Eucharistic minister

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: How did the term “Eucharistic minister” come to be?  It seems like all of the documentation post-Council has never used that term (I may be wrong).   The proper term is “extraordinary minister of holy communion,” right?


A: Well, Inaestimabile donum said this in 1980:

“The faithful, whether religious or lay, who are authorized as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist can distribute Communion only when there is no priest, deacon or acolyte, when the priest is impeded by illness or advanced age, or when the number of the faithful going to Communion is so large as to make the celebration of Mass excessively long.”

It cites the 1973 Immensae caritatis, which in turn has a heading called “Special Ministers of the Eucharist.”

I think it’s more likely that “eucharist” was becoming a popular term for the mass and “eucharistic minister” meant nothing more than a communion minister but using what was perceived as a theological richer and more timely title.

The correct title in force today is as you cite, extraordinary minister of holy communion. Personally, I use the shortened version “communion minister” to save a few syllables without intending to weaken the description.