‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’.
Congratulations on the birth of your child! Or, if you are new to the Church, welcome to a faith-filled community that eagerly anticipates your communion with the Catholic Church.
What is Baptism?
What happens in Baptism? What do we hope for from Baptism? We hope, of course, for eternal life for our children. This is the purpose of Baptism. But how can it be obtained? How can Baptism offer eternal life? What is eternal life? Find a reflection on these questions and the sacrament of Baptism in a homily delivered by Pope Benedict XVI on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord during the baptism of children (READ MORE).
The sacrament of Baptism is the first of the sacraments of initiation. It is by Baptism that we become members of Christ’s body, the Church, and enjoy the promise of salvation he made to us, by dying for us on the Cross and rising to new life. In Baptism we begin a new life in Jesus Christ. Baptism, including the Baptism of infants, has been practiced from the earliest days of the Church, and is done in response to our Lord’s command ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ By bringing our children to the Church for Baptism, we are making a very clear statement about our life, our faith and its practice. We make a real promise to bring our children up in the committed practice of the Catholic Faith. Baptism is the beginning of a life long journey of faith, and so it is important to begin this journey well.
You, the parents of the child, might consider the following questions in making the decision to present your child for Baptism:
Do you believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church?
Is prayer an important part of your life, and are you willing to teach your child to pray?
Is practising the Faith important to you as a family? (This includes going to Sunday Mass)
Do you want to bring up your child as a member of the Catholic Church?
Baptism requires a commitment, not only from the person baptised, but in infant Baptism from you the parents (and godparents) to teach, support and encourage your child how to be a good faithful Catholic. To live a life of faith is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ; this is an incredibly important witness to the modern world and has relevance in every area of life. By making the decision to have your child baptised, you are not only being courageous, but you are a witness and an example to others.
Arranging a Baptism
Baptisms at St. Patrick’s take place twice every month immediately following the 12 noon Mass on Sunday (though this can be subject to change). Baptisms may be booked in the parish office from Monday to Thursday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Baptisms may only be booked in person by the mother or both parents of the child and you must bring the long civil birth certificate in order to arrange a Baptism. At least four weeks notice is required.
Parents and godparents of children to be baptised must attend a short preparation session which usually takes place during the week before the Baptism.
At least one godparent is required. There may be two, but they must be one man and one woman.
For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptised – child or adult – on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1255)
Most people have a false understanding of what a godparent truly is. I am sure you have heard it said, that if anything happens to the parents, the godparents will raise the child. But is that what being a godparent is all about? No, in fact, the role of the godparent is to be much more than someone to take care of the children if something happens. In fact, that may not even be their role.
So what is a godparent? A godparent is to be a witness, an inspiration, a rock-solid example of what it means to be a Roman Catholic in today’s world. That means that the person must be a Catholic not only in name but by the life they lead each and every day.
Most people do not know the Church’s requirements for a person who is to undertake the role of godmother or godfather. In the Code of Canon Law, a book with the laws that govern and guide the life of the Catholic Church, there are specific regulations regarding sponsors (godparents) for the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
The requirements for godparents are:
be not less than sixteen years of age.
be a Catholic who has received the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation.
be registered and active members of their parish.
be living in conformity with Catholic morals and in good standing with the Catholic Church (if married, married according to the laws of the Church).
may not be the mother or father of the person to be baptised.
Before asking someone to take on the role of a sponsor, please make every effort to ensure they fulfil the requirements of the Church. This will save the person from embarrassment and the family from being disappointed. The priest has a responsibility before God and in justice to be sure these requirements are fulfilled!
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a programme for adults seeking full communion in the Catholic Church. It involves the formation and education of both Catholics who are in need of the sacraments of the Eucharist and/or Confirmation or non-Catholics who are seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It is the roadmap for the spiritual journey, a gradual process that varies according ‘to the many forms of God’s grace, the free cooperation of the individual, the actions of the church and the circumstances to time and place. (RCIA 5)
If you are an adult Catholic in need of the sacraments or a non-Catholic interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, please register your interest with the Diocesan RCIA programme facilitators. Please also make contact with the parish office so that the priests and people of St. Patrick’s can support you in your journey.
Prayer for Parents
When you were born, our hearts were so full of happiness,
that there was no room in us for words.
When you were growing, our hearts were so full of care for you
that we spoke soothingly and sometimes sharply.
Fearful for your safety
but always in the deepest places of our hearts, we spoke lovingly.
Today, as we watch you moving forward with your friends,
we marvel at all you have done and become.
Our spirits sing praise to God for the gift that is you.
And though our hearts have stretched to love others,
yet there is still a place within us that is yours,