Baptism of Infants at the Sacred Heart.
The sacrament of Baptism is the beginning of our initiation into the life of Christ and His Church. When the child is brought by his/her family to the parish church formally for the first time, to celebrate the sacrament, he/she becomes a member of that wider Christian family which takes its whole being and meaning from the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection. Along with its parents and the Christian commmunity, the child becomes a disciple of Christ.
Below are sum frequently asked questions which parents are likely to ask. Some of the answers may lead to further questions, in which case the priest will be happy to discuss them with you.
Baptism is a solemn moment in the life of a child, a moment of new birth, and should be celebrated within the first few weeks of the child’s life. This is a matter of Church Law, not parish policy.
Parents are obliged to see that the infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and be themselves prepared for it.
What day and time?
Because Baptism is an initiation into the mystery of Christ and his Church, and because Sunday is the Lord’s Day, when the Christian community gathers to celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection, Baptisms should take place, ideally, at Sunday Mass.
How do we arrange the Baptism?
Arrangements differ from parish to parish. In this parish the Priest will offer to visit you in your home, and after that you will also receive a visit from two of the members of our Baptism Preparation team, who will help you prepare for the ceremony itself.
How many Godparents may we have?
This is determined by Church Law.
One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient, but there may be two, one of each sex. (Canon 872)
Church law speaks of sponsors, not godparents. The sponsor has a specific role, to help the newly baptised become initiated into the life of the Church.
The role of the sponsor is to present the child for baptism along with its parents, and to live a christian life befitting the baptised and fulfil the duties inherent in baptism.
Can anyone be a Godparent?
Once again Church law determines the answer to this question. The sponsor must be someone who is capable of fulfilling the role of the sponsor. So the sponsor must be
Not less than sixteen years of age
A Catholic who has been confirmed and received the Blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken.
In other words he or she must be a ‘practising’ catholic.
Must not be the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.
Can a non-Catholic be a Godparent (sponsor) then?
Members of the Church of England and other Christian ecclesial communities may be ‘Christian Witnesses’ to the Baptism, but only in company with a Catholic godparent/sponsor who fulfils the criteria above.
In no circumstances can a non-baptised person fulfil the role of sponsor or Christian Witness.
‘I don’t go to church. Can I have my baby baptised?’
Weekly participation at the Sunday Eucharist is not an optional extra for someone who has been baptised into the Catholic Church. It is a ‘non-negotiable’ consequence of being initiated into the life of Christ. In normal circumstances a child is baptised on the basis that at least one parent practises their faith. Before the priest can baptise a child, there must be a realistic hope that the child will be brought up in the practice of the Catholic faith. (Canon 868). If such hope is lacking then the baptism may be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.
If you should be in this situation do get in touch with the priest as soon as possible after the birth of your child and ask to discuss your situation with him.