Diocese of Fairbanks 

January 2019

The following are guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in the Diocese of Fairbanks. These guidelines supersede: Holy Communion Under Both Kinds Guidelines Issued for the Diocese of Fairbanks on 10 September 2012.






1.1: In every celebration of the Eucharist, there should be a sufficient number of ministers of Holy Communion so that it may be distributed in a reverent and orderly manner. Bishops, priests and deacons distribute Holy Communion in virtue of their office as ordinary ministers of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Additionally, the sick and those unable to participate at the Eucharistic celebration have a spiritual need to receive Holy Communion. The Church, in order to make access to so great a sacrament, allows for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion when there is a need. This is a ministry of bringing the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ to the People of God in a dignified and reverent manner. It also witnesses to faith the Real Presence of Christ in the action of sharing in the Eucharistic meal of Christ’s sacrifice. This ministry should, therefore be treated with utmost dignity and reverence.

1.2: When there are not enough priests and deacons available for the numbers of faithful present, those who are authorized as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may be assigned to distribute Communion.



2.1: All extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are designated/approved by the Bishop in writing. Extraordinary minister candidates are to be selected by the pastor or chaplain based on evidence of personal willingness to assume the responsibility. If there is not a pastor assigned to a parish, then the leadership team along with the parish council through their regional coordinator will select extraordinary minister candidates. The Religious Coordinator for the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks will select the school’ extraordinary minister candidates. The request to the bishop will include the names of the candidates and verification that they are of sufficient Christian maturity, have a definite relationship to the parish or institution served, give evidence of a character and way of life that reflects a serious and well-formed faith and moral commitment. (CIC c. 230§3)

2.2: To be eligible, extraordinary ministers are to be baptized and confirmed Catholics of at least 16 years of age. If married, they should be married in the Church (divorce does not make one ineligible to serve). Extraordinary ministers should faithfully participate to the fullest in the Mass and incorporate God in every aspect of their lives. (CIC c. 230§3)

2.3: Delegation of extraordinary ministers is as follows: one school year term for the Catholic Schools, three-year term for road system parishes due to higher turnover rate, and five-year term for village parishes. The ability or willingness of an individual to continue as an extraordinary minister beyond their term should not be presumed; the pastor or leadership team and the individual should all concur prior to renewal.

2.4: Extraordinary ministers are appointed to a particular parish or institution only and may not minister outside or beyond the parameters of their appointment. The only exception is that the extraordinary ministers assigned at Monroe Catholic High School are encouraged to participate in their home parish with the consent of their pastor.

2.5: The extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are to wear proper attire. The use of a symbol such as a cross or a medal is permissible. Albs are not appropriate vesture in that liturgical ministers are first and foremost members of the worshipping assembly, and should appear as such.

2.6: Newly appointed extraordinary ministers are to be given sufficient training for this ministry. Training at a minimum will cover: how to receive communion themselves under both kinds; how to distribute the host and the cup; hygienic washing of the vessels; locking the tabernacle, carrying a pyx with reverence; reverent personal style; and what to do when an accident occurs with the Eucharistic species.

2.7: It is highly recommended that newly appointed extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion be commissioned, preferably during a Sunday Mass. The Order of Commissioning is found in the Book of Blessings, Chapter 63.

2.8: At least once a year, each parish/community is encouraged to arrange for training or a retreat to renew the faith, prayer and commitment of the present ministers.



3.1: The extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are part of the faithful that form a holy people. They are to take an active part in the Mass by joining in the prayers and the singing, the hearing of the word of God and in the common offering of Sacrifice. Their gestures and postures should be observed in common with all the faithful. Normally, they should be seated with the assembly during Mass. (GIRM 95, 96)

3.2: If there is a tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary, a genuflection is made by the priests and ministers before and after Mass, but not during the celebration of Mass. Other ministers genuflect whenever they pass in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting. (GIRM 274)

3.3: Right after the Sign of Peace, the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion approach the sanctuary. After the priest and deacon have received Communion, the ministers approach the altar and stand at a convenient place to receive Holy Communion. If the whole assembly is not being offered the cup, it is not appropriate to offer to the ministers only.

