Protocol for Special Ministers of the Eucharist

Before Mass

  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early. Gather at the back of church ensuring that there is a suitable number of Special Ministers in attendance.
  • The first person listed on the roster for the Mass is responsible for taking the Ciborium out of the Tabernacle during the ‘Lamb of God’ and transferring the Eucharistic breads (hosts) to the Paten (if this has not already been prepared by the sacristan). If you feel uncomfortable with this responsibility, please organise for another Special Minister to do this for (or with) you.


  • Process to the front of Sanctuary with Readers, Special Ministers, Altar servers and Priest.
  • Wait in line at the front, bow heads after Reader returns from placing the Lectionary on the Lectern.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • After the Sign of Peace, walk to the Sanctuary from your place in the church, approaching it on the western (right hand) side (usually when the ‘Lamb of God’ commences).
  • The person listed 1st on the Liturgy Roster should proceed to the Sanctuary immediately after the Sign of Peace and:
    • Wash hands
    • go to the Tabernacle, unlock the tabernacle door, bow in reverence towards the Eucharist inside, remove the Ciborium from the Tabernacle, transfer sufficient hosts onto the Paten (if not already prepared for consecration by the sacristan) and place the Ciborium and the paten on the Altar for the priest before the Lamb of God concludes (or shortly after), but before the ‘Lord I am not worthy’ response by the congregation.
  • All other Special Ministers of the Eucharist proceed to the Sanctuary during the ‘Lamb of God’ and
    • Wash hands and
    • line up behind the priest.
  • After the “Lord I am not worthy…” prayer, the Priest will give you a host with the words: “The Body of Christ,” to which we respond: “Amen”
    Wait until priest eats his host, then follow his example.
  • The priest will give the chalice to you with the words: “The blood of Christ” to which we respond: “Amen”.
    He may indicate for you to administer the Chalice to another.
    After taking a sip, wipe the cup and turn the cup a quarter turn for the next person to drink from the chalice.
  • Priest will give you either the Chalice or the Paten (hosts) for Communion distribution.

Distributing Communion

  • Stand in a line across the front of the Sanctuary (at floor level): half of the wine Ministers on the left, the other half on the right (not far from the pillars at the edge of the Sanctuary).
  • The Priest will indicate which side to stand on if you are distributing the hosts. Distribute the hosts from the centre of the Sanctuary.
  • There will be a few people who sit in the front 2 rows of seats who will stand up for communion in their place, due to infirmity, or are in wheelchairs.
    Before distributing to those coming down the aisle, the relevant special ministers on the appropriate side of the church approach these people to give the host and offer the Chalice to them.

Distributing the host

  • Those distributing the host, there may be 3 considerations:
    • It is the practice that the recipient will bow before receiving communion
    • Hold the host in front of the recipient
    • Proclaim “The Body of Christ
    • The recipient responds with “Amen”.
      • Consideration 1.
        • Place the host in the palm of the recipient, who picks the host up with the other hand and consumes the host.
      • Consideration 2.
        • If the recipient extends the tongue, safely place the host on the tongue.
      • Consideration 3
        • If the recipient has not received 1st Communion, they will approach with arms folded with hands touching their shoulders.
        • Without the host in hand, place your hand on their head and you may say:
          • “God bless you”
          • “Receive the Lord Jesus in your heart”
  • Should your supply of hosts look insufficient for the number of people coming forward , consult with the priest for suitable action.
    • He may give you more hosts
    • He may suggest you break the hosts in two, from which you give each person coming forward half a host.

Distributing with the Chalice

  • For those holding the Chalice,
    • When the recipient comes to you, proclaim “The Blood of Christ”, to which the recipient responds with “Amen”.
    • After the recipient sips from the Chalice, wipe the chalice brim and do a quarter turn before offering it to the next person.
    • When your Chalice is empty, return to the back of the sanctuary and and wait for communion to finish.


  • Put your napkin in the Chalice if there is nothing left in it.
  • If your Chalice is not empty, you can either drink the contents or leave it and place your napkin on the silver tray for another to consume the contents.
  • The left-over hosts are placed into the Ciborium. Depending on the Priest, he may do this himself, otherwise it is the role of the person who distributed the hosts.
  • The Ciborium is returned to the Tabernacle.
    Close the door with a reverent bow, lock the Tabernacle door, take the key out and put it on the silver tray.
  • Place Patens and trays side by side on the ledge. 
    DO NOT stack the these as they will scratch.

Returning to your place

  • When all the Chalices have been cleaned & Patens positioned, follow the leader back to the front of the pews, bow in unison and return to your seats.