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Taking the Eucharist to Heart

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In the history of the Catholic Church, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, colloquially called Eucharistic ministers, are a recent development. The Second Vatican Council opened the door for lay people to assist in distribution of communion, and Eucharistic ministers have become commonplace in the decades since.

In Catholic high schools, students often take on this role to participate more in Mass and grow in their faith. Emily Richmond, Veronica Roth, Joey Driggers and William Vinje are four such students who take this important role to heart.

Richmond, a junior at McNicholas High School in Cincinnati, began volunteering as a Eucharistic minister in grade school, following a family tradition begun by her mother and brother.

“I wanted to become a Eucharistic minister to grow closer to God,” Richmond said. “I thought it was so cool that [my mother and brother] were able to have this incredible closeness with God. I wanted to be a part of this, so when my grade school asked if I would be interested, I immediately said yes!”

Roth, a sophomore at Catholic Central High School in Springfield, also followed in her family’s footsteps. Both her father and sister serve as Eucharistic ministers. The experience, she said, has been a blessing. “I was excited to be able to go up and distribute,” Roth said. “I’m a person who is open to new experiences, so I was happy to be able to minister.”

Driggers, a senior at Summit Country Day High School, also experienced blessings from the role but experienced Mass-day jitters when he started. “I was nervous because I knew how important it was … that I would be standing in front of the entire Church knowing that if I made a mistake, everyone would see … [and] that I may be dishonoring God if I didn’t do it perfectly. What helped me get over these fears was praying to God to … become more confident.”

For Vinje, a junior at St. Xavier High School, the nerves gave way to a spiritual breakthrough. “I was very nervous,” Vinje said. “At the first Mass I was called to serve, my friend and I were scheduled to serve together, and we were quivering [while] waiting for when we were called to the altar. … I felt a sense of responsibility after my first-time distributing communion. I realized that this wasn’t just giving out the bread at Mass, but this was distributing the Body of Christ. As I said the words, ‘The Body of Christ,’ I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself, which made my spiritual-self feel accomplished.”

One thing each student had in common was feeling more connected to the Mass. Richmond, in particular, now experiences Mass with anticipation.

“I love being able to listen to the readings and watch the Eucharist be prepared, knowing that I will be one of the people helping others on their journey with God,” Richmond said. “Knowing that the Eucharist and being a minister has helped me grow so close to God and knowing that I can be a part of others feeling that way, [these make] the Mass really special for me.”

Roth said being a Eucharistic minister has made her more attentive and Driggers said he feels more prayerful at Mass and better able to hear and accept God’s word. Vinje added that he enjoys the visual of the communion line.

“I enjoy seeing, when distributing, how everyone comes together through Christ,” he said. “Being a minister also deepened my faith, which made me thank God for the opportunity to be a part of something so special at Mass.”

The four students also shared a sense of renewed faith as a result of their ministry. Their stories highlight the profound impact that serving as a Eucharistic minister can have.

“Being a Eucharistic minister has affected my faith because I believe it has reconnected me with God and also given me the opportunity to look back and be thankful for everything he has done for me,” Vinje said. Ever since my first time serving as a Eucharistic minister, I have felt my relationship with God has been rekindled [when serving], and I am so thankful for it. Being a Eucharistic minister gave me a deeper understanding of how sacred the Eucharist is when I get to see it up close … [and] is something that I will forever be thankful for.”

“For anyone who hasn’t tried [being a Eucharistic minister] and thinks that they might want to try it, I would advise them to go for it,” Roth said. “It has really made my faith life stronger.”

This article appeared in the June 2024 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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