Through Baptism your child will become a disciple, part of the body of Christ and you will affirm that you will raise your child in the practice of the faith. Our parish community rejoices with you as we prepare to welcome a new member who will grow in faith, serve others and join us in the praise of God. The information on this page will assist you in understanding and preparing for the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism. The guidelines contained within are part of the Church laws contained in Canon Law. This law governs all Catholics of the Latin Rite.
Infant Baptism may be scheduled to take place during or immediately following any weekend Mass.
To begin this process, we ask that you please complete our online Baptism Information Form.
The Age of your Child
The Catholic Church celebrates Baptism in two different ways. One, the Rite of Baptism for Children, is for newborn infants and for children who have not yet reached the age of discernment, or catechetical age (around age seven). Newborn infants are generally baptized within the first few months after birth. If your child is of catechetical age (around age seven), he or she should celebrate Baptism as part of the other form of Catholic Baptism, Christian Initiation of Children. This process provides a period of age-appropriate religious education giving the child a basic understanding of the Catholic faith, including the Eucharist. Children participating in this program celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion in one celebration at the Easter Vigil. Please contact the parish office for more information.
The ceremony may begin with a simple question, "What name do you give (or have you given) your child?" Our name becomes the main symbol of who we are. The Catholic Church has a tradition of naming children after saints or virtues. Today, the law is different. The church simply asks that any name not be foreign to a Christian mentality. Please remember that the name you give your child can impact their future. The church asks that you please exercise good judgment, as trendy names become passe quickly and children must live with the name you give them for all of their lives and into eternity.
In the case of children who are in the process of being adopted, the Baptism may be celebrated with the consent of the natural parents; otherwise, the Baptism is to be postponed until after the adoption has been finalized, except in danger of death. Foster parents do not have the authority to present a foster child for Baptism.
One of the most important decisions regarding baptism is the choice of godparents for your child. You are required to have one godparent although normally, there are two godparents (in which case, one is to be male and one to be female). Careful consideration should be given to choosing godparents as they must meet certain qualifications as set forth by laws of the Catholic Church. A person to be admitted as a godparent must:
- be designated by you and must have the intention of performing this role
- be at least sixteen years of age (unless the pastor sees just cause for an exception)
- be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already shared Holy Communion
- be a Catholic who leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken
- not be bound by any legitimately imposed canonical penalty
- not be the father or mother of the child.
Please save embarrassment for all paties by NOT choosing a godparent who does not fulfill the above requirements. In view of these guidelines, the pastor of the designated godparent is responsible for determining these qualifications. For those of you choosing godparents who are registered members of Saint Raphael Parish, your choice(s) will be reviewed and approval communicated to you. If you choose a godparent who is a member of a parish other than Saint Raphael, they must obtain a letter of eligibility from the pastor of that parish. This letter is to be sent or delivered to Saint Raphael Parish at least two weeks prior to the Baptism date. A baptized person who belongs to some other non-Catholic community may be asked to serve not as a godparent but as a Christian witness as long as a Catholic godparent is also present. Catholics who have abandoned the faith may not act as a Christian witness or a godparent. The church does make accommodations for a godparent who, for good cause, is not able to be present at the ceremony. A proxy may be chosen to stand-in for the godparent at the ceremony.
The ceremony of Baptism abounds in symbols. Baptism expresses so many things about life, church, family and God that is needs a full range of images, gathering many rituals into one and bringing your child to the waters of new birth. The Rite of Baptism has several parts and a few options, so the ceremony may vary slightly depending upon the celebrant. The service includes tracing the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of the child, by which the community welcomes them and claims them for Christ. The pouring of water on the head of the child is central in the Rite of Baptism. Baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit brings new birth. It cleanses from sin and gives a share in the death and resurrection of Christ. The child is also anointed with sacred oil blessed by the Bishop on the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass. In the Old Testament, solemn anointings were given to priests, prophets and kings. Jesus, in whom the Holy Spirit dwelled, was anointed with that Spirit for the same purposes - to be our priest, prophet and king. Now we anoint the newly baptized to share in that same service, to be a priest by living a life of prayer, to be a prophet by announcing the word of God, to be royalty by accepting the role of leader. A white garment is placed on the newly baptized child and you will be presented with a candle, lit from the Easter candle. Both are signs that this child now shares in the risen life of Christ. The Baptismal ceremony also gives us opportunity for prayer, word and renewal. Readings from scripture and a short homily offer insight into the sacrament of Baptism and our roles in the life of those to be baptized. We are also given the opportunity to renew our own baptismal vows where we renounce sin and profess our faith in God. The ceremony concludes with the reciting of the Lord's Prayer and blessings for the parents, godparents and everyone present.
Please feel free to take any pictures or videos during the ceremony. You may also remain after the Baptism to take additional pictures in the Church.
After Baptism, your child's information will be recorded in the Parish Baptism Register. Your child's permanent record will always be kept at Saint Raphael Parish. Before your child's entry to Catholic school, confirmation, marriage, religious profession or ordination in years to come, you will be asked for an updated copy of the Baptismal Certificate. It will always be issued from Saint Raphael Parish. Following baptism at Saint Raphael Parish, all sacramental information regarding your child, regardless of where the following sacraments take place, will always be recorded Saint Raphael Parish as well.
Donations for the Church
There are never any fees or costs associated with the celebration and the reception of the sacraments. However, parishes always need contributions for upkeep, utilities, insurance, etc. All parishes depend primarily on your regular Sunday offering. A tradition within the Church has been to make a donation at the time of Baptism in the name of the new member. This usually is given by the parents or godparents. If you can make a special gift to the parish at the time of your child's Baptism, it will be gratefully received.
Some parents hesitate to request a Baptism because they do not regularly attend Mass or support the local parish. If this is you, you may want to evaluate the reasons you are seeking Baptism for your child. Is it for tradition? Is it an expectation within your family? Is it a social obligation? Or is it a desire to share the life of Christ? Saint Raphael Parish openly welcomes all to become part of our parish family and to share in that life of Christ. If you are not registered in the parish you may wish to meet with a member of the parish clergy. This will give both an opportunity to assess needs and discuss our faith and the unique responsibility to share it with the child God has entrusted to you.