Sacrament of Baptism
Welcome to God's Family!
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit . . . And
behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Mt. 28:
"From the moment Jesus said (these words), the disciples went out to
baptize. And from that time until today, there is a chain in the
transmission of the faith through Baptism. And each one of us is a link
in that chain!" (Pope Francis, General Audience of January 15, 2014).
Baptism (specifically, Infant Baptism) is a welcoming ritual with a unique opportunity to connect with Catholic
families at a very meaningful time in their lives. Formation (preparation) for parents seeking Baptism for their infant (or young child) were mandated by the new Rite of Infant Baptism
in 1969 immediately after the Second Vatican Council. The Council
highlighted the role of parents as the first and most important teachers
of the faith.
The Church stands as a ready partner with parents in the on-going formation of their children, beginning at baptism. Click here for a list of Preparation Resources for Infant Baptism.
Baptism is the first sacrament and the gateway to life in the Spirit. Each of the other sacraments builds on the grace of
Baptism. Through Baptism, a person becomes a member of the Church and a
disciple of Jesus. Original sin is cleansed and the person gains the
promise of eternal life in Christ. Baptism is celebrated only once in a
Welcoming each new member is the responsibility of all those who have been baptized. Baptism can be celebrated during Sunday
Mass, allowing the entire parish community to rejoice in the arrival of
new life in the family and in the Church. Baptism can also be
celebrated outside of Mass. Baptism connects us ---for life---to the
worldwide Christian family.
Godparents have the privileged role of assisting parents to nurture the child's faith from childhood though maturity. According to Canon Law (#872-874) a godparent must be at least sixteen years of age and be fully
initiated into the faith (i.e. has received the sacraments of
initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist). He or she should lead
a life of faith in harmony with the duty undertaken. The godparent may not be one of the parents of the child being baptized. One godparent is
required for Baptism and a maximum of two can participate in the ritual
and be recorded in the baptismal record.
Elements for family preparation/catechesis
These best practices for preparing families to celebrate the Baptism
of their child are important to keep in mind and integrate into parish
practice. A first step in any planning process is to ask: "What is our
goal in preparing a family for the Baptism of their baby?" More than
getting ready for a day, baptismal preparation lays the foundation that
will assist parents and godparents to take on their roles as "first
catechists" and primary educators of faith in their family.
Because Baptism provides a tremendous opportunity for the parish
community to establish and strengthen its relationship with the child's
parents, the following elements can serve to catechize and evangelize:
- Welcoming - Parishes can invite new parents to have their baby baptized through
personal invitation and with ongoing notices in the bulletin or parish
website. The initial contact is key; therefore, when parents request
Baptism, the parish response should reflect the joy of the event rather
than questions about membership. When people feel connected and engaged
they will be more apt to join and participate in the parish.
Celebrating - Ideally, the Rite of Baptism is celebrated within a parish Mass with special
emphasis on welcoming the new Christian. The baptismal ritual is rich
in symbols that remind us of God's unconditional love, the promise of
eternal life and our missions to live as disciples of Jesus.
On-Going and Lifelong
- The most influential factor on the development of an active faith
life in a young adult is the faith life of their parents. Therefore,
parish-based preparation that engages parents and families in the life
of the parish and nurtures the "Domestic Church" -- the church of the
home -- is an essential part of handing on the faith to future
generations. The Office of Lifelong Faith Formation
is ready to assist parishes to develop and/or strengthen post-baptismal
follow-up. Do not miss this opportunity to establish a relationship
with young families. Preparation is for the entire Christian life, not
just for the day of Baptism!
The following resource can be used with parents, as well as any adult group as a tool for reflection on one's own baptism: Baptism: Incorporated into Christ's Body, Sent on Christ's Mission - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
For more information about
creating or strengthening your parish's outreach to families through
Infant Baptism preparation, email Sr. Barbara Schiavoni, GNSH or call 716-847-5516.
seven and older are prepared for Baptism through the parish-based Rite
of Christian Initiation for Adults (with adaptations for children).
Email Sr. Barbara or call 716-847-5516, for information about the RCIA.