The ordinary minister of Holy Communion is a bishop, priest, or deacon (c. 910, §1). However, other members of the faithful, known as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, may be commissioned to assist – as needed – with the distribution of the Sacrament. That is, when the needs of the Church require it, and when (ordinary) ministers are lacking (c. 230, §3).
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion must be:
- Roman Catholics whose qualities of Christian life, faith, and morals recommend them
- Fully initiated Catholics (i.e., have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
- At least 16 years old
- Regular participants in the sacramental life of the Church
- (if married) Within a wedding bond that is recognized (valid) in the Roman Catholic Church
New guidelines issued for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
New guidelines for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion were issued Nov. 16, 2009 by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin to reflect changes in both the Catholic Church’s universal law concerning the Eucharist, and in particular law for the dioceses of the United States.
The guidelines become effective Jan. 1, 2010 and replace those issued in August, 1997. Within the Diocese of Providence, the guidelines are to be observed in every parish or institution that uses this ministry and whenever holy Mass is celebrated.