Reborn of Water and the Spirit: The Rite of Baptism
Jesus’ departing words at the end of St. Matthew’s gospel are: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a) Baptism makes one a disciple of Jesus, someone who follows him and learns from Him. For this reason, adults must come to an understanding and trust of Jesus’ teachings before coming to baptism. Infants are too small to understand Jesus’ teachings intellectually, but they too receive the gift of understanding the teachings of Christ as they grow in age. All who have become disciples of Christ through baptism are by that token joined to his Church, the community of all who are united in Christ. This means that baptism brings the obligation to live as a Christian, following the commandments of Christ and His Church. The Christian life, beginning with baptism, is a constant process of strengthening that communion, through faith, sacraments, and life, so that one day it might become perfect in heaven.
Requirements for Infant Baptisms at Sacred Heart
(Note: If the child to be baptized is seven years old or older, the child must have formal instruction prior to the baptism (Code of Canon Law: Can. 97 §2). For information regarding the baptism of a child over seven years old or the baptism of an adult, please contact Alan McGill, Director of Faith Formation and Liturgy at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-974-2234)
In order to help the parents prepare for Baptism, and to help the infants to grow in faith as they grow in age, the Church has certain requirements for baptism. Hence, to have a child younger than seven years old baptized at Sacred Heart, you must do the following:
1. Fully complete the Baptism Request Form. The form may be downloaded here or it may be requested from the rectory office.
2. Be a registered member of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for more than three months. If you are registered at another parish, you must provide a letter from the pastor which states that you are registered, active parishioners at that parish and which grants permission for the baptism to occur at Sacred Heart. (C857-p2) If you wish to register at Sacred Heart, download from the parish website and complete the Sacred Heart Registration Form. This form can also be found in the pews of the church or requested from the rectory office.
3. Provide the birth certificate or hospital letter of the child. If the child was adopted, a copy of the final degree of adoption must be submitted instead.
4. Provide the name(s) of the godparent(s). If there are two godparents and they are married, they must be a man and a woman and have been married by the Catholic Church. (C873 & C874) In addition, at least one of the godparents, according to the Canon Law of the Church, must be practicing Catholic who is above sixteen years old and has received the three sacraments of initiation (baptism, Eucharist, and confirmation). A sponsor certificate is required for each godparent. This certificate should be requested by the godparent at the Catholic church at which he or she is registered. This must be received by the parish office prior to scheduling the baptism. If a godparent is a registered parishioner at Sacred Heart, he/she does not need to submit an eligibility letter.
5. Attend a baptism preparation class at Sacred Heart or submit a letter from the parish where you attended the class. The Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated on the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 am (English) and 10:30 am (Spanish). The baptism class is on the first Saturday of every month at 10:00 am. (English and Spanish). Both parents and godparents are required to attend a class. Please register prior to attending the class by contacting Fr. Jaime Rivera at 404-974-2236 or email@example.com.
6. Acquire the free baptism booklet before attending the baptism classes in our parish. The booklet is available either by contacting Father Rivera or by coming by the parish office. Please prepare for these questions in advance and be ready to discuss them during the classes: 1. What is Baptism? 2. What is the meaning of Baptism? 3. What is the role of the parents? 4. What is the role of the sponsors?
7. If you have any questions please call Fr. Jaime Rivera at 404-974-2236 or firstname.lastname@example.org
All the following must be submitted by the parents in a single envelope to: Fr. Jaime Rivera, Parochial Vicar, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 353 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308:
1. Baptism Request Form (See #1 above.)
2. If you are not a registered parishioner at Sacred Heart, a letter from the parish at which you are a registered member. (See #2 above.)
3. The birth certificate or hospital letter of the child to be baptized or the final decree of adoption for an adopted child. (See #3 above.)
4. The names of the godparents. (See #4 above.)
5. If you are not attending the baptism preparation class at Sacred Heart, a letter from the parish at which you attended a baptism preparation class. (See #5 above)
The following must be provided by the godparents to Fr. Rivera:
Sponsor certificate(s) from the parish at which they are registered members. (See #4 under Requirements.) If this letter is given to the parents of the child to be baptized, it must be submitted sealed at the same time as the other items listed above.
1. The Archdiocese of Atlanta website at http://www.archatl.com
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. My family has all been baptized at Sacred Heart, but now I live in another state. Can I arrange a baptism at Sacred Heart?
A. Yes, you would need to download the Sacred Heart Baptism Registration Form, fill it out, and submit it along with a letter from the pastor of your home parish granting permission to have your child baptized outside of your home parish. Please remember that the parish of the baptism determines where all future sacramental records will be located for that child.
Q. I was married at Sacred Heart, but I have let my membership lapse. Can I arrange for the baptism of my child?
A. Yes, but you need to first renew your membership at Sacred Heart by filling out the Parish Registration Form located in the pews or online and become an active parishioner for at least 3 months prior to the baptism.
Q. Can we request a specific clergy member to officiate at the baptism? What if we want to invite a priest from another parish?
