Baptism is the sacrament through which one becomes a Christian. It is the first sacrament and begins the process of initiation into the Catholic Church. Since the very beginning of the Church, baptism was given to infants.
Children or infants are those who have not reached the age of discernment or reason (7 years of age) and therefore cannot have or profess personal faith. Our faith is to be proclaimed to them by their parents and godparents. These two couples represent the rest of the believing community, with the parents having the greater responsibility because of their natural relationship with the child. Second to them are the godparents who enter into a special relationship with the child that goes far beyond being a family friend or relative. Persons older than seven years of age stand for them-selves and prepare themselves through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC), or if they are older, in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
An infant should be baptized within weeks after birth. Waiting for relatives to come to town is not a reason to delay baptism. Nor is the desire save money to have a bigger party a reason. I have seen some families waiting a year for the baptism. This is not in accord with the thinking or the practice of the Church. Since a child is to be baptized as soon as possible after birth, it is important for the parents and godparents to have completed the required baptism preparation classes before the birth of the child.
At St. Mark the classes for parents and godparents are held in English at 7:00 pm on the second Wednesday of the month in the SPRED Rm (1300 73rd St) and in Spanish following the 12 pm mass on the fourth Sunday of the month, from 10am - 12pm on the second Saturday of the Month in Berg Hall and on the Third Wednesday of the month during the 6:30 mass in the Church Chapel. Both the father and the mother of the baby are required to attend these classes; if the godparents live in this parish, they must also attend these classes. If they do not live in this parish, they must attend baptismal preparation classes at their parish. The godparents must complete a "Sponsor for Baptism" form that must be signed by their pastor, be imprinted with their parish seal, and returned to us.
Parents must register their child for baptism at the parish office. Necessary information is collected there and the date for the baptism is arranged. We celebrate baptism at Mass. Baptism is not a private celebration. It is the entrance into the community of the Church, not just a family.
There is only one requirement for parents who present their child for baptism. The priest must have a moral certainty that the parents will raise and educate their child as a Catholic. If the priest does not have that, he may not baptize. That is why he cannot baptize if it is the request of the grandparents or other relative..
The role of the godparent at baptism is to help the child grow in faith. Godparents are not to be chosen because they are relatives, or good friends of a parent, or can bring more gifts to the baptism. In baptism the godparents enter into a new relationship with the child. In the law of the Church, this relationship is so important that it is an impediment to marriage!
Godparents have a much more stringent standard, Since a godparent is sponsoring a person for entry into the Church, the godparent must fully be a member of the church. It makes little sense to be a sponsor into any group in which one has not yet entered fully him or herself.
Do these requirements cause some problems? Yes, because many people do not realize the seriousness with which the Church views the role of a godparent. Once parents understand the importance of the godparent, however, understand why the rules are the way they are, they see that they make perfect sense.
Parents and godparents are required to attend the baptismal preparatory class. The class is approximately 1-1/2 hours in length and focuses on the sacrament of baptism and the roles and responsibilities of the parents and community that welcome the child.
Parents must be registered parishioners for at least three months prior to their child's baptism. Baptismal sponsors are required to have received the sacrament of confirmation. Adults wishing to join the Catholic faith are welcomed through the Right of Chrisitan Initiation of Adults.
Baptismal Preparatory Class Schedule:
Adults baptism is offered through our parish RCIA program. Information about the RCIA program can be found in the Adult Education section and here.