3.4: It is a Liturgical Norm in the Diocese of Fairbanks to distribute Holy Communion under both kinds. Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father’s Kingdom. (GIRM 281)

3.5: After all extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion have received Communion, the priest hands the vessels containing the Eucharistic species to the deacons and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Extraordinary Ministers are not to take the vessels from the altar themselves.
(GIRM 162, NORMS 40)

3.6: At the end of the communion rite, if any of the Precious Blood remains, the extraordinary minister should consume it; it may never be disposed of on the ground or in the sacrarium. Any remaining consecrated hosts may be consumed or reserved in the tabernacle. The consecrated wine may not be reserved in the tabernacle for later use. (GIRM 163, NORMS 52, 54, 55)

3.7: After distribution of Communion, the priest, deacon or instituted acolyte purify the vessels at either a side table or at the altar. It is permissible to leave the vessels suitably covered at a side table on a corporal to be purified immediately after the Mass. If the vessels are purified at the altar, they are carried to the credence table by a minister. (GIRM 163, and 279)



4.1. The Body of Christ is administered by the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister with the words, “The Body of Christ”. After the communicant has responded “Amen”, the host is placed in the hand or on the tongue, according to the manner indicated by the communicant. As soon as the communicant receives the host, they consume the whole of it. (GIRM 161, 286)

4.2: The Body of Christ is always ministered to the communicant. Communicants are not permitted to take their own hosts and communicate themselves. (NORM 50)

4.3: If a host falls to the ground during distribution, the minister should pick it up, and either hand it to the presider, or place it on the corporal on the altar for the priest/presider, or consume it. The communicant, including the extraordinary minister, is never allowed to self-communicate, even by means of intinction. (NORM 50)



5.1: In the Diocese of Fairbanks, Communion from the cup on Sundays and Holy days, as well as weekday Masses, is permitted. In order to ensure that this is done in a reverent and orderly manner, the availability of sufficient ministers is essential. Ordinarily, there should be two ministers of the cup for each minister with the ciborium; but each community needs to determine what ratio is most suitable. Ministers should stand an appropriate distance from each other to facilitate the Communion procession and not unduly impede the assembly’s easy movement.

5.2: Priests or presiders should encourage the whole assembly to receive Communion under both kinds. When Communion under the form of the Precious Blood is offered to the assembly, it shall always be clear that it is the option of the communicant and not of the minister whether the communicant shall receive the consecrated wine. (GIRM 281-282)

5.3: The cup is offered to the communicant with the words, “The Blood of Christ”, to which the communicant responds, “Amen”. Individual names of the communicant should never be used. Generally, the communicant should hold the chalice firmly in both hands and drink from it. However, in the case of a physical disability or weakness, the minister should be ready to assist in holding the chalice. (GIRM 286-287 and Based upon Roman Missal Formational Materials provided by the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the USCCB, 2010)

5.4: After each person has received the Blood of Christ, the minister should wipe the rim of the cup with a purificator and turn the chalice slightly before repeating the procedure for the next communicant. (NORM 45)

5.5: The cup may never be left on the altar or another place to be picked up by the communicant for self-communication (except in the case of concelebrating bishops or priests), nor may the cup be passed from one communicant to another. There shall always be a minister of the cup. (NORM 44)

5.6: Ministration of Communion by intinction, dipping the consecrated host into the Precious Blood is not allowed unless authorized by the bishop in serious situations such as a flu outbreak. It is not practiced in the Diocese of Fairbanks because it eliminates the communicant’s legitimate option to receive Communion in the hand and also denies the right of the faithful to receive Communion under the form of bread only. If a communicant with a consecrated host in hand approaches a minister distributing the Precious Blood, it is advisable to cover the cup with the purificator and ask the communicant to consume the host and speak with the priest after Mass. The pastor/leadership team should specifically cover this scenario in annual training and describe how they want this handled for each parish.

5.7: If the Precious Blood is spilled or knocked out of your hand, take your purificator and place it over the spot of Precious Blood so that it is not stepped on. Then stand in front of the purificator on the floor so that it is not picked up by a helpful parishioner. Cover the cup with your hand as you are unable to provide the Precious Blood since you do not have a purificator. After Mass, the spot will be washed with the assistance of the deacon or priest.