A. You may request a specific clergy only if you have made prior arrangements with him. Please indicate on the Baptism Registration Form if you have made prior arrangements with a specific clergy member. If you want to invite a guest priest from another parish, you will need to make prior arrangements with that clergy prior to completing the registration form, and indicate the priest’s name and parish on the form. We schedule baptisms with guest priests at alternate times depending on the Sacred Heart calendar availability.
Q. Can we have a private baptism for our child?
A. No. Baptisms signify the initiation of the child into the body of Christ which is the church. The concept of privacy is not relevant for this sacrament since the child is becoming part of the Catholic family. Sometimes, there may be only one family scheduled for a baptism so the baptism is private only by coincidence.
Q. I am not married. Can I have my child baptized in the Catholic Church?
A. Yes, A child may be baptized as long as there is reason to believe that the single parent will bring up the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. If you have any questions about marriage in the Catholic Church, please ask the priest because there are often many misunderstandings in this area.
Q. I want to have my child baptized in my parents’ parish in my home town. Should I fill out Sacred Heart’s baptism registration form or the home parish’s baptism registration form?
A. Usually, you will need to fill out the home parish’s forms so please call that parish to find out which paperwork they need. Some parishes will accept Sacred Heart’s forms in order to transcribe to their own forms after you mail our forms to them. You need to call or email that home parish. You should be aware that if your child is baptized at another parish, that parish will become the church of record for this baptism. It will not be registered at Sacred Heart.
Q. This is my second child to be baptized here/another parish. Do I need to attend another baptism preparation class?
A. No. If you have taken the baptism preparation class within three years, you may indicate that on the baptism registration form for exemption. If it has been more than three years, you will need to retake the class as a refresher.
Q. My child is not an infant. Can he/she be baptized now?
A. Children under 7 years of age may be baptized. Children who are 7 years or older must complete their catechism prior to baptism. For information regarding the baptism of a child over seven years old or an adult, please contact Alan McGill, Director of Faith Formation and Liturgy at either email@example.com or 404-974-2234.
Q. I am divorced and remarried. Will my new spouse or my ex-spouse’s name be on the baptism certificate?
A. The parental names on the baptism certificate will be determined by the names on the child’s birth certificate. Therefore, the ex-spouse’s name will be on the baptism certificate unless the child has been legally adopted by the new spouse. If the child has been adopted by the new spouse, both the birth certificate and the final decree of adoption must be submitted. If the child has been adopted by both parents, only the final decree of adoption should be submitted.
Q. Do I need to bring a candle to the baptism?
A. No, you don’t need to bring a candle.
Q. Should I give the clergy a stipend gift?
A. While the clergy do not want to associate sacraments with money, it is always appreciated if you give the officiating clergy a monetary gift as a thank you.
Q. We had a baptism at Sacred Heart, but misplaced the baptism certificate. Can we get another copy?
A. Yes. Please go to the Sacred Heart website (www.sacredheartatlanta.org), click on “Requests for Sacramental Certificates” under Quick Links on the left side of the home page, and choose the baptismal certificate option and complete the remaining information.
Q. How do I obtain the sponsor eligibility letter since I have been asked to be a godparent? Who is the letter sent to? Do I get a copy?
A. Instructions differ depending upon if you are a Sacred Heart parishioner or a parishioner of another parish.
•If you are a Sacred Heart parishioner who is going to be a godparent at Sacred Heart, you will not need to obtain a letter. The parents of the child will need to indicate on their Sacred Heart Baptism Registration Form that you are a Sacred Heart parishioner.
•If you are a Sacred Heart parishioner who is going to be a godparent at another parish, please download the Certificate of Sponsorship, complete it, and have it signed by one of the priests or deacons at Sacred Heart. Please note: you must be a registered and active member of Sacred Heart for at least three months before you can submit the certificate for signing.
•If you are a parishioner in another parish who is going to be a godparent at Sacred Heart, you will need to contact your home parish and request a godparent/sponsor eligibility letter with a stamped seal. If the godparent will attend a baptism preparation class at his/her home parish, the eligibility letter should state not only the godparent’s active status, but also the attendance at a baptism preparation class. Sometimes, a parish will issue two separate letters for the active status and the baptism preparation class attendance. Upon completing the letter, you may give it to the parents requesting the baptism or send it directly to Father Rivera at Sacred Heart, but Sacred Heart does require that this sealed letter be submitted before the baptism can be scheduled.
Q. I am using the same godparents for my second child’s baptism as I used for my first child’s baptism. Do they need to get another letter of eligibility?
Q. I am a parishioner at Sacred Heart, and I have been asked to be a godparent for a baptism that will take place at Sacred Heart. Do I need to arrange for a godparent eligibility letter?
Q. Do I have to attend a baptism preparation class since I have been asked to be a godparent? I have my godparent eligibility letter stating that I am an active parishioner in my home parish.
A. Yes, both parents and godparents have to attend a baptism preparation class in addition to being an active parishioner in a parish. If the godparent is going to attend a baptism preparation class at his/her home parish, the eligibility letter should state not only the godparent’s active status, but also the attendance at a baptism preparation class. Sometimes, a parish will issue two separate letters for the active status and the baptism preparation class attendance.