Baptism Pt I
Baptism Pt II
Baptism Pt III
Baptism is the Gateway Sacrament to Christ Jesus and into His Body, the Church. If you are interested in Baptism, then we are very happy about it.
In a recent time in our parish, we had three teens and two adults receive baptism with us. We also have had a number of infants baptized over the past couple of months. Some months ago, we also baptized some boys and girls, of elementary school age. Baptism is for all ages. The Church does seeks to give it early to people, as to infants, when they are born into a family of Catholic/Christian faith. There is so much grace to receive from God! We enjoy being the ones to dispense it, as God gives the Gift.
We like for the persons who are mature to prepare for receiving Baptism in some special instruction in the Catholic Faith. There is more on teen and adult baptisms on another page.
The Sacrament of Baptism: Infants
The very first message of this column is a shout of Hallelujah—you have a child! And we are glad you are interested in having him/her baptized. The child is a gift from God and their Baptism can be your expression of thanks to God and offering the child to God’s family in Christ Jesus. This child is meant to live and share in God’s life. It is wonderful that they have been born into a Christian home and to believer-parents with Catholic faith present in the family/household.
Our parish is happy for you. At the Baptism, all of Heaven will be happy, too. Scriptures says there is great rejoicing over one who is found Home.
Baptism initiates us into the faith community, frees us from Original Sin, gives us the Holy Spirit, and opens the way for us to receive the other sacraments of the Church.
"Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments." (Catechism #1213) Thus, our parish takes this Sacrament and its celebrations seriously, while joyfully. Whether for an adult, teen, child or infant—we have a program to ready your family for the Rite.
"The parents of an infant who is to be baptized…are to be properly instructed in the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations which are attached to it." (Code of Canon Law Can. 851) If you have not attended a class before, then we ask you to attend one before your child is baptized here. Find out through the parish secretary and/or bulletin for when we are holding the Intro Class next and in what classroom it will taught next at the parish. It’s often in classroom #6.
Infant Baptisms and Requirements and Baptismal Dates
The parents serve as their child’s primary role model of Catholic faith and as the spiritual guide. You are asked in the baptismal rite to promise to raise your child in Catholic faith (at least one of you, if not both parents). You will recite consent to the Apostles’ Creed in the Rite of Baptism.
At least one parent of the child needs to be a practicing Catholic. If the other parent is not a Catholic, or not a practicing one, then they attend and participate in all of the baptism rite, and their presence is a sign that they agree to the child growing up in Catholic faith (even if other faith is practiced and welcomed in the home, too).
Parents seeking the baptism of their child must make an appointment for a Baptism date and time convenient to the parish clergy, as to when the ritual will take place. Parents who have already been registered families here will be given a multiple choice of times; others who are not registered will need to fit into a general time in the parish that we save and set aside for baptisms. While some other parishes might only have their baptisms schedule for once/twice a month, we are flexible with our parish families and times here.
Some parents may just be taking the class to fulfill a requirement of another parish where you have planned to hold the baptism. This is fine. Remember to get a Baptism Class Completed form after the class, or, if you have been a parent of a baptism already and attended a class, then you may just request the Pastoral Recommendation Form from our parish office. Parishes often request this of their visiting families for baptisms.
Baptism Requests Out-of-Parish
Some new parents of a child may need to take our Baptism Class here to fulfill another parish’s requisite for baptism there. We can do that. We will give you a letter (with our parish seal on it) that says you completed that duty.
Some new parents only need a Pastor’s Recommendation form so to have the permission for a baptism at another parish. We can supply that to any registered parishioner.
Infant Baptism Sponsors (Godparents)
Sponsors serve as the child's godparents. The Code of Canon Law (Canon 874.2) sets down the requirements for the sponsor as one:
1. Designated by the parents to perform this role; 2. at least sixteen years old;
3. is a confirmed Catholic and leads a life in harmony with the faith;
4. not bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared; (i.e. living in an invalid marriage);
5. ...not the father or the mother of the one to be baptized. (Canon 874.1)
Most times they are two sponsors/godparents chosen. At least one is needed who is Catholic.
