The occasion when we welcome a new member into our family is a wonderful moment in your life and in the life of our parish community.
In our parish baptisms are usually conducted during Sunday Mass or with several other families at another time on Sunday in one of our parish churches. Our parish conducts preparation sessions for parents and godparents before the baptism is scheduled.
Baptism is the introduction of a person into the Church community. Through the waters of baptism the person enters into the life of God - Father, Son and Spirit. He or she is dedicated to God and all that is good.
Baptism is a wonderful opportunity for your fellow parishioners to share your joy in your child. That is why baptism is usually celebrated during Sunday Mass so that as many people as possible can welcome your child into the community.
The baptism ceremony for adults is similar to baptism of children except that you make the baptismal promises yourself. Instead of godparents adults have sponsors whose role is to encourage you in the catholic faith.
Traditionally adult baptisms take place during the ceremony of the Easter Vigil.
Baptism is the sacrament in which we commit ourselves to God. We proclaim our faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we promise to avoid evil and to do good.
Baptisms in our parish are held on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. One Sunday at St Thomas Church, Drysdale and the other at Lumen Christi Church, Leopold. Baptism sessions for parents are held on the first Wednesday of each month at St Thomas, Drysdale. Parents need to attend one session prior to the Baptism of their child.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - INFANT BAPTISM
What is the role of the sponsor at Baptism?
The role of the godparent or sponsor at the baptism of a child is to join with the parents in presenting the child and to be a help and support to the child in growing in faith and living the Christian life.
It follows from this that the godparent ought also to live out those same Christian values and way of life that the ceremony implies. For this reason the Church requires that the godparent be a confirmed Catholic who has received the Eucharist and lives out the life of faith required by the role.
Only one godparent is required but there may be two. In some cultures it is a common and legitimate custom to allow a greater number. Usually in Australia there are two.
Must both godparents be Catholic?
One godparent must be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the Eucharist, and who lives a life worthy of the role that he or she is about to undertake. It is possible to have just the one godparent. Alternatively, an Eastern Orthodox Christian may be a godparent (along with the Catholic godparent). Apart from this situation, as long as one godparent is Catholic, it is permissible for a non-Catholic to act as witness to your child's baptism. It is not possible for an unbaptised person to act as godparent or witness.
Does the Catholic Church place any restrictions on who may be a godparent at Baptism?
There must be at least one person who is a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the Eucharist, who is at least 16 years old.
As long as one godparent is Catholic, it is permissible for a non-Catholic to act as witness to a child's baptism.
Can a child whose parents are not married be baptised in the Catholic Church?
All that the Church requires is that the parents undertake to do their best to bring the child up as Catholic. Provided that there is a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up as Catholic, the child may be baptised.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - ADULT BAPTISM
Does the Catholic Church recognise Orthodox baptism?
The Catholic Church recognises baptism in the Orthodox churches whom she calls 'sister churches'. The Catholic Church recognises baptism in a number of Christian churches. What is essential for baptism is that the person be baptised by the celebrant saying the words, "I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" while either pouring water on the head of the person or immersing the person in water.
Can a person who has been baptised in one church be baptised again in the Catholic Church?
A person may only be baptised once. To appreciate this, you might consider the effects of baptism. When you were baptised you became an adopted child of God, a new creature, and were given a share in God's nature. You became a member of the Church, a co-heir with Christ. This great gift is permanent and cannot be repeated. Therefore baptism cannot be repeated.
Is baptism always celebrated on Sunday?
Baptism is a wonderful opportunity for your fellow parishioners to share your joy. That is why baptism is usually celebrated during Sunday Mass so that as many people as possible can welcome you into the community.
The Church also celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ on each Sunday. Therefore the Church encourages baptism to be celebrated on a Sunday.
Why do I need a recent Baptismal certificate?
Before you receive any other sacrament, you need to have been baptised. Baptism is the first part of initiation into the the Church, into the Body of Christ. So Baptism is a prerequisite for the reception of other sacraments, for Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Marriage and for the making of profession of vows in an institute of consecrated life.
Prior to the reception of these sacraments, the priest must check that you have been baptised. All that is necessary in some cases is that a copy of the certificate be presented to the priest.
Does the Church keep a record of Baptisms? Who has access to them?
The Church does keep records of baptisms. This is essential as baptism is necessary for the reception of other sacraments. A person may not receive other sacraments unless she or he has first been baptised. Therefore a priest, or his delegate, may need to check baptismal records of someone presenting for another sacrament.
The Church does observe privacy legislation. No information would be given out that contravened this legislation.
Parts of this material was prepared by Elizabeth Delaney sgs, Information Officer, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference with thanks to Catholic Ireland for the use of their content. Copyright © 2005.