ASK FATHER: I’d like to be EMHC for nursing homes but not during Mass

Dominus Est

Highly recommended! CLICK!

From a reader…


I have a question that has been troubling me lately and I hope that you can answer my concern. There is a monthly roster that is posted at our parish to let the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion what Mass they are designated to serve at. Our current pastor has, thankfully, diminished the amount of EMHC’s that serve, from four to one per Mass.

As you might have guessed, I am also an EMHC, but I have been uncomfortable in being one. Since reading Dominus Est by His Excellency Athanasius Schnieder and reading/hearing quotes from various saints on how unconsecrated hands should not touch the most Holy Eucharist, I have been considering stop being an EMHC.

Here in is where my predicament lies. I also go one Sunday a month and give Communion to the elderly at nursing homes who do not have anyone to take them to Mass. I feel torn between giving up being an EMHC and continuing the service to the elderly. There are very few persons who volunteer for Communion services to the elderly and some have quit recently.

I would really appreciate it if you can show some guidance in this situation. God Bless you and your work always, Father.

Thank you for being thoughtful about your role as an EMHC.  There is also a Vatican document which all priests and everyone involved in this ministry should read.  HERE

The employment of EMHCs is, in some places, out of hand.

That said, your desire to continue to help people at the nursing homes is commendable.

While it is without question that the ordained are the first choice for any ministry directly concerning the Eucharist. Holy Church permits this ministry and, with the shortage of priests, you could be of great service to the elderly.

Perhaps you could schedule an appointment with the parish priest.  Explain that you would like to continue with the nursing homes, but you would rather not be scheduled during Mass.  If he is reasonable, that should be enough.

This morning I was struck by a story about how the new President of Poland, Andrej Duda,  pounced protectively on a Host that had fallen and was being blown by the wind, lest it be lost or desecrated.

Polish President Host


Marvelous.  Should he have waited for a priest to catch the Host?


We do what we need to do, when we need to do it, for love of the Lord and also for love of our neighbor.   While your service at Mass probably isn’t needed, it could be that you service to the elderly is.

Talk with your priest.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. FL_Catholic says:

    How blessed they are to have a President whose first instinct would be to protect the Body of the Lord! Methinks Obama’s first reaction would be to stomp on the Host and proclaim its the way to “better community relations”…

  2. kekeak2008 says:

    I too, recently read Dominus Est; it was truly wonderful. That short book has forever changed how I think and feel about the Eucharist. My parish employs several EMHCs, unfortunately. After reading that book, I can’t bring myself to receive from a layperson.

  3. “Should he have waited for a priest to catch the Host?”

    Simply, no.

  4. rodin says:

    A truly admirable Head of State.

  5. Latin Mass Type says:

    For the person who asked the question– Perhaps many of the Sunday EMHCs don’t wish to visit the people in the nursing homes! I guess your pastor would know and he may be thankful if you would do this!

  6. TheDude05 says:

    That video gave me chills when I saw how gentle his hands were with our Lord. The few times I have seen the Host dropped the person practically crushes it trying not to be noticed. Big thumbs up to their President.

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    I sometimes work in nursing homes, now often called rehabilitation centers, and I have wondered about whether or not priests or EMHC’s bring Holy Communion to the residents. I hope they do, the need is so great, even in the best of facilities. It is also the only kind of place I can imagine being useful in that regard, if there simply is no way a priest can do it at all.

    The people of Poland are blessed. I envy them. This is certainly a man who knows his place in the world. He’s the president of Poland, but look with what humility he puts God first. My word.

  8. jacobi says:

    It is good that this important role is now receiving serious consideration.

  9. I am going to be sorely tempted to vote for President Duda in the next U. S. election… oh, wait, our President has to be a natural-born citizen… rats. He must be lots better than many of the natural-born citizens who are currently seeking the office. Maybe I can vote for him for senator or something.

  10. Oh the humility of our Lord! How beautiful God bless the President of Poland.

  11. NoraLee9 says:

    My husband always laments that we should move to a Catholic country. I try to explain to him that there aren’t any left. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we should start learning Polish!

  12. Midwest St. Michael says:

    I cannot recommend “Dominus Est!” enough. Fantastic little book.

    For those who may be wondering the good bishop’s second book on the Holy Eucharist, “Corpus Christi”, is also fantastic. It is available here: (scroll down a tad)

  13. ray from mn says:

    Another possibility would becoming an EMHC at a local veterans hospital while visiting Catholic patients. There your duties would be under the Bishop of the U.S. Military Archdiocese. If there is a local veterans home in your area, they also would appreciate people visiting their residents and bringing them Holy Communion. Those homes if they are owned by your state government fall under the domain of the local bishop.

  14. pfreddys says:

    This is a perfect question for me also, as it has vexed me for awhile! I too would not consider being an EMHC at Mass but there are especially individual homebounds who would simply not be able to receive Our Lord without an EMHC. I, as is my nature, have a further scruple on this matter: I would be very skittish about giving the person Communion in the hand. Any input on how to avoid that or perhaps correct my thinking would be appreciated.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    For anyone interested, I suggest getting “A Ritual for Laypersons”, published in 2013 by Liturgical Press. It has all of the appropriate excerpts from The Roman Ritual (ordinary form) for when instituted acolytes and other extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion distribute outside of Mass. It has been revised in accordance with The Roman Missal, Third Edition, and it will help instituted and commissioned ministers to “say the black and do the red”.

  16. Lepidus says:

    What bothers me is the question on whether or not the priest himself is abandoning his flock in the nursing homes and hospitals? One would hope that a priest would see visiting these people with the Eucharist and option of Confession a major part of his “job” after the regularly scheduled Sacraments. Unfortunately, in many places the priests abandon this function to EMHCs or the Family Minister and the only time the sick will see a priest is if they specifically have someone to request his presence.

Comments are closed.