Norms Governing the Liturgical Ministries

The Revised Norms are below. Though they have been officially promulgated, the Norms will not go into effect until January 1, 2019. Formation for current ministers will begin December 3, 2018.

Please feel free to download a copy, which includes interactive links to source documents.

English           Spanish           FAQ For Norms    


Norms Governing the Liturgical Ministries

Please check this page often between now and December 3, 2018 to see resources, talking points, and, once Advent arrives, the norms themselves.

Norms Governing the Liturgical Ministries

Please check this page often between now and December 2, 2018 to see resources, talking points, and, once Advent arrives, the norms themselves.

Intro to Liturgical Norms

Join Bishop Frank Caggiano as he outlines the upcoming Revised Liturgical Norms governing four ministries: altar servers, readers, musicians, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

When the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council were promulgated, the lives of many of the faithful were disrupted, because they were neither informed nor prepared for the changes to come. As we look forward to the promulgation of our own revised liturgical norms, Bishop Caggiano is committed to avoiding that same mistake.

The Revised Liturgical Norms for the Diocese of Bridgeport are available above. Though they have already been promulgated, they will not go into effect until January 1, 2019. Between now and then, we will embark on a comprehensive catechetical and communication strategy so that when the norms are made public, there is a more complete understanding of what we aim to do, namely, raise awareness of and commitment to a celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that is both faithful and universal.

Catechetical Articles

In the video above, Bishop Caggiano outlines the timeline for catechesis, makes the case for why we are revising the norms, and invites everyone to participate in this process. To embed this video in your parish website, please copy and paste this link - 

The following resources will be distributed at all parish Masses:

Article One: “What is the Liturgy?”

English     Spanish

Article Two: “The Role of the Laity in Liturgy”

English     Spanish

Article Three: “Music in the Sacred Liturgy”

English     Spanish

Article Four: “The Role of the Altar Server”

English     Spanish

Article Five: “The Role of the Reader at Mass”

English     Spanish

Article Six: “The Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion”

English     Spanish

December 2: Beginning of formation for those currently in liturgical ministries

Formation Gatherings

In addition to the online formation that is required for liturgical ministers, face-to-face formation is required. The following sessions have been scheduled. When you log into LEAD, the Institute's learning platform, you will see available sessions and will be able to enroll.

Log in via the button at the top right corner of the website or on this page.

DayDateStart TimeEnd TimeLocation
Tuesday8 January 20197:30 PM9:30 PMSt. John Church, Darien
Wednesday9 January 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan
Saturday12 January 201910:00 AM12:00 PMSt. Matthew Church, Norwalk
Sunday13 January 20191:00 PM3:00 PMHoly Name of Jesus Church, Stratford
Monday14 January 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. Gregory the Great Parish, Danbury
Tuesday15 January 20196:00 PM8:00 PMSacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Danbury
Wednesday16 January 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. Matthew Church, Norwalk
Friday18 January 20196:30 PM8:30 PMSt. Joseph Church, Brookfield
Saturday19 January 201911:00 AM1:00 PMSt. Andrew Church, Bridgeport
Sunday20 January 20191:00 PM3:00 PMSt. Mary Parish, Bethel
Tuesday22 January 20197:30 PM9:30 PMChurch of the Holy Spirit, Stamford
Wednesday23 January 20196:30 PM8:30 PMChrist the King Church, Trumbull*
Friday25 January 20197:30 PM9:30 PMOur Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Danbury (esp)
Saturday26 January 201910:00 AM12:00 PMSt. Paul Church, Greenwich
Sunday27 January 20192:00 PM4:00 PMSt. Francis of Assisi Parish, Weston
Monday28 January 20197:30 PM9:30 PMSt. Mary Church, Greenwich*
Tuesday29 January 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. Philip Church, Norwalk*
Saturday9 February 20199:00 AM2:00 PMTrinity High School, Stamford
Monday11 February 20197:30 PM9:30 PMSt. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Ridgefield*
Tuesday12 February 20194:00 PM6:00 PMSt. Charles Borromeo Church, Bridgeport (esp)
Tuesday12 February 20197:30 PM9:30 PMSt. Catherine of Siena Church, Riverside
Wednesday13 February 20197:30 PM9:30 PMSt. Charles Borromeo Church, Bridgeport (esp)
Saturday16 February 20199:00 AM12:00 PMConversation with Musicians and Bishop Caggiano
St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull
Tuesday19 February 20196:30 PM8:30 PMSt. Ann Academy, Bridgeport*
Saturday23 February 201910:00 AM12:00 PMSt. Ladislaus Church, Norwalk (esp)
Sunday24 February 20191:00 PM3:00 PMSt. Edward the Confessor Church, New Fairfield*
Tuesday26 February 20197:00 PM9:00 PMChurch of the Assumption
Saturday9 March 20199:00 AM11:00 AMSt. Mary Parish, Ridgefield*
Monday11 March 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan
Wednesday20 March 20197:30 PM9:30 PMSt. Leo Parish, Stamford
Saturday23 March 201910:00 AM12:00 PMOur Lady of the Assumption Parish, Fairfield
Saturday30 March 201910:00 AM12:00 PMSt. Joseph Church, Shelton
Monday1 April 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. James Church, Stratford*
Tuesday2 April 20197:00 PM9:00 PMSt. Jerome Church, Norwalk
Saturday6 April 20199:00 AM2:00 PMCatholic Center, Bridgeport
Tuesday7 May 20196:30 PM8:30 PMSt. Catherine of Siena Parish, Trumbull*

