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The Rules for Baptizing a Catholic Baby

by Candice Coleman, studioD

The birth of a child gives you the opportunity to introduce your newborn to your church community. Prospective parents should discuss their baby's impending birth or adoption with church leaders ahead of time in order to meet all baptism guidelines before the big day arrives.

Meeting With Church Leaders

Parents should inform the parish priest of a pregnancy around the four- or five-month mark so baptism preparations can begin, according to the website of the Diocese of Tyler in Texas. You will then go through a meeting with church leaders to discuss your desire to baptize your baby in the Catholic church, your child's future religious upbringing and any other concerns that you or the church might have about baptism.

Selecting Godparents

Though it is not a necessity, many parents select two godparents who will support the baby's Catholic upbringing, according to the Rev. William Saunders, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Potomac Falls, Virginia. Godparents must undergo baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist in the Catholic church, be a minimum of 16 years old, and be active in the Catholic faith community, according to St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Slidell, Louisiana. If godparents are from a parish other than yours, they might be required to submit a qualification letter from their priest to your priest. Ask your parish about any other guidelines you must meet.

Files for Baptismal Register

Your parish might require documents showing that you have adopted your child or showing that you are your child's birth parent, according to the Diocese of Tyler. Ask parish officials about any documents they might need from you, such as proof of adoption from an adoption agency or your baby's birth certificate for the baptismal register. If you are unmarried or your child's father is not listed on his birth certificate, the father might need to file an acknowledgement of paternity form through your state's Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics before the Catholic church will add his name to the baptismal register.

Timing and Prohibitions on Baptism

Ideally, Catholic parents should have their children baptized within a few weeks after birth, according to the Diocese of Beaumont in Texas. If your child has already been baptized, she cannot be baptized again, according to Vatican Canon Law. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as if your child is seriously ill, baptisms are not typically performed in hospitals. Baptisms might occur during Sunday Mass, though baptisms typically do not occur during the season of Lent.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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