Baptism is an important milestone in your baby’s spiritual life. And when the planning of your child’s baptism begins, there are, naturally, questions that come up. Maybe this is your first child, and you've never had to prepare for a baby's baptism before. You might be asking yourself: how do I go about this? Who do I talk to, and at which church? Can I pick anyone I want to be the godparents?
We would like to help answer these questions for our readers!
1. Choose a Church
The first important step in planning your baby’s baptism is choosing where your child will be baptized. For those who already belong to a parish, this question is answered. If you are not yet registered at a parish, you’ll want to select one in your area and schedule your child’s baptism. Most likely you will need to attend some preparation classes at your church. This will help you understand how the service will go and also give you a deeper understanding of what the sacrament of Baptism really is.
2. Set a Date
Check with your parish to see what dates are available to have your baby baptized, keeping in mind that preparation classes may take some time to complete, if this is your first child. Baptisms generally take place on Saturdays or Sundays, either during Mass or in the late morning or afternoon after the last Mass. Depending on the number of children being baptized, a baptismal ceremony can last twenty to forty minutes.
3. Ask the Godparents
Choosing godparents is another important step in planning a baptism. Although it would be wonderful to offer this honor to your best friend, if he or she doesn’t share your religious beliefs or does not meet the qualifications set by the Catholic Church, they shouldn’t be your baby’s godparent. It’s vital to choose godparents who are practicing Catholics, since their role is to help your child live a devout Christian life. Generally, at least one godparent must be a confirmed Catholic in good standing and an active member of a parish.
4. Buy a Gown
Now the most important decisions have been made, you can move on to the fun stuff, such as choosing your baby’s baptismal outfit. Although tradition states that the godmother buys the outfit and the godfather buys the cake, it is perfectly acceptable for you to get your baby’s baptismal gown yourself. This way you can find a gown that you would love to see passed on. Also, consider getting a more casual outfit for after the ceremony. You'll want the heirloom gown to be kept clean!
If you have specific questions about your child's baptism, or any questions regarding the requirements for baptism, contact your priest or your local parish office. While the sacrament is the same in any Catholic church, certain requirements and preparations may vary from one parish to another.
This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2010 © The Catholic Company