Some ethnic groups like to have an abundance of sponsors. That is fine. Yet two (or three) should be selected as the official godparents (or witness) to the child’s baptism.
Non-Catholic Sponsor is Permitted. They're named a "Witness"
A parent can select as one of the sponsors a baptized non-Catholic to serve with a Catholic sponsor. This person is given the special designation of 'Christian witness’ in the official record; and the Catholic godparent will be designated as the sponsor (having the role of promoting the Catholic Christianity of the child ahead).
Photography/Recordings at Baptism
Photos may be taken during the Rite of Baptism, provided that the shooter of the shots does not block others from seeing the action. The featured picture at the baptism is of the three-fold pouring of the water on the child. After the Rite concludes, many poses for photos may be taken in the church. The clergy will stay to be in some shots. Video photography during the Baptism is discouraged. Lights or flashes during the Baptism are also discouraged. However, before or after the Baptism, videos or lights or flash shots may be permitted. (Our experience is that the flashes or ipads held all about do give distraction to the sacred moment. Plus, infants don’t particularly like flash light.)
The Pouring Rite
We do not usually offer a full immersion baptism for an infant. There are some practical reasons for it. Thus, we use the baptismal font for almost all baptisms of infants and children. We generally pour water three times over the person’s head for all our baptisms. (If you really had your heart set on immersion, then we can supply a pool for it. Yet you will be asked to help us with it :20 min. prep. & 25 min.of emptying after.)
The tradition of giving the child the name of a saint reflects the community's belief in the 'communion of saints'. Yet, this is not a requirement at all to use an existing saint’s name. Who knows--? Maybe your child will become a saint in life and add a new name to the saints’ list!
As long as the child’s name does not sound contrary/contradictory to the Catholic Faith, it is allowed. Canon Law makes that case.
We will be calling out to various saints in the Baptism Rite prayers (i.e. St. John the Baptist, pray for us). We do honor the saints as those to whom your child will have communion with—in the full body of Christ (heaven and earth). Your child will be brought into the big family of holy people that Christ has called His own.
Through baptism we become part of the Church which exists in both in the earthly and heavenly realm. The name of a saint helps the child to later identify with one whom the Church recognizes has achieved our ultimate goal of being one with God in heaven.
A naming after a saint could offer the child a role model to follow in life, and a friend in intercessory prayer. Still, it will be at the Sacrament of Confirmation that the Catholic boy or girl will be able to choose a saint on their own.
The Communion of Saints Prayer in the Rite
In the Baptism Rite, there is a time when we invoke the prayers/intercession of saints and angels. The clergy may open it up for you to name (add on) an intercessor (e.g. St. Gregory, pray for us) to the ones already named in the rite, so be ready with some saints to add personally into the prayer.
The Timing of Baptism
The Church urges parents to seek the baptism of their child soon after birth. There is no specific time table. In older times, a child’s baptism was pressed to be done in the child’s first month, because of certain worries. Also, surprisingly, there was a time in Christendom was the mother was absent for that baptism if she were not out of her time of ‘uncleanness’ after childbirth. Those kinds of things are not the modern concern.
Yet most people are interested in a Baptism early on for their child simply for the joy of presenting them to God soon upon receiving them! Sometimes the grandparents are visiting, too, so it works to have the Sacrament celebrated while they are in town.
It is so wonderful to present your child to God, in their early infancy, through the Gateway Sacrament and give them new birth by water and by the Holy Spirit. It is a fine way to say thanks to God for the gift of life in your newborn.
Emergency Baptisms / Prior Baptisms
Priests do emergency baptisms when needed. Then, they encourage the parents to give a conditional/official one for the child in the Church ahead, and record it with the Church. (Some emergency baptisms are the recorded ones, too.) If an emergency baptism was done for your child, then you can still do the ceremony in the church. It is likely that the emergency baptism did not have paperwork or official recognition, nor were godparents chosen for the baby. In a Conditional Baptism, we make sure all of that is properly covered, and a public celebration of the Sacrament is honored.
