The Church encourages baptism of infants born of Catholic parents, as soon as possible after the birth of a child. When the parent/s and godparents profess the faith of the Catholic Church, then children may receive the grace of baptism. Baptism and Faith are some of the greatest gifts parents can give their child.
Mission: To prepare parents for the baptism of their children.
A Baptism Preparation Program is held in the presbytery on the first Sunday of every month immediately following the 10.00am Mass. The session is approximately half an hour long and you do not need an appointment to attend. At the preparation program, parents can book a day for Baptism. If you wish you may download the Baptism application form and bring the completed form with you to the preparation program meeting.
Parents receive instruction on the Rites, fruits and responsibilities of the sacrament of Baptism and the role that parents hold as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them. The session also calls attention to the responsibility of godparents to foster the Catholic faith.
To raise the child in the faith requires the cooperation of the parents. In order for baptism to occur, the consent of at least one of the parents who has the custody of the child is required. The consenting parent should be a Catholic. If one of the parents desires baptism and the other tolerates it, your child may be baptised.
Sometimes the child has only one parent. In such cases, the child will be baptised on the guarantee of that one parent’s faith.
Marriage Outside The Church
If the parents are not married or were married outside the Church, it is important to discuss with one of the priests from the parish the possibility of making your marriage a Christian Matrimony. It is desirable that parents have a Christian Marriage before the baptism of their child.
The godparents play a significant role on the day of the baptism. The cultural expectation of the godparents varies from culture to culture. However, the Church’s expectation is that godparents represent the Catholic community and pledge their support in raising the child in faith.
Eligibility for Godparents:
• Parents must designate them, and the Godparents must be willing to help the child lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism and fulfil the obligations connected with it.
• They must be at least 16 years of age.
• They must be Catholics who have been Baptised, Confirmed, and have received First Communion.
• They must lead a life in harmony with the faith and must understand the role to be undertaken.
• They must not be bound by any imposed or declared penalty under Church law.
• They must be someone other than the child’s parents.
Though it is not an obligation, the Church prefers that the godparent serve again as the sponsor at Confirmation.
Can a Catholic who is married outside the Church serve as a Godparent?
The Church expects a godparent to lead a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken. If a person you are considering is not married in the Church, you will need to consider this as you decide upon their qualifications to be a godparent.
Is the godparent expected to be a person who attends Church regularly?
It makes sense if they do so. After all, you are asking this person to assist you in bringing up your child within the Catholic faith community. It is desirable that they live what they say they believe.
How many godparents should there be?
You are only required to have one godparent. You may have two. But in some cultures there is the tradition of having many sponsors present at the service. There is nothing wrong with many sponsors.
What gender should the godparent be?
If you choose only one godparent, you are free to choose a male or a female. The godparent need not be of the same sex as the child or vice versa. However if you wish to have two godparents, it is desirable to have them of different sexes.
Can a non-Catholic serve as godparent?
For a Baptism in the Catholic Church, a Catholic or a member of one of the Orthodox Churches can be a godparent. However a member of a Protestant denomination may serve as a witness to the ceremony. The name of the Christian witness may be entered into the parish register of baptism along with that of the godparent. A non-baptised person is not able to sponsor a child for Baptism.
Can the same godparents have responsibility for more than one child, especially in the same family?
As long as the godparents take seriously their responsibility and intention to help all the children grow in faith, then godparents may accept several children.
Does the godparent have to come from the family?
Not at all.
Can someone who lives far away be a godparent?
Yes. Though the Church presumes that the godparents participate in the Ritual of Baptism, when it is not practically possible someone may serve as a proxy. The proxy is to be selected by the godparent.
If your relationship with the godparent fades or sours after your child is baptised, can you have the records changed in the parish?
No. Details of the record in the parish cannot be changed later for any reason. Once a godparent commits to serve as a godparent, then the commitment is permanent.
If the life of the child is seriously threatened, he or she should be baptised without delay. If a priest is available, he will confirm the child as well, even if your child is only an infant. If neither a priest nor a deacon is available, anyone may baptise by immersing or pouring water on your child and reciting these words, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The one baptising does not need to be a Catholic, or even a Christian, as long as he or she has the intent of the Church.
If the child recovers, organise with the parish office for the rest of the baptism ritual to occur – like anointing with Chrism, lighting of the candle, and so on. The office will also record the baptism in the parish records for future reference. Some children tragically lose their lives before their baptism can be celebrated. In such cases, our Church urges the parents not to despair, but to commend their child to the loving providence of God, who certainly can offer salvation even without baptism.
Prayer Of Thanksgiving For A Newly Born Child Who Is Yet To Be Baptised
Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
Reader: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark. (Mark 10:13-16)
(After the Gospel Reading)
Source of all blessings, Protector of infants,
look with favour on our child, (name).
Hold him/her gently in your hands.
When he/she is reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
bring him/her into the Church, there to share in your
Kingdom and with us to share your name for ever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Surrogacy & Reproductive Technologies
No matter how a human being comes into existence, he or she is always a person to be loved. We should always try, however, to act in ways which respect human dignity from the very first moment of a human being’s existence. Some forms of reproductive technology (RT) fail to show adequate respect for the value of human life and the meaning of procreation. The Church teaches that ethically acceptable forms of reproductive technology respect:
1. The dignity of newly conceived human life.
The human being is to be respected and cared for as a person from the first moment of his or her existence. Forms of RT which involve a willingness to expend or harm human life by discarding, freezing or subjecting embryos to excessive risk are morally unacceptable.
2. The dignity of human life in its transmission (procreation.)
Human life should only be generated in and through acts of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife. The human person must be accepted in his parents’ act of union and love; the generation of a child must therefore be the fruit of that mutual self-giving which is realised in the conjugal act wherein the spouses cooperate as servants and not as masters in the work of the Creator who is Love. (Donum Vitae II,B, 4, 7) Because of the inestimable value of the human person, technology should never dominate over our origin. The conception of a child should be the result of a marital act of self-giving love. Every human being must be accepted as a gift and blessing and not as a product of direct human control and the third party intervention of doctors and technicians. The Church is particularly concerned about forms of RT which use donor sperm or eggs. This is held to be contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation of parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage. (Donum Vitae II, A. 2.) Forms of RT which replace or substitute for the role of the marital act (e.g. artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation), even if the sperm and egg have come from a husband and wife, fail to show proper respect for the dignity of procreation and human life. However forms of RT which assist or help an act of intercourse to achieve its purpose may be morally permissible (e.g. treatment of underlying causes of infertility; low tubal ovum transfer; and possibly a treatment called GIFT). Appreciative of the suffering caused by infertility, the Church commends medical research and practices that, while safeguarding the dignity of human life and procreation, work to prevent and treat fertility problems. The Church also reminds childless couples that their married life still remains a gift to the Church and provides them with many opportunities to serve human life. Even when a child is conceived using morally questionable forms of reproductive technology, the Church still loves the parents and the new-born child. In these circumstances, the Church encourages an honesty of the situation with the parish priest. Baptism is always encouraged for a new-born child.
Where can I find more information?
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation (Donum vitae), Feb 1987. www.vatican.va/