6.1: Priests with pastoral responsibilities should see to it that the sick or aged, even though not seriously ill or in danger of death, are given every opportunity to receive the Eucharist frequently, even daily, especially during the Easter Season. (Pastoral Care of the Sick, 72)

6.2: Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who have been properly trained and deputed by their respective pastor or leadership team may be asked to take Communion to the sick and homebound. In Fairbanks those Extraordinary Ministers who are also Stephen Ministers may take Communion to the sick. Stephen Ministers are trained by the Director of Stephen Ministries and then commissioned.

6.3: Recognizing our need as a Church to protect the most vulnerable, ministers who visit the sick are required to have a background check and complete safe environment training prior to the start of this ministry.

6.4: The minister to the sick may celebrate the Communion service in one of two ways: 1) in context of a liturgy of the Word; or 2) in a brief form for use in more restrictive circumstances (Please refer to Chapter 3 of Pastoral Care of the Sick). It is recommended that whenever possible a group of sick or aged persons be brought together to celebrate the liturgy of the Word and the Communion Service in a communal manner. If this is impossible, the minister should try to celebrate the Communion Service as fully as possible, depending on the condition of the patient.

In the Yukon Kuskokwim (YK) region, ministers of the sick have a form in their prayer kits which is based on the Pastoral Care of the Sick. All ministers are trained utilizing the Native Ministry Training Program (NMTP).

6.5: When the Eucharist is brought to the sick it should be carried in a pyx, with the pyx being placed in a burse. Ideally, a table is to be prepared with a cloth and a lighted LED candle for the Eucharist. A vessel of holy waters may also be available. (Pastoral Care of the Sick, 74) In the YK region, all of these items are contained in their prayer kits.

6.6: When requesting consecrated hosts for the pyx please see either the priest or deacon prior to or just after Mass. DO NOT carry the pyx in line with you during Communion and expect to be given extra hosts.

6.7: Once you have the consecrated hosts in the pyx, you need to go IMMEDIATELY to the person/place that you are taking the Sacrament. DO NOT delay, go home or run errands with the Eucharist. The pyx should remain on your person as long as it contains the Blessed Sacrament.

6.8: When you reach your destination, follow the rite provided to you. In hospitals, or when people are extremely sick and weak the rite may be shortened to contain only: Greeting, Our Father, Lamb of God, Reception of the Eucharist and the Prayer after Communion.

6.9: You may distribute hosts to family or friends in attendance who are Catholic. If you have too many hosts, you may give two or more to the last person(s). If there are more people receiving the Eucharist than you have hosts, you can always break the last host(s) in half. If necessary, it is appropriate to reverently consume hosts which are left over.

6.10: After the rite and distribution of hosts is complete, the pyx should be purified with water. Pour the water into the pyx in order to collect the crumbs of the Eucharist, then drink the water and wipe the pyx with a purificator or corporal.

6.11: Hosts which are not distributed are to be consumed or immediately returned to the tabernacle. It is never permissible for the Blessed Sacrament to be reserved outside of a church, oratory, or private chapel without the expressed consent of the bishop.

6:12: When Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion use a personal vehicle to visit the sick, they must have a valid driver’s license and vehicle liability insurance which complies with Alaska State requirements; however, it is advised that they carry more than the minimum requirements. All Stephen Ministers will provide the Director of Stephen Ministries a copy of their driver’s license as well as a current copy of their insurance card.


7.1: Viaticum is the celebration of the Eucharist with a dying person. In the case of necessity or with at least the presumed permission of the pastor, chaplain, pastoral leader or superior, the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist can bring the Sacrament to the sick in the form of Viaticum, subsequently notifying the parish priest or leadership team that they did so. (CIC, c. 911§2)


  • Based upon Roman Missal Formational Materials provided by the Secretariat for Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2010.
  • GIRM: General Instructions of the Roman Missal. 3rd Ed. Washington D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011.
  • NORMS: Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Liturgy Documentary Series 14, 2011
  • Pastoral Care of the Sick, International Commission on English in the Liturgy, A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishop’s Conferences, New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1983
  • New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, Paulist Press, 2000

File: 2019-Extraordinary-Ministers-of-Holy-Communion.pdf