One's Spiritual Birthday
Take note: the Baptism Day of your child is their First Day of New Life in God. It is their spiritual birthday. This past year we had some interesting timing of Child Baptisms
a. One was baptized on her first birthday.
b. One was baptized on Easter Sunday
c. One was baptized on Pentecost Sunday
Speaking of interesting timing, my own baptism (I, being Fr. Barry) was done on May 21st in my first year of life. I was about 7 weeks old (or new, as you might say).
Later in my own history, I was ordained a priest on May 21st. This date on the calendar was not under my choice; it “happened” to be one chosen by the bishop for me and two other ordinands. So, I have a Spiritual Birthday that also happens to be my Ordination Day or Anniversary Day. Nice!
If you would like to make a donation to the parish upon the Baptism, then you may hand that to the clergyman. (It also can be mailed.) No amounts are set for this donation; it is all your choice.
If you would like to also offer a gift to the clergyman, then you may offer that to the clergyman. It’s a free-will donation.
If any outside clergyman does the baptism, then you should give him a donation.
Baptisms at Mass
We encourage infant baptisms to be celebrated within parish Masses, so that others in the community can enjoy an occasional baptism celebration, and pray with you. If this idea is pleasing to you, then discuss with the pastor of what Mass might work for you and St. Edward the Confessor to witness.
White is the customary color for infant baptism. You might bring a washcloth/small towel for use after the water pouring upon the child. We usually give you the baptismal certificate at the Baptism. Check it for accuracy; the official record will record the info as such.
Some Specific Cases for Baptism
“You may have questions about a request you have, or about a condition or living state in which you are living, or about a specific situation for the baptism. Therefore, we have added this column to address them. Check below for a few categories that are addressed.
The most common one is…
Parents not Registered or Committed to any Parish
The Catholic Church has the world organized into parishes and dioceses. Wherever you are, the Church is there to claim you and shepherd and guide you. Our parish is mostly made of persons who are living in a 20 minute radius of the church. If you are in that range, and you don’t belong to a parish, then we would want to become your home. Yet we don’t want persons to register in the parish only to get their child baptized and then to remain un-churched or cared for by a parish. If you belong to another parish, then we would like to help get you connected again with them. If you want to come here, but are registered elsewhere, then I would just like a pastor’s recommendation letter. We do host baptisms here for outsiders to the parish, for various reasons.
If you will be coming to our parish regularly, then we’d like to register you as a new family/household with us. We don’t require this. We want it to be voluntary and sincere. For some families, there are reasons for it, and we understand. In some parts of our parish neighborhood, some families are just here year-toyear, not setting down roots. Yet know that if Bowie/Mitchellville is your locality of residence, you do belong to the Church here. The Church is home wherever you go.
Baptism of a child implies that a parent will be practicing the Catholic Faith ahead, which includes the family’s Mass-going in that witness. If you are from another region, then we would like for you to contact that parish to take part in it ahead. We have a directory of every neighborhood and every parish in the USA that serves it. This is the moment to make a commitment; since your words of promise to your child in the Rite is that you will be a Catholic/Christian parent. If you are local, then we welcome you here. We know that young parents sometimes need to stay home with a child, too, so we’ll understand those choices. We do have a family room in the church by the East entrance (i.e. crying room—but we don’t encourage the crying—it just happens—which makes for some to call it our Crying Room—grin.)
Yes, we will baptize your child. We will baptize the baby of a single parent provided the parent meets the requirements set down for all parents. The father's name will not appear on the baptismal certificate unless we receive a notarized statement of paternity.
If it is a teen mother, then we welcome you, and we hope you have the support you need ahead. The baby ought to be baptized!
Parent Bringing a Boy/Gilr of Preschool or School Age
We do get parents who missed the time to get their child baptized as an infant, but who want to have their boy or girl baptized into Christ. We do welcome you, too. We have some ways of helping the child understand and enjoy their baptism.
In a humorous situation (to me) in a Baptism Class, we had parents of infants and babies come to classroom six of the church, along with a father and a young man of a five foot ten frame. They were there for the Baptism Class, too. They didn’t realize it was just for parents of little ones, but the dad and son stuck around to learn what they could of Baptism in the class. When I got to the part of the class when one of the young parents asked if their baby girl could wear a white-lace baptismal gown for their baptism, I responded: “Yes, of course. However, I don’t think our young man will be requesting such a pretty gown for him. They don’t make them that big, anyway!
