What is Baptism?
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission. “Baptism is the sacrament of the regeneration through water and in the word.
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1213
Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore… we are members one of another.” Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal font is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races and sexes: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1267
Saint Paul Cathedral Parish welcomes its families to celebrate with great faith and joy the baptism of their children. As one of the seven sacraments of the Church, it is the grace of God made present through the ritual of baptism that washes away original sin, claims the one baptized for Christ Jesus and incorporates that child into the Church. How important that parents make every effort to have their child baptized as soon as possible after birth so that the life of grace can begin its effective work in your beloved son or daughter.
It is the full expectation that those presenting their children for baptism are fully incorporated members of the parish community. Baptism should take place primarily in the parish Church where the parents are registered and actively participating. There are, however, reasons why some parents might choose another Church for the baptism of their child and we will try to honor those desires whenever possible.
Baptism comes with responsibilities. Parents must make a faith commitment when they baptize their child, a commitment to see that the seeds of God’s life and faith that are planted in their child’s heart at baptism, will be nurtured and cared for so that initial faith can mature and flourish. This means that parents are attending Mass regularly and participating as fully as possible in the life of the parish, contributing time, talent and treasure in support of their parish community. If there are mitigating circumstances that prevent full participation in the sacramental life of the Church, for example an invalid marriage, the priest will make every effort to work pastorally with those involved to facilitate the baptism of the child and to help in any way possible to address the issues involved.
It is imperative that parents choose godparents for their children who are practicing Catholics in good standing with the Church. Being a godparent is not an honorary title; it carries with it significant responsibilities to witness the life of faith to the child for which you stand. See Appendix A for the Church’s guidelines on sponsors for baptism.
How do I get my child baptized?
The following policies are operative for the Sacrament of Baptism at Saint Paul Cathedral Parish:
- Any parent wishing to have their child baptized at St. Paul Cathedral parish will need to meet with the pastor or one of the parochial vicars of the Cathedral parish to review all the necessary information concerning the family and the child to be baptized, to discuss the faith obligations that are necessary for the sacrament and to finalize the date for the baptism.
- While a tentative date may be set following the meeting with the parish priest, the following documents must be completed and delivered to the parish office before the baptism can be finalized and take place:
- sponsor certificates for each of the godparents
- a copy of the child’s birth certificate
- a certificate showing that attendance at the baptism program. There are regularly scheduled baptism preparation programs at St. Paul Cathedral and parents are expected to attend; godparents are strongly encouraged to attend as well.
- letter of permission from the proper pastor of a family who belong to another parish indicating his permission for the baptism to take place at St. Paul Cathedral parish.
- Baptisms are celebrated on Sundays following the 12:00 Noon Mass on the first and third Sundays of the month, typically beginning at 1:15 PM. There may be some months where the baptisms will need to take place on a different Sunday due to special events that occur at St. Paul Cathedral. There is one communal celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism for all those scheduled to be baptized on that day.
Any exceptions to this policy are made only in extraordinary circumstances with the approval of the Rector.
UPCOMING DATES FOR BAPTISMS from January to July 2017:
January 8 and 22
February 5 and 12
March and April – No Baptisms
May 7 and May 14
July 9 and 23
Baptismal Preparation for Parents
Parents who are presenting a child for baptism for the first time are to attend a Baptism Preparation session. Godparents are also strongly encouraged to attend. Our gatherings take place at the cathedral social hall (lower level of the cathedral) on Thursday evenings from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. After a video presentation explaining the rite of baptism, there is a discussion on the the faith of the parents and how parents are the first and best educators of their children in the way of faith. The responsibilities of godparents are explained. Please enter the social hall by way of the glass doors at the “new entrance” and take the elevator to the lower level.
Upcoming dates for baptismal preparation in 2017 are:
Please call Christine Raizin at the parish office to register for this class: 412-621-4951 x10.
What is needed to be a godparent or sponsor?
- The person is baptized a Catholic or has been received into the Catholic Church.
- The person has received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- The person has received Holy Eucharist and participates at Sunday Mass weekly.
- The person must be 16 years of age or old.
- If the person is married, the marriage must be recognized by the Catholic Church as valid. Persons who cohabitate are not eligible to be sponsors.
- The person must be registed and active in a parish community. If there is a desire for membership the priest can help to discuss and facilitate that when the desire is authentic.
- The person supports their parish with time, talent and treasure, including the regular use of the Sunday envelopes.
- Someone may “stand in” for a godparent on the day of Baptism (proxy). The proxy must be certified as described above. The proxy may not be one of the parents. Parents may not be a sponsor or godparent for their own child.
- One Catholic godparent is required. If there are two godparents, there must be a man and a woman – a godfather and a godmother.
A sponsor certificate is required for each person wishing to be a godparent or sponsor at St. Paul Cathedral or any other parish. A sponsor certificate is not simply a document that indicates you are registered in your parish or that you have been baptized a Catholic. A sponsor certificate can only be given to those who are Catholics in good standing and who regularly practice their faith. If the person is a member of St. Paul Cathedral Parish, they are to meet in person with one of the parish priests to review the requirements and to receive a “sponsor certificate.” If the person is a member of another parish, he or she should contact their parish for a sponsor certificate.
In some circumstances for good reason, a person who was baptized as a Christian in a community of faith other than the Catholic Church may stand as a “Christian witness” along with one Catholic.