Guidelines for Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church

Dear Parents,


Because the Church has the obligation of safeguarding the Sacraments, it has become necessary to make sure parents and godparents understand the obligations they are assuming before God on behalf of their child. As you wish to have your child baptized, we would like you to have some basic information regarding this important first step on your child’s spiritual journey. It is our hope that you find this information helpful.


To arrange the Baptism of your child, it is necessary to ensure that all the requirements are in place and the necessary documents are submitted to the parish office. The parish priest, after ascertaining that all the necessary requirements have been fulfilled, will then contact you to arrange a date for the Baptism and to schedule preparatory sessions.


Baptisms are usually celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of the month, while the preparatory sessions are usually held on the two Fridays before the Baptism.


What are the requirements for baptism?

For Parents

  • At least one of the parents must be Catholic

  • The Catholic parent must be a registered member of the Roman Catholic Parish of St Mary’s & St Columba’s for at least three months and attend Mass regularly.

  • If the parents are from another parish, they must provide a Letter of Permission from their parish priest.

  • The parents

    • Must attend the preparatory sessions at St. Mary’s Church or

    • Provide a letter of attendance of Baptism preparation from another parish.

  • All required paperwork must be completed prior to scheduling your child’s baptism (see checklist).

  • The child should be given a Christian name


For Godparents

There must be at least one Godparent who is Catholic. When there are two, one must be male and the other female. Godparents must meet all of the following criteria, which are established by universal Church law and which do not vary from place to place. The Godparent must:

  • Be Catholic

  • Have been baptized, confirmed and receive Communion

  • Be 16 or older 

  • Not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared by the Church. If a godparent is married, their marriage must be recognized by the Church.

  • If a potential godparent is not a member of the parish of St Mary’s & St Columba’s, he or she must obtain a letter or certificate from their own pastor which affirms that they meet the above requirements.

  • Must not be the father or mother of the one to be baptised.

  • A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic Christian community may not be admitted as a godparent but as a witness to the Baptism together with a Catholic godparent.

  • Godparents are required to attend the preparatory sessions either at St Mary’s Church or from another Catholic parish (they must provide a letter of attendance signed by their parish priest).


Frequently asked questions

  • What do we need to do to have our baby baptized?

    • Pick up information packet: Registered parishioners stop by the parish office to pick up the Baptism Application to be completed by the parents and the Godparent Forms to be signed in the Godparent's own parish.

    • Pre-Baptism Class: Parents and Godparents must attend the Pre-Baptism class. Call the parish office to register for the class date you wish to attend! Classes may be taken at another parish, but a certificate of completion is necessary for paperwork.

    • Reserve a Date for the Baptism: As soon as your paperwork is completed take it to the parish office in order to reserve a baptismal date.

  • Why do the parents and Godparents have to attend a preparation class?

    • The Church has the obligation of safeguarding the Sacraments, and so it has become necessary to make sure parents and godparents understand the obligations they are assuming before God on behalf of their child.

  • Who is considered for infant baptism?

    • The Church considers anyone who has not yet completed their seventh year to be an infant. Therefore, the parents of children under the age of seven may request baptism and attend the parish's infant baptism preparation session.

    • For those children who are over seven years of age the Church requires that they make a profession of faith. Therefore, it is necessary that they themselves be prepared for the Sacraments of Initiation. 

  • What is the role of the godparents?

    • The role of the godparent is to help the baptised to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfil faithfully the obligations connected with it.

  • May a non-Catholic be a godparent?

    • As long as there is one Catholic Godparent who meets all the requirements of the Church listed above, another baptized person, Catholic or non-Catholic, may be a witness to the baptism.

  • How many Godparents can a child have?

    • Only one godfather and/or one godmother is required. Non-Catholic persons may act as witnesses at the baptism.

  • Does the child have to have a saint's name?

    • As a minimum, the Church requires that no name foreign to a Christian mentality be given to the child. Consider, however, choosing a name for the child from the rich tradition of models of the Christian life.  In some cultures, the one is named after the saint whose feast day the child is born on or around. Then, as the child grows up, encourage him or her to learn about the patron, perhaps promoting a devotion to the child's namesake.

  • Is there a charge for the baptism?

    • The Church never charges for the celebration of a Sacrament. Rather, Christians give out of gratitude for what they have received from God.  A donation to the priest may be made after the celebration of the baptism.

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