Q: Our diocese requires Eucharistic Ministers to attend a two hour update session every four years. I am a volunteer coordinator for the ministry. When I notified the volunteers that one was scheduled conveniently our parish I got a response from a long time minister. She feels she has taken several other trainings, has years of experience, knows all that is necessary and should be exempt.
Is an exemption possible and, if so, who would grant it?
A: The Vatican’s 1997 Instruction On Certain Questions on Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest says this in article 8, §1: “A non-ordained member of the faithful, in cases of true necessity, may be deputed by the diocesan bishop, using the appropriate form of blessing for these situations, to act as an extraordinary minister to distribute Holy Communion outside of liturgical celebrations ad actum vel ad tempus or for a more stable period.”
I interpret this to mean that the bishop establishes guidelines for the diocese pertaining to the length of service of communion ministers, and a local priest or deacon uses the formula from the Book of Blessings. Any priest may appoint a minister for a single occasion (ad actum), the bishop may determine the length of service (ad tempus), or make it open-ended (a more stable period).
In your case, a communion minister may ask the bishop for an exemption.