We take our first steps in the lifelong journey of the Catholic faith by receiving the sacrament of baptism. Baptism is the gateway to our new life in Christ as members of the Catholic Church and through which we gain access to the other sacraments. Through the waters of the sacrament of baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God.
From the earliest times, the Catholic Church, to which the mission of preaching the Gospel and of baptizing was entrusted, has baptized children, as well as adults.
Our Lord said, “Unless a man is reborn in water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
The church has always understood these words to mean that children should not be deprived of baptism, because they are baptized in the faith of the church, a faith proclaimed for them by their parents and godparents who represent both the local church and the whole society of saints and believers.
If you are interested in information about adult baptism, and would like to explore the possibility of becoming Catholic, please contact us, visit the parish office, or learn more about the RCIA program at our parish.
Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all people are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism.
The church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth.
The term “children” or “infants” refers to those who have not yet reached the age of discernment and therefore cannot profess personal faith.
- Having a child baptized is the first concrete decision about religion that parents make for their child.
- The two principal effects of baptism are the purification from sin, and new birth through the Holy Spirit into the communion of the church.
- Baptism is the first of three sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist).
- Through baptism we become God’s children and members of the church.
- Baptism is passing on the faith, a lifelong gift, a lifelong responsibility.
- Parents request baptism for their child at the church to signify their choice, and to initiate the child as a member of the universal Catholic Church, and a local parish community.
- There are no private baptisms. They occur always with a gathered community, whether during Mass, or with family and friends.
- The parish community will support the family in their efforts to raise the child in the faith.
- The true meaning of the sacrament is fulfilled later in life as the children are formed in the faith.
To fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament, children must later be formed in the faith in which they have been baptized. The foundation of this formation will be the sacrament itself that they have already received.
Christian formation, which is their due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn God’s plan in Christ, so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized.
The Journey to Your Child’s Baptism
Congratulations! Our parish family extends to you our prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of your child. We believe that every child born into this world is a gift from God and is given the opportunity to receive God’s gift of new life through the sacrament of baptism.
Our parish looks forward to joining you on this journey and preparing to bring your child into our Catholic community of faith. May this time of preparation for baptism be a time of joy as you anticipate the beginning of your child’s life of faith.
Our parish welcomes you as you present your child to the waters of baptism with the intention of bringing them up in the practice of our Catholic faith. In this day and age, children are born into various family situations, and our church desires to minister to you whatever your particular situation (i.e. married in the Catholic Church, single parent, unmarried couple, or married outside of the Catholic Church).
This is a wonderful time to consider your own commitment to your Catholic faith. In some circumstances, you may wish to pursue the sacrament of marriage.
If that is the case, feel free to contact our parish office to set up an appointment with our pastor to discuss your particular situation, the possibility of getting married in the Catholic Church, or the possibility of having your marriage validated in the church.
It is never too early to contact our parish office to start the necessary paperwork. Keep in mind that there are several important steps you must take before the baptism:
- Call our parish office as soon as possible to begin the necessary paperwork for your child’s baptism and to determine whether or not you need to register and attend a baptismal preparation session.
- Attend the baptismal preparation session (if required).
- Review our parish guidelines about selecting sponsors and their eligibility requirements.
- Determine whether or not the person(s) you want to be your child’s sponsor(s) meet the eligibility guidelines. Do not hesitate to contact our parish office to assist you if you have any questions or concerns about the eligibility of sponsors.
- Have the sponsor(s) obtain a sponsor certificate from their parish.
After you have completed the baptismal preparation session, and are ready to schedule your child’s baptism, please call our parish office to select the date and time.
Our parish usually celebrates the sacrament of baptism according to the following schedule:
For practicing members of our parish, who were married in the Catholic Church:
- During weekend Mass: Saturday at 6:00 p.m., or Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
- Outside of Mass: Saturday at 7:15 p.m., or Sunday at 12:15 p.m.
For all other situations the baptism is usually celebrated:
- Outside of Mass: Saturday at 7:15 p.m., or Sunday at 12:15 p.m.
As you begin to prepare for your child’s baptism, one of your first decisions will be the selection of sponsors (godparents). Prior to inviting a relative or close friend to assume the role of sponsor, it is important for you to understand what our church teaches.
Choosing sponsors can be a sensitive issue, but a greater understanding of the role of a sponsor may help you in this matter. Sponsors play a very important role in your child’s spiritual life and should serve as role models of the faith.
Your child should be able to look to their sponsors as an example of how the church teaches us to live our Catholic faith. They should support you in your work to teach your child our Catholic faith.
Additionally, in their role as sponsor, they represent the larger church community. As you see, being a sponsor is not only an honor, it is a tremendous responsibility.
Our parish provides the following guidelines to help parents choose the best possible sponsors for their children.
