Why Baptism - Some general Pointers

Why Baptism?baptismlogo

Baptism into the Catholic Christian community enhances the faith of the parents, godparents, family and the parish community in which it is celebrated. As a Sacrament of the Church it is not a private christening; it belongs to the larger parish and the Catholic community throughout the world.

When you present your child for Baptism, you are asking the church to receive your child as a member of the Body of Christ here on earth. You are also making a commitment to your child to help him or her to become an active part of this community of faith.

Many dioceses in the Ireland require parents to participate in some preparation before the baptism of their children; a member of the baptism team from the Assumption will visit you (ideally with the godparent(s) present) usually the week before your child’s baptism is to take place. During this short visit they will explain the ceremony and relevance of it so that it does not come as a surprise and you can enjoy the day more. It is a great way to answer any questions you may have as we will discuss the theology of the sacrament of baptism, as well as practical aspects of the ceremony itself.


What are the requirements for baptism?

For a child to be baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, there must be a basis for hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. In practice, this generally means that at least one parent is Catholic. Each child brought forward for baptism must also have at least one godparent who is a confirmed, practicing Catholic age 16 or older.


What are the requirements for godparents?

We hope that parents choose godparents who will take an active role in the faith formation of their child.


It is important to understand that the godparent(s) by present at the rite so that they can make their commitment publicly. Also that the church continues to understand that the bond between the godparent(s) and the family is very close, and to ask that the godparent not only be ready to help the parents, when appropriate, in the Christian formation of their child but even more that the godparent be an example to the child of what a Christian is.

Lastly it is good to remember that during the celebration the godparent(s) speak not only for themselves but for the entire church.

So with this in mind:

The church requires at least one godparent who is a practicing, confirmed Catholic age 16 or older. That godparent's name is entered into the parish record book as the "official" godparent or sponsor for baptism.

If you choose more than two godparents, one or two may have their names entered into the book as "official" godparents, and the others can be "honorary" godparents. You don't have to tell them which is which. All the godparents' personal relationship to the child and to you as a family is the same whether their names are recorded in the book or not.

If you choose two godparents of the same sex, one can be the "official" godparent for the record book, and the other can be the "honorary" one. (Just as above, you don't have to tell anyone which is which except us.)

Baptized non-Catholic Christians may not be "official" godparents for the record book, but they may be Christian witnesses for your child.

People who are not baptized Christians cannot be sponsors for baptism, since they themselves are not baptized. However, you may certainly invite non-Christian friends or relatives to attend the celebration and to have a special place in your child's life, sharing with your child their own faith traditions

What should the baby wear for the baptism?

A white garment is an ancient sign of the newly baptized Christian's new life in Christ. Your child's baptismal garment need not be a traditional baptismal or christening gown; it can be any clothing that is mainly white. (Some regular department stores sell traditional baptismal gowns). So this may be a gown that has been in your family for generations, or it might be something newly purchased just for this occasion.

It is a symbol of your child’s “putting on the new life of Christ”, you are asked to bring with you a white garment in which to dress your child after he/she is baptized.

The child will be baptized by infusion, that is, by pouring water from the font over the baby's head, and the child wears the white garment throughout the service. So please bring your child to church dressed in comfortable clothes that will be easy to remove and open, as you will be partially undressing the baby at your seat.

Baptismal Candle

One of the most important symbols of baptism representing the light of Christ, is the baptismal candle. The presider will light this baptism candle from the Easter candle during the ceremony.

Each family must provide a white candle for each child being baptized. We recommend using a large, free standing, pillar type candle so that it can be used again for other sacramental celebrations for that child (communion, confirmation, etc). This type of candle and candle holder can be purchased at any candle shop and most shopping centres.

If you wish, decorations can be added to the candle to personalize it. You may want to decorate it in a way to match the banner, with the child’s name, the baptism date, and any symbols you wish to include. A few suggestions would be:

  • Ribbons or bows can be pinned into the candle
  • Beads, sequins, etc. can be pinned into the candle
  • Silk flower candle rings can be purchased for a nice effect
  • Words and dates can be painted on the candle


The Baptism of a younger brother or sister is a special time for a child. It is important that you take time to explain this event to your older children and provide opportunities for them to be involved in the preparations. This might include helping you decorate the candle or plan a celebration to follow the Baptism. Older children can help dress the baby, and stand with the parents and godparents at the time of the anointing rite.

