A HISTORY OF THE MINISTRY OF THE EXTRAORDINARY MINISTRY IN THE DIOCESE
In addition to those Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion whose deaths are recorded there are very many others who have contributed to Extraordinary Ministry in this Diocese being what it is today. Their memory and service to the Catholic Church in this Diocese is only recorded by the history that they helped to create.
This history has largely been written from people’s memories. Reference is made also to the
- Minutes of Meeting of the Secretariat,
- the Records of the Commissioned Ministers and
- various articles in LitNews.
When the lay ministry of Holy Communion was introduced universally in 1973 those called by the Church to this ministry were designated as Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. The Latin word was translated into English as ‘extraordinary’ to distinguish it from the ordinary ministry of the priests and deacons. These lay ministers of the Eucharist were sometimes called ‘Special Ministers of the Eucharist’ or even ‘Eucharistic Ministers, ‘ but, in 2004, following the issue by Rome of Redemptionis Sacramentum, the original terminology was restored.
In 1973, the Bishop, Mgr. James McGuinness, tasked Mgr. Martin Cummins, his Vicar General, to organise the selection and formation of suitable candidates for commissioning as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to serve various parishes in the diocese. Mgr. Cummins formed a training team of priests and invited the Parish Priests of those parishes, which most needed Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to nominate suitable candidates.
The first Formation Weekend took place in 1978 at S. Hugh’s College, Tollerton. Thirty-five people were instructed who were commissioned by the Bishop at the Cathedral on the 4th of March, 1978. Three further Formation Courses were held during that year. The commissioning masses were held on the 27th of May, 1978 (34 commissioned), the 23rd of September, 1978 (25 commissioned), and the 2nd of December, 1978 (51 commissioned). In all 144 people were commissioned.
In subsequent years, the Formation Weekends have normally been held at the Briars, Crich. However S. Hugh’s, Tollerton, and Nottingham University have also been used on occasions.
In the first years, the weekend programme was led entirely by priests, but for several years now parts of the programme have been led by established Extraordinary Ministers.
In the early years, the emphasis in the Formation Weekend training was on the distribution of Holy Communion during Mass and the taking of Holy Communion to the sick and housebound. Over the years the programme has been developed to provide more spiritual formation and to include Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament other liturgical duties, which have been required of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion by the Priests. In recent years the programme has been developed to include instruction on the Celebration of the Liturgy of Word and Communion when a priest is not available to celebrate Mass.
The Weekend begins after supper on Friday evening with Introductions and a short talk and concludes on Sunday afternoon. The detailed programme of each weekend has varied over the year, however all programmes have included the following elements:
- Talk on Ministry in the Church
- the Eucharist outside the Mass
- the Eucharist
- the Ministry within the Mass
- Holy Communion to the sick and housebound
- the service of Celebration of Word and Holy Communion in the absence of a priest
- Spiritual formation including Prayers of the Church, Holy Hour and the Mass
- the Rite of Commissioning
Ever since the first commissioning, the Bishop has commissioned all of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion that serve the Nottingham Diocese. All of the commissioning has taken place at the Cathedral, apart from one year (1993), when the cathedral was being re-ordered. On this year, it was held at St Albans Chaddesden.
In the Diocese of Nottingham, all of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were given a scapular to wear whenever the Extraordinary Ministry is exercised, whether it be in church or outside in the home, hospital etc,. when ministering to the sick and housebound. Most agree that this helps to remind them of the privilege which is theirs and, on a practical note, it helps when visiting the sick to emphasize the sacramental nature of the visit.
Over the years the production of the scapulars has undergone a number of changes. For about the first ten years Sr. Bernadatta and Sr. Immaculata of the Poor Clares at Bulwell made the scapulars. Alas as the years passed they became older and their eyesight poorer. In the end they were no longer able to produce the numbers required each year.
By this time (1988), the Secretariat had purchased sufficient cloth to make scapulars for nearly ten years. Therefore a commercial printer was employed to print the motive onto the cloth and a seamstress was employed to sew up the scapulars.