*indicates this session is open to parish members only

(esp) indicates that formation will be in Spanish

Consultation with Parochial Leaders

All Deacons, religious educators, coordinators of liturgy, musicians, and those who share in the planning of parish liturgical celebrations are welcome to attend one of these sessions to offer feedback on the current draft.

Introduction and Overview of Liturgical Norms

Those who currently serve as a reader, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, or liturgical musician and would like to hear more about the norms are invited to attend one of these sessions. Please note that these meetings will be for information, not formation. Formation workshops will begin after January 1, 2019.

To “Grandfather” Those Currently In Ministry

One of the requests made by priest at their September meeting was that the process for those currently serving in ministry be as easy as possible. To that end, we have updated the Virtus database for every parish and included among the “roles” a place for you to check a box next to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and Reader.

Between now and November 30, 2018, please make sure you check the appropriate box next to those currently serving in these ministries. By checking off their name, you are recommending these people for service. There will be no need to submit a letter of recommendation on their behalf.

After the norms are promulgated, those whose names have been checked will receive an invitation to begin their abbreviated formation prior to receiving their mandate.

Bishop Caggiano requests that parishes not invite new people into these ministries until after the revised norms have been promulgated. All new minsters will need to attend the new formation requirements that will be explained in greater detail in a separate memo to be sent to you soon.

Thank you for your cooperation as we begin to implement this multi-year process to revise the sacramental guidelines of our diocese.

If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Donovan at

Additional Resources


Frequently Asked Questions About the Norms

What are norms?

By definition, norms are an authoritative standard. Liturgical norms regulate how the public worship of the Church is to be carried out. In the case of the Holy Eucharist, these norms ensure that the celebration of Mass in our Diocese is in conformity with the universal liturgical law of the Church.

As such, the norms of the Diocese of Bridgeport are based on the teaching and guidance of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Magisterium and the entire prayer history of the Church, the Bride of Christ. More than two dozen clergy, lay leaders, and theologians worked to develop these norms over the course of a year.

Why are the norms being updated?

The current liturgical norms of the Diocese of Bridgeport were last revised in 1983. Bishop Caggiano, as the chief catechist of the diocese, felt it was important to review current norms to ensure the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is appropriately celebrated and those who minister within the context of the liturgy are properly formed. Plus, the Fourth General Synod, which concluded in September 2015, mandated that these norms be revised.

These norms will be in effect ad experimentum for one year, after which there will be revisions to the norms before they become particular law in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

To whom do the norms apply?

The norms, promulgated on December 2, 2018 offer standards and required formation for those who serve as Readers (proclaimers of the Word at Mass), Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC), Altar Servers, and Musicians.

Most of the formation for Altar Servers will happen at the parish level. Musicians are invited to watch one module online and then attend a face-to-face conversation with Bishop Caggiano on February 16, 2019. Readers and EMHC who are grandfathered into the formation will complete an online module and a face-to-face gathering, which can be hosted at their parish.

What happens between now and when formation opens?

By November 30, 2018, all pastors and/or safe environment coordinators are asked to enter the Virtus database, which holds all information for those who are cleared for ministry and place a check mark next to those who currently serve as a Reader and an EMHC. This check mark serves as a recommendation for ministry by your pastor.

Beginning on December 3, 2018, all those who have been approved by their pastor will receive an email welcoming them to the Institute and inviting them to begin their formation.

