Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
The Ministry of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion did not exist until after Vatican II, which was started with Pope John XXIII on Oct 11, 1962 and concluded under Pope Paul VI on December 8, 1965. Many have summarized the core purpose of the council as adapting Roman Catholicism to the modern world. Because of Vatican II, there were many new changes in how the Mass was now to be celebrated. Mass was no longer said in Latin but now conducted in the language of the people and the priest now faced the parishioners so participation of the laity was now encouraged. Prior to Vatican II there were very few Deacons, so there was no way for the celebrant to efficiently distribute Holy Communion. So it was after Vatican II, when the ministry of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion came into being.
Today, most parishes throughout the world now have Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion as a way to help the priest both with the liturgy of the Mass as well as in taking communion to the Home Bound or hospitalized Catholics. It is the only ministry that is under the direct leadership of the Archbishop so it is imperative that all EMHCs be mandated every three years to reaffirm and maintain the reverence and sanctity of the ministry.
At Our Lady of Fatima Parish, we now have around 150 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. If asked why they do it and what they like about the ministry, most will say, they feel a calling to do this beautiful ministry. Indeed, it is an honor to serve the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass or to the Home Bound parishioners who cannot make it to church. Some EMHCs are also lectors as well and some have children who serve as altar servers so it is incumbent that the three ministries of lectors, altar servers and EMHC be scheduled together in one combined schedule. The EMHCs for the Home bound have their own schedules which are determined by who is in need, where they are located and then which EMHC is available.
At Our Lady of Fatima Parish, we are very blessed to have so many answer the call. They not only do their scheduled times, but will step up immediately if an EMHC is missing or in need of a substitution. To serve the Lord in this ministry is the wonderful reward of serving Him and at the same time, drawing each of us closer to Him.