Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Extraordinarily Large Number of Extraordinary Ministers

October 1st, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following raised an eyebrow while reading the upcoming St. Louis Church bulletin (emphasis in bold):

“If you have been involved in a ministry for several years, you may want to look over the directory to consider another way to serve?this allows other parishioners to step forward and a new way of serving for you can be enriching?also, each of us should only do one ministry at a Mass?if you are a lector, you should not be an usher at that Mass?if an usher, not a Eucharistic minister [Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion], etc?.we need to spread the responsibility for serving among many people and we should offer others the opportunity to serve. We have special needs in these areas: Eucharistic Ministry at Mass (we require [begin jaw drop] at least 40 a weekend, so over 200 total are needed [end jaw drop]), Care of the sick, RAIHN (ministry to homeless families) and the various Committees?consider especially signing up for one of these areas of ministry.”

Ok, you’re probably wondering what I’m wondering: What parish could possibly need 40 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion each and every weekend? And why on earth would a requirement of 40 EMHC per weekend make over 200 necessary? I understand that St. Louis is, relatively speaking, a large parish in our diocese. Their attendance this past weekend was over 1,700. Still, 40 EMHC per weekend and 200+ in total? Is this a Papal Mass in New York City? I don’t know, that doesn’t sound right to me. St. Louis has a deacon and three priests in residence, in addition to the pastor. Can’t these ordained clergy be better employed to distribute the Body and Blood of our Lord? Oh but wait, that would mean they still “require” 36 EMHC each weekend…

Time for some Church documentation regarding the matter of excessive EMHC:

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #162:
“The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.”

There must exist a true need for lay persons to be employed in this particular role.

From the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, #151:
Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional. Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders.”

Again, there must be a necessity for 40 EMHC per weekend and… 200 total. The St. Louis pastor should also take note of the following, which is emphasized in bold above: “Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity”. So when Fr. Murphy says the following in his bulletin: we need to spread the responsibility for serving among many people and we should offer others the opportunity to serve”, it makes one wonder if the intention of having 40 EMHC and 200 total is to create a fuller participation among the laity, rather than responding to a true need in his parish.



15 Responses to “Extraordinarily Large Number of Extraordinary Ministers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That is way too many Extraordinary Ministers. WAY too many. That means that in any one pew at this church, there may be anywhere from 2-5 EMHC sitting in that particular pew.

  2. Nerina says:

    SJR uses a very large amount of EMHCs too. I think the last time I went to Mass, they had 8-10 in addition to two priests. It did not facilitate the flow, it impeded it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can see if they were to get 50,000 per Mass each Sunday… Maybe.

  4. Kelly says:

    Wow. We have a full house every weekend at most Masses and two EMHCs (+1 to serve those in choir up in the loft). I looked at the bulletin and they have the same number of Masses that we do. Six at every Mass? Must be they offer under both kinds every week. Not sure why they find it necessary – seems many don't grasp that you receive both Body and Blood when receiving the consecrated host alone.

    What's the deal with a person who handles abuse allegations leading a discussion on the film 'Doubt'? Alarming.

    Campaign for Human Development collection? Yikes!

    Confirmation preparation program is FULL? There is no more room at the inn?

    First Communion Preparation doesn't begin UNTIL February? What?!

    Wahhabism?! In a Catholic Church bulletin?!

    2 1/2 pages of advertising?!

    Oh boy. Note to self: Don't read any more church bulletins tonight.

  5. Dr. K says:

    I think it may be eight at each Mass. Even six is a bit much. It is possible that some of these EMHC are involved with the Communion Services at The Highlands and Heather Heights.

    It's also worth mentioning that First Confession is not required before children make their First Communion at St. Louis. This is a violation of Church law. The Catechism, the Code of Canon Law, Redemptionis Sacramentem, etc. all mandate that children make their first sacramental Confession prior to receiving Communion for the first time.

