Communal Celebration of Baptism takes place quarterly on Baptismal Sunday at 1:30 PM in St. Mary's Church. Parents should call the rectory during pregnancy or immediately after birth of their child to make arrangements for the baptism and to register for the Baptism Preparation Program.
CELEBRATING BAPTISM OF CHILDREN
AT SAINT MARY’S CHURCH
THEOLOGY OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES
Baptism, as described in the New Testament and as focused by the Second Vatican Council, is a sacramental entrance into the People of Christ, the Church. Baptism is a sacrament of Christian Initiation and as such is received within the baptized community of the local church (parish). Through Baptism, a person enacts the death and resurrectin of the Lord Jesus Christ: the newly-baptized person dies to (original/personal) sin and is born again to new life (sanctifying grace) in Christ. The Christian life, begun in Baptism, is a spiritual journey during which the baptized person puts on Christ (baptismal robe) and undertakes the ongoing process of conversion to the light of the Gospel (baptismal candle) in the baptized community of the Church (parish) which is always ready to assist with its prayer, example, and care.
PASTORAL PRINCIPLES GOVERNING THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:
WHAT THE CHURCH PRACTICES:
1. The primordial feast of Christians is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ: Easter. Baptism, a celebration of this central event, is therefore placed during the vigil of Easter. During Lent, the process of conversion is emphasized and lived by the entire congregation, and especially by those to be baptized. In the case of children, the parents and the godparent(s) enter into this conversion. Besides the vigil of Easter, the Church also celebrates Baptism in a solemn way on Sundays throughout the year.
2. Because God calls each person to salvation through Christ within the baptized community of the Church, no individual who asks is refused Baptism.
3. When an infant or young child is presented for Baptism, it is the lived-faith of the parents that determines entrance into the baptismal process. It is presumed that the parents are practicing Catholics or at least willing to become so through a process of evangelization and on-going conversion to Christ and His Gospel. This conversion and the Catholic lifestyle of the parents constitute the fertile ground in which the seed of the infant’s Baptism grows as a Catholic Christian. The canons of the Church generally mention four marks of a practicing Catholic: (1) Sunday worship; (2) personal prayer; (3) Christian moral living, and (4) works of social justice and charity. If parents are found wanting in the lived-faith of a Catholic, Baptism of a child may be postponed until the parents’ conversion becomes visible to the baptized community (parish) and in particular to the priests. This is NOT a denial of Baptism but a postponement, during which the Church reaches out to assist parents so that their child can grow up in a home (domestic church) where Christ is known and loved. In this way parents become the first teachers of the faith for their children.
4. The celebration of Baptism is always communal. It takes place within the baptized community of the Church; and, except in the case of danger of death, is never received in private.
5. The process of initiation into the Christian life, begun in Baptism, is sustained through the reception/celebration of the other sacraments, especially Eucharist and Confirmation; in fact, full initiation into the Church is attained only with the reception of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Besides the celebration/ reception of these sacraments, and also the sacrament of Reconciliation/ Penance, the process of on-going conversion, integral to Christian life, is sustained through participation in the life of the Church: Sunday worship (Mass), personal prayer, Christian moral living, and works of social justice and charity. The family into which the infant is born must see to it that this Catholic Christian life-style is obvious each day, for without it the infant’s Baptism is a mere ritual.
6. The local Church (parish) assists the newly baptized and the family of the newly baptized through its prayer, example, and care — most especially as these are expressed each Sunday at worship (Mass) and in gestures of charity when individual or family is in need.
7. Godparents, who represent the local Church, should be Catholic, fully initiated into the Church themselves (having received Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) and be at least 16 years of age. A baptized member of a separated Christian community (Orthodox or Protestant), may act as a “Christian witness” provided the other godparent is Catholic.
8. Each person is given a name (biblical/Christian saint) at Baptism, which unfolds or symbolizes Christian life and provides a model for Christian living.
9. The sacrament of Baptism is celebrated according to the Rite of the Catholic Church as revised by the Second Vatican Council:
— Reception and naming/signing of children.
— Celebration of God’s Word.
— Celebration of the Sacrament including blessing of baptismal water, renunciation of sin/profession of faith, Baptism, anointing with chrism, clothing with white garment, presentation of lighted candle.
— Conclusion of the Rite.
10. The Baptism is recorded in the Parish Baptismal Register.
BAPTISM OF CHILDREN
AT SAINT MARY’S CHURCH
1. Every person who is presented for Baptism in our Parish Community will be baptized upon the completion of the Baptism Preparation Program.
2. Preferably during pregnancy or immediately after the birth, the parents of an infant to be baptized should phone the rectory to make an appointment with the pastor to discuss the Baptism. The priest may request that the Baptism be delayed until the parents of the infant-to-be-baptized are sufficiently evangelized.
3. Parents and godparents participate in the Baptism Preparation Program which consists of one two-hour session prior to the Baptism. The sacrament of Baptism and its implications for parents and godparents are presented during the session.
4. At. St. Mary’s Church, Baptism is celebrated on selected “Baptismal Sundays” throughout the liturgical year. The Rite for the Baptism of Several Children takes place in a communal celebration at 1:30PM in St. Mary’s Church; on Easter Sunday it takes place during the 12:10PM Mass.
5. The godparent(s), if not from our parish, must obtain a letter from their parish which attests that they are practicing Catholics and thus capable of fulfilling this role. This letter must be presented to our Pastor or Deacon at the Baptismal Preparation Program.
6. Our parish community, especially through our pastoral staff, supports the newly baptized person in the following ways:
— Our Pastoral Staff prays for the newly baptized.
— Through our Human Services/Social Concerns Commission, we endeavor to reach out to the family when in need.
— Each Sunday we gather for Family Mass-with-Children at 10:00AM at St. Mary’s Church.
— Special holy days and holidays present times for thanking God for His special blessings and celebrating these blessings with a party.
— Most importantly, each year we gather together on Pentecost Sunday, known as “New Parishioner’s Sunday”, to honor all of our newly- baptized in addition to those families who have joined our Parish Community during the past year.
7. An offering on behalf of the baptized person by the family or the godparent(s) is presented to the celebrant of the Baptism for the upkeep of the church and its charitable works.