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Congratulations of the Birth or Adoption of Your Child

baptismWhat a special occasion you are celebrating! Our children are the greatest gift we have as a faith community. We trust the following information will help you in the process of planning the baptism.

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first step in a lifelong journey of commitment and discipleship. Whether we are baptized as infants or adults, Baptism is the Church’s way of celebrating and enacting the embrace of God.

The first step is to read this page about baptism, and then contact Jessica Sandoval . She will make sure you are registered in the parish, help you become registered or update your registration, or obtain the proper delegation in the event you are a registered member of some other parish. Except in cases of an emergency or with special delegation from another pastor, a priest can only baptize members of the parish to which the Archbishop has entrusted to his care.

Also, if there are some canonical concerns, (for example, you have been divorced and remarried without obtaining an annulment of your first marriage, or you have not been active in your practice of the faith for some time, or you are not married or not married in the Church), Father can assist you in beginning the process of getting back to active participation in the life of the Church and/or getting your marriage blessed.

The Church requires that the pastor of the parish have moral certitude that your child will be raised in the Catholic faith. It is difficult to have this moral certitude if the Catholic parent(s) is not active in the practice of the faith.

Under normal circumstances, this contact can be made by a phone call to Jessica Sandoval. In more complicated circumstances, you may need to make an appointment with the pastor. If you have not been active in you practice of the faith, the pastor may ask that some indication be given that you intend to return to an active practice of your faith.

If you need your marriage blessed or an annulment process begun, the pastor can begin this process with you. In the case of an annulment–which can take a year of more to accomplish–the baptism can normally be scheduled before the annulment is obtained of the marriage blessed, as long as you demonstrate you are serious about doing all that you can, given you circumstances, to live your faith as a Catholic.

A Few Common Questions

Does getting our marriage blessed mean that my spouse has to become a Catholic?

Of course not. The Catholic Church respects the conscience of your non-Catholic spouse. In having your marriage blessed in the Church, all we are doing is determining if the human quality of the commitment you made when you got married civilly is what the Church requires of two people who marry in Christ, i.e., that you are both old enough and mature enough to make this adult commitment and that the commitment is (1) for life, until death do you part, (2) intends fidelity in the relationship in which two shall become one flesh and that (3) the relationship of love intends to be faithful, open to the gift of children and a love which is not selfish but overflows to the needs of those around you. One does not have to be a Catholic to intend that married love share these qualities. In getting your marriage blessed the Catholic spouse will need to sign a promise to do all in their power to share their Catholic faith with their children by having them baptized and raised in the Catholic Church. The non-Catholic spouse does not make this promise–they are made aware of the Catholic’s promise to do so. Obviously, the faith that our children will ultimately embrace as mature adults will have more to do with how authentically we live that faith in a day-to-day manner than any promise we make in an attempt to get them baptized.

Not all priests worry whether or not we practice our faith or were married in the Church.

Pastors are responsible for the care of souls along with the whole parish community. All of us are responsible to insure that parents who are inactive in the practice of the faith when bringing their children for baptism are made to feel welcome and are offered the opportunity to live the Catholic life to its fullest. We are not setting up now rules to make the baptism of your child difficult. We have a true concern for your well-being and that of your child. Therefore, from the outset we will be honest with you in upholding the teaching of the Church for baptism and marriage. When the time comes for the child to make his or her First Holy Communion, all of these issues will need to be faced if you don’t deal with them now.

What if I am not sure I want to have my marriage blessed? We are having marital problems.

We suggest that you deal with the health of your marriage first, precisely for the sake of your child. Marriage counseling is available along with Retrovaille, offered by the Diocese of Salt Lake, to help your marriage relationship. We would never want to bless a marriage that is in serious trouble.

My daughter is an unwed mother. Can her child be baptized?

She has every right to have her child baptized, as long as she is active in her practice of the faith and not living in morally unhealthy situation. In fact, we commend her for the courage of choosing life and bringing the child to birth. We, as a parish, want to support her courageous choice in every way we can.

What are the requirements for godparents?

The responsibility and qualifications of godparents or sponsors is very clearly stated in Canons 872-874 of the Code of Canon Law. Godparents go back to the days in the Early Church when most converts to Christianity were adults. The Church insists that at least one of the godparents be a Catholic in good standing, at least (16) years of age, received their First Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation. The other godparent can be a baptized non-Catholic who is active in his or her church. The baptized non-Catholic is called Christian Witness. If those you choose to be godparents cannot attend the baptism, the Church provides that someone else can stand in for the godparents. This individual is called a proxy–they simply take the place of the godparent(s) for the ceremony.

Do I have to attend baptism classes?

Yes! Canon 851 (2) of the Code of Cannon Law teaches that the parents of an infant who is to be baptized and likewise those who are to undertake the office of sponsor are to be properly instructed in the meaning of the sacrament and the obligations attached to it.

Once you contact Jessica Sandoval and she has addressed any concerns you may have, she will give you a VCR tape to watch. Both parents, even if one is not Catholic are required to watch this video. The purpose of this video is to assist parents and godparents to understand the obligations of the Sacrament of Baptism and prepare for the celebration of the sacrament. After you have returned the VCR tape you will set up an appointment with the pastor for an interview and to make the arrangements for celebration of the Sacrament. Baptism is the one sacrament recognized by all Christian churches as a sign of God’s love for us. Both parents share this blessing from God by their love for their child and Christ. They are the first teachers of God’s love. Parents who have attended a baptismal class within the past three years need not attend again, but are welcomed to do so for a refresher.

We want our child baptized in a private ceremony and not at Mass!

There is no such thing as a private baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism brings us into a family of faith. Just as the celebration of adult baptism is most appropriate at the communal celebration of the parish’s Easter Vigil, so infant baptism should take place within the family of the larger faith communities celebration of the Lord’s resurrection on Sunday. Prior to Vatican II, baptisms were celebrated on Sunday afternoon, many times with only the godparents being present. The Fathers of the Council asked that we re-discover the ancient rites of the Church including the early celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism. Vatican II re-affirmed that the celebration of baptism was a community celebration to be shared at the Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection. Therefore, celebration at the Sunday Liturgy has become the norm and no the exception.

Here at Christ, Prince of Peace Catholic Community, the sacrament of Baptism will be celebrated as scheduled during your preparation meeting.

Will we receive a Baptism Certificate for our child at the time of Baptism?

Within a month of the ceremony we will send you a copy of the baptismal certificate sent to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Please be careful when filling out the preliminary information at the baptismal class that all the information requested is accurate. Your child’s baptism is registered with the Archdiocese and a copy can be requested at any time by writing to:

Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
P.O. Box 4469
Washington, D.C. 20017-0469
Phone# 202-269-9100