    ~Dr. K

  6. Dr. K says:

    Source for the above:

    "The recommended age for First Eucharist is second grade."


    "The recommended age for First Penance is fourth grade."

    ~Dr. K

  7. Anonymous says:

    Clearly the dor is putting its best men in charge of our largest parishes…

  8. Nerina says:

    Dr. K,

    It's the same way at our church. I had to beg for First Reconciliation for my children prior to First Communion. I was told that the diocese has been administering First Communion prior to First Reconciliation for 25 years and that my approach was an outdated understanding of the Sacraments. I asked when the Catechism had been rewritten in Rochester. This happened when I first moved here and it was when I began to realize that all was not well in Rochester.

  9. RochChaCha says:


    Regarding Holy Communion at St. John of Rochester in Fairport (SJR), i've attended mass there in the past and the shape of the church would have about three aisles where people could walk down to receive the Eucharist. This could be easily handled by three people and since most days there is a priest and deacon available, you would only need one more minister, plus three for the precious blood.

    Where it gets crazy is when they split the aisles and start making more 'stations' as they call it available. That's why when you look up on the altar during Communion, there alongside the priet is about 15 other parishioners present.

    So why does the parish do it this way? Not sure, other than either to allow more people to participate as if attending the Holy Mass is not enough or to speed up Communion and make time for singing the Happy Birthday song near the end of Mass.

  10. I received my first Eucharist in 2nd grade, first penance in third

    my children will not be receiving the sacraments in that order

    also, I was just glancing through the St Louis site…

    the bible they link is the NIV…a protestant bible that is, of course, MISSING BOOKS!

    what, exactly, does that say about the church? Nothing Good!

    Msgr Krieg is in residence there…since he teaches a bible study twice monthly, shouldn't he make the parish clean that up?

  11. Dr. K says:

    The priest is wrong, and if the diocese continues to support this, it is wrong as well.

    Here is a dubium posed to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments regarding whether it is still permissible for parishes to swap the order of the two Sacraments, as was the case in some parishes during the period of experimentation during and after the Council:

    Question: "After the Declaration of 24 May 1973, is it still lawful for first communion to precede first confession as a general rule in those parishes where this practice has been in force for the last several years?"

    Response: "The Congregations for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and for the Clergy, with the approval of Pope Paul Vl, have replied:

    No, in accord with the mind of the Declaration.

    That mind is that a year from promulgation of the Declaration there be an end to all experiments in which first communion is received without prior reception of the sacrament of penance and that the discipline of the Church return to the spirit of the Decree Quam singulari."

    It's clear that what was once temporarily acceptable is now forbidden in the Latin rite. The diocese and these particular priests need to stop following their interpretation of the "spirit of the law" and start following the law itself.

    ~Dr. K

  12. Scott/Mary says:

    I once asked my sister who is charge of faith formation at a parish in the southern tier why the children were receiving the sacraments out of order. (Eucharist before Penance) I was told that children don't sin "that bad" to need "Reconciliation? before Communion. Plus it was hard for the kids to go to confession. I then asked her which concept was harder I'm sorry, or Transubstantiation? This is where the bottom line is drawn. The True Presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are not being taught to the children. Many of the teachers don?t believe in the True Presence. Sad but true!

  13. Nerina says:


    To add insult to injury, when my first child attended a "retreat" for First Communion, we were told all the children had to understand is that they were "receiving special bread." What? Special bread? Cinnamon raisin bread is special, but it ain't the body of Christ! Again, another red flag.

    During this retreat the kids also made a large pretzel out of bread dough because the pretzel shape represents a "hug." I kid you not.

  14. Anonymous says:



  15. Anonymous says:

    At Holy Trinity they do have first penance first, in the fall of 2nd grade, and first communion in the spring of 2nd grade. I know it was the same four years ago when my older son was that age.

    That said, we do remember the "special bread" gimmick. I don't know if maybe Nerina is from HT, or if the diocese teaches that to all of it faith formation people to spread.

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