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Protocol for handling a fallen host
Question from Richard on 9/28/2012:

I am an usher in my parish. A couple of weeks ago at Mass, I was walking up the aisle to the front of my section to help direct the people for Communion. A parishioner called my attention to a host that had fallen to the ground in the tabernacle area. I picked up the host and placed it on the table on which the tabernacle sits.

What is the correct protocol for handling a fallen host? Should I have picked it up and placed it where I did, given it to a priest, or called an EMHC to handle?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 9/28/2012:

Richard--

What you did was okay, assuming you informed the priest or deacon at the end of Communion that it was there so that it could be handled properly, but it would have been better to have picked up the host in a clean cloth (a clean handkerchief kept in a pocket for just such a purpose works well) and give it to the priest, deacon, or someone delegated to handle the sacred species.

If you did not know how to handle an incident like this, that indicates a grave lack of training for laypeople who assist during the Mass and should be reported to the pastor immediately. He needs to be certain that all of the liturgical ministers (greeters, ushers, lectors, EMHCs) know the proper procedure for handling emergencies of this type, since it is conceivable that any of them could be confronted with finding a dropped host in the church.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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