Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion help priests to prepare and to serve the Eucharist--Holy Communion--at Mass. The Eucharist is the Sacred Sacrament, which for Catholics and other Christian denominations becomes the body and blood of Christ with a priest's consecration of Communion wafers and wine. While Extraordinary Ministers are not ordained, their roles carry spiritual value. An Extraordinary Minister must be a practicing Roman Catholic.
Extraordinary Ministers must dress appropriate to the service being provided to the congregation and in reverence/respect to the Eucharist.
Extraordinary Ministers proceed to the altar to prepare to distribute the Eucharist. After consecrating the bread and the wine, the priest distributes the Eucharist to the Extraordinary ministers, altar servers and readers and then hands the Extraordinary Ministers the ciborium with the consecrated hosts.
For distributing the body (Hosts) at Sunday Mass the Congregants line up in all three isles before the Extraordinary Ministers and the celebrant. An Extraordinary Minister holds up the Host, saying reverently, "Body of Christ." The Extraordinary Ministers return the ciborium to the altar after distributing the Eucharist to the congregation. This concludes the Extraordinary Minister’s duties unless he/she is designated to clean up after Mass.
If the blood of Christ is being distributed then the Extraordinary Minister holds the chalice of the blood of Christ before each parishioner, saying, "Blood of Christ." After the recipient drinks, the Extraordinary Minister wipes the rim and turns the cup a quarter of a turn. The Extraordinary Minister returns the chalice to the altar after distributing the Eucharist to the congregation.
Cleaning the chalices/cups requires specific actions mandated by the Catholic Church. After Mass, the Extraordinary Ministers may return chalices/cups to the sacristy – although this is often done by the altar servers. The Extraordinary Ministers – or the parishioner designated to do so – rinse out all of the chalices/cups and bowls from the Eucharistic celebration. (Note: At St. Peter Celestine, this duty is assigned to a designated person and not normally the Extraordinary Ministers.) The Extraordinary Ministers – or designated parishioner – wash the dishes in a covered sink that drains into the ground. Ministers must never empty consecrated wine into the sink. The Extraordinary Minister or the priest must drink any remaining wine. The Extraordinary Ministers place the cloths with which they wiped the chalices and with which the priest wiped his hands during the Eucharist in a bowl next to the sink. They carefully wash all of the items in a different sink and dry them.