Q1: My children attend a Catholic secondary school [run by a religious institute]. At the first Mass of the year, it was announced that an Anglican vicar would be available to distribute Communion to Anglicans or people from other denominations who were used to receiving Communion in their churches. Catholics should receive from the Catholic ministers. We have since discovered that this is standard practice at all school Masses.
My husband and I could see how this solution could be seen as a sensitive pastoral response to a school body that is only around 70% Catholic … [but] we wondered what would occur if Muslim pupils wished elements of their faith practice to be incorporated into Mass. Or what of atheist pupils or their parents?
… Despite our assumption that the intention of the priests at the school is honourable and while it may seem to solve a delicate problem, doesn’t it in fact violate how Mass should be celebrated? –Samantha
Q2: In my province, Catholic education is publicly funded and is widely available. This often leads to non-Catholics sending their children to the local Catholic school. Sometimes the non-Catholic population is even the majority!
At our school Masses, it is common for Protestant Christian, Orthodox Christian and even atheist students to serve as lectors, cantors/psalmists, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and altar servers. Is this permitted?
Once a teacher did not know how to distribute Holy Communion, so he simply just handed the chalice to each communicant. Another time, a teacher identified herself as Orthodox to the celebrant before Mass, asking if it was acceptable for her to distribute Communion. The priest responded in the affirmative.
Now to be fair to my Bishop, he recently put forward a policy requiring all Extraordinary Ministers to be “mandated” by their home parish and to submit a list to the diocese, although its application to school Masses has yet to be seen.
… Whenever I suggested to our school administration that perhaps we should consider not having atheists or Protestants acting in these roles, I was met with great resistance. Even my Spiritual Director is having a hard time pointing to a specific document dealing with this, because it is so inconceivable! –John Paul Continue reading