The Church recommends that infants be baptized soon after they are born. The Church permits the baptism of infants so long as there is a well-founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion. This includes, but is not limited to, regular Mass attendance.
Although a $25 stipend is requested for the Baptism, no one will be denied Baptism because of the lack of money.
If you plan to hold the baptism elsewhere: You need a letter from the pastor of Sacred Heart to the pastor where the sacrament will be administered.
Persons who are registered in another parish, and wish to have their child baptized at Sacred Heart for a just cause, must have a letter of permission from their pastor sent to the pastor of Sacred Heart and must have attended a Baptism Preparation Class either at Sacred Heart or at their home parish. If not attending at Sacred Heart, a certificate of attendance must be provided to Sacred Heart after completion of the class.
All parents must be registered members of Sacred Heart Parish for at least three months before the Baptism will take place.
If divorce or separation exists between the parents, the consent must be obtained from the other parent. They must be in agreement that the child, or children, will be raised in the practice of the Catholic faith.
It is required that the parents attend a Baptism Preparation Classat Sacred Heart. Parents are asked to pre-register for this class, and can do so by contacting the parish offices.
Baptismal Sponsors – (a.k.a. Godparents)
Sponsor Certificates of Eligibility must be received by Sacred Heart before a Baptism will be performed. If Certificates of Eligibility are not received two weeks prior to the ceremony, the date will be automatically postponed to the next available date.
Church law requires that a baptismal sponsor (Godparent) be a practicing Catholic, i.e. one who attends Mass and receives the Sacraments regularly. There must be one godmother or one godfather, or one of each. There cannot be two godmothers, or two godfathers.
When someone who does not meet that requirement is designated as a sponsor, it is always an unpleasant and painful experience for the priest, the parents of the child, and most especially for the person designated.
The pastor has a serious responsibility not to admit that person to serve as a sponsor here at Sacred Heart. Nor, may the pastor issue the person certificate of eligibility to serve as a sponsor at a baptism which is to take place at some other Catholic parish.
The reason a sponsor must be a practicing Catholic is that a sponsor is expected to pay special attention to the efforts of the person who is being baptized to live a Christian life in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sponsors are also expected to assist the parents of the child in their Christian duty as parents, by offering them support through good example, encouragement and prayer.
Some advice that we hope will avoid difficulties:
Choose baptismal sponsors whom you know to be practicing Catholics.
If you decide to choose a sponsor who is not a practicing Catholic, inform the person very early in the pregnancy. If that person is willing, at least six months before the baptism, to begin attending Mass and the Sacraments regularly, and at the same time, to discuss the matter with the pastor who must make the decision to write the certificate of eligibility, there is at least a possibility the person may be able to serve as a sponsor.
Certificates of Eligibility
Priests are frequently asked to verify the good Catholic practices of parishioners who want to be sponsors for those receiving Baptism and/or Confirmation. Sometimes this is easy, for most of our active parishioners, but sometimes this request turns out to be an unpleasant experience when one requests verification and a Priest, in good conscience, cannot give it. Why?
Let us clear up all of the vagueness that exists, and if you can answer yes to the following questions, you should have no trouble obtaining a certificate:
- Am I a registered and active parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish for at least six months?
- Am I at least 16 years of age?
- Have I received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in the Catholic Church?
- If married, was I married in the Catholic Church?
- Do I attend Mass regularly on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation?
- Do I receive the Sacraments of the Church regularly?
- Do I understand and accept the responsibility which I undertake as a sponsor, and do I promise to pay special attention to the person I am sponsoring in his/her efforts to live a Christian life that reflects the spirit and teachings of the Catholic Church?
- Am I prepared to assist the parents in their Christian duty by my example, support, encouragement and prayer?
What is a Christian Witness?
In order to be a sponsor at a Catholic Baptism, one must be Catholic and meet the requirements mentioned above. Occasionally, there may be a request to involve a non-Catholic as a Christian Witness. In general, this often causes more confusion, but in special circumstances a non-Catholic may act as a Christian Witness. This is not the same as a non-Catholic Sponsor/Godparent, which does not exist. While a witness may be admitted to a ceremony, they are not recorded in the Sacramental register and will not be listed on certificates, as certificates require the names of sponsors only. A witness may be admitted with one godparent, but not in addition to two Godparents.