Important Information about the Rite of Baptism for Children
Role of Parents
God has blessed you with the gift of new life and now you are inquiring into baptizing your child in the Catholic Church at Sacred Heart Parish. Your parish community celebrates with you and wants to help you prepare fully and well for this most important event in the life of your child and your family.
tells us that “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. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated in the Church and made sharers in her mission….” [No. 1213]
So Baptism is, then, first and most importantly one of the sacraments of initiation, whereby a person becomes a member of the Christian community. (The other two sacraments of initiation are Confirmation and Eucharist.) In Baptism, your child becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ and a part of the body of Christ, the church. And the church, likewise, is enriched with the gift of a new believer.
In the rite of baptism, parents are asked whether they understand that their role and their duty is to bring their child up to keep God’s commandments as taught by Jesus Christ. This presumes that at least one parent is a registered and practicing member of the Catholic Church, regularly worshipping and receiving the eucharist, and committed to sharing that faith with the child to be baptized.
Role of Godparents
Requesting baptism for a child confers on the parents a serious responsibility to follow through in raising the child as a Catholic person, sharing their own faith, insuring that the sacraments of initiation (confirmation and eucharist) are received, and acting as good models of mature Catholic faith.
Ideally, godparents will play an important and life-long role in the life of the child. Therefore, they should be chosen with care. The church requires only one godparent of either gender. If two godparents are selected, they must be of different genders. Godparents must be baptized, confirmed Catholics who have received the eucharist. Godparents must be at least 16 years old and must lead a life “in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken.” [Code of Canon Law, No. 874]
A baptized person not of the Catholic faith may act as a witness along with a Catholic godparent. Ideally, the one who serves as a godparent at baptism will also act as the child’s confirmation sponsor later on. This also suggests the importance of choosing godparents thoughtfully and prayerfully and with an eye toward the future.
Parish Preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism
Because of the importance of the sacrament of baptism and the commitment it requires of parents, all parents are expected to participate in the baptism preparation program offered by Sacred Heart Parish. Godparents are welcome and strongly encouraged to participate.
The program consists of one session. You will find the current schedule of baptism preparation sessions and baptism celebrations by clicking on the link at the left. Parents are strongly encouraged to participate early in the pregnancy; it is even possible to participate in the preparation program before pregnancy. The evening of preparation will provide important formation and information on the sacraments, baptism, the rite of baptism and sharing faith with children.
Dates and Times for the Celebration
The Record of Baptism
Infant baptism is normally celebrated at Sacred Heart on the second Sunday of the month, either during one of the regularly scheduled weekend Masses or following Mass, according to the preferences of the parents. Others days and times, depending on particular circumstances, may also be possible. Because of holidays or occasional conflicts, the schedule may be adjusted. The Parish Office can confirm a date with you.
The record of your child’s baptism will be kept permanently at Sacred Heart Parish. In the future you may request a copy of the record for sacramental purposes by calling the Parish Office. Subsequently received sacraments (confirmation, eucharist, marriage) are also recorded at the parish of baptism.
Making Changes in the Baptismal Register
In most cases changes may not be made to a baptismal (or other sacramental) record, such as a desire by parents to change the godparents at some time after the baptism. Sacramental records preserve and describe an event at a moment in time and ordinarily may not be altered in any way.
No stipend or offering for the sacrament of baptism is required or expected. Families may make a donation to the parish if they wish.
Order of Service in the Rite of Baptism for Children
When infant baptism is celebrated outside of Mass, the ritual follows this order of service:
- Reception of the Children
- Celebration of God’s Word
- Celebration of the Sacrament
- Blessing of the Baptismal Water
- Renunciation of Sin, Profession of Faith
- Anointing with Chrism
- Clothing with the Baptismal Garment
- Lighting of the Baptismal Candle
- Prayer over the Ears and Mouth
- Conclusion of the Rite
Family members and friends are encouraged to participate fully in the celebration of the sacrament by making the responses and by being actively engaged in the rite.
Baptism and Marriage
The birth of a child and preparation for baptism is often a time when parents reflect on the deeper values in life. For couples who were married outside the church (whose marriages were not witnessed by a Catholic priest or deacon), the baptism of a child presents an opportunity to have their marriage convalidated (blessed) by the church. In some cases, an annulment for a previous marriage may be necessary before the convalidation can take place.
A member of the pastoral staff will be happy to talk to you about your specific situation and help you with the process of convalidation (and an annulment, if necessary).