Extraordinary Ministers No More *Gulp*

This past weekend I made one of those decisions in my two parishes that was very difficult, only in the sense that my own silly pride seems forever inclined to seek the approval of others. It was one of those decisions that I could’ve waited on … to see if many other parishes were doing this first, but that stupid “integrity” thing wouldn’t let me wait for that.

This weekend we made the move to refrain from the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  Thanks to this internet age in  which we live, the appropriate teaching on this was hard to escape. Up to now, I hid behind my “ignorance”, but once I received the truth, the culpability of my dissent became more grave. I could no longer cower behind my lack of knowledge. My conscience got the better of me as I realized my dissent would now be direct. 

In my larger parish, with the church about 90-95% full, it took only 8 minutes 45 seconds for me to give everyone Communion (also, like the Holy Father, I place a kneeler in front of me to give our people the option of kneeling or standing). There just isn’t a case for “unduly prolonged” Communion.

Oh, how I wanted to hang out in my ignorance.  Besides, look what happened to some of the priests who did this? (here) … I mean c’mon … national news? But, they inspired me to be join our Holy Father’s vanguard in reeling in some of the abuses which have crept into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Of course, I spent the weekend giving our people the teaching (with love) on this, and the response (so far) has been anything from, “Thank you, SO MUCH, father … we have been waiting for years for this” to “I’m leaving the parish.”

There are wonderful teachings out there in “Google Land,” but this one cuts to the chase pretty well (here).

I’ll humbly take your prayers that I remain strong and full of God’s love and patience as I move from the easy “wait and see” position to the bloody front lines on this issue.

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  1. “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater.”

    Luke 16:10

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kat Wagner, KnightsofDivineMercy. KnightsofDivineMercy said: New Post: Extraordinary Ministers No More *Gulp* http://www.knightsofdivinemercy.com/2011/02/14/extraordinary-ministers-no-more-gulp/ […]

  3. Christine says:

    God bless you, Father! Would that more priests followed in your footsteps!

  4. […] found this, thanks to a reader, on the site Knights of Divine Mercy, by Fr. Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Pine Bluff, […]

  5. Teresa says:


    God bless you for your courage. I will keep you in my prayers. I found your article here through Fr. Z’s blog, What Does the Prayer Really say.


  6. Nathan says:

    Father, God bless you for having the fortitude to end this abuse! Were there a thousand more like you–we will remember you in our prayers. In Christ,

  7. Susan says:

    I think it’s wonderful. :-)

  8. anonymous in NY says:

    God Bless you Father for your courage and integrity!

  9. Father John Boyce says:

    God bless your fidelity, Father! Despite the trials which have/will come, this will bear fruit in plenty and you will have your reward.

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    I hope and pray Fr Eric and Fr Eric will consider this at St Paul’s and Msgr Holmes and Bishop Morlino at the Cathedral Parish!!! They, too, know what the norms say, and they care about adhering to them. There’s no question that the use of EMHCs is abused practically at every parish in the US.

    Thanks for taking the lead.

    • DeProfundis says:

      That would be an excellent example, wouldn’t it Elizabeth? I pray for the same and that would lead other priests of our diocese to do the same.

  11. John the Convert says:

    Thank you for your courage, Father, you’ll be in my prayers. Periodic updates on how it’s going would be wonderful. Is your Bishop supportive, I hope?

  12. Daniel says:

    I am proud of you Father. A good move, difficult to make, which is ultimately going to be for the best.

  13. Joseph says:

    Dear Fr.Heilman,
    your intention will be my intention at tomorrows mass.
    in deep gratitude,

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Father, this is wonderful news. I will keep you in my prayers, especially that you do not undergo a martyrdom by any possibly dissident parishioners!!

  15. A brave move Father, very well done. I shall keep you in my prayers, we need more priests with your courage, especially in Great Britain.

  16. Bob Mcelwee says:

    I am thakful for your example and your courage. More will follow your lead. You are in my prayers. Please stay the course.

