“Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at Eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion. They may also exercise this function at Eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion.” (“Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests”)
Extraordinary ministers are to be fully initiated Catholics, at least 16 years of age, who lead a life in harmony with the undertaking of this ministry including participating in the sacramental life of the Church. The pastoral staff, Liturgy Committee, and/or Parish Council may assist the pastor in discerning parishioners to fulfill this ministry. Persons who themselves express a desire to become an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist should be carefully considered.
A time of formation to deepen their understanding of the Eucharist and the ministry they are to undertake should be provided for extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. A portion of this formation may be offered for all liturgical ministers at the same time thus enabling them to have a common understanding of the Eucharist and an appreciation of all the ministerial roles. The sample outline for a formation series which follows in Appendix I is provided as a guide.
An additional time of training in their specific ministry should be conducted. The sample outline shows this specific training as Sessions V and VI. “How Communion Is To Be Distributed,” which follows, may be helpful in this training.
It is recommended that ongoing formation and/or training be provided for the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist through annual ministry days in the parish.