This is a relatively new ministry in the church that really came about to respond to the reality of local church ministry. It may seem strange now, when we currently have two priests serving five churches, but traditionally a community of priests would serve each individual church. There would always be more than one priest celebrating the Mass and ministering the Eucharist and they would be supported by Deacons and sometimes Sisters or Brothers serving in the parish from local convents or monasteries. However, with the ratio of priests to parishes declining, it was in 1973 that Pope Paul VI stated:
'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. First of all, provision must be made lest reception become impossible or difficult owing to a lack of a sufficient number of ministers'
It was because of this that lay people (parishioners) started being commissioned as 'Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist' to assist the priest in ministering the Body and Blood of Christ to the congregation. This extended to taking the Eucharist to the sick and housebound in the parish so that they could join in communion with the church and continue to receive Jesus which is the 'source and summit' of our faith and life.
This ministry is a real joy and privilege and we are blessed to have a group of people in the parish who serve in this way. Extraordinary ministers are to be 'fully initiated Catholics, at least 16 years of age, who are in good standing with the Catholic Church and in the community, and regular participants in the sacramental life of the church'. As this is a particularly special ministry in the Church, often people are asked personally to take on this ministry.
If you feel you are being called to Eucharistic Ministry please speak with one of our priests and, after a time of discernment, formation to deepen understanding of the Eucharist and the ministry, and some practical training, you may be added to the rota.