When will we receive the baptism certificate?

When you came to book a date for the baptism the parish secretary would have asked you for the details of the god parents and a copy of your child’s birth certificate. These are very important and needed for a number of reasons including the issuing of the baptism certificate. Shortly after the baptism, we will send you one baptism certificate with the parents' names, including the mother's maiden name (as called for by church regulations). If your child ever needs a copy of the baptism certificate later, perhaps for school registration or for marriage, please contact the parish office.


The Rite of Baptism is a sacred event, one in which we celebrate with much joy. We encourage families to record this special event, either with photographs or video, to share with your child as he or she grows. However, we ask that you DO NOT take photographs during the actual service itself out of respect for the sacredness of the sacrament. But you may take as may photos before or afterwards. We would also ask that you be considerate of the other families present. 

Thank you for making this a beautiful celebration for your family and all the other families and guests in attendance.


Planning your Loved One's Funeral

Planning your Loved One’s Funeral Liturgy.


The Church encourages you to be as fully involved as you can in planning your loved one’s funeral liturgy. It is the final journey of your loved one. In the liturgy, we celebrate the life of faith of your loved one; we commend him/her to the Lord, we support and pray for all those who mourn and we seek strength in the promise of the Lord that He will not forget his own. In planning the Liturgy, you will need to:


  •  Provide your priest with some biographical information about your deceased loved one that will help him in preparing the funeral homily.


  •  Select the readings for the funeral Mass. Depending on the circumstances, you may decide to have either one or two readings before the gospel reading. You will find a large selection of suitable readings in the booklet that can be downloaded from this site or is available at the parish office.. But you are free to choose others. Should you decide to have two readings before the gospel, it is preferable to have a different reader for each.


  •  Select the responsorial psalm, which comes between the first and second reading. You will find a number of responsorial psalms in this booklet, but again, you are free to choose. In making your choice, you should take into account the Church’s recommendation that, if at all possible, the responsorial psalm should be sung.


  •  Choose or compose the general intercessions/prayers of the faithful which come after the homily. In the general intercessions we pray not only for the deceased and his/her family and friends but also for all the dead and those who mourn them, and the needs of the wider community. One or more family members should read the general intercessions.


  •  Choose family members or friends of the deceased to bring the gifts of bread and wine to the altar. You should keep in mind, though, that the presentation of the gifts is not the time to carry up personal memorabilia or symbols of the life of the deceased.   The best time is at the beginning of the Mass, during the final commendation and farewell.


  •  Choose the hymns and music for the funeral Mass. They hymns should be selected from those regularly sung during Sunday Mass, and should express our strong belief in the resurrection, which is the basis of Christian hope. They should not include favourite secular songs or music of the deceased, these are not appropriate for a funeral liturgy.


  •  If you decide to have say a few words in honour of your deceased loved one, there are a number of things to keep in mind. It should be short, no longer than 5 minutes; it should be delivered by a family member or close friend of the deceased; it should contain only words of tribute to the deceased and of thanks to those who have helped or supported the deceased’s family during this time; it should take place after communion, before the final commendation and farewell. If possible, it should be written out in full and a copy given to your priest beforehand. It is   important to note that many churches do not allow a eulogy to take place in the Mass.   If this is the case it could be done at the reception, before the Mass begins or at the grave-side.

Choosing Music & Hymns for a Funeral

Music and Hymns

It is a good to choose a gathering song, which is accessible for the entire congregation to sing. Instrumental music is preferable at the Presentation of the Gifts, though a hymn reflecting the action of presenting the gifts of bread and wine may be sung.

A communion hymn should be familiar and easy for the congregation to sing without undue reference to words, e.g. a song with a repetitive chorus.

When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances allow, a reflective hymn to assist silent prayer or a hymn of thanksgiving may be sung. The "Song of Farewell" may be sung during the sprinkling with holy water and incensing of the coffin. Otherwise this is done in silence.

The final hymn may be replaced with suitable instrumental music. If a hymn is chosen, it should speak of our faith in the resurrection and eternal life.

