“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt.28: 19)
The wonderful sacrament of Baptism is much more than a private ceremony for your baby, for you, your family and your friends. Baptism is a sacrament of Christ and of his Church. Through Baptism, God the Father brings your baby into His royal family, adopting your child as His own beloved daughter or son. Your baby becomes the brother or sister of other Christians. Baptism is very much a family affair: a special day both for your family but also for the family of the Church.
Through Baptism, the Risen Jesus unites your baby to Himself in a special way, making him or her a member of His Body, the Church. Baptism is the beginning of a journey; it looks forward to being completed through receiving First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Baptism leads to the Mass, which is why the ceremony finishes at the altar.
Preparing for Baptism
We make careful preparations for the birth of a baby, and we should take as much care in making preparation for Baptism, a second birth into God’s great family. When your child is baptised you are undertaking the responsibility to bring him or her up in the practice of the Faith and to help him or her to grow in that Faith. The Church recognises that this is primarily your responsibility but wishes to work hand in hand with you in every way that it can. In an ideal situation, the Church sees that there are three parts to a child’s Faith development – parents, parish and school: this is a partnership in which all three are involved in that order.
Baptism is not about ticking boxes, something to “get done”. It is a Sacrament of the Church, a sacred rite through which Jesus reaches out to touch their life. In fact this is the foundation of all other sacraments. It involves a commitment from the parents and godparents to bring the child up in faith which includes bringing them to Mass on Sundays in the parish community, the true home of the Church and attending children’s liturgy of the word when they are old enough. Yes! It is demanding and it is important. Be truthful, if you never, or only rarely, come to church, maybe you and your child are not ready for Baptism. Your commitment to Sunday Mass and the Baptism preparation sessions are vital. It is very important that you are honest about this, if you are baptising your child, this is what you are committing to do, are you ready to do it?
Here at St Mary Magdalen, we will try to help you in every way but your part is THE most important and without your support it will be impossible for your child to grow in Faith. Your role is at home in teaching your child to pray, helping them to meet Jesus and know Him, as well as knowing about Him from the Bible. We help and support you through Baptism preparation sessions, Sunday Liturgy of the Word and by inviting you to join the children’s pilgrimage to Walsingham and the annual buggy masses.
Ideally all the Godparents must be confirmed, practicing adult Catholics who will take an active interest in the spiritual growth of the child. That is not possible for all of us. The minimum requirement is that at least one of the godparents must be confirmed, practicing Catholic aged 16 or over. You may also have non-Catholic Christians who are technically known as “Christian Witnesses”.
When to Baptise?
The norm of the Church is that the baptism be celebrated during the Sunday Mass in the presence of the worshipping community. This is not always possible as several other things are often incorporated into the Sunday Mass. Often we encourage parents to join the Mass at 10.00 am so that we can welcome the baby in the presence of the community and do the baptism immediately after the Mass. If this not convenient we offer Baptisms on Sundays at 11.30am or on some Saturdays. There is no such thing as private Baptism: that would contradict the whole meaning of Baptism. Therefore it would be wonderful to baptise several babies together when it is done outside the Mass. If your baby is not baptised during, or immediately after, Mass we would like to publicly welcome your child into our parish community at Mass the following Sunday. Please arrange that with the priest.
Who will Baptise my baby?
This will normally be the parish priest, unless you have a priest friend or relative whom you would like to perform the ceremony.
How much should I pay?
There is no fee for Baptism or for any other sacraments. But it is an occasion for you to make an appropriate donation to the church as we depend on such donations for the daily running and upkeep of this beautiful church. Your donation is not a payment to the priest but a donation to the church. To be completely truthful, Yes! There is an expectation of a donation from the worshipping community that looks after the building. However, we do not want financial concerns to be an issue when you prepare to celebrate this wonderful event of being born into the family of God. The parish will be happy with whatever donation you make.
A baby is a new opportunity to appreciate the meaning of Baptism, as well as your responsibilities towards this wonderful new life that God has placed in your care. Often it is an opportunity for parents to re-discover their own faith. Our parish community looks forward to welcoming your child as a member of our family, as a member of the Body of Christ and as a young parishioner. We promise to give you the support of our prayers and all the help we can give. May God bless you and your child!
If your child is four or above we need to arrange some sessions with our children’s Catechists to make the child aware of the meaning and importance of what happens to him or her at the baptism celebration. This will require at least 3 months notice. If your child is eight or above, we would like him or her to join the First Holy Communion classes from November and get baptised at the Easter Vigil the following year and then make their First Holy Communion with others in May/June. Anyone above sixteen will join the RCIA programme (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) which we run every year from November to Easter. They will be baptised, Confirmed and make their First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil.
Please download the Baptism form and complete it to book the baptism of your baby. Return the form to Fr Paul at the church or electronically by email. Address details can be found on the contact page and on the form itself. Paper copies of the form are available from the church.