Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC)


John or Ellen Butts  (902) 895-9181

email:   j_n_e.butts@ns.sympatico.ca

Jane Allen  (902) 843-0490

Email: janeandleo@eastlink.ca


What is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion?

Extraordinary Ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion are properly formed, instructed and commissioned lay persons. EMHCs may be male or female. They should reflect the cultural diversity of their parish community. These ministers are appointed for a given parish community to aid in the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass and to the sick and homebound when Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are unavailable. EMHCs are not to function apart from their parish community. Ordinarily, EMHCs do not perform any other liturgical ministry at the Mass at which they serve as an EMHC.


Selection Criteria

In order for a person to be appointed as an EMHC, the following conditions must be met:

  • Fully initiated in the RC church
  • Be Catholics in good standing who live their lives according to the teachings of the Catholic Church
  • Should normally be at least 16 years of age
  • Should be persons who are striving to live the Gospel message in their daily lives

Extraordinary ministry is not given as a reward in recognition of one’s past contribution or because someone is better than another is. He/she is to be what they are. All are called to be the presence of Christ. One should possess the desire to know and serve God more intimately in the Mass, for the love of God and His people. Spiritual preparation and attention at the Liturgy is essential to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in this service. It is important to foster personal Eucharistic devotion as well.


Formation and Training

Prior to beginning their ministry, EMHCs should be formed and trained in the following:

  • Theology of the Eucharist and understanding of the Mass
  • Theology and spirituality of ministry
  • Universal church, archdiocesan and parish guidelines and procedures for their ministry

EMHCs should participate in ongoing theological and ministerial formation at the parish level.



After preparation for this ministry is completed, a formal commissioning of EMHCs takes place, normally at a Sunday Eucharist, by the pastor. EMHCs are to exercise their ministry only in their own parish or institution.


Length of Service

Since ministry is a call both from God and the community in which it is exercised, it is appropriate that the choice of ministry and renewal of the term of service be mutually agreed upon by the individual and the pastor. EMHCs generally will serve for a period of at least two (2) years, after which time an evaluation should occur. This evaluation may lead to a determination that the minister

  • Be re-commissioned as an EMHC for another term
  • Is being called to another ministry
  • Leave ministry all together at this time

The coordinator should keep accurate records of each EMHC’s training, ongoing formation and their term(s) of service.


Reverence and Attire

EMHCs show utmost reverence for the Eucharist. This reverence is reflected in their demeanor at Mass (full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy), their attire, and the manner in which they handle the Eucharist.

A neat and reverential appearance is in keeping with the minister’s role and belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The minister’s attire should be appropriate and should not detract from that role. EMHCs should refrain from using strong cologne, perfume or aftershave because some recipients of Holy Communion have sensitivities to these scents and because these fragrances often remain on one’s hands and can be transferred to the Eucharist.


Perhaps you would like to serve in this Ministry?

Most adult Catholics (16 and over) who have been confirmed and are trying to live their faith can become an EMHC. Doubts are normal and obstacles can be overcome, if you are willing to serve. Taking on this responsibility brings great blessings. For more information on becoming an EMHC, contact the Coordinator, Jane Allen via email janeandleo@eastlink.ca or phone 843-0490.