Other parts of the Mass such as the Gospel Acclamation, the Holy Holy, the Lamb of God and the Final Commendation should also be sung.

Choosing hymns or songs that were the deceased person’s favourites are often not appropriate for the occasion of mourning, or liturgical celebration and congregational participation. They may be more fitting to play and listen to at smaller, intimate gatherings to commemorate the person.


The King of Love My Shepherd Is 

We Will Rise Again


Responsorial     Psalms


Psalm 19: Lord, You Have the Words

Psalm 23: The Lord Is My Shepherd   

Psalm 23: Shepherd Me, O God

Psalm 25: To You, O Lord I Lift My Soul   

Psalm 27: The Lord Is My Light

Psalm 63: My Soul Is Thirsting   

Psalm 84: How Lovely Is Your Dwelling

Psalm 84: Happy Are They   

Psalm 103: The Lord Is Kind and Merciful

Psalm 116: I Will Walk in the Presence of God   

Psalm 130: With the Lord There Is Mercy


Gospel Acclamation and Eucharistic  



*Music chosen for the gospel acclamation and

the Eucharistic acclamations should be taken   

from the parish repertoire. The Pastor, Parish

Director or Pastoral Musician can assist with   

these selections.


Communion Songs/Processionals


Eat This Bread

Gift of Finest Wheat   

Here I Am, Lord

I Am the Bread of Life   

In the Breaking of the Bread

Keep In Mind   

Now We Remain

One Bread, One Body


The Vigil for the Deceased

*Any music that is appropriate for the funeral mass is also appropriate for the funeral vigil.       

Below are some that are particularly appropriate. The vigil would also be the time to incorporate a song that was significant to your loved one. Following are some suggestions for the various parts of the ceremony. But always talk over your suggestions with the  Priest, or the Funeral ministry team or the cantor/organist who will give you support.       


Amazing Grace

I Know That My Redeemer Lives      

Jesus Remember Me

Keep In Mind       

O God Our Help in Ages Past

We Walk By Faith       


The Funeral Mass (or Liturgy Outside Mass)


Gathering/Preparation/Concluding Songs


Alleluia! Sing To Jesus

Amazing Grace       

Be Not Afraid

Come To Me

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name       

How Great Thou Art       

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Jerusalem, My Happy Home       

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

Lift High the Cross       

On Eagle’s Wings       

Soon and Very Soon

You Are Mine

You Are Near 


Song of Farewell

*Music at this time should be taken from the text in the Funeral Rite, “The Song of Farewell.”

It may not be a psalm or other song that does not have the text from the “Song of Farewell.”


Saints of God Come to His/Her Aid, May the Angels Lead You Into Paradise


The Rite of Committal

Often, there is little or no music at the graveside or committal service. There may be a short, familiar refrain sung during the procession, or at the beginning or conclusion of the service.

Commonly Asked Questions about the Funeral

Commonly asked Questions


  •  Why do we celebrate the funeral rites?
    In the funeral rites we pray for the deceased, entrusting them to God's mercy and care.  We honour the body.  We comfort the living in their grief. We celebrate the funeral rites not only for the dead but also for the living.


  •  Is cremation permitted by the Catholic Church?
    Since 1963, the Church has permitted cremation as long as the Church's teaching on the resurrection of the body is upheld.


  •  How are the rites celebrated for someone who chooses cremation?
    The Church prefers that the body be present for the Funeral Liturgy and cremated following the Final Commendation of the Liturgy.  If there is a serious reason, it may be possible to celebrate the Funeral Liturgy in the presence of cremated remains.


  •  What rites can be used for miscarried or stillborn infants?
    "Funeral Rites may be celebrated for children whose parents intended them to be baptized but who died before Baptism.  In these celebrations the Christian community entrusts the child to God's all-embracing love." (Order of Christian Funeral #237)


  •  What rites can be used for a suicide victim?
    This person is entrusted to God's love and mercy and is therefore entitled to the usual Funeral Rites.


  •  What is done for a lapsed Catholic?
    By virtue of Baptism this person is entitled to the prayers of the Church including the Funeral Rites.


  •  What is the proper place for the Funeral Rites? The Vigil service is celebrated in the presence of the body either in the funeral home or the Parish Church the night before.  The Funeral Mass is always celebrated in the Church.  The Committal Rite is preferably celebrated at the grave or the tomb.