As the supply of cloth ran low, the Secretariat investigated other sources of supply. With the advent of computer controlled embroidering machines they decided to return to the embroidered design. A suitable firm was approached and they were paid to produce the master design. The new scapulars were ordered from them and these were first issued at the commissioning on the 10th November, 2001. Alas when the firm was approached for further supplies in 2002, it had gone into receivership. However the Secretariat still owned the pattern for the design, so after many enquiries they were able source another supplier in time for the commissioning on the 16th November, 2002.
Each year commissioned Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are expected to attend a Day of Renewal. In the early days, when there was only a small number of ministers commissioned all of the ministers met together at a central location. Once the numbers had increased this arrangement was changed and two distinct types of Renewal Days were organised: The first is known as County Renewal Days and the second as Diocesan Renewal Days. The Diocesan Renewal day occurs every three years and the County Days on the two intervening years. The Bishop normally presided at the Diocesan Renewal Day.
In 1988, the Diocesan Day of Renewal was held at Corpus Christi, Clifton, and has since then been held at S. Barnabas Cathedral Nottingham (1991, 1994, 1997, 2000). At the 1997-day we celebrated the Bishop’s Silver Jubilee of his ordination as a Bishop. The Renewal Day in 2000 was our last celebration with Mgr. McGuinness as Bishop of Nottingham, as he was to retire later that year (the 8th of December, 2000).
On the 2nd of October, 1995, the Bishop celebrated his seventieth birthday. In order to mark the occasion the Diocesan Secretariat decided to present the Bishop with a suitable gift that had been purchased from monies donated by the Extraordinary Ministers. As a result the members of the Secretariat met with the Bishop in Nottingham on 4th October to present, on behalf of the Extraordinary ministers, a camcorder with accessories.
The 25th anniversary of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
On Saturday, the 31st of May 2003, the Feast of the Visitation, approximately one thousand Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, together with their Bishop, Malcolm McMahon, and emeritus Bishop, James McGuinness, and many priests and deacons of the Diocese, gathered at the Assembly Rooms in Derby for a day of celebration, praise and thanksgiving. The large concert arena was transformed for a few hours from a stage to an altar, flanked by two credence tables and suitably adorned floral pedestals. The diocesan choir, led by Rev. Canon John Berry (M.A.ARCO. CHM) and Alison Kennedy of Watermead Music Publishing, provided the music and hymns, which were of a very high standard and spiritual content, for both the Mass and the Holy Hour.
The day of celebration began with Holy Mass at 11.00, celebrated by the Bishop, together with Mgr. McGuinness and the priests and deacons. The homily was given by the Rev. Fr. John Daley ( I.C), the content of which gave us much food for thought. The Mass was followed by a buffet lunch when the congregation mingled and met with friends old and new.
Lunch was followed by a Holy Hour led by Rev Fr. Terry Fellows of S. Peter and S. Paul, Earl Shilton, Leicestershire. The Blessed Sacrament was suitably escorted to and from the altar of Repose by candle bearing acolytes and others. It was an hour of devotion, reflection, prayerfulness and meditation to cherish for years to come.
The day as a whole was one of joy, of praise, of jubilation and thanksgiving. There was a feeling of a presence in that large auditorium greater than any of the people there. Jesus was truly present amongst us.
The 40th anniversary of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
On Saturday 2nd June 2018 about 260 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion along with 26 priests and 8 deacons attended a mass at the cathedral to celebrate 40 years of Extraordinary Ministry of Holy Communion in this Diocese. Bishop Patrick was the principal celebrant in the concelebrated mass.
The singing was led by the Nottingham Diocesan Choir and the Choral Scholars of Nottingham Cathedral. Members of the Extraordinary Ministers Commission proclaimed the readings and Canon Daniel Bowdren gave an inspiring homily.
