Contacting the parish:
Because sufficient time is needed to prepare parents to undertake the duties of raising a child in the faith, parents must contact the Pastoral Associate at 724-834-3710. This should occur three months prior to their baby's due date. Although families cannot set the date of Baptism this early, the parish staff will begin to assist with necessary preparations before the birth of the child. The date of Baptism should be fixed at least one month in advance of the desired date.
Naming the child: Traditionally, Catholic children are given a saint's name. This is an outward sign that links the child to the communion of saints. Church law does not require that a child be given a saint's name. It does, however, forbid a name that is offensive to Christians, our beliefs, or way of life.
Parent preparation: In order that parents and the parish community might celebrate fully, careful planning and thoughtful preparation is needed. First-time parents and those who last had a child baptized five or more years ago are expected to participate in an Infant Baptism Preparation Session scheduled by the Pastoral Associate. This session includes discussion about the meaning of Baptism, the signs and symbols used in the Rite of Baptism, and conversation about the responsibilities of parents and Godparents in teaching the faith. Both parents are expected to attend.
Godparents: Parents are assisted in raising their child in the faith by Godparents. During the Rite of Baptism, Godparents promise to help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. Because of this special relationship, parents should consider seriously the persons they ask to be Godparents, remembering that their primary role is in relationship to the parents. Godparents should be chosen because they are willing and able to assist in the faith formation of the child not simply because of familial or social relationship. Please remember that, from the perspective of the Catholic Church, parents are not choosing potential guardians for their child when choosing Godparents. While they may be the same, parents are choosing people to assist them in passing on the faith to their child. Another important role of the Godparents is to represent the church community in which the Baptism is being celebrated. Each child may have a Godfather and a Godmother. Church law requires that there be at least one Godparent but two are chosen in most cases. if you are unsure if the person/s chosen meet the qualification to be a Godparent, please call the Pastoral Associate for guidance.
The following are requirements for this important role. The individual must be:
- at least 16 years of age.
- a registered member of a Roman Catholic Parish in communion with Rome.
- an active supporter of their parish shown by their presence at Sunday Mass each week and the fact that they have made their Easter Duty yearly.
- someone who has received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church.
- someone who has not joined another faith or denomination nor professed allegiance to any faith or denomination other than the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
- If married: someone who was married by a Roman Catholic Priest or obtained the correct canonical dispensations otherwise.
- If divorced: someone who has not remarried or attempted marriage a second time without an annulment of the first marriage.
Nota Bene: A baptized Roman Catholic who is married outside of the Church, or who has left the faith may not stand as a Godparent/sponsor or a Christian Witness.
Additionally, the mother or father of the infant being baptized cannot serve as Godparent. If there are two Godparents, one must be male, the other female, and both must meet the requirements listed above. All Godparents are required to provide a sponsor form of eligibility from the parish in which they are registered and participate. A member of an Oriental Rite of the Catholic Church may serve as Godparent for an infant who is baptized in the Latin Rite. An Eastern (Orthodox) Christian may be appointed as Godparent as long as a Catholic Godparent is present.
Christian witness: The Church also provides for an active member of another Christian church to stand as witness to the Baptism when only one Godparent is chosen. A person who has been baptized a Catholic but joined another denomination or faith may not be selected either as a Godparent or a Christian witness. The Christian witness plays an active and important role in supporting parents as they teach their child the Christian way of life. The Christian witness should understand the role of godparent and be able to fill a similar role in his or her church. All Christian witnesses are required to provide a letter of eligibility from the church in which they are registered and participate.
The parish community: To bring out the paschal character of Baptism, it is recommended that the sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday when the Church commemorates the Lord's Resurrection. Baptisms may be celebrated during regularly scheduled Sunday Masses where the parish community is well represented by the gathered assembly. This is an important sign that Baptism, like all sacraments, belongs to the whole church and that the parents and child can expect the support and care of the parish community. A priest of the parish will normally preside at the Liturgy and baptize those children who will become members of the parish.