Guidelines for bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and Housebound
Special care must be taken in the choice of those candidates who will take Holy Communion to the sick. In addition to completing a suitable formation course, they must be persons who will deal with the sick and the aged in a compassionate and understanding manner, always aware of the sensitive and confidential manner in which they must act. They must also be aware that they may be asked to take part in the Garda Vetting process before they commence their ministry.
As part of your duties as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, you may be asked to bring Holy Communion to those parishioners who cannot attend Mass because of old age or illness. The expectation is that you will bring Eucharist to the homebound person(s) on your way home after you have attended Sunday Mass.
After the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass, the celebrant should call forward those who are to bring the Blessed Sacrament to the Housebound. The celebrant should send the minister/s forward using the following, or similar, words.
Presider: The Extraordinary Minister(s) of Holy Communion will take the Eucharist to those who are confined to their homes.
As you go, take with you not only the Sacrament we have celebrated, but also the Word of God which we have heard, as well as the affection of this parish community, and ask for the prayers of those whom you visit in return. And now, let us pray…
The Prayer after Communion follows.
The ministers depart in silence after the “Amen” to the Prayer after Communion or may process out with the priest.
The Blessed Sacrament is conveyed in a small closed container called a pyx.
When carrying the Blessed Sacrament, be careful to place it in a safe spot. You may place the pyx in a small cloth bag and wear it around your neck or you may put it in your pocket, or handbag. If you need to do that, you should be careful to place it alone, rather than in a cluttered place. Do not leave it unattended. You should go directly after Mass to the person(s) to whom you will be bringing communion and not let other things distract you from your ministry, e.g., go shopping or visiting.
You do want to remember that you are carrying the Blessed Sacrament and attending to the work of God so if you meet someone, you do want to smile and greet your neighbours or friends, but you want to be careful about stopping and engaging in an unnecessary conversation. Use your common sense!
It is important to let the person who is sick or housebound know in advance that you are calling, and at what time you hope to be there.
When you enter the home of the person, make sure to greet all who are present. Follow the prayer service, either from Bringing Communion to the Sick: A Handbook for Extraordianry Ministers (available from Veritas) or from the leaflet used in your parish.
Remember that those who care for the sick and housebound may also receive Holy Communion.
Communion as Viaticum
In some circumstances, you may be asked to bring Holy Communion to a person who is nearing the time of death. This is a sensitive and special time not only for the person who is dying, but also for family and friends who are gathered.
The celebration of the Eucharist as viaticum, food for the passage through death to eternal life, is sacrament proper to the dying Christian. It is the completion and crown of the Christian life on this earth, signifying that the Christian follows the Lord to eternal glory and the banquet of the heavenly kingdom.
The layout of the service very much depends on the condition of the person who is sick. If possible, follow the leaflet given to you by the parish. If the person is too ill, you may use the simple form, as set out below.
The extraordinary minister goes to the sick person, and showing the blessed sacrament says: The body of Christ
The sick person answers: “Amen,” and receives communion.
Immediately, or after giving communion to the sick person, the minister adds:
May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you
and lead you to eternal life
Others present who wish to receive communion then do so in the usual way.
The following are available in the Download section of this website:
- Prayer Leaflet for bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and Housebound
- Prayer Leaflet for bringing holy Communion as Viaticum