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Baptism

Baptism is the means by which its recipients are incorporated into the church in a sacramental bond of unity.

Baptism, the first and fundamental sacrament and the gate to the other sacraments, is the purifying and sanctifying sacrament of rebirth. It is the means by which its recipients are incorporated into the church in a sacramental bond of unity.

 


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Baptism

Where is baptism to be celebrated?

Unless there is a serious need, baptisms are to be celebrated in a parish church. A baptism should not be celebrated in a private home, a private chapel or oratory, or in a hospital, except in cases of necessity, which would include sickness or danger of death. Permission from the Chancery (414-769-3340) should be sought in advance for baptism in a place other than a parish church.
 

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When may a baptism be celebrated?

Children should be baptized within the first weeks after birth. In danger of death, the baptism is not to be delayed. It is most appropriate that a baptism be celebrated on a Sunday. On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the relationship between baptism and the Eucharist may be clearly seen. It is recommended that baptisms not be celebrated during Lent.

Baptism of adults is normally celebrated at the Easter Vigil.

 

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What are the requirements for someone to be a baptismal sponsor?

A baptismal sponsor, or godparent, must be 16 years of age, a confirmed and practicing Catholic, and may not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized. The sponsor may be male or female; if two sponsors are to be used, one of each gender is allowed.
 

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May a non-Catholic serve as a godparent?

A baptized non-Catholic may be a Christian witness to the baptism, but there also must be a Catholic sponsor who fulfills the following requirements.

A baptismal sponsor, or godparent, must be 16 years of age, a confirmed and practicing Catholic, and may not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized. The sponsor may be male or female; if two sponsors are to be used, one of each gender is allowed.
 

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May a priest or a member of a religious order be a baptismal sponsor?

A priest may act as a baptismal or confirmation sponsor. A member of a religious order may act as a baptismal or confirmation sponsor unless there is a specific restriction in their order's constitution.
 

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May a priest, deacon or parish director ever refuse the baptism of an infant?

Unless there is danger of death, a priest or deacon is not to baptize an infant unless there is well-founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith and the parent(s) or guardian(s) consent to the baptism. If there is no such hope regarding a Catholic upbringing, the baptism is delayed and the parents are informed of the reason and given the opportunity to deal with issues related to the reason for the denial.
 

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May baptism be conferred on stillborn child or fetus?

Baptism may be conferred if there is indication that the child or fetus is alive. Baptism is not conferred if it is clear that the child or fetus is dead. Parents should be comforted by the fact that their desire for the baptism of their child is sufficient for their child's salvation.
 

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How do I locate my baptismal records?

You can find information about baptismal records here.

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What should be done if a baptismal record cannot be found or obtained for a Catholic person?

An affidavit attesting to the baptism may be substituted. This affidavit must be obtained from a person who was actually present at the baptism and can attest to it. Forms for this purpose can be obtained from the Chancery office (414-769-3340).
 

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What can be done at a parish after a child has been baptized in an emergency situation?

An infant who was baptized in an emergency may be greeted and blessed during the regular parish celebration of baptism of other infants. This should happen when the infant is of sufficient health and age.
 

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What should be done about children who were baptized in another Christian religion when the parent(s) either become(s) a Catholic or returns to the practice of the Catholic faith?

If the child is under catechetical age, he or she is received into full communion with the Catholic Church along with the parents. If the child is seven years or older, then a program of catechesis is to be started.
 

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What should be done about unbaptized children who are of catechetical age and wish to be baptized?

The full Rite of Christian Initiation is to be celebrated after the proper catechesis is completed. The children will receive the sacrament of baptism and the priest who baptizes them also will confer confirmation. Confirmation is not deferred to a later date. The children will participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist with reception of Communion for the first time.
 

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What should be done if parents have adopted a child and they are unsure if he/she has been baptized?

If there is a doubt whether a child has been baptized or whether baptism was validly conferred and the doubt remains after serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally, or privately.
 

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May a child be baptized if the parents are in an invalid marriage or one that cannot be recognized by the Catholic Church?

As long as there is a well-founded hope that the child will be raised Catholic, the marital status of the parents should not impede the baptism of a child.
 

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There is not one office that can answer all "faith" related questions but the following are typically the best source for many that you might have.

For answers to Canon Law (Church law) questions:
Chancery Office
chancery@archmil.org
414-769-3340

For answers to general liturgical or sacramental questions:
Office for Worship
oremus@archmil.org
414-769-3349

You can also review the Contact Us page for additional information.

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408