During his visits to parishes last year, many liturgical ministers told Josh Perry, director of worship for the Diocese of Burlington, that they wanted to have opportunities to grow in their ministries, not only in the technical aspects of how to distribute communion or lector at Mass, but also about why their ministry matters.

“By exploring some of the theological and spiritual components of Eucharistic ministry or lector ministry, ministers realize that serving as a liturgical minister isn’t simply another thing they do for the church,” Perry said. “For many, I hope the workshops served as a spiritual ‘shot-in-the-arm’ that allows them to reflect on their own experiences as ministers and perhaps recommit to the work and preparation involved in being Eucharistic ministers or lectors.”

Perry presented a joint Eucharistic Ministry and Lector Workshop in January at St. Peter Church in Vergennes for all of the churches in the Addison Deanery. He conducted a Eucharistic Ministry Training Session for the ministers at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Richmond and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Williston in March.

Six additional lector workshops were scheduled for parishes in the Chittenden and western Franklin deaneries in February. An afternoon and evening session were scheduled each at Ascension Church in Georgia, St. John the Baptist in Enosburg Falls and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Williston. An additional session that was a follow-up to the initial lector training took place at St. Ambrose in Bristol in March for the lectors from that parish.

In all, more than 200 people participated.

All current Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were invited to attend the 2-hour workshops as well as those who were new to the ministry or even just thinking about volunteering.

Perry began the workshops with a spiritual/theological reflection. For Eucharistic ministry it was a reflection on the words of St. Augustine about being what you see and receiving who you are and about the relationships that are established and nourished in the moment one receives communion.

There was a review of the technical aspects of the ministry — general guidelines for how to do the ministry. Basics were covered including how to distribute communion — both the consecrated host and consecrated wine — how to handle the different ways people receive the Body or Blood of Christ, what to do if there’s an accident and proper reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament. There was an opportunity for questions and, if time allowed, practice of various scenarios.

Reactions to the workshops have been positive. “There is some hesitation to attend from those who have been Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for a long time (some more than 20 years), but they were positive at the conclusion of the workshop,” Perry said. “Many reported that they saw their ministry in a whole new light once we move beyond the ‘technicalities.’ Even in going over the technical aspects, participants are happy to either be confirmed in what they already know and practice or perhaps learn about a practice that has crept into what they do that they shouldn’t be doing.”

According to Father Daniel Jordan, pastor of the churches in Williston and Richmond, the training was “very in-depth both in theology and the practical aspects of Eucharistic ministry at Mass.”

He said the well-prepared training was helpful and “very comprehensive;” he recommends it to other parishes.

No additional Eucharistic Ministry Workshops are scheduled at this time, but pastors may contact Perry to discuss training options for their parishes.

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