Towards the end of Mass a presentation of a papal blessing and an Icon of the Last Supper were made to Fr. Terry Fellows. Fr. Terry had presented the session on The Eucharist – Theological and Pastoral Insights at practically all Formation Weekends for the past 40 years.
After the service the majority of those attending made their way across to the Albert Hall for a very pleasant buffet reception and social time with their fellow ministers before returning home. The Bishop greeted many of the ministers over the lunch period.
Secretariat / Commission
In 1985, it was realised that an organisation was required for the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Hence, at the Renewal Day at Aspley in 1985, the Secretariat, comprising three members from each County area of the Diocese, was formed under the chairmanship of Mgr. M Cummins. The Secretariat was part of the Liturgical commission and met regularly to organise the formation of the Extraordinary Ministers, Renewal Days, Retreats etc. The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who served on the Secretariat were elected by the members of the County Group that they served for a period of three years.
In 1997 the constitution of the Secretariat was changed to the following:
- Chairman (appointed by the Bishop)
- Vice Chairman (appointed by the Bishop)
- Four executive officers that are appointed by the chairman. These executive officers include a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Director of Training and Director of Aftercare.
- Twelve members – elected by the ministers, three from each County area. These form local organization groups, each of which are referred to as County Secretariats.
At this point of time Mgr. Cummins retired as the chairman and Fr. Michael Eastwood was appointed in his place. On the 1st of January, 2019, Fr. Michael Eastwood retired after 20 years of service as the Chair of the Commission and Bishop Patrick McKinney appointed Canon Daniel Bowdren in his place. The Secretariat is responsible for:
- Keeping a register of Extraordinary Ministers
- Renewal Days
- Study days
- News Letter
- Book of Remembrance
In 2005 the Secretariat became a Commission.
From time to time study days were arranged either to bring practising ministers up to date on developments since they were commissioned or to expand on the formation. Days have been held on:-
- Rite of Christian Funerals
- The Mass Ever Ancient ever New
- The Eucharist outside Mass
- A consultation day with all Extraordinary Ministers
When the new (interim) form of the Eucharistic Service, now called The Celebration of Word and Communion, was introduced in 1999, a series of training sessions were arranged in each of the deaneries. These sessions brought the longer serving ministers up to date and were very well attended. Many interesting and practical points were raised, which have formed the basis of the comments on the interim document by this diocese to the National Liturgy Commission.
The Secretariat arranged the following Retreat Weekends for the Extraordinary Ministers:
- October 1989, with Fr. Pat Lynch, at Swanwick, 126 in attendance.
- February 1990, with Fr. Pat Lynch, at Swanwick, 135 in attendance.
- October 1991, with Fr. Tom Lane, at the Briars, Crich, 50 in attendance.
- March 1992, with Fr. Tom Lane, at the Briars, Crich, 50 iin attendance.
- March 1994, with Fr. Joseph O’Hanlon, at Swanwick, 99 in attendance.
In the last quarter of 1996 a series of consultation days (one for each County area) was held with the priests of the diocese. These days proved to be very fruitful and have shaped the way Extraordinary Ministry in this diocese has developed since.
This consultation process initiated the desire to discover whether arrangements for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were similar to ours in other diocese. We commenced by sending each diocese in England and Wales a questionnaire to which we had in excess of 80% response. This led to the organising of an inter-diocesan consultation in May, 1998, at Ratcliffe College, Leicester, which was attended by representatives from eight dioceses.
A further, follow-on consultation was held in October, 1999, at Chigwell Convent in the Brentwood diocese. This concentrated on matters associated with the interim document on The Celebration of Word and Communion. Representatives of the National Liturgical Office also attended. The Consultation was very useful and was attended by representatives from sixteen of the twenty-two dioceses.
A newsletter is produced annually. The first issue was in 1991.
In the early part of each year, the newsletter is distributed via the parish representatives to all Extraordinary Ministers, Priests and Deacons. This gives early notification of renewal days, useful information and articles on current developments, and contact names and addresses.
In December 2007 the newsletter was placed on the Diocesan Website.