Sacrament of Baptism
The birth of a child is often a time when parents reexamine their values and hopes in terms of the children entrusted to them.
It is the hope of the Church that presenting their children for Baptism will call parents to a greater commitment to Jesus Christ and the practice of the Catholic faith. Parents are encouraged to reflect spiritually on the meaning of parenthood and to recognize that baptism is the beginning of a lifelong commitment. Infant baptism is bestowed on children from birth until just before the seventh birthday.
What do we need to do?
For a child to be baptized in the Catholic Faith, there must be a basis for hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. In practice, this means that at least one parent is Catholic.
Our parish requires parents to register for and participate in a baptism preparation class. If the class is taken at a different parish, written proof of attendance must be provided.
Baptism preparation classes are held on the first Tuesday of alternating months (six times per year) from 7:00 to 9:00 in the parish activity room. To register, call 757-426-2180.
If you are a participating member of a parish other than St. John the Apostle, but wish to have your child baptized here, you will need to provide us with a Permission Letter from the pastor of the Catholic Church in which you are registered.
When do baptisms take place?
Baptisms take place during one of our four weekend Masses, generally rotating from week to week through the different Mass times. For example, on the first weekend of the month, baptisms are celebrated at the 5:00 pm Vigil Mass on Saturday evening; the following week at the 7:30 am Sunday Mass, and so on. Baptisms are not celebrated on the fifth Sunday of the month. Please phone the parish office for a list of specific dates and times. Note that the Catholic Church does not permit baptisms during the season of Lent.
What about single parents or parents who aren’t married in the Catholic Church?
St. John the Apostle Church welcomes every parent to bring your child forth for baptism, no matter what your circumstances might be.
The Role of Godparents
The primary role of a Catholic Godparent is to support the parents in the upbringing of the children as Catholic Christians and to be an example of lived Catholic faith for the child. Only one Catholic Godparent is required by Canon Law. No more than one man and one woman may stand as Godparents.
What are the requirements for Godparents?
- Be registered members of a Catholic parish.
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Must be a practicing Roman Catholic; i.e., one who attends Mass and receives the Sacraments regularly. Also, has received all three Sacraments of Initiation themselves: Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
- The reason a Godparent must be a practicing Roman Catholic is that a Godparent is expected to pay special attention to the efforts of the person who is being baptized to live a Christian life in keeping with the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith. Godparents (sponsors) are also expected to assist the parents (of the child) in their Christian duty as parents, by offering them support through good-example living, encouragement, and prayer.
Some advice that we hope will avoid difficulties:
- Choose a baptismal Godparent who is practicing their faith.
- Choose a Godparent who will take an active role in the faith formation of the child.
- The Church requires at least one Godparent be a practicing Catholic.
- People who are not baptized Christians cannot be Godparents or Christian Witnesses for baptism, since they themselves are not baptized.
- In some cases, there may be a non-Catholic witness in addition to one Catholic Godparent, but this must be who is baptized in a non-Catholic Christian community and NOT someone who has left the Catholic Church.
- Baptized non-Catholic practicing Christians may not be Godparents; however, they may be Christian Witnesses for your child. Keep in mind that you must have one Godparent along with one Christian Witness. Again, one of the two must be a practicing Catholic.
- Parents of the child may not be Godparents.
- Grandparents of the child may serve at Godparents.
- Choose people who are married under the guides of the Church.
- Divorced individuals may be Godparents; however, if they have remarried without an annulment from the Church, they may not be Godparents.
Catholics who desire to serve as Godparents must provide St. John’s with a Letter of Sponsor Eligibility from their home parish stating that they are registered members in good standing and are qualified to serve in this role.
If you are a registered member of St. John the Apostle and have been asked to be a Godparent at another parish, you will need to provide them with a Letter of Eligibility. Please click here to download the form; submit it to our parish office for Fr.’s signature and we will be happy to send it to the baptizing church for you.