then we all might just as well paraphrase the words of Joash, the father of Gideon (Judges 6:31): “Jesus is a big boy; let him stand up for himself.”

Further to this incident, I learned that the young woman was confronted, and she claimed to have eaten the Host. I would be willing to bet a large amount that it was till in her purse, but at this point, what could be done?

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