The Sacrament of Baptism - Why?
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Baptizing Your Child At
St. Joseph Church – Bread of Life Community
Baptism Program Overview
Congratulations on the birth of your baby! The parish of St. Joseph Church, Bread of Life Community rejoices with you and your family. We are privileged that you have chosen our parish community for your child’s baptism. This is the first step in your child’s journey of faith. As your parish staff and your parish community, we are committed to making the celebration of the sacrament of baptism very special and meaningful for you and your family. We are also committed to helping in anyway as you’re bringing your child up in the faith.
Summary of Steps for Having Your Child Baptized:
1. Complete and return the Online Baptism Registration Form.
2. Call to confirm your baptism date at 814-452-2982.
3. Call the parish office to make arrangements to attend a Baptism class. Baptism is the beginning of the journey of faith for your child. Through Baptism, your child becomes part of our faith community in the Catholic Church. Through your teaching example, your child will grow to become a follower of Christ and an active member of the church. This is why we have a special program to prepare parents and godparents and to help them raise their consciousness about this important responsibility. This is only necessary for your first child baptized here.
Age of Infant Baptism
Parents should see to it that their children are baptized within a reasonable period after birth. Arrangements for baptism should be made as soon as possible after birth, or even before birth. Once children have reached the age of reason (usually first grade), they would enter the Religious Education program to prepare for the sacraments of initiation, including baptism.
"Let the children come to me and do not hinder them. It is to just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." (Mark 10:14)
Requirements for Parents
1. At least one parent must be a Catholic.
2. Attend the Baptism Class which we offer here at St. Joseph Church. Parents may attend a class at another parish (please provide a certificate of completion).
Requirements for Godparents
(Please read carefully)
When a child or an adult is to be baptized, he or she must have at least one godparent or sponsor (the terms are interchangeable). It is customary for children to have two godparents. When there are two, one must be male and the other female. Godparents must meet all of the following criteria, which are established by universal Church law and which do not vary from place to place. Godparents must:
(a) be Catholic
(b) have been baptized, confirmed and receive Communion
(c) be 16 or older
(d) must be living a life consistent with their own baptismal vows.
This means that they must be practicing the faith, cannot be engaging in notorious sin, and cannot have taken public positions in opposition to Catholic faith or morals. If a sponsor is married, their marriage must be recognized by the Church. In general, if a potential sponsor is not a member of the parish where the baptism is to take place, he or she must obtain a letter or certificate from their own pastor which affirms that they meet the above requirements.
People sometimes object to the requirements for a sponsor. They argue that parents should have freedom to choose the sponsor of a child who is to be baptized. In order to understand the Church's position, several points must be kept in mind.
Baptism is not a private act. It is a public, official liturgy of the Church and welcomes someone into the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Church has the duty and obligation to require reasonable criteria for being a sponsor. The sponsor is to assist the parents and the child in living a Catholic life. In order to do so, the sponsor needs to provide good example of living that life. A person who is not Catholic, or who is not living in a way consistent with the faith, obviously cannot provide the example that is part of the task of being a godparent. The role of godparent is a role of service done in the name of the Church, and the person who is a sponsor should be capable of performing that service.
If there is one godparent, Church law does permit, but does not encourage, the appointment of one 'Christian witness' to the baptism ceremony. This witness must be a baptized, upright, non-Catholic Christian. This 'Christian witness' takes part in the ceremony but is not a godparent. A former Catholic, a non-baptized person, or someone who does not live a virtuous Christian life can never be a Christian witness.