Those currently in ministry will have between December 3, 2018 and June 1, 2019, to comply with the new formation.

What if I do not get an email on December 3, 2018?

If you do not receive an invitation on December 3rd, it might be because of one of the following reasons:

  1. Your pastor or his designate has not completed the process in the Virtus database
  2. Your pastor no longer recommends you for ministry
  3. Your email is caught in a spam filter
  4. Your email is in the Virtus database incorrectly
  5. Your clearance for Virtus has expired
If you do not receive an email, check with your parish first. Then, feel free to email The Leadership Institute with any questions or to ask us to double check the Virtus database.

What exactly do I need to do?

If you currently serve in any of these roles, you will be required to register with The Leadership Institute and participate in formation opportunities around the diocese. Here is a glimpse at that formation:

Readers and EMHC

  1. Receive a recommendation from your pastor via Virtus database
  2. Receive email confirmation from The Leadership Institute
  3. Follow the link you receive and complete the registration process. This ends with a screen that asks you to set your password for LEAD, the Institute’s online learning platform. Be sure to write your password down.
  4. Complete the assigned module(s).
  5. Attend one face-to-face meeting. Registration for this is within the platform. Just find the one you wish to attend and click “enroll.”
  6. When you have met all requirements, you will receive your certificate (“the mandate”) to give to your pastor. Pastors will also receive a list of those to whom a mandate has been given.
Altar Server
  1. Review Revised Liturgical Norms online
  2. Participate in any required local formation offered by your parish leadership
  1. Register online (registration opens on December 3, 2018). Visit The Leadership Institute and click LEAD to register.
  2. Complete assigned modules.
  3. Attend one face-to-face meeting. At this point, the only scheduled meeting will be held on February 16, 2019, and registration is within the learning platform and on the Institute’s website. The meeting will be recorded for those who cannot attend.

You will have until June 1, 2019, to complete formation.

Why do I need formation if I am already serving in this ministry?

We know that many of those who currently serve in ministry are faithful people with a generous heart. Though the local formation that happens in many of our parishes is worthwhile, diocesan formation has not existed for several years. This formation gives those in ministry the opportunity to hear directly from their Bishop and gather with others in ministry to discuss the norms to offer feedback.

Through the sacraments of initiation, we become members of Christ's body called to holiness and charged with the responsibility to embrace Christ's mission of salvation. The majority of laity will exercise their influence in the secular arena – the family, the workplace, the professions – bringing the gospel values to the primary questions of the society and culture. Some, like you, will join the ordained in forming and shaping parish communities into God's household. Your part in that, as liturgical ministers, substantially contributes to the mission of the church. Therefore, ongoing formation is key.

How often do I need to participate in formation?

A renewal of the mandate you will receive is only required once every three years. However, resources in the form of articles, videos, and web links, will be sent to you on a regular basis to help you continue to grow in your ministry and in your faith.

Is formation available in English and Spanish

Yes. Formation is available in English and Spanish.

What if I do not have a computer?

Paper registration forms are available online and parishes are encouraged to make these forms available to those in ministry who may not have computer access.

To participate in the required online learning, all face-to-face opportunities will include the chance for those without computer access to view the required modules for credit.

What if I serve in more than one parish?

The norms allow those who serve in more than one location to request a mandate for a secondary location. This can be accomplished within the learning platform.

What if I serve in a parish and a nursing home or retirement home?

The norms allow those who serve in more than one location to request a mandate for a secondary location. This can be accomplished within the learning platform.

Can the EMHC bless people who come up with their arms crossed?

On occasion, someone will approach the EMHC with their arms crossed over their chest. For many, this is a sign that they would like a blessing instead of Holy Communion. Perhaps they are seeking a spiritual Communion for personal reasons, perhaps they are not Catholic. Whatever the reason, the fact remains: If the person is in the line of the ordinary minister, a blessing may be offered. It is not required. The purpose of the Communion line, you see, is to receive Holy Communion. The blessing of the assembly properly occurs at the end of the Mass. As the body of Christ, the assembly is blessed together before we depart to live the fruits of the liturgy.

So what is an EMHC to do? Since it is the role of the EMHC to distribute Communion and not to retrieve it or repose it, it is also not the role of the EMHC to offer a blessing. That is reserved for the ordinary minister during Mass. After Mass, we may bless each other (and do). While liturgical law restricts to ordained ministers the imparting of liturgical blessings, lay people are not forbidden from using similar gestures in non-liturgical settings.

