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What is a seminarian suppose to do if his superior commands him to distribute communion regularly and there is no real necessity for him to distribute communion? Should he be disobedient?

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    Can't seminarians be deacons? Being a deacon is a step toward becoming a priest. Do you mean a seminarian who has not yet received major orders? – Geremia Oct 13 at 2:13
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    Transitional deacons and duly instituted acolytes are seminarians. Permanent deacons are not. – Ken Graham Oct 13 at 2:32
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What is a seminarian suppose to do if his superior commands him to distribute communion regularly and there is no real necessity for him to distribute communion?

First of all, let us clarify a few points before we get too involved with this question. As a former seminarian, I know exactly what you are talking about.

If a seminarian is simply living in the location of a particular parish’s jurisdiction that does not mean that the local pastor is his immediate superior. In fact, he is not. The parish priest could ask a seminarian to distribute Holy Communion on an as need bases, but not on a regular bases. For a seminarian who is below the dignity of an instituted acolyte the above the aforementioned seminarian would have to be instituted as an Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion by the local ordinary (bishop).

If a major seminarian (usually once one is at a theological level of their formation) which is quite common in my diocese and is in residence in a particular parish as part of their training then yes the pastor is his superior. Once again, the pastor must seek out permission from their bishop for the seminarian is to distribute communion. In my diocese, they do not. If by way of experience, the seminarian has questions about, it the problems again must be put forth to the pastor in question and if not satisfied he may then go to the bishop.

The only true ministers of holy communion are bishops, priests, deacons and instituted acolytes (Extraordinary Minister by virtue of institution).

  1. The minister of the Eucharist is a bishop or priest. “The only minister who, in the person of Christ, can bring into being the sacrament of the Eucharist is a validly ordained priest” (canon 900 §1). It is most fitting that he distributes Holy Communion to the faithful. The bishop, the priest and the deacon by virtue of their sacred ordination are the ordinary minis- ters of Holy Communion (cf. canon 910).

  2. “In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law, for one occasion or for a specified time” (Redemptionis Sacramentum 155). The Holy See has emphasized that mandating Extraordinary Ministers must be based on the needs of the Church and the unavailability of ordinary ministers (Cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, 8, 2; Redemptionis Sacramentum, 157).

  3. The preferred order of choosing Extraordinary Ministers is: duly installed acolytes, major seminarians, male and female Religious, catechists, Catholic men or women (cf. Immensae Ca- ritatis, 4). -Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Another point we must be aware of is that transitional deacons and duly instituted acolytes are in reality seminarians, since their studies and training for the priesthood is as of yet not complete.

For seminarians below the rank of an instituted acolyte the question of distribution of holy communion on a regular bases must be confirmed by the local bishop.

If the above mentioned seminarian is asked to distribute holy communion on a regular bases by a parish priest, he should inform the pastor to get permission from the bishop.

If he believes that there is no necessity for him to do so, he should mention this to the priest in question. If this ends in nothing being done, the seminarian should continue to obey the priest in charge, but at the same time he should puts his concerns directly in the hands of the local ordinary. Whatever the local bishop decides, the seminarian must do.

In all, let the seminarian do as he is asked to do until that moment the bishop puts what should be done in writing.

I have been through this and it is not a difficult situation to get resolved quickly. Whatever happens do not disobey the pastor. Simply wait until the bishop makes his decision.

A side note:

If raising a major concern within any diocese (which this subject is not), one must always approach the local ordinary before taking steps further up the chain of command. That is to say the apostolic nuncio of one country or region. The bishop has the right to know what is going on within his jurisdiction.

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