Commonly asked Questions about a Funeral Mass


1. Will the parish contact us? Yes. A member of the Funeral Ministry team will be in touch to offer support and help arrange the Funeral liturgies.


2. What types of decisions will we have to make? Generally, the family is asked to choose readings, to choose family members or friends to proclaim the readings or Prayers of the Faithful, to choose Gift Bearers, to offer musical suggestions and to choose whether or not to have someone offer Words of Remembrance about the deceased. If at any time you would appreciate our assistance in making these decisions, we will gladly help.


3. How do we let the priest know our choices? Along with this booklet, you will receive a form to be completed. A member of the Parish Funeral Ministry team will arrange a time to meet with you to help arrange the funeral ministries and communicate your wishes with the Priest..


4. Can we request a particular Parish Priest? Certainly. We will try to honour such requests, but circumstances may not make this always possible.


5. How do we choose the readings, who reads them and how many do we choose? In this booklet, you will find the selections for readings, psalms, Gospels and Prayers of the Faithful. Along with these selections, you will also find helpful suggestions and guidelines about the use of Sacred Scripture during a Funeral Mass.


6. Can someone bring up the gifts for Mass? Yes. Up to four people can bring forth gifts. We will provide these on a table by the middle pew. If no one is available to bring up the gifts, the Funeral Ministry team will make other arrangements.


7. How do we make suggestions for music? In this booklet, we provide particular guidelines and offer helpful suggestions about music. Please refer to this section for further details.


8. Can someone offer a Words of Remembrance? This is certainly possible, but you should not feel obliged to do so since the priest will offer a homily during the Mass. Sometimes people choose to offer such words at the wake, reception or burial. If they are to occur during the Funeral Mass, one person, either a family member or friend, can speak towards the end. It should be no longer than five minutes in length. and it is helpful to have these remarks written out. If you wish to go over them with the priest, he will be happy to assist the speaker. We suggest that these remarks reflect as much as possible the family’s gratitude for the witness of Christian Faith the deceased offered to them. Also, they should touch the hearts of all concerned, not merely the speaker. All remarks must maintain the dignity of the sacred ritual that we will participate in. Thus, remarks that are off-colour or tend to be long historical narratives are to be avoided.



9. Can we bring flowers into the Church and leave them as a donation?

            Certainly. However, we ask that no more than two floral pieces be brought in       because of the number of funerals we have. Please let the Funeral Director   know which floral pieces you want used. We thank you in advance for your           generosity which helps to leave a memorial for us in the parish.


10. Do we have to have a Mass? Not necessarily, but it is a privilege. There are provisions for a Funeral Liturgy without the celebration of the Eucharist. Particular circumstances may lead your family to choose this option. We suggest that you discuss this issue with the priest and he can help sort out any concerns your family might have.


11. What about the reception of Holy Communion? As mentioned, it is a privilege to share in the gift of the Eucharist and to be able to receive Holy Communion. It is also a sign of our faith and an expression of our unity as a Church. If there are people attending the Mass not prepared or able to receive Holy Communion as practicing Catholics, we wish to make them feel welcome. As such, the priest will invite those not receiving to come forward for a blessing.


12. Can you have a Funeral Mass for someone who has been cremated? Yes. Recent adaptations in both Church teaching and liturgical practice allow for the celebration of a Funeral Mass after cremation has occurred. However, it is desirable for the cremation to occur after the Funeral Mass or Service. The ashes (known as cremans) can be present in the Church and are honoured with similar respect and dignity offered to a deceased body. If you have further concerns, please let the funeral team know.


13. Are priests and deacons from outside the parish invited to participate? Yes. If you are aware of one who will be attending, please let us know. If you know of a priest who wishes to be the principal celebrant of the Funeral Mass, please let us know and we will be in contact with him ahead of time. Please know that we ask all visiting priests to follow the customs and guidelines of our parish.


14. Will the priest join us at the grave for the burial? It is our custom to attend the burial. However, there are circumstances that might keep the priest from being there. He will inform you ahead of time if this is the case and will make arrangements with the Funeral Ministry team for someone to lead the prayers at the grave side.