The Importance of Baptism
Congratulations! Whether you are an adult studying for your own Baptism or you are preparing for the Baptism of your child, you take an extremely important step in your and your family’s spiritual life. Baptism is necessary for salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted Baptism as the means of removing original sin from our souls, of being born again and incorporated into His Mystical Body, and of becoming members of His Church. There is nothing else more important for you right now than to ensure that you and your family members are baptized.
What Are the Requirements for Catholic Baptisms?
Our Lord desires the salvation of all mankind and He established Baptism as the means for our salvation. As such, it is necessary for salvation. To ensure that everyone who desires Baptism understands its importance, there are certain requirements for Baptisms.
What Are the Requirements for Infant Baptisms?
Infant baptism is for children from birth until generally their 4th – 7th birthday.
All children who are baptized must have at least one godparent. See below for more information
The parents must intend to raise the child in the Catholic Faith
Infants must be generally baptized in the parish that at least one of their parents attends. For Baptisms at a different church, shrine, or oratory, a permission letter from your pastor may be needed
The child’s birth certificate should be available for presentation to the parish
The parent’s marriage certificate should be presented to the parish. However, even for parents married outside of the Church, Baptism is not to be denied to the infant. If you are currently married outside of the Church, this is an ideal time to have your marriage blessed to rectify this. The process is rather simple. Contact your local parish to learn more on how to do this.
Each parent must also generally attend a Baptism Preparation Seminar.
What Are the Requirements for Non-Infant Child Baptisms?
Children who have reached the age of reason, which is generally around 7th grade, can no longer be baptized as infants. The Rite of Baptism is the same for everyone, but the process differs slightly. These children, since they have the knowledge of right and wrong, must generally take an RCIC (The Rite of Christian Initiation of Children) class to understand what the Church teaches.
What Are the Requirements to Serve as A Godparent?
All baptisms (infant, older child, or adult) require a godparent. Being a godparent is both a great honor and a serious responsibility. For that reason, the Church has put several laws in place in regard to who may rightfully serve as a godparent.
Godparents must be baptized, have attained the use of reason, and have the intention of fulfilling their role as a godfather or a godmother.
A godparent must be a confirmed Catholic and have received their First Holy Communion
A godparent must be Catholic. A godparent may not be protestant or any other denomination than Catholic. A person who is not a baptized Catholic must first convert to Catholicism through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults to become Catholic.
A godparent must be actively practicing the Catholic Faith. What does that mean? A godparent must live a life in conformity with the teachings of the Church including weekly attendance at Mass, rejection of artificial contraception and abortion, and a godparent must not support politicians who promote and support abortion, et cetera.
Godparents cannot be the father or mother or spouse of the person to be baptized.
The godparent must, either in person or through a proxy, physically hold or touch the one baptized, or receive him immediately after baptism from the sacred font or from the hands of the minister.
The godparent must be at least sixteen years of age, unless for a just reason the minister admits younger persons or unless a different age is stipulated by the Bishop.
The godparent must know the rudiments of the faith. They must intend to help teach the godchild the Catholic Faith.
The godparent must not be married outside of the Church unless they have since had their marriage recognized in the Church. However, marriage is not a requirement. A single Catholic may serve as a godparent, assuming all other requirements here are met, of course.
The godparent must generally attend a Baptism Preparation Class.
How Many Godparents Are Required?
Only one godparent is required. Two godparents are permitted but if you choose two, they must be of the opposite sex with one serving as the godmother and one as the godfather. They do not have to be married to each other.
Do Godparents Have to Be Catholic?
Yes. While it is not possible for a non-Catholic to serve as a godparent, a non-Catholic who is a baptized Christian in a protestant denomination may serve as a Christian witness to the Baptism, but the godparent to the Baptism must be Catholic and meet the above requirements since a godparent is above all responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the child. A non-Catholic could not fulfill this requirement. A non-baptized person may not serve as a godparent or as a Christian witness.
Do Godparents Have to Be Present at The Baptism?
Godparents are often from out of town. If the godparent is unable to be present on the day of the Baptism, he or she can be represented by proxy. A proxy can be a family member, a friend, or a parishioner who will stand in for the official godparent on the day of the baptism. However, even in such cases, the actual godparent must still meet the above requirements including taking a godparent preparation class.
Do Godparents Have to Take A Baptism Class?
Yes, any godparent must generally take a Baptism Preparation Class.
We offer a baptism class once a month on the third Tuesday of the Month at 7:00 pm in our Faith Formation Center.
What Are the Requirements for Catholic Adult Baptisms?
Adults who have not yet received the Sacrament of Baptism must go through instructions in the Catholic Faith to receive Baptism. This will often take the form of RCIA (The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). These classes ordinarily begin around September of each year and end at the Easter Vigil when the adult is baptized, receives our Lord’s true Body and Blood in Holy Communion, and receives the Sacrament of Confirmation. Since not all adults may attend these classes based on their schedule and responsibilities, and because those who have missed the start of the classes should not have to wait another year, online RCIA classes are offered to help make RCIA accessible for everyone.
Choosing Godparents for Baby’s Baptism
Question: Can you please clarify for me, something that is confusing regarding choosing godparents for a baby’s baptism in the Catholic Church? Having been born and raised in the Catholic faith and a practicing Catholic, it was always my understanding that as long as one godparent is Catholic, it was OK to have the other godparent be a non-Catholic person to be the godparent. Can you please reply as to whether I am correct? I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.
Answer: Thank you for your question regarding who may be considered a godparent for a Catholic baptism. A non-Catholic person may not be a godparent at a Catholic baptism. Only a practicing Catholic who meets the qualifications of a confirmed Catholic, age 16 or older, and has received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, may be a godparent or sponsor for baptism.
A non-Catholic baptized Christian can participate in the Rite of Baptism as a “Christian witness,” however a Catholic godparent must also be present.
The godparent’s name is entered into the parish record book as the “official” godparent or sponsor for baptism. Though it is ideal to select two Catholic godparents, (one female, one male) the Church only requires that there be one godparent.
The role of a godparent is more than being a relative or friend who encourages Christian behavior. The godparent represents the Church, the community of faith, into which the child is being baptized, and will assist the child to grow in that community. For a Catholic baptism, only a Catholic can take on this responsibility.
Below is a Canon Law citation regarding the selection of godparents.
Can. 872 – Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.
Can. 873 – There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.
Can. 874 §1 – To be permitted to take on the function of sponsoring a person must:
be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function; have completed the 16th year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause; be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on; not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared; not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
§2 – A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.