Bishop’s Circular No: BP/2019/030
Date: 14th February 2019
To All MJD Clergy and Lay Faithful,
Dear Reverend Fathers, Deacons and Parishioners,
MJD Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC)
The ministry of distributing Holy Communion is the responsibility of priests and deacons. It is understood that at regularly scheduled parish Masses, concelebrating priests and the deacons present and assisting at that Mass (unless impeded by physical reasons or other sufficient cause) will participate in the distribution of Holy Communion.
If these ordinary ministers are not sufficient to distribute the Sacrament within a reasonable amount of time, then extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) may be invited to assist them.
Canon 910.2: The extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is an acolyte or other member of the Christian faithful deputed in accord with Canon 230.3.
Canon 230.3: When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion in accord with the prescripts of the law.
The following policies are to be followed in the Malacca Johore Diocese (MJD) in regard to these EMHC in parish celebrations. In instances other than parochial settings, the Diocesan Liturgical Commission will be consulted.
For the MJD, only adults, 30 years and above, single or married, male or female, all language groups, can serve as EMHCs of a parish must represent a good cross section of the parish community.
The general qualifications of EMHC are that:
they should manifest a devotion to the Eucharist in both their public and private lives of prayer;
they manifest a sense of presence and self-confidence in their liturgical decorum and in their relationships with others;
they be exemplary in their living out the Christian life, faith and morals;
they be aware of and responsive to the Church’s view of the importance of lay ministries;
they be in good standing with the local Church community;
they be fully initiated into the Catholic Church (i.e., have received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation).
Liturgical ministers should serve in one capacity only (i.e. as EMHC OR readers OR ministers of hospitality, etc.).
All, therefore, whether ordained ministers or lay Christian faithful, in fulfilling their function or their duty, should carry out solely but totally that which pertains to them. GIRM. 9
Those serving as EMHC must be suitably prepared for their ministry. The training of EMHC is coordinated through the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and is to be completed before candidates begin to minister in the liturgy or bring Communion to the sick.
The term for designation as EMHC in MJD is two (2) years; renewable upon requests of the Parish (cf., Canon 230.2).
Designation for service as an EMHC is valid only within the parish of appointment.
After being trained and designated, EMHCs are to be commissioned by the parish priest for service in the parish. This commissioning is done at one of the parish’s regularly scheduled Sunday liturgies. (See Book of Blessings, Chapter 63, “Order for the Commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion”.)
They commit to be:
- assisting ministers at masses;
- ministers for services in the absence of priests (as directed by the Parish Priests);
- ministers to homebound, the sick and those in hospitals;
- funeral ministers.
Desired attire: no special dressing; provided sash; neat “Sunday best” for men; for women, pants or maxi skirts and proper blouse.
Together Building His Kingdom
+ Rt. Rev. Bernard Paul, DD
Bishop of Malacca Johore Diocese