Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMC)
One of the many liturgical ministries is that of the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (EMC). These extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are just that – extra. They provide a ministry when there are not enough ordinary ministers for Holy Communion (bishop, priests, and deacons). Until our prayers are answered for an increase in vocations, this will remain an important and necessary ministry.
Because of it’s importance, supplementing the ordained ministry, everyone who exercises this ministry is to be approved by the diocesan bishop. Their names are to be submitted to the vice-chancellor of our diocese. They are to be fully initiated Catholics, having received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. Pastors are to ensure that the lives of those who will exercise this ministry reflects the Church’s teachings. Other lay ministries do not have the same submission requirements to the diocesan bishop. However, everyone who exercises a public ministry in the Church should live up to these standards.
Those serving in this ministry may only serve in the parish for which their names are submitted. There is a special blessing found in the Book of Blessings (1871-1896) for the commissioning of EMC’s for a parish.
The specific locations where they are to stand for the distribution of communion will vary from parish to parish. There are specific rules for this ministry. The dress of and EMC should not be casual. They are to enter the sanctuary following the sign of peace and stand away from the altar (that is not to appear as a concelebrant with the presider). The presider will offer them communion, they are not to take the Precious Body or Precious Blood on their own. They must also wait to be handed the vessel they will use for distribution. Those who distribute the Precious Body are to offer, not elevate, the host to the communicant – saying only: “The body of Christ”. Those who distribute the Precious Blood are to wipe both the inside and outside rim of the communion cup between each communicant and turn the communion cup slightly before offering to the next communicant – saying only: “The blood of Christ”.
After the last communicant has received, those who had distributed the Precious Body will take their vessels to the altar. Those who had distributed the Precious Blood will take their vessels to the credence table. They are to consume any excess Precious Blood only after arriving at the credence table. The purificator is then draped over the communion cup.
These commissioned EMC’s may also take communion to the sick and the homebound parishioners of their parish. They are to be mindful that once they receive the consecrated host from the tabernacle, they are to directly perform this ministry without any diversion (i.e. shopping, dinning, stopping at home, etc.) They are also to consume any extra consecrated host not distributed.
These rules apply to the way a EMC exercises their ministry. They should possess a Eucharistic spirituality – that is living one’s live in accord with a deep appreciation and understanding of the Eucharist in all they do.