When considering your child’s Catholic Baptism at St. Joseph’s Church we would like you to take a minute to reflect upon this decision.
As The Rite of Baptism in the Church reminds us, in requesting to have your child baptized, “. . . you are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the practice of the Faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s Commandments as Christ taught us. . . Do you clearly understand what it is you are undertaking? “
The Rite of Baptism reminds parents of the responsibilities and duties that they assume for their child. There are also rights of the child, however, which the Catechism of the Church speaks about — rights that should not be violated even by parents:
Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God, and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.” CCC #1269
In reflecting upon the nature of baptism for their child, parents should in all honesty ask themselves:
Do we look upon baptism, and indeed the Christian Faith, as necessary for salvation as Christ clearly taught (John 3:5), or do we see them merely as occasions for human celebration?
Do we practice our Catholic Faith trying to live as Christ taught us (John 14:15)? (Viz. Keeping Holy the Lord’s Day).
Do we support the Church financially as understood by the Precepts of the Church? (Mt 17:24-27).
Is our marriage “within the Church” so as to be sacramental (Mk 10:1-12), and thus permitting us to receive Holy Communion in the Church properly?
If parents find they are lacking in one or more of these areas it may still be possible to have your child baptized, but this would be part of the conversation with the pastor. It may be necessary to do some extra preparation for some parents, or it might benefit them to take steps towards fulfilling these expectations of living the Christian life.
Moreover, one needs to consider that, according to the canonical law of the Church,
“. . . for the baptism of a child to be licit it is necessary that there be a well founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such a hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be put off . . . “ canon #868.
Considering all of the aforementioned, we believe it would be irresponsible for any Catholic Priest to baptize an infant whose parents are altogether non-practicing in their Catholic Faith; such child would thereby be without hope of practicing the faith life to which they had been committed. Hence, the policy at St. Joseph’s Church is that parents requesting baptism for their child(ren) must:
Be registered, practicing parishioners, or
Show their willingness to practice their own faith by attending Mass each Sunday for at least three months. It is within the pastors authority to make exceptions, but that would entail a conversation.
Also for your consideration . . . ,
Please be conscious of a Christian name and the significance of naming children within the tradition of the Saints of the Church — holy men and women of the Bible and Church History. Names foreign to the Christian mentality are not to be given, e.g. Diablo, Lucifer, Muhammad, etc. (canon 855).
Regarding Sponsors (Godparents), and Witnesses, a simple rule:
Catholic = Sponsor. Non-Catholic = Witness. (canon 874)
For one to be a Sponsor (Godparent), a person must:
Be designated by the parent (s).
Be at least 17 years old.
Be a confirmed Catholic, who leads a life in harmony with the Faith.
Not be the father or mother of the child.
N.B. Whenever possible, choose two sponsors (one of whom may later be the sponsor at the time of the child’s Confirmation).
For one to be a Witness:
1) A baptized person who is non-Catholic may be a witness to baptism, but only together with a Catholic Sponsor.
And finally, attendance at a baptismal preparation class for a first child (or for those not attending Church) will be a mandatory element to your child’s baptism. (canon 851). If parents have had 1 or more children baptized in the parish with the current pastor this requirement may be waived.
* For those married by a Justice of the Peace the marriage validation/annulment procedure is strongly encouraged. We Stress your child’s first communion and your desire to be able to receive with your child according to the Church (canon 915).