The Sacrament of Baptism

Pope Francis in an address on Jan. 10, 2016, marking the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, asked the crowd, “I ask you a question: who among you remembers the day of their baptism?” Of course many of us don’t remember our own baptism – let alone the date. But as the Pope notes, it’s the most important day of our lives because “it's the date of our rebirth as children of God.”  READ MORE

As with all things, one must start at the beginning.  Such is the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism, for it is the gateway to all other Sacraments. We believe as Catholics that the sacraments are a real encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus who meets us where we are and transforms our lives by His grace.

To learn more about Baptism, and which program towards this Sacrament applies to you, choose one of the following: 

Baptism of Children Ages 0 - 7 years 
Baptism of Youth Ages 8 - 17 years.  READ MORE
Baptism of Adults 18+ READ MORE

A special note for parents:  First and foremost, congratulations on your decision to have your child baptized in the Catholic faith.  Parents who are seeking to have their child baptized at St. Mary Cathedral – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Holy Redeemer Parish, and St. Thomas Aquinas parish are required to be properly prepared for both living out the commitment they are making to raise their baptized child in the Catholic faith and for being able to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism with a clear understanding of the Sacrament. 

A special note for adults seeking to enter the Catholic Faith:  You have made a beautiful decision in your personal and spiritual journey. You will gain preparation and enrichment through a period of formation known as RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and this will be of importance in preparing you to live out your commitment to the Catholic faith. READ MORE
 

The Importance of Sacramental Formation and How to Begin...

The Diocese of Gaylord and St. Mary Cathedral require that parents be properly formed and prepared for both living out the commitment they are making to raise their baptized child in the Catholic faith and for being able to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism with understanding. The first step is to contact the Parish Office  989.732.5448.  The exception of course is in extreme, life and death circumstances where there is no time for preparation and formation.

First and foremost, all parents must make note that in order for your child to be baptized at St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas, you must have completed our preparation process (3 phases) After the period of formation and preparation, you may then schedule your child's Baptism, provided that all required documentation is received. Baptismal preparation at St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer, or St. Thomas Aquinas is required for the first child to be baptized at these parishes. For example:  if your first child was baptized somewhere else and now you wish you have your second child baptized here you are still required to go through the formation process with us.

For parents who are NOT parishioners and wishing to baptize their children here, it is required that they submit proof of attendance of baptism preparation classes in their parish. This proof MUST come from their Pastor by way of a letter of completion.
 

What is Baptism Preparation like at the Cathedral Parish?

First phase: Initial contact

The Baptism preparation process begins with contacting the Parish Office. The initial contact is meant to answer all your questions about the baptism preparation process, especially those questions that are specific to your family circumstances.

During the initial contact parent(s) fill out a registration form and sign-up for phase 2 and phase 3. Before coming in for your initial visit, we recommend you read through the FAQs on Baptism so that you can truly maximize the experience of the initial visit by being further informed. 

Second phase: Online series

The online series on Baptism is offered through FORMED.org.  FORMED can easily be accessed by using our parish login code. LOGIN TO FORMED. The series consists of three sessions (video with follow-up questions). The ‘Reborn’ series can be completed at any time just as long as all three sessions have been completed before the one baptismal class. The best way to complete each session is for the parents to watch together and then take some time afterwards for discussion. Be sure to write down any questions you may have and bring those to phase three.

Third phase: Baptism Formation Encounters

Part of the formation process is an encounter or meeting between the parents and a member of the Parish staff (Fr. Don, Fr. Tyler, or Jeff Crane). Other parents will more than likely also be present at these meetings so it will be an opportunity for the parent(s) to meet other parents, to get to know a member of the Cathedral staff, and to share in a small group setting their faith journey. The classes are informal and discussion based, allowing each parent time to delve deeper into the mysteries of our faith – the sacraments. Godparents are also highly encouraged to attend. The hope is that this third phase ought to give the parents and Godparents and opportunity and a forum to ask whatever questions they may have and to connect with the Parish.

Schedule:
A Baptism Formation Encounter is offered one Saturday a month at St. Mary Cathedral at both 1pm and 6:15pm. Meetings are held in Meeting Room A in the Cathedral. Sessions will normally last one hour.

Current Baptism Preparation Session Dates (2017-2018):
2017:  July 8, August 5, September 2, October 7, November 4, December 2
2018:  January 6, February 3, March 3, April 7, May 5, June 2

After parent(s) have completed all three phases, they can then contact the Baptism Coordinator 989.732.5448 to schedule their child's Baptism.


Scheduling the Rite of the Sacrament of Baptism

The celebration of the sacraments are always a joyous occasion in the Church because it is in the sacraments that we encounter the Risen Lord and are transformed by His grace. The celebration of Baptism is a solemn ritual of the Church that should be celebrated with dignity, solemnity, and with the full, conscious and active participation of the faithful. Sunday is first day of the week, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death and sin forever. That is why Sunday is the most fitting day to celebrate Baptism – when we died with Christ and rise with Him to new life. So as a rule baptisms are celebrated in our parishes only on Sundays (or Saturday evening which is the vigil of Sunday). Baptism can be celebrated either during or after Mass. There can also only be one celebration of Baptism on any given day in any parish which highlights the importance of gathering as a community.

