Only a person who has never been baptized in any valid religion can be baptized (c. 864). If you have any question about the validity of a certain religion’s baptism or the manner in which the person was baptized, please contact the Office of Canonical Services at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
AGE OF PERSON
Adult - (over the age of 7) person manifests the intention to be baptized, has been instructed sufficiently, and has been tested through the RCIA process (c. 865).
Infant - (Under the age of 7) the parents (or legal guardians) request the baptism for their child (c. 867). Each parish has their own baptismal preparation classes which should be followed. Please follow the baptismal preparation classes we offer here in our parish. If the parents are preparing for the birth of a child, we highly recommend for the parents to meet with the instructor even before the birth of the child. Please contact the parish office and set a date for the baptism.
A child of non-practicing Catholics may be baptized if the pastor/deacon believes there is founded hope that the child will be instructed in the Catholic religion (c. 868). A child may be baptized even if only one of the parents request it.
If there are to be two godparents, then one must be male and the other female (not two of the same sex) (c. 873); only one is required. The maximum number of godparents is two. The godparents must be Catholic (either Latin Rite or Eastern Rite), over the age of 16, confirmed and practicing the Catholic religion (c. 874, 1). A person of the Orthodox faith may be a godparent as long as there is also a Catholic godparent.
A non-Catholic may be a witness to the baptism but is not a godparent (c.874.2). There can be godparents and witnesses at the same baptism, but only the names of the godparents are recorded.
BAPTISM NOT ADMINISTERED BY THE PASTOR
On occasion, a baptism will occur within the parish boundaries without the knowledge of the pastor. If this occurs, the pastor should be notified as soon as possible so that the fact of the baptism can be recorded.
At other times the pastor will provide permission for a baptism to take place within his parish for various reason; for example: the parents may not be members of this parish, but their grandparents are and the parents wish to have the baptism done there, or the parents wish to bring in another priest to perform the baptism. If the priest is unknown to the pastor, he should present his letter of good standing and celebrate (as required by the USCCB). In such a case, the recording of the baptism is done as noted below.
The recording of the baptisms is a fundamental and necessary part of the parish work. All other sacraments hinge on whether baptism was conferred validly. The reception of the sacraments of Confirmation, Matrimony, and Holy Orders are also registered at the parish of Baptism so that all sacraments which affect the juridical status (married/annulled) or ontological nature (confirmed, received Holy Orders) of the person are in one place.
At times an emergency baptism must be administered in the hospital immediately after the birth of the child. In these cases, anyone (whether Catholic or not) may baptize the person. It is validly done by pouring water on the child and repeating the Trinitarian formula at the same time. The use of the active tense is required; i.e. “I baptize you, N., in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Legal Guardians as Godparents:
Although there is nothing in canon law regarding the inability of a child’s legal guardian being his/her godparent at baptism, it seems that since a godparent is one who assists the parents in raising the child in the Catholic Faith, the guardian cannot be the godparent. Therefore, other suitable godparents should be named.
The Use of Proxies for Godparents:
At times the godparents are unable to be present at the baptism, and proxies are used. In these cases, the names of the actual godparents are to be recorded on the baptismal register and the baptismal certificate. The names of the proxies should be noted on the baptismal register.
“Change” of Godparents requested:
At times parents have a ‘falling-out’ with the godparents, or the godparents no longer practice their Catholic Faith, so the parents wish to ‘change’ the names of the godparents to reflect the new reality. Parents are free to ask others to assume the role of godparent in a child’s life, but the names of the godparents cannot be changed in the baptismal register. One of the things godparents do is to provide verification of baptism in case something happens to the baptismal register. A person who was not physically present at the baptism cannot provide that verification.
ISSUING BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATES
A baptismal certificate is issued upon the receipt of the Sacrament of Baptism, and is given to the parents (for an infant) or to the adult. Any request for a baptismal certificate should be completed ‘with notations’ - meaning all sacraments received, including any notations regarding marriage and annulment. These requests come from parishes/individuals when a person is getting married. They also come from Marriage Tribunals to establish the fact of baptism and marriage in an annulment case. At times, one party may request the baptismal certificate for their former spouse (please call the Tribunal before issuing it.) Either the pastor or the parish secretary may sign the baptismal certificate. For the children who were adopted prior to baptism, no mention of the fact of adoption is to be on the baptismal certificate. For children who were adopted after being baptized, the certificate includes the names of the adoptive parent(s), the child’s new legal name, the date and place of baptism, and the minister’s name. The names of the sponsors are not to be listed, and no mention of the fact of adoption shall be made on the baptismal certificate.