Welcome and Introduction
The pastoral staff welcomes and congratulates you as parents! You desire to have your child baptized in the Catholic Church. Just as the birth of your child was a blessed event, the rebirth of the child is also definitively blessed by God.
This material will assist you as a parent or guardian in understanding the policy of Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in your request to have your child baptized in the faith. The parish hopes that the material and the required preparation classes will enlighten and enrich you in this celebration of life in Jesus Christ.
The Sacrament of Baptism
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1213, states: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit…and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and the word.’”
As a baptized member, your child becomes, like you, an integral part of the Church and faith community of Saint Michael the Archangel with all of its rights and responsibilities. The newly baptized takes on the person of Jesus Christ.
Baptism opens the way to the reception of the Eucharist, Penance, Confirmation, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders. It provides for the child the opportunity to participate fully in the liturgical life and other aspects of parish life.
Preparation for Baptism
In order for parents and sponsors to appreciate the awesome responsibilities, which come with Baptism, Saint Michael the Archangel parish offers preparation classes for the parents and sponsors consistent with the Code of Canon Law, Canon 851(2):
“It is necessary that the celebration of baptism be properly prepared. Thus: 2) The parents of an infant who is to be baptized and likewise those who are to undertake the office of sponsors are to be properly instructed in the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations which are attached to it; personally or through others the pastor is to see to it that the parents are properly formed by pastoral directions and by common prayer, gathering several families together and where possible visiting them.”
Prior to your child’s baptism, parents and godparents are required to attend two/three pre-baptismal preparation classes:
1. Part I: This session includes obligations, rights and responsibilities of parents and godparents in baptism. Administrative and pastoral matters will also be addressed.
2. Part II: The Theology of Baptism and Understanding the Sacrament based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and how the Rite of Baptism is celebrated.*
The resources for preparation classes are those materials and texts approved by the Archdiocese of Washington and the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
*The order of presentation may vary depending on the one leading the preparation classes.
Policy and Procedures
To facilitate the process and planning of your child or children’s baptism, the following guidelines will assist you:
1. Please contact the rectory either prior to or a few weeks after the birth of your child. For non-infants, parents should make the call at once.
2. We will record the initial contact information. Then, we will contact you regarding other pertinent information, the schedule of preparation classes and the dates of baptism.
3. Ordinarily, baptism is celebrated during the Easter Vigil Mass or during Mass on Sunday. Baptism outside of Mass is scheduled Sunday at 2:30 pm in Spanish and 3:00 pm in English.
4. At least one parent should be a registered member of the parish. If not previously registered, this requirement is satisfied by completing a parish registration form prior to the baptism. Parents from other parishes sometime request the baptism of the child due to previous attachments to the parish. In situation such as these, the pastor may grant permission for the baptism.
5. Children five (5) and over are required to attend and participate in religious education classes at Saint Michael the Archangel in the Parish School of Religion (CCD/Sunday School).
6. Children, seven and above, will be registered in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), which leads to baptism and full initiation at the Easter Vigil.
7. Parents should select the sponsors or godparents. Canon 872 indicates: “Insofar as possible one to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who is to assist an adult in Christian initiation, or, together with the parents, to present an infant at the baptism, and who will help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it.” If necessary, the parish will recommend active, participating adult Catholics to the parents.
8. You may select up to two sponsors, one male and one female, for a child. Any number of persons beyond the combination of one male or one female will be designated a “witness.”
9. The following policies apply in the selection of a sponsor or godparent based on Canon 874:
a. He or she must be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the one who takes their place or, in their absence, by the pastor or minister and is to have the qualification and intention of performing the role;
b. He or she must have completed the sixteenth year;
c. He or she must be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken; he or she must not be bound by any canonical penalty, legitimately imposed or declared (e.g., marriage must be recognized by the Catholic Church);
d. He or she must not be the father or the mother of the one to be baptized.
e. “A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may not be admitted except as a witness to baptism and together with a Catholic sponsor.” Non-Christians, such as Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., are not qualified to serve as a sponsor or godparent in a Catholic baptism.
10. Sponsors or godparents, who are not registered members of Saint Michael the Archangel Church, must provide evidence from their pastor attesting to the fact that they are active, participating Catholics in good standing with their parish before their acceptance as sponsors or godparents.
We hope that this policy statement will assist you in the planning of your child or children’s baptism. For more information, you may call the rectory at 301/589-1155, or email us at