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.
Because of this, the sacrament is taken very seriously in the Church.
We believe that Baptism is a sacrament, an action of Jesus Christ
in his Church.
What Baptism does for your child
In this sacrament:
Jesus Christ forgives original sin.
Opens the gates of heaven for us.
Welcomes us into his Church.
Makes us sons and daughters of God.
The ceremony of Baptism assumes a well-founded hope
that you will bring your child up in the practice of the faith.
This means that you will:
Teach your child to pray.
Teach your child to lead a good Christian life.
Come to Mass on Sundays.
Teach your child the Catholic faith.
Dates for baptism will normally be agreed
after the completion of the preparatory programme
in order to provide opportunities for discussion of any queries,
and resolution of any issues that might arise.
While “the faith required for (adult) Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith”, it is “a beginning that is called to develop.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1253)
Parents need a faith which is mature if they are to pass it on to their children and this programme is aimed at assisting parents
(and godparents) to reflect maturely on their faith.
For infant baptism, parents must be practising Catholics
attending Mass every Sunday in order that there be
“a realistic hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion.
If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is ... to be deferred
and the parents advised of the reason for this.” (Code of Canon Law 868)
Godparents “must be firm believers,
able and ready to help the newly-baptised – child or adult – on the road of Christian life.”
Only “a catholic who has been confirmed
and has received the blessed Eucharist and who lives a life of faith
befitting the role to be undertaken” (Code 874)
(i.e. only a practising Catholic)
may be admitted as a godparent.
The parish priest will advise as to the suitability of a proposed godparent.
A baptised member of a non-catholic community
(e.g. Church of England or other Christian denomination)
may not be a godparent at the baptism of a Catholic but may stand
as a witness as long as there is a Catholic godparent.
Note that a Catholic may not be godparent to a non-Catholic child or adult but may be a witness together with the non-Catholic godparent.
“Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised
within the first few weeks.
As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it,
they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.” (Code 867)
Since Baptism is never a private affair but entry into the family of the Church, your child might well be baptised with other children.
Baptisms will normally take place once a month on a Sunday
outside of Lent. Some may occur during one of the Sunday Masses
in the presence of the parish community.
During the Baptism there are various ceremonies that the priest will explain. If you have a white shawl, this will be used as a part of the ceremony.
A candle is also given as a sign of the resurrection of Jesus.
The Church will provide this.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the Catholic Church in England, there is no fee for the Baptism.
It is however appropriate to make an offering.
You can give this in an envelope to the priest at the time of the Baptism.
If you cannot afford anything,
it does not matter and nobody will be offended.
How soon should I have my child baptised?
Children should be baptised within the first weeks after birth.
Arrangements can even be made before the child is born.
(The priest will then also be able to give the blessing
for an expectant mother and pray for the safe delivery of the child.)
It is wrong to put off the Baptism
simply in order to have a more elaborate celebration party afterwards.
It is better to have the Baptism sooner
and make the celebrations more simple.
I am not married. Can my child be baptised?
Yes. A child may be baptised so long as there is a well-founded hope
that they will be brought up in the practice of the Catholic faith.
If you have any questions about marriage in the Catholic Church,
please ask the priest because there are often misunderstandings
in this area.
Can I have my child baptised in the parish if I don't reside here?
Yes, if you regularly come to Mass here.
If you are not coming to Mass,
you need to decide which will be the church you are going to
The baptism will be delayed until such a time as the Parish priest
is satisfied that you are serious about the ongoing practice of your faith.
It will usually be more appropriate (and more convenient)
for you to start going to Mass at your local parish
and to arrange the Baptism there.
Regular (weekly) attendance at Sunday Mass
(except for illness or other similar reason) on your part is assumed
as this is an obligation you will be imposing upon your child
in having him/her baptised.
How many Godparents should we have?
The Church’s Canon Law states that there should be one or two Godparents.
If there are two, they should be a Godfather and a Godmother.
Who can be Godparents?
Godparents must be Practising Catholics over 16 years of age
who themselves regularly come to Mass, and have been Confirmed.
They must also be living a life of faith which befits the role
to be to be undertaken.
The parish priest can advise as to the suitability of individual candidates
for the role of godparent.
What about non-Catholics?
Alongside a Catholic Godparent,
a non-Catholic who is a baptised Christian may stand as a Christian witness.
Neither I nor my spouse is Catholic.
Can our child/children be baptised Catholics?
Only if one of the parents decides to become a Catholic themselves.
This is a process which involves prayer, instruction
and sharing in the life of the Catholic community over several months
The most appropriate conclusion to this process is for the family to be baptised together.
Please ask the priest for further details
Baptisms will usually take place once a month on a Sunday.