Mission: The primary mission of the St. Mary’s Eucharistic Ministers is to assist the priest at Mass in distributing the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful in Holy Communion. Additionally, many Eucharistic Ministers also bring Communion to the sick and homebound. All Eucharistic Ministers are further authorized to assist with the distribution of ashes and the blessing of throats.
History: In 1910, Pope Pius X called for Catholics to receive Holy Communion frequently. Under Pope Paul VI the option of Communion by the hand was restored, and the Second Vatican Council called for the Precious Blood of Christ to again be offered to the faithful. In 1973, the document Immensae Caritatis was promulgated, allowing lay persons to act as ministers of Holy Communion as in the early centuries of the Church. This permission was given in direct answer to the needs of the Church. With more people receiving Communion frequently and under both forms, laypersons were needed to assist priests with the following tasks:
- Distributing Communion at Mass.
- Bringing Communion to the sick and homebound.
In 1980, the U.S. bishops authorized the use of lay ministers of the Eucharist to assist the priest in distributing ashes on Ash Wednesday. In 1985, the U.S. bishops further authorized them to help priests bless throats on the Feast of St. Blaise.
Eligibility: To serve as a Eucharistic Minister one must be at least 16 years old and a Confirmed, practicing Catholic. Applicants for this ministry must be approved by the pastor.
Serving as an extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist is a great privilege, and one the lay person should consciously seek to remain worthy of. Pope Paul VI put it this way:
“The person appointed for this task must be duly instructed and should distinguish himself or herself by Christian life, faith, and morals, striving to be worthy of this great office, cultivating devotion to the Holy Eucharist, and acting as an example to the other faithful by piety and reverence for this most holy sacrament of the altar. Let no one be chosen whose selection may cause scandal among the faithful.”
In other words, lay ministers should strive to live a life consistent with the sacrament they are distributing. They must be faithful to Mass each Sunday, and witness the faith in their daily lives.
Each Mass at which a minister serves should be preceded by prayer and careful observance of the Eucharistic fast (nothing but water or medicine for 1 full hour before receiving Communion). The Sacrament of Reconciliation should also be embraced as a means for preparing to receive and distribute the Eucharist. The minister should seek to grow in their devotion to the Eucharist by prayer and spiritual reading. Taking part in Adoration and or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is also encouraged.
Training: Training for Eucharistic Ministers is required, and is scheduled several times a year. Availability of the lay persons being trained is taken into account, and the meeting times are therefore flexible.
Scheduling: Most Eucharistic Ministers are assigned to assist at two Masses a month. They may contact Bob McGrath (see below) in advance to request any dates off that they know they will be unavailable. If a schedule conflict arises once the schedule is already finished, however, it is the minister’s responsibility to call other ministers and arrange coverage. Usually five ministers are scheduled for each Mass.
Contact: For further information, scheduling requests, or to apply to be a Eucharistic Minister, contact: Mr. Joe DeMarkey at 508-429-5401 or [email protected].
Eucharistic Homebound Ministry: Please click here to learn about St. Mary’s Ministry of bringing Holy Communion to the homebound.
Eucharistic Hospital Ministry: Please click here to learn about St. Mary’s Ministry of bringing Holy Communion to those in Framingham Union Hospital.
Spirituality of the Ministry:
The True Presence: Once the bread and wine are consecrated by a priest at Mass, they become the Body and Blood of Christ. The outward appearance of bread and wine is preserved, but in their essence these gifts become Christ Himself. Each Eucharist is a new Incarnation as God “takes flesh” among His people to strengthen and guide them on their pilgrim way. God is truly present in the Eucharist, and receiving Communion is the closest we will get to Him before we meet Him face to face in the life to come.
Mother Mary: There is no more perfect model for a Eucharistic Minister than Mary. Mary carried the Body of Christ for 9 months, and brought Him to the whole world as gift. The Eucharist you will distribute is sign and symbol of this beautiful act of love. Mary was the God Bearer, something all Baptized Christians are called to be. And God chose Mary for her humility and purity, the most important characteristics for a good Eucharistic Minister.