  17. Ron Rolling says:

    “Of course, I spent the weekend giving our people the teaching (with love) on this, and the response (so far) has been anything from, ‘Thank you, SO MUCH, father … we have been waiting for years for this’ to ‘I’m leaving the parish.'”

    Does John 6:60 ring a bell? (But, then again, poor catechesis is another can of worms.)

    To me, this also raises the larger question of what truly is the laity’s proper role vis a vis Lumen Genitum. I hope that those who were EMHCs will prayerfully discern another role suitable to them.

  18. Steve Maurice says:

    Fr. Rick,

    If parishoners give you a hard time about the length of time for Communion, just ask them how long would they have waited in line for free Super Bowl tickets. When they give their response, remind them that Who they are receiving in the Eucharist infinitely exceeds the value of front row 50 yard line seats and is freely given to them at each Mass.

    If that doesn’t deter them, then simply remind them that what costs them 10 minutes of waiting to receive, cost the Lord His life to provide for us.

    Thanks for your faithfulness to His Church.

  19. roses says:

    May God bless you ! Thank you for being a good shepherd for God’s sheep ! We need your guidance,direction and good example ! Thank you again dear Father !

  20. Well done, dear Father. I pray that many other parish priests will follow your example of courage and fidelity.

  21. Laura K says:

    Great response Steve! Father, you are a wonderful shepherd and we are blessed to have you. God bless your ministry.


  22. […] de Mysterio article 8 for their use. Ideally the faithful would receive the Eucharist only from the priest or deacon – at least far more often. Speed of distribution is not of paramount importance.In the United […]

  23. kirsten says:

    I wish more serious teachings on the laws and customs of the Church were given n parishes. it seems to me that a GREAT deal of the problem is a lack of catechises.
    now i am a convert… and sadly i learned MOST of what little i know about things from my own reading and study. much of what i was taught “officially” was either very basic Xtian teachings (and i do mean basic) or was actively wrong.
    the visiting priest (not the usual one) for instance saying he felt women priests were “inevitable” (he got the very polite riot act from three of us who were protestant PKs…)

    be faithful in all things, but do remember people like me, who are confused…try to set aside some time for serious catechises, and teaching.. and for people who have questions.

  24. Robyn says:

    Thank you Father for doing this! Now we can only pray more and more Parishes will follow suit until it becomes once again, the norm.. God Bless you!!

  25. Dolorosa says:

    Those who can kneel, should kneel for Our Lord and Holy Communion on the tongue as it was before Vatican II. A good book to read is http://www.alteringliturgy.com/

  26. Chase says:

    Congratulations! Thank you for standing up and doing what is the right thing to do! Our Holy Father would be so proud! “Maniples Matter!” will keep you in our prayers!

    Pax Christi,

    Chase +

  27. Regina says:

    God Bless you Father! It brings back the reality of what is happening. I am so tired of seeing extrordinary ministers giving blessings to those that do not receive.
    I believe this will bring back the reverence that the Eucharist deserves.

  28. MatthewSP says:

    Remain Strong Father! Orthodoxy or death!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you, Father Heilman – you’re very brave.

    I hope this grows like wildfire. There is too much blurring between the roles of the laity and the ordained clergy.

    It doesn’t help that *everything* is called a ministry and everyone and his sister is called a minister.

    We have an Altar Linen Ministry at one nearby parish.

  30. miki tracy says:

    YAY, Father!!! Thank you so much!

  31. Deacon Nelson Petzold says:

    Thank you Father<

  32. MJAndersn says:


  33. William Meyer says:

    How very sad, though, that such a simple change must be characterized as bravery!

  34. supertradmum says:

    Father, thanks so much for responding to grace. We need more priests like you.

    Bless you

  35. Jim Mitchell says:


  36. Mary Floeck says:

    I am with you Fr. You have the courage Christ is needing in His Church. Keep up the great work. Many are with you and behind you.

  37. Rachel says:

    I’ll pray for you too! I also will pray more priests will stand up for what’s right.

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