Baptism is not simply a “naming ceremony” or a blessing for a new baby. It is the beginning of the Christian life and the gateway to eternal life. For this reason Baptism is taken very seriously in the Church.
We believe that Baptism is a Sacrament, an action of Jesus Christ in his Church.
What Baptism does for your child
In this Sacrament Jesus Christ
- forgives original sin and opens the gates of heaven for us
- welcomes us into his Church
- makes us sons and daughters of God
The ceremony of Baptism assumes a well-founded hope that you will bring your child up in the practice of the faith. This means that you will:
- teach your child to pray
- teach your child to lead a good Christian life
- come to Mass on Sundays
- teach your child the Catholic faith
Dates for baptism will only be agreed after completion of the preparatory programme in order to provide opportunities for discussion of any queries and resolution of any issues that might arise. While “the faith required for (adult) Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith”, it is “a beginning that is called to develop” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1253). Parents need a faith which is mature if they are to pass it on to their children and this preparatory period is aimed at assisting parents (and godparents) to reflect maturely on their faith. For infant baptism, parents must be practising Catholics, attending mass every Sunday in order that there is “a realistic hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is … to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this” (Canon Law).
Godparents “must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly-baptised – child or adult – on the road of Christian life” (Catechism 1255). Only “a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist and who lives a life of faith befitting the role to be undertaken” (Canon Law) (i.e. only a practising catholic) may be admitted as a godparent. The parish priest will advise as to the suitability of a proposed godparent.
A baptised member of a non-catholic community (e.g. Church of England or other Christian denomination) may not be a godparent at the baptism of a catholic but may stand as a Christian witness so long as there is a catholic godparent. A catholic may not be godparent to a non-catholic child or adult but may be a witness together with the non-catholic godparent. “Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the Sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it” (Canon Law).
Since Baptism is never a private affair, but entry into the family of the Church, your child may be baptised with other children. During the Baptism there are various ceremonies that the priest will explain. If you have a white shawl, this will be used as a part of the ceremonies. A candle is also given as a sign of the resurrection of Jesus. The Parish will provide this.
Some frequently asked questions about Baptism:
In the Catholic Church, there is no fee for a Baptism. It is however appropriate to make an offering and a suggested donation of £50 (£40 Stole Fee; £10 Use of Church) would be reasonable. This can be given in an envelope to the Priest at the time of the Baptism. If you cannot afford anything it does not matter and nobody will be offended.
How soon should I have my child baptised?
Children should be baptised within the first weeks after birth. Arrangements can even be made before the child is born (the priest will then also be able to give the blessing for an expectant mother and pray for the safe delivery of the child). It is wrong to put off a Baptism simply in order to have a more elaborate celebration party afterwards or in the misguided notion that your child will decide for themselves when they are older.
I am not married. Can my child be baptised?
Yes. A child may be baptised so long as there is a well-founded hope that they will be brought up in the practice of the Catholic faith. If you have any questions about marriage in the Catholic Church, please ask the priest because there are often misunderstandings in this area.
I do not live in either of the parishes. Can I have my child baptised in Holy Rood or Our Lady & St. James’?
Yes, if you regularly attend Mass at one of the churches. You will need to gain the permission of the Parish Priest of the parish in which you live beforehand however. If you are not coming to Mass, you need to decide which will be the church you are going to start attending. The Baptism will be delayed until such a time as the Parish Priest is satisfied that you are serious about the ongoing practice of your faith. It will usually be more appropriate (and more convenient) for you to start going to Mass at your local parish and to arrange the Baptism there. Regular (weekly) attendance at Sunday Mass (except for illness or other similar reason) on your part is assumed as this is an obligation you will be imposing upon your child in having him/her baptised.
How many Godparents should we have?
The Church’s Canon Law states that there should be one or two Godparents. If there are two, they should be a Godfather and a Godmother.
Who can be Godparents?
Godparents must be Practising Catholics over 16 years of age who themselves regularly come to Mass, and have been Confirmed. They must also be living a life of faith which befits the role to be to be undertaken. The parish priest can advise as to the suitability of individual candidates for the role of godparent.
What about non-Catholics?
Alongside a Catholic Godparent, a non-Catholic who is a baptised Christian may stand as a Christian witness.
Neither I nor my spouse is Catholic. Can our child/children be baptised Catholics?
Only if one of the parents decides to become a Catholic themselves. This is a process which involves prayer, instruction and sharing in the life of the Catholic community over several months at least. The most appropriate conclusion to this process is for the family to be baptised together. Please ask the priest for further details.
What is the first step?
The first step in getting your child Baptised is to arrange a meeting with the Parish Priest in order to complete paperwork.
After you and your partner/spouse have attended Mass for 6 weeks then a mutual date can be set.
What times are Baptisms?
Baptism normally take place outside of Mass at 11 am on Sundays at either Holy Rood or Our Lady & St. James.
What names are appropriate?
Since the newly Baptised is being admitted into the Catholic Church it is required that the name of a Catholic Saint be chosen amongst any other given names. This Saint will be the heavenly sponsor for the newly baptised – not only at Baptism but throughout the candidates life on earth.