June 10, 2013: Minister Flunky

Pix with Robbie after my wedding debacle
There are tasks in life that I have always thought to be automatic; like driving a car or cooking a meal. After watching a repetitive task performed weekly for 40+ years, one would believe this a cinch to duplicate for the steadfast onlooker.  Unfortunately I found out in front of a full church that this is not always the case.

My designated role was Eucharistic Minister for a cousin’s wedding. But even with confidence going in that Fourth of July day, this function did not come automatic to me. My typical success strategy of “winging it” was a fail.
I was asked by cousin Jennifer to serve as EM at her wedding. Excited for this role, but not having the required credentials, I called my parish priest, Fr. Mel.  Father quickly apprised me that the process with a length that surpassed the wedding date. But with my position as Church Trustee, he granted me a dispensation of sorts and communicated the same to the Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese.  

Father passed on some verbal guidance, gave me blessing, and then asked that I touch base with the officiating priest for specific instruction. My preparation for Jennifer’s wedding included watching the EM’s closely at my church the week prior to the ceremony. I did not contact the Sioux City parish priest in advance. “No problem,” I thought to myself.  
After recruiting my friend, Robbie, to join Grant and I on the trip, she inquired about my role in the wedding. As I explained my Eucharistic Minister designate, she questioned my background as she had never heard me talk of EM duties before. "No problem," I told her.

I made it to the church early to meet the priest and receive my awaited instruction. As we exchanged greetings, I quickly picked up that the priest was from a foreign land. His English was broken. I couldn't understand him. I caught about half of his instruction. Not wanting to hurt his feelings in probing further, I relied on my own confidence instead.

The beautiful bride then walked down the aisle. A perfect ceremony. At Communion time, I waited for the other EM's. I would follow their lead. As the priest stared me down to do something, I quickly realized that I was solo. I started following him around the alter area with really no clue on what to do. He kept giving me a pleading look as if that would nudge me to follow proper protocol.

The priest literally guided me to my position and handed me the chalice. Then the unexpected happened. He gave me my communion; by mouth. I didn't see it coming. When I finally realized it, with his hand next my un-turned head, I made a sideways effort to stick my tongue out. Just he and I prominently standing at the front of church and I was flailing like a hungry seal devouring a fish.

My Aunt Gwen started laughing. She was an EM. Her keen eye detected my dilemma. Then Robbie started chuckling. They knew exactly how unprepared I was and the resulting affect. The seal move had to be quite the sight from the congregation. Pretty soon the whole pew was shaking with an uncontrollable case of the giggles; including my grandma with Alzheimer's  The giggles are contagious, even when you're unsure what is funny.

I do have to say it was smooth sailing from there. Although I think the priest did all the work after communion with no reliance on my capabilities. I have never been asked to perform this duty again. And do know that there was no disrespect, just a bit of ignorance. I will take the class next time.


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