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

Siblings

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.

Photography

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.