ANSWER:  G . . .  The bishops do NOT encourage large numbers of extraordinary ministers to distribute Communion.


   It is preferable that only priests distribute the Body and Blood to the faithful in honor of the    

     sacred ordained priesthood established by Jesus. But it is permissible to utilize lay people if there is a very large congregation and the priests and deacons present cannot handle the large crowd.


In recent decades, many wonderful lay people have volunteered for the position and have been a relief to parishes with severe priest shortages and Masses with standing-room only. Because of the generous response of charitable lay men and women willing to volunteer, some parishioners have mistakenly gotten the idea that this is the norm for distributing the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior. For example, if only 50 people attend daily mass, then one priest should be able to handle that.


The Church prefers that the regular mission of lay people focus on going out into the world to evangelize and heal the Body of Christ rather than having a sacramental focus. That might include launching parish ministries such as organizing volunteers to take the elderly to doctor 

        appointments, homeless programs, food donation drives, prayer groups, youth groups, church choir, pro-life marches, visitation of the sick, disabled and prisoners, keeping the church beautifully decorated with fresh flowers and clean stained-glass windows, and other activities outside the sacraments of the Holy Mass.


In 1997, the Vatican issued instructions on “On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest.” The document can be accessed by visiting the official Vatican web site and typing “nonordained” into the site’s search engine.


Vatican document on Eucharistic ministers (1997)   More on Eucharistic Ministers   Eucharistic Ministers (EWTN)