Schedule:
ST. MARY CATHEDRAL

  • Baptism during MassThe 2nd Sunday of each month during either the 9am or 11am Mass (Baptism will be offered at only one of the Sunday Masses).
  • Baptism after Mass The 3rd Sunday of each month after the 11am Mass.
     

HOLY REDEEMER PARISH and ST. THOMAS AQUINAS PARISH
Baptism during or after Mass by appointment

 

Role of Godparents

"Whenever a person is baptized, as an infant, as a child, or as an adult, there should be at least one person present who will act as sponsor for the one being baptized. The sponsor, commonly referred to as one's godmother or godfather, accepts the responsibility of helping the person grow in the Catholic faith. One who acts as a sponsor for an infant or child agrees to help the parents teach their child about the faith and how to live as a practicing Catholic."  - U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, Ch. 15.

Qualifications for the Role of a Catholic Godparent (also known as a Sponsor)

SPONSOR FORM

  1. Only one Godfather or one Godmother or one of each (Canon 873).
  2. To help the baptized person, together with the parents, lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it. (Canon 872).
    1. A mature Catholic who will establish a lifelong faith relationship and be willing to walk with the child in their faith journey.
    2. A Catholic role model for the child.
  3. A Catholic who is at least 16 years old (Canon 874, §1, 2°) and has received already the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life in harmony with the faith in keeping with the role to be undertaken (Canon 874, §1, 3°) and is not bound by any canonical penalty (Canon 874, §1, 4°)
    1. That is to say he or she ought to be a practicing Catholic who attends Mass regularly, participates in the sacramental life of the Church, and is part of the life of a Catholic parish community.
    2. If the Godparent is married, the marriage must be a valid and recognized marriage in the Catholic Church.
  4. Cannot be the father or mother of the one to be baptized (Canon 874, §1, 5°).
  5. Only with a Catholic Godparent can a baptized, non-Catholic person serve as a Christian witness of the baptism (Canon 874, §2).
  6. A Catholic who lacks the requirements to be a Godparent or a Catholic who is now practicing a non-Catholic faith cannot serve as a Christian witness.
  7. For a Catholic Godparent who is not a parishioner of St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish a letter from the potential Godparent’s pastor is required. It is called a ‘Letter of Good Standing.’ The Godparent asks his/her pastor for a letter stating that he/she meets all the qualifications for the role of a Catholic Godparent (sponsor).
 

The following section attempts to answer many of the frequently asked questions concerning the Baptismal Rite as it relates to children who have not yet reached the age of discretion (physically and cognitively) - the Catholic Church determines that the age of discretion is 7 years old (a point when the child is capable of making morally responsible choices).  If your child is older than 7 cognitively and physically, then your child should go through the RCIA for Children process to obtain the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist).  If you are an adult seeking the Sacrament of Baptism, then you will be pursuing the rewarding path yourself through the RCIA formation process. 

Note, these are merely those questions which get asked most frequently.  While great care was taken to address the various questions below, it is by no means comprehensive. We encourage you to prepare a list of questions for your Initial Visit.

Can I have my child baptized if I am not a registered parishioner at St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish?

Yes. You don’t have to be registered at the parish, especially if you live out of the Gaylord area (Otsego County), but still have some connection to our parishes. However, if you do live in the area we do ask that you consider registering with the parish office. It helps all of us to get to know each other better and be part of the Catholic community.

How much does it cost to baptize my child?

The Church does not charge for any sacramental celebration. Families may donate to the parish to help cover any of the incidental costs of the preparation and celebration of Baptism. Any donations given directly to the priest after the celebration of baptism will be directed to the parish unless otherwise specified.

When should parents contact the Parish Office about baptism for their child?

We invite parents to schedule their initial visit with the parish staff as early as possible in the pregnancy. Participating in the preparation process during pregnancy allows appropriate time to discern whether baptism should or should not be celebrated once the child is born. Remember that the cornerstone of the Baptism process is the concept that there exists a basis of hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith.

Are parents required to participate in all three phases of formation before their children are baptized?

Parents are to be properly prepared for living out the commitment they are making (i.e., to raise their child in the Catholic faith) and for being able to celebrate the Sacrament with understanding as to its impact, beauty, significance, and nature. Therefore, parents are required to make every effort to make the time of formation before Baptism a privileged moment by sacrificing some time. If you have any concerns about the commitment of formation and preparation do not hesitate to contact the

Are both parents required to attend phase three of the formation process?

It is an awesome opportunity for both parents to be present and go through the formation process together as part of living out the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We would hope that the parents would make every effort to go through this formation process with an open mind and heart. If there are any extraordinary circumstances, please contact us at the Parish Office.

Are godparents/sponsors required to attend baptism preparation classes before their godchild is baptized?

