About fifty people gathered in St Charles’ Church, Sheffield to give thanks to God and celebrate the variety of forms of Lay ministry that are happening across the diocese. It brought together those involved as altar servers, readers, welcomers and musicians, together with those involved in preparing couples for marriage. The day came at the end of a Training Day for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and during the Mass sixteen of them were commissioned to serve for the next four years.
The training earlier in the day had been offered primarily to new Extraordinary Ministers but some who came along had asked to join the day as an opportunity to reflect on their own experience of ministry having been commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers many years ago. During the training, the group reflected on their own call to ministry as a response to their baptism. They also had an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist. The training concluded with some practical considerations about ministry at Mass as well as taking Holy Communion to the sick and the housebound including the consideration of proper safeguarding procedures.
This is the first time in a number of years that a diocesan training has been offered for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Those present really valued coming together as a diocesan group and found that the event nourished their own spirituality of the Eucharist. The Formation and Mission team will review if this is the most effective way of providing ongoing formation for this and other forms of ministry or if it should offer annual or seasonal days of reflection and/or training for all involved in ministry. If you are involved in any form of ministry and would like to contribute to the decision-making process about the best way of providing formation please contact the Formation and Mission Team.
One thing that some of the long-serving ministers said was that although they were only commissioned for their role for a period of four years some had never been recommissioned at all. It is important that they are recommissioned if only to allow the opportunity for other members of our parish communities to respond to their baptismal calling and serve in this way. It also allows those who have exercised this ministry for a number of years to move on to other forms of ministry. To promote this, Bishop Ralph would like to encourage all parishes to have an annual renewal of commitment of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion on or about the feast of Corpus Christi. It might also be appropriate to do this for other ministries at other points during the liturgical year such as Readers on the Sunday of the Word of God.