In January 1973, Pope Paul VI, in the instruction “Immensae Cariatis,” extended the permission of allowing laypersons to assist priests in giving Holy Communion to the universal Church. He wrote “Present-day conditions demand that greater access to Holy Communion should be made possible so that the faithful, by sharing more fully in the fruits of the sacrifice of the Mass, might dedicate themselves more readily and effectively to God and to the good of the Church”. He went on to state provisions must be made lest reception become impossible or difficult owing to a lack of a sufficient number of ministers. Therefore it seemed appropriate to the Holy Father to establish extraordinary ministers and allow them to serve Holy Communion. Originally called Eucharistic Minister we are now referred to as Extraordinary Ministers. The priest, celebrating mass, is the Ordinary Minister and we therefore are just extra ministers or Extraordinary Ministers.


Who Are Extraordinary Ministers?

Extraordinary Ministers are members of the parish community who would like to have a closer relationship with God by participating in the celebration of the mass.

They are lay people who perform a great service to the church and who have been certified by the bishop for a period of time to assists the priest in distributing Holy Communion to the faithful on those occasions where a shortage of ordained clergy makes it difficult to distribute Holy Communion in a reasonable way.


Who can be an Extraordinary Minister?

Extraordinary Ministers should have a special reverence and love for the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist knowing that the Eucharist is the core of our Catholic faith.

The best ministers have the ability to communicate their faith through eye contact and gestures.

They have gone through proper training and commissioning every three years.

They can be either single, married, separated, or divorced as long as they have not remarried.  If married they must have been married in the church.

They must be of sufficient age and maturity to perform his/her duties at mass. Usually minimum age of 16 and who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

They must be a Catholic living in harmony with the teachings of the Church and be able to receive the Eucharist.


Why Should I be an Extraordinary Minister?

Extraordinary Ministers are graced with the opportunity to share their faith in the Eucharist with fellow members of the parish family.

They are able to participate in the mass as a family unit until called upon to distribute the Eucharist.

Their assignment is very flexible as they are able to go to any mass and still participate in the distribution of the Eucharist by signing up at that mass.

Training for this ministry requires just a few hours and there is periodic training (every three years) so that they are always current with the teachings of the church.

They will generate new friendships by belonging to a small select group of fellow parishioners.



Ronald Redman