Parishes Take Varied Paths on Option to Offer Communion in Both Species Again

In March, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki told priests and parish directors in the 10-county Archdiocese of Milwaukee that the Communion cup could be offered once more at Masses. (File photo)

Parishes around the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are making varying decisions on the option to resume distribution of the Precious Blood at Communion at all Masses.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki lifted in March the restriction on offering the cup that had been in place since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He sent a message to all priests and parish directors, stating:

“When the pastor/parish director has determined the community is prepared and properly formed, they may return to receiving Holy Communion from the cup,” Archbishop Listecki said. The Archdiocese Office for Worship and Chancery Office prepared guidelines and formational background information to help parishes.

“As we continue to look ahead to the Eucharistic Revival and our own Eucharistic Congress, it is important that we continually seek opportunities to form our communities in sound Eucharistic theology and teaching on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Archbishop Listecki said. “I see this as an important time of renewal.”

While Church doctrine states that the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ is fully present in each form of Communion, the sign of Communion is more complete when given under both kinds.

Some parishes, such as the four that make up the Catholic Community of Waukesha, began to offer the cup at Masses again on Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper that commemorates Christ’s institution of the Eucharist.

“It seemed to have gone just fine,” said Fr. Matthew Widder, pastor of St. Mary, St. Joseph, St. William and St. John Neumann. “People were appreciative.”

Behind the scenes, many logistical steps preceded offering the cup once more, he said. These included consultation with prayer and worship committees, offering formational information to parishioners, getting supplies ready, making sure procedures such as purification of vessels were in place, and being sure Eucharistic ministers would be comfortable drinking the remaining consecrated wine in their cups following Communion.

“It was a good opportunity for catechesis, as well, and it still is,” Fr. Widder said. Information shared before Holy Thursday stressed the full Real Presence of Christ in each form of Communion and how both should be approached with reverence.

One challenge has been that there have been too few extraordinary Eucharistic ministers to offer the cup in every Communion line at every Mass. “Not every line has the cup, but the majority do,” he said.

Fr. Widder said he was aware of some parishes planning to reintroduce the cup on the June 11 Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, commonly known as Corpus Christi. Still others expect to do so at a later time.

When the Holy Thursday goal was announced to the Waukesha Community parishes in late March, some snowbird parishioners said they were glad because it had already been available to them in Florida, according to Waukesha Community parishes Director of Stewardship and Communication Monica Cardenas.

St. Sebastian in Milwaukee also reintroduced the cup on Holy Thursday.

“I think it’s been very well received by the community,” St. Sebastian Music and Liturgy Director Michelle Klotz said.

However, the cup is not offered during Communion at every Mass. Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani, pastor of St. Sebastian and its Milwaukee West-side Catholic Parishes partner, St. Catherine, determined that if there are not enough Eucharistic ministers signed up ahead of time to offer the cup in every Communion line, it will not be offered, Klotz said.

St. Francis de Sales in Lake Geneva expects to begin offering one cup per Mass starting in mid-May, said Fr. Ray Guthrie, parish administrator. The parish considered waiting until the June 11 feast of Corpus Christi, but decided to reintroduce it to year-round residents before summer visitors start coming to Mass, he said.

“Our biggest thing is we do have a number of people who do want it. They’ve asked for more than a year,” Fr. Guthrie said. To prepare, informational articles have appeared in the parish bulletin and newsletter. He noted the parish also hosted a National Eucharistic Speaker, Fr. Joe Laramie, S.J., in March.

Fr. Guthrie also expects to deliver homilies in the coming weeks related to the Eucharist and again offering the cup at Communion.

Fr. Ed Tlucek is the pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas in Waterford and St. Clare in Wind Lake. He is consulting with the worship committees at both parishes on once again offering the cup, but there is no timeline to reintroduce it.

“He wants to see how this all comes together. We’re in the early stages,” said Blaise Beaulier, Director of Administrative Services at St. Thomas, speaking for only his parish.

St. John XXIII in Port Washington also has no set start time. “We’re really going to be starting all over again,” said Allyson Olivier, Director of Communications and Stewardship. The need to have twice as many Eucharistic ministers is a concern since the number of parish volunteers is down overall since the pandemic began. St. John XXIII did publicize materials made available by the archdiocese, and Olivier said many people were reassured to be reminded that the consecrated host is Jesus fully present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

The restriction on offering the cup at Communion was put in place when the pandemic began in mid-March 2020.

Archbishop Listecki reflected on that time in his March letter to the heads of parishes.

“One of the most difficult decisions I have made as your archbishop was to suspend public Masses in 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.  Listening to people’s experience at being deprived from celebrating and receiving the Eucharist will stay with me forever,” Archbishop Listecki said. Masses were permitted once more as of Pentecost in late May 2020.

After Archbishop Listecki lifted the restriction, Our Lady of Lourdes began publicizing formation information about the Eucharist in general and its plans to reintroduce drinking from the cup at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Parish Director Nancie Chmielewski estimated about 75 percent of those in line for Communion partook in the cup.

“People were really ready to receive,” she said. “It’s one more step of feeling normal.”

Eucharistic Revival Ongoing; Congress set for June 10

  • The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is participating in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ call to have a movement of “Eucharistic Revival” across the nation. It is joining countless bishops, dioceses, parishes and apostolates to be healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.” The mission of the three-year revival is “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”
  • The revival is a three-year movement that began in 2022.
  • The Eucharistic Congress being held as part of the revival will be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center, 3501 S. Lake Drive, St. Francis. It will include deepening formation on the Eucharist, Mass, confession, a Eucharistic procession and Eucharistic Adoration. All are welcome to attend — find out more and register here.