This information has been provided to help parents understand the process of having their child baptized into the Catholic Church. We have included guidelines and some frequently asked questions, which will be helpful with the preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism here at St Clare's Parish. Please read this information carefully. If you have any question please do not hesitate to contact one of the Priests at St Clare's, who will be more than happy to help you.
This information can also be downloaded as a PDF document below:
This booklet has been provided to help parents understand the process of having their child baptized into the Catholic Church. We have included guidelines and some frequently asked questions,
The Sacrament of Baptism
This booklet has been provided to help parents understand the process of having their child baptized into the Catholic Church. We have included guidelines and some frequently asked questions,...
Introduction & Prayer
As parents of a new baby or a baby eagerly awaited, the responsibility and wonder you sense is something we want to celebrate with you as you bring your child to the Church for the Sacrament of Baptism. Our parish family is very happy to have a new member already here or on the way. Your child is important to our community as he/she will bring new life to you and to our Church.
Like all parents you hope to give your child all that is best for them, so that your child will grow to be a good and complete human being, achieving their God given potential and fullness of life. This will include a desire for your child to share in the life of Christ as a member of the Church. As you are aware the first step to sharing in the life of Christ and his Church is Baptism.
Baptism is a wonderful gift to offer your child. Through this Sacrament, your child will be incorporated into the Body of Christ and become a member of our household of faith, here at St Clare's. In your home, we hope your child will come to know, love and serve God. The following guidance is our way of assisting you and your child on your journey of faith in the Catholic Church.
We must point out that Baptism is not simply a "naming ceremony" or even just a blessing for a new baby. It is the beginning of the Christian life and the gateway to eternal life. It is our intention that this booklet will help you to understand this more fully and equip you to be able to decide if you wish your child to be baptised here at St Clare's
The Parish of St Clare's looks forward to welcoming your new arrival into our community of faith.
Lord we ask that you be with our family and send your Holy Spirit to help us to make the right decision for our child with regard to baptism. We also ask that you help us to be an example to our child through our faith journey.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen
What is the Sacrament of Baptism?
First a sacrament is a means by which God comes into our lives to deepen our relationship with him. The Church recognizes seven sacraments, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Marriage, Ordination, Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation. The seven sacraments touch all stages and all the important moments of the Christian life.
First let us look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the sacraments:
"Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify." (1084)
"Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies." (1127)
We believe Jesus himself gave us each of the sacraments and each one flows from his life and ministry. Through each sacrament we are given the grace of God and drawn closer to him. Each sacrament is a visible sign of God's unconditional love for us. A visible sign where God comes to us, enters into our life and brings us closer to him through his grace.
Baptism is always the first sacrament to be administered and as such is often referred to as the "gateway to the sacraments" because Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God's people. Baptism as the first sacrament pardons all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness, and brings us to the dignity of adopted children, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence we are called and indeed we are the children of God.
Before we begin to discuss the baptismal process, we would like you to have an understanding of the symbols of Baptism: sign of the cross, water, oil, white garment, and candle. This is so that when the time comes to begin preparation for your child's baptism, you will have a better understanding of how these symbols relate to this very important sacrament.
Sign of the cross
The sign of the cross is traced on your child's forehead; this is the moment when the Church in the name of Jesus Christ welcomes your child.
Water is a symbol of both life and death. When we are baptised we are baptised into the death of Jesus, we die with him upon the cross. When Jesus dies so do sin and death. Our baptism does not end in death but continues in life. As Jesus is raised from the dead by the Father and given new life, so are we through the waters of baptism, raised to life in Jesus Christ. The water of baptism washes away original sin and makes us a new creation.
During the Sacrament of Baptism your child will be anointed twice with oil, the first anointing is with the oil of the catechumens. A 'catechumen' is somebody who is preparing to become a Christian, and so this oil is used to accompany the Rite of Baptism. Anointing at Baptism is a symbol which points to the gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes to the newly baptized person as it did upon Christ at His Baptism in the Jordan. In Baptism we are "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5), the Holy Spirit which is the gift of Christ to His Church. Then there is the second anointing this anointing also reminds us at Baptism that we are made inheritors of the Kingdom of God. The head of the person is anointed with the oil of Chrism. (Kings and Queens are anointed at their coronations.) Holy Chrism is the oil used to anoint people at their Confirmation, and is also used to anoint priests at their Ordination. It is also used in the consecration of altars and Church buildings. 'Consecration' means making holy or setting apart for God's purposes. It differs from the other oils in that it alone is not pure olive oil. A scented balsam is mixed with the oil to make the Chrism.
Once we have been claimed for Christ through the water of life, we are clothed in a white garment. This white garment, the Church, tells us is an outward sign of our Christian dignity. Once we have put on Christ, we are to always walk as His followers.
The light of Christ is passed on to us in the form of a lit candle, which is lit from the Paschal candle that was blessed at the Easter Vigil. We are called to be the light of Christ in the world, and we are asked by the Church to keep that light burning brightly.
As with all things Christian, God chooses the ordinary things of this world, and by His Grace makes them Holy. He then uses them to make His presence felt in the world. He does this when through the Holy Water of the font He gives new and eternal life to His people. He does this supremely when He takes the bread and wine at the hands of a priest and returns them as the Body and Blood of Christ. He does this when, by the means of Holy Oils, He pours His healing and life- giving Spirit into the Church and upon her members.
Now that you have the basic understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism and the associated symbols, we would like to cover some frequently asked questions.
Some frequently asked questions
If after reading this information you feel ready to present your child to the Church for baptism please fill in our online form on the next page or see one of the priests after Mass. Once your form has been submitted one of the priests will contact you to make an appointment for you to come and discuss your child's Baptism. After the initial meeting with one of the priests and on acceptance onto the Baptism Preparation Course one of our baptism preparation team will be in contact with you to confirm the details of the next course dates and times.
With all our best wishes and prayers during this important time in your family's life.
Baptism Request Form
Who can be a godparent and how many can we have?
The choice of godparents is important, as these will be the people who support you bringing up your child in the Catholic faith. A godparent represents the Catholic Church, and then serves as the role model for your child by living a fully Christian life, providing a lifelong example of Christian living, encouraging your child in the experience of our Catholic faith. Therefore the godparents should be people whose faith lends itself to this living example.
There are usually two godparents, but there must be one and no more than two will be permitted. If two godparents are desired, one must be male and the other female and if there is one this can be either male or female. According to Canon Law, the law governing the Catholic Church, godparents must be at least 16 years of age, practicing Catholics and should have received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation, meaning they are fully initiated into the Catholic Church, and be living a life in harmony with the Catholic faith.
There are occasions when it is permitted to have one Catholic Godparent and a Christian witness at Baptisms. A Christian witness must be a practicing baptized member of another Christian denomination accepted by the Catholic Church.