An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (EMHC) is, under the Code of Canon Law, “an acolyte, or another of Christ’s faithful deputed”, in certain circumstances, to distribute Holy Communion. The ordinary (normal) ministers of Holy Communion are a bishop, priest or deacon.
Canon law permits that “[w]here the needs of the Church require and ministers are not available, lay people, even though they are not lectors or acolytes, can supply certain of their functions, that is, exercise the ministry of the word, preside over liturgical prayers, confer baptism and distribute Holy Communion, in accordance with the provisions of the law.”
What they do
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are called upon by the presiding minister (bishop, priest or deacon) to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion when either they cannot be present, or the number of people present in the congregation is sufficient enough that administration by ordinary ministers alone would unnecessarily elongate the celebration. The EMHC will also be called upon by the parish priest to aid in carrying Holy Communion to the sick and housebound who cannot reasonably make it to Mass to help them fulfil their obligation of receiving Holy Communion once a week.
How you can help
There is a great shortage of service in this area, especially for taking Holy Communion to the sick and housebound.
To register your interest in this ministry, please contact John Childerley (St Frances of Rome), Peter Field (St Mary’s) or the parish priest.