There are typically two sponsors, one male (godfather) and one female (godmother); however, the church does permit to have just one sponsor (male or female).
- There may be no more than two sponsors.
- If two sponsors are chosen, they may not be of the same gender.
Each sponsor for baptism must meet all of the following:
- Be at least sixteen (16) years of age.
- Be a fully initiated Catholic (must have received all three sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist).
- Be a practicing Catholic and a Catholic in good standing who leads a life of faith necessary to fulfill the responsibility of being a sponsor.
- Be a registered member of a parish in the area where he or she lives.
- Attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
- Support the parish both financially and through service to the best of their ability.
- If married, the sponsor must be in a valid marriage. Married, according to the laws and regulations of the Catholic Church, means that they were married by a Catholic priest or obtained an official permission for getting married outside of the Catholic Church. Please Note: Those Catholics who are invalidly married, as for example, before a Justice of the Peace, without proper dispensation, before a minister of a Protestant church or before a rabbi, or those Catholics who are divorced and invalidly remarried do not qualify as a sponsor at baptism even though they may fulfill other requirements listed above.
- If single, may not be cohabitating with someone without the benefit of marriage.
- May not be the father or the mother of the person to be baptized.
If only one Catholic sponsor is chosen, a Christian of other denomination (i.e. Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) may be chosen to be a witness to your child’s baptism. This role is referred to as a Christian witness, though most parents still commonly think of and refer to him or her as a godparent.
- A baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve as a Christian witness (witness to the baptism), but there must also be a Catholic sponsor/godparent. The baptismal certificate will denote (C.W.) – “Christian Witness.”
- A Christian witness should understand the role and play an active and important part in supporting parents as they teach their child the Christian way of life.
- A non-practicing Catholic or a former Catholic who left the Catholic faith and converted to another faith may not serve as a Christian witness.
- A Christian witness must provide either a proof of baptism or a letter from the pastor of his or her church stating he or she is an active member of the church. Either form is due in the parish office the Monday prior to the baptism.
A sponsor certificate is a letter or a form of eligibility issued by the pastor that certifies that the person requesting a sponsor certificate is a registered member of the parish and is qualified to serve as a sponsor according to sponsor eligibility guidelines.
All sponsors must verify their eligibility to serve as a sponsor.
If the intended sponsor is registered at St. Mary, Mother of God Church:
- He or she must call the parish office as soon as possible to verify his or her parish membership and sponsor eligibility.
If intended sponsor lives outside of our parish boundaries:
- He or she must obtain a sponsor certificate from the parish in which he or she is registered and participates. To obtain the form, one must contact their parish office and request the sponsor certificate for baptism.
- Please advise sponsors to make this request as soon as possible, at least one month in advance of the baptism, to allow a sufficient time to process the request.
All sponsor certificates are due in the parish office the Monday prior to the baptism. The forms may b mailed or dropped off to the parish office.
Raising Your Child Catholic
The family has been called the domestic church because parents, by their word and example, are the first teachers of the faith to their children, and it is in the family that children have to grow in the faith. Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children, and in particular they have the mission of educating their children in the Catholic faith.
Parents educate their children in the faith mainly by example, prayer, family catechesis and participation in the life of the church.
Here are some practical ideas how parents can raise their child in the Catholic faith:
Teach your child to participate at Sunday Mass every week
- Taking an infant or small child to Mass on Sunday can be difficult; nevertheless, it is essential to your child’s upbringings in the Catholic faith. Even if your child is just playing quietly while you are praying and participating in the Mass, he or she is experiencing the Mass and watching how you participate in the Mass.
- Encourage your child to participate as best as he or she can during Mass. As your child gets older and is learning to read, we suggest that you show him or her how to find prayers and songs in the missalette and hymnal, so that he or she starts to learn how to respond to the prayer and to participate in the singing.
Teach your child to pray every day
- Teach your child all the basic prayers as soon as they are old enough to learn them (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and the Prayer Before Meals).
- Teach your child the Sign of the Cross.
- Encourage your child to say the morning and evening prayers, and pray before meals.
- As parents, pray with your child at home, and with church community so children feel comfortable with prayer.
Teach your child about the Catholic faith
- Read to your child from a Children’s Bible or a book of Bible stories.
- Have crucifixes and other religious pictures and statues (of Jesus, Mary, etc.) displayed in your home, and talk about them with your child.
- Religious objects should also be given to the child as a gift, based on age, when the opportunity presents itself, such as a crucifix, holy Bible, rosary, holy pictures of Jesus, the archangels, the saints which many children love to collect, as well as books on the lives of the saints.
- Celebrate the liturgical year (Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter).
- As your child gets older, enroll him or her in formal religious education. In our parish, religious education is available for kindergarten through sixth grade. You can also send your child to The Divine Redeemer Catholic School.