(Note: The young man wore a suit for his baptism on his separate, special Baptism day.)
Grandparent Requests for a Grandchild's Baptism
We have some families here who would like to host the baptism of a grandchild and their family (including the son/daughter and spouse). Many are for past members who grew up here but have moved away after marriage. We can host the Sacrament, but we would like the Catholic parent(s) of the child to provide a Letter of Permission from their own pastor. If first time parents, then they can also attend a Baptism Class at their own home parish, and send a notice of it to us.
One important thing: We really do like for a parent of the child to make the arrangements and commitments to the Baptism. The grandparent may initiate things, but the parents will need to take it from there.
Mixed Religion in the Parents of a child to be Baptized
This really is not an unusual case, yet you may be looking here for words on this situation.
It is become more common for a child to have just one Catholic parent and another parent who is not. There is not much of a difference in the way that the Baptism goes. The non-Catholic can still participate fully. Perhaps they would let the Catholic parent (or Catholic godparent) hold the child for the ritual of the pouring of water.
At the time of the prayers, the non-Catholic may pray along, but they can opt out if they want to, as well.
It is the Catholic parent who is promising to assist the child to grow up in practice and understanding of the Catholic Faith. The non-Catholic is just consenting for it. Yet the non-Catholic parent is fully engaged in this day. After all, they did participate with God in the creation of the new baby/infant/child.
Parent without Confirmation
We hope that the parent who may have missed Confirmation in their own lives would use this opportunity to receive the instruction for getting their Full Initiation into the Catholic Faith. The pastor can help them with this. Those who have not been confirmed are not full Catholics yet. It is a Sacrament that should be received. It need not hold up the Baptism of the child. We will work on Confirmation later.
The Church teaches that the parents have duties and obligations for the spiritual life and well-being of their children. Since the parents will serve as the child's primary role model and spiritual guide, the pastor must insure that the parents are living out their Catholic faith. If there is any serious doubt of that, then the pastor may delay the baptism until the parents show some positive sign of their faith commitment. Canon 868. This is unique to Infant Baptism because the Catholic parent(s) is stating that they are in the faithful practice of their Faith, so to be passing it on to their
Regular Mass attendance is a good sign that a parent or parents are living their faith well. Of course, some mothers of new-born children have some understandable difficulty in getting out to church if they motherly duties are keeping them home.
Parents with an Invalid Marriage
We will baptize the baby of parents who are living in a civil marriage or who haven’t been wed yet. Still, we hope that the parents will use this opportunity to con-validate their marriage (get married as a Sacrament) or commit to their future marriage (as God leads). We will be listening for some speaking to those plans…
As you step forward to the vocation of being a parent, and a God-led one at that --next we hope you will discern about the vocation of marriage. Children need committed parents who are committed to each other (husband/father and wife/mother). You can let us know what God leads you to do next. We can help you discern your call, too. Your pastor can help.
Catholics not married in the Church should return to their full practice of Catholic living, by asking for the Sacrament (and for the Bond of Christ) for their marriage.. The pastor will assist them in preparing them to become wed in Holy Matrimony.
But we will not hold up the child’s Baptism now. As long as there is some verbal testimony that the marriage issue will be addressed ahead, we can proceed to the baptism. If there are issues or problems with the Marriage not becoming a Sacrament, then just help the pastor to understand and give you guidance or a listening ear.
Some unmarried parents of children are not called to become married, even if they had a child together. Matrimony is a calling of God for a union of two persons in their own relationship. This should be discerned for its own. Pre-marital sex is taught against by the Church for the reason that its better for a couple to be committed and blessed before they are active in a way to give life/procreation. Sometimes, though, the miracle of a child brings a man and woman to marriage, urging them to share life fully together.
Parents who are Divorced
This unusual situation has come up infrequently, but the key thing is that a Catholic parent of a child needs to make a true commitment to raise the child Catholic. If both parents are Catholic, then it should be a mutual decision of support. If the parents have a way for counseling and possibility of reconciliation, then we greatly encourage it.