In the Diocese of Bridgeport, an EMHC may (without the Blessed Sacrament or any gesture of a blessing), offer these words: "Receive the Lord Jesus in your heart." to anyone who comes forward to join in a spiritual Communion.

Why can’t laypeople lead a Communion service in the absence of a priest anymore?

Though some parishes have fallen into the practice of allowing EMHCs to lead Communion Services during the week, this practice is not in keeping with the revised norms. Morning celebrations of Mass at parishes are more than the personal reception of Holy Communion; it is to be the act of joining my life with Jesus’ Sacrifice that is re-presented in grace during the celebration of Mass. Though there may not be daily Mass every day at your parish, the Diocese of Bridgeport is blessed with more than 80 parishes and finding a daily Mass at a neighboring parish should not be difficult.

Why can’t EMHCs go to the tabernacle? I have been doing this for years.

The revised norms require that only the ordinary minister go to the tabernacle. As extraordinary ministers, it is our job to assist the priest and deacon in distributing Holy Communion. Since there is a direct connection between the actions of the priest at the altar during Mass and the Blessed Sacrament that is reserved in the tabernacle, the norms require that the priest retrieve the consecrated hosts. Since the deacon is also an ordained minister whose role it is to assist the priest at Mass, it is appropriate for the deacon to retrieve the reserved Blessed Sacrament.

Can laypeople expose the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic Adoration?

Although the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction of the Holy Eucharist allows for an EMHC to “publicly expose and later repose the Holy Eucharist for the adoration of the faithful” in the absence of a priest or deacon, EMHCs ordinarily do not have this permission in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Permission can be granted if permission is requested from the bishop or vicar general in advance. Arrangements should be made with the priest and/or deacon for the exposition and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament when Adoration is planned.

When do I reverence the altar and when do I genuflect before the tabernacle?

The focal point during Mass is the altar. Therefore, in the course of the Mass, a bow to the altar is appropriate and no reverence to the tabernacle is necessary - except at the beginning and end of Mass when you genuflect (if the tabernacle is in the sanctuary).

Can my non-Catholic sibling or friend read at my wedding or our parent’s funeral?

A non-Catholic who is baptized may read at the discretion of the presider of the wedding or the funeral but this is not the common practice. If the presider makes an exception, the person who is to read should be properly prepared. A person who is not baptized may never read at a Eucharistic celebration.

We have young people read at Mass sometimes. Can that continue?

Yes. In the Diocese of Bridgeport, young people under the age of 16 may function as a reader at Masses celebrated with his or her school, during the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation, and at parish Masses where a large number of children and young families may be present, provided it is permitted by the pastor or episcopal chaplain on a case-by-case basis. Such instances require that the young person must be properly prepared and competent to exercise the ministry.

Why can't I read from my iPad at Mass?

Since liturgical books serve as “signs and symbols of higher realities, care must be taken to ensure that they truly are worthy, dignified and beautiful. ” For these reasons, “the books of readings used in the celebration are not to be replaced by pastoral aids, for example, by leaflets printed for the preparation of the readings by the faithful or for their personal meditation.” This includes electronic devices.

My son or daughter is in high school and was asked to serve as an EMHC. Can he or she also serve in our parish?

Students of sufficient age who apply for a mandate to serve in their respective Catholic high school may also receive a mandate to serve in their home parish, with the approval of their home pastor, which must accompany their application for formation.

In addition, faculty members of any Catholic high school located in the Diocese can seek a mandate to serve in their respective high school and, if interested, can also seek a mandate to serve in their home pastor.

What if I am a new reader and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion?

Only those who are currently in ministry need to follow the steps outlined above. Those who are new to ministry will be required to do the following:

  1. Visit The Leadership Institute and click LEAD to register. after December 3, 2018, and register online. The system will automatically assign you the appropriate tasks based on the ministry you choose.
  2. Face-to-Face formation will populate on your dashboard of the learning platform. You are required to attend one face-to-face formation opportunity every three years.
  3. You will be required to upload a letter of recommendation. Sample letters are available online and this “task” is an easy to follow process in the online platform.
  4. You will have as much time as you need to complete the required formation. When you are finished, you can print your certificate (“the mandate”) to give to your pastor.

Who needs a letter of recommendation to serve?

Only those who are new Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will be required to upload a letter of recommendation into the online learning portal. This will be an assigned task when you first enter the system and will be required before the mandate is printed.