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Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHCs)

(Procedures Before, During, and After Mass)

Reverence and Attire

An EMHC’s demeanor at Mass should be showing reverence for the Eucharist.

  • A neat and reverential appearance is in keeping with the EMHCs role in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  The minister’s attire should be appropriate and should not detract from that role; therefore, we ask no denim or tennis shoes when ministering.

Before Mass

  • EMHC are asked to arrive at least 20-25 minutes before the scheduled Mass to check in.  If you arrive late (10 minutes before Mass) and another minister has signed in for you, please refrain from ministering on that day. 
  • Once you have signed in, please go to join with Clergy or Mass Captain for prayer in the Narthex.

Procedures for Distribution

  • EMHCs should approach the Sanctuary at the Sign of Peace, not after.  Once on the Sanctuary, please refrain from offering the Sign of Peace to other Ministers as a new rite is already starting. The Bread Ministers stand to the right of the Crucifix starting under the image of the Blessed Mother, continuing with the Cup Ministers toward the presider’s chair.

  • When a deacon is not present, the first Bread Minister goes to the tabernacle. When retrieving or returning the ciborium to the tabernacle, it does not matter if you carry the ciborium high or at chest level. Be careful walking. 
  • Once all EMHCs have received their communion and have their vessels, wait for Father and together proceed reverently to their Communion stations.
  • Do not step forward to receive the ciborium or the cup, rather, stay where you are and let Father come to you.

  • The Bread Minister that stands next to the priest should stand directly in front of the people approaching.
  • In a clear voice while looking at the communicant’s eyes, with a smile, please say, “The Blood of Christ,” or “The Body of Christ.”
  • After the Precious Blood has been received, the EMHC should wipe the rim of the Cup with the purificator using the thumb and forefinger in a pinching motion before ministering to the next communicant.  Please be careful not to wipe in a manner where the purificator is dipped into the Precious Blood.
  • When a child, a Christian from another denomination, or a Catholic indisposed to receive are in your line for a blessing (with their hands crossed to their chest), please tap on their shoulder, reverently saying, “God Bless You.”  The clergy are asked to give a sign of the cross on their forehead, also saying the same formula.
  • If a communicant approaches with a pyx, asking to bring a host to a loved one, they should be instructed to ask Father after Mass. Please be polite but firm.
  • An EMHC returning from the St. Anne’s Room/Choir is to position his/her self in the middle section/section 3 to help the priest.  Stand in front of the third seat from the aisle.
  • When walking to and from the altar with the Precious Body or Precious Blood, cover ciborium and cup with hand or purificator.
  • After Communion is complete, the Precious Blood EMHCs are to take the Sacred Cup back to the Sacristy for consumption.  Please DO NOT place the purificator into the Sacred Cup and DO NOT pour the Precious Blood into the sink or the sacrarium.  In the case in which you are not able to finish your Precious Blood, please ask another adult in the sacristy to do so.  The Mass Captain will help facilitate this conclusion.Also, kindly observe silence in the sacristy. 
  • Empty cups can be taken to the sacristy. Deacon and Acolyte will not return to the sacristy and are expected to consume the remaining Precious Blood in their own cups and place them in the wooden carriers.
  • Once EMHCs are done with Holy Body distribution, they should return their vessels to the Altar where any remaining hosts will be placed by the priest in to the Ciborium. The EMHCs are to place their Ciborium on the Altar and the priest will place into one/two Ciboria.
  • If there is no deacon present, then the Main Bread minister should wait for all the ministers to return and then assist the priest to get all the remaining hosts into the Ciborium until it is about 75% full. Put remainder into a second Ciborium.

Accidents during Distribution

  • If a host falls on the ground during distribution, the EMHC should pick it up and consume it.  Never put it back in the vessel.  If it has fallen out of a communicant’s mouth or hand, after distribution is over, you can take it to the Sacristy, inform the Mass captain to place it in a cup of warm water to dissolve, and put aside in a dignified space. 
  • If Precious Blood accidentally spills, please stop what you’re doing and get a couple of purificators to cover the spillage.  Inform the Mass Captain who knows how to handle this after Mass. There are extra purificators on the shelf of the credence table.


  • On High Holy Days, please arrive 1 hour before.  We want EMHCs to be part of extreme welcoming before and after Mass. Christmas Day, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day.