Sacrament of Baptism
Dear Parent or Expectant Parent,
Congratulations on the recent or upcoming birth of your new baby! The community of St. Gabriel rejoices with you on this wonderful occasion.
It is likely that at the moment you are concerned about the birth of your baby. Either it's an event you are waiting and preparing for, or one that you are still recovering from and adjusting to. Whichever is the case, there is still much to think about and much to be done.
You are considering a very important request of the People of God. In asking that your child be baptized into the Catholic Church, you, as parents, take upon yourselves a significant commitment. Baptism is birth into the Christian community and is in every way as solemn and important as the birth itself.
The community welcomes your child, our newest member, with joy. We pledge to assist you in passing on the rich faith tradition of the Catholic Church to your child. We welcome this opportunity to assist you in accepting God's call to be Christian parents and to aid you in your preparation for the celebration of Baptism
Fr. Tom Philips
Preparing for the Baptism of your child
Baptism Preparation classes are held on the first Sunday of every month.*
Please contact Sr. Sonia at the Parish Office for more information and to schedule your class and your child's baptism.
*If your child is seven years of age or older, please contact Sr. Sonia.
Why this Sacrament?
Through baptism men and women are incorporated into Christ. They are formed into God's people, and they obtain forgiveness for all their sins. They are raised from their natural human condition to the dignity of adopted children. They become a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence why they are called, and they are indeed, the children of God. (from "Christian Initiation - General Introduction")
To have a child baptized is an incredible gift to him/her. In baptism, a child is claimed by Christ and given a pledge in the life of the Kingdom of God. The child is welcomed into the community called Church where he/she will grow in the love of God. This is quite a gift, and for the parents of the child, it brings with it serious responsibility.
Baptism is not merely a ritual that marks the birth of the child. It is not merely a celebration to welcome a new family member. Bringing a child to the baptismal font expresses the commitment of the parents to raise their child in the Catholic faith.
To present a child for baptism is to accept the responsibility for the growth of his/her faith.
Thus, the decision to baptize a child is a serious one. It should not be done simply because it is a custom or because it is expected. It should be a decision that comes out of the parents' own profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Baptism is the beginning of the process of passing on the faith tradition of the Church. It is a serious responsibility, and it is one that parents do not bear alone. Godparents play an important role as witnesses and models of Christian living.
The parish community embraces new members in their "sacrament of welcome," and in doing so pledges to assist parents in their duty of passing on the faith. The parish priests, and the Office of Religious Educations, offers many programs for parents and young children.
Guidelines for Choosing Godparents
Godparents serve two important purposes in the Sacrament of Baptism
First, they act as representatives of the Church in welcoming the newly baptized members.
Second and more importantly, they act as models of Christian living for the newly baptized They assist the parents in passing on the faith and they assist the baptized in living out the faith. Choosing godparents is an important decision and one that should be taken seriously. If you need help selecting a godparent, feel free to talk to our compassionate staff.
There are several requirements that should be considered when choosing godparents
- Only one sponsor is required (male or female). Two godparents my be selected, in which case there must be one of each gender.
- In view of the ecclesial and educational role of godparents, ideally, both should be Catholic with an active interest in the faith of your child.
- However, a baptized Christian of a non-Catholic community may be admitted as a "Christian witness" as long as the other godparent is a Catholic.
- have completed their sixteenth year
- have themselves received the Sacraments of Initiation (baptism, confirmation, eucharist)
- be practicing Catholics in good standing with the Church, living a life in harmony with the faith and role to be undertaken.
Those chosen as godparents should be present at the celebration of baptism.
The mother or father of the one to be baptized may not act as a godparent. Relatives may act as godparents.
Practical Suggestions for the Celebration
What time should the family arrive?
Baptisms are usually held at Sunday Mass. Please arrive at LEAST 15 minutes before Mass time.
What should the child wear?
There is no specific dress required for your child, as a baptismal garment is presented to him. her at the baptism, but he/she should be dressed nicely. If you have a family baptismal gown, it would be appropriate.
One part of the Rite of Baptism calls for the child's breast to be anointed with the Oil of Catechumens. To facilitate this ritual, it should be possible to open the child's clothes at the neck. Please keep this in mind when planning what your child should wear.
Full instructions for immersion will be presented at the training program.
What is the role of the parents and godparents during the celebration?
The Second Vatican Council of the Church called for the full, conscious, and active participation of the assembly in the liturgy. This participation is important, in fact essential, at the celebration of baptism. Parents and godparents are invited to profess their faith and renew their own baptismal commitment as they pledge to model and pass on their faith to their children.
There are also specific roles to be carried out by individuals during the rite. To allow for the baptism to proceed smoothly, it should be decided in advance who will hold the child, who will receive the baptismal candle, and who will receive the baptismal garment and place in on the child.
How much should the offering be for the Church?
There is no charge or fee for the celebration of baptism. However, it is customary to make an offering to the Church on the occasion of the baptism of your child. This voluntary contribution helps us continue to provide an adequate program of Baptismal Preparation.