Policies and Preparation for Baptism
We welcome and celebrate the entry of a child in to the Church through the healing waters of baptism. This is a great sacrament, the only one in which our Lord had done to himself. Thus, it is truly a great event. Children who are under the age of 7 may be baptized at the request of their parents, with a small amount of preparation. Some policies on baptism of children and infants are as follows:
1) Parents are generally asked to request baptism for their children as soon as possible. Ideally, the preparation for baptism should be done before the birth of the child themselves. Those parents who wish to have their child baptized should talk to the pastor or call the parish office.
Baptism generally consists of the parents (ideally, both parents) coming to the pastor for two different preparation classes. In these classes, parents are informed on what the nature of baptism is, what the Catholic Church teaches about baptism, and what their expectations are in regard to raising their child in following his baptismal call. Both of these classes typically last about 45 minutes each.
In order to have children baptized, it is the expectation that parents will then raise their children in the Catholic faith, so as to allow them to fulfill the requirements of this baptism. Those parents who have been inactive in their faith may have to show that the child will in fact be raised Catholic. It is not required that both parents be active Catholics, and strictly speaking it is not required that either of them be Catholic, as long as it is shown that there is someone who will help to raise them in the Church.
It is generally the policy that children are baptized within the context of a weekend mass. Because the baptism means that the child is now entering into the Catholic Church, it is only appropriate that the parish community is there to witness this event, share in the joy, and understand that they have a role in the spiritual life of this child.
Baptism requires that the child should have a Godmother and a Godfather. These should ideally be people who will be present during the raising of this child, in order to encourage them in their faith, and to be a model of Catholic Christian living for the child as he/she grows up. Essentially, a godparent should be a person who is 16 years or older, who themselves have been confirmed in the Catholic Church, is living their Catholic faith, and is in full communion with the Catholic Church. For further information on who may qualify as a godparent, you may check the Vatican website page on this question, at:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2Y.HTM , or check
http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu82.htm for further details.
If there is a danger of death, whether for a child or for an adult, it is possible for baptism to be received in a more expedited way, or if necessary, even immediately. If you are the parent of such a child, please contact a priest immediately.
For those parents who have, for whatever reason, delayed the baptism of their child, we still welcome you and encourage this baptism as their entry into the church. Preparation for young children is essentially the same as that for infants.
If a child is over the age of 7, they cannot be baptized simply at the request of the parents, but are rather typically required to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC). This genrally begins around September, and continues with the reception of Baptism (as well as Eucharist and Confirmation) on Easter vigil. See the pastor for further information on this if it is needed.