The role of a godparent/sponsor is very valuable in the Christian formation of a baptized child. Therefore, godparents/sponsors must be prepared in order to fulfill their roles in the Baptismal Rite and in assisting the parents in their duties of raising the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. We highly recommend and strongly encourage that the godparent/sponsor attend the Baptism Formation Encounters; but this is not required. There is a lesson for godparents available at Formed.org.

I am to be a godparent at another church that requires classes. Can I take godparent classes at St. Mary Cathedral?

Because St. Mary Cathedral does not require its godparents to attend classes we do not offer godparent classes. However, parishioners are welcome to go through the online course and attend one of our Baptism Formation Encounters after which you will be provided with a "Certificate of Completion" to be presented to an outside parish.

Do parents and godparents need to attend a preparation program again when another child is to be baptized?

As long as parents have completed Baptism Formation Process at St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish for their first child, then the parents will not need to attend the program again. However, phase one (Initial Visit) would still be necessary.

Can a non-Catholic Christian be a godparent/sponsor?

No. Only a practicing Catholic who meets the qualifications can be a godparent or sponsor. However, a non-Catholic, baptized Christian who participates in the Baptism and accepts responsibility for helping raise the child to live a Christian life can participate in the Rite of Baptism as a "Christian Witness" (and so reflected on the baptismal certificate) if a Catholic godparent is also present. MORE

Can a brother or sister be a godparent / sponsor?

Brothers or sisters of a child to be baptized may be godparents/sponsors providing that they have completed their 16th year of life, have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function, be Confirmed Catholic and have celebrated their First Communion and not be bound by any canonical penalty (i.e., such as married outside the Catholic Church). It should be noted that specifics on who can and cannot be a godparent/sponsor is a question that should be brought up during your initial visit.

How should inter-church marriages (marriage between a Catholic and a Christian of another denomination) or inter-faith marriages (between a Catholic and non-Christian) be handled during the Baptism Preparation process?

If the parents were married within the Catholic Church, it is the Catholic parent who is obligated to fulfill the promise of raising their children within the Catholic faith and our Church. The non-Catholic spouse need not be burdened with the obligation of overseeing that the child be raised in the Catholic faith. Therefore, only the Catholic parent is obligated to attend Sacramental Preparation classes. MORE

If the parents are not validly married in the Catholic Church, can the child be baptized?

There is nothing that prevents a child born to parents who are not validly married in the Catholic Church from being baptized. Our Parishes welcomes with open arms your decision to baptize your child in the Catholic faith. As such, you may wish to discuss having your marriage convalidated (recognized) by the Catholic Church, please contact the rector/pastor of St. Mary Cathedral.

If the godparents are not validly married in the Catholic Church, can they be godparents?

Firstly, the chosen godparent(s) does not need to be a married person. However, if the chosen godparent is married (whether to another Catholic or to a non-Catholic) then they must be married in the Catholic Church in order to be chosen as a godparent.

If the parents are not married, can the child be baptized?

Nothing prevents a child born to parents who are not married from being baptized within the Catholic church provided that the parent(s) of that child is/are properly disposed, has/have been appropriately prepared, understand(s) the responsibilities that come with having the child baptized and is/are willing to fulfill the commitment undertaken to raise the child in the rich principles of the Catholic faith. If you would like to discuss preparing for marriage, please contact the parish office.

Can a child be baptized privately?

Sacraments are by their very nature public and communal - indeed, the very name Catholic Church derives from the Greek adjective katholikos meaning "universal" and also has roots in the term "all-embracing" thus so are the sacraments. They are never private actions. MORE

Can a family priest or deacon baptize our child?

Because this option requires coordinating with the facility scheduler to "reserve" the church space, please contact the Baptism Coordinator before beginning any other portion of the Baptism Preparation process. MORE

May a child with a mental or physical disability be baptized?

“Disability, of itself, is never a reason for deferring Baptism. MORE

Why is the presentation of a birth certificate important for the issuing of a Baptism Certificate?

It is important that the parish be able to properly identify and verify the child’s birth information (i.e. parent’s names, legal name of child, custody, etc.) when preparing the Baptism Certificate.

What if I don’t have a birth certificate yet?

It can take up to 3 months after the child is born to receive the birth certificate. If you do not yet have a birth certificate, please provide us with the Birth Verification Facts that you received at the hospital. Upon obtaining the birth certificate, please email/fax a copy to the attention of Jan Reynolds at 989.705.3589 parishoffice@stmarycathedral.org. A copy of a state issued birth certificate for children older than 3 months must be in the parish office prior to scheduling the baptism.

Do I need to bring anything to the Baptism?

There is nothing in particular that you need to bring to the Baptism beyond, of course, the parties of interest such as yourself, the child, sponsors, godparents, any Christian Witnesses, and family and friends as you see fit. The parish will provide you with a Baptism candle and white baptismal garment (sort of like a bib). However, if you bring your own candle, simply inform the deacon or priest just prior to the Baptismal Rite.


Credit: FAQ’s taken and adopted from Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, Houston TX


Interested in learning more about the Sacrament of Baptism?
LEARN MORE

Contact the Cathedral parish office at 989.732.5448 if you have additional questions.