Infant Baptism (under age 7)
A message from Fr. Dan Connealy
“The Christian community welcomes you with great joy!” These are words taken from the rite of baptism for children, which I also make my own. It is with great joy that I, and all of us here at St. Joan of Arc, accompany you as you embark on this important duty of having your child baptized into Christ, becoming a member of the Church.
Because the baptized belong no longer to themselves but to Jesus Christ who died and rose for us, your choice declares that you accept the responsibility of helping your child become his disciple. You are not alone; the community of St. Joan of Arc will walk beside you in this task of nurturing the faith of your child. We are in this together as the Body of Christ. It gives me joy to walk with you in this journey of faith.
Please take time to carefully read through the packet (English or Spanish). There is a lot of information, and some required forms to fill out and turn in. A detailed check-list of these required forms, etc., is provided towards the end of the packet.
Each family is unique, and we are here to walk with you in a process that is suitable for your needs. We invite all families to enter more fully into the life of the Church and the parish community throughout the process.
The Lord Jesus looks lovingly on your child and your family. My prayer for you is that you keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts and the hearts of your whole family. As you strive to be living examples of faith and discipleship to your children, know that you are in my prayers as well.
Fr. Dan Connealy
St. Joan of Arc
Information & Frequently Asked Questions
How do I begin the process?
Call the parish office 602-867-9171 x311 and ask for Brian Hanson, Coordinator of Infant Baptism, or email Brian at email@example.com (For Spanish, please contact Maria Diaz at 480-612-2924). The process directly corresponds to the needs of the family for the nurturing and growth of faith and conversion to the mystery of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Discerning this process begins with a personal conversation.
What is required of parents in order to celebrate baptism for their child?
First and foremost, parents are called to renew their own conversion to Jesus Christ, striving to pattern their life and the life of their family on the teachings of the Gospel. They are expected to have some experience of the company of Christians through contact with the parish community, and to be familiar with the Christian way of life.
How do I know what Catholic parish I belong to?
Your physical home address constitutes the parish you should be registered with. However, you can choose to register with a Catholic Church parish outside of your geographical area. In order to be considered a Catholic in good standing, you must be committed to a Catholic Church parish so as to ensure that you and your family members are both sharing and benefitting from reception of the sacraments and overall life of the parish community.
What if I am not a registered parishioner of St. Joan of Arc, can I still have my child Baptized here?
Normally, sacraments are to be administered in one’s home parish. If St. Joan of Arc is your parish, we ask that you be registered and active for at least three months.
However, if you belong to a different parish, and you believe there are reasons to have your child baptized at St. Joan of Arc, the criteria mentioned in no. 3 above still normally applies. Parents are strongly encouraged to have a personal conversation with their pastor or his designated minister in order to foster a relationship and to discern a suitable path for preparing your family for the celebration of baptism.
NOTE: We may need to consult with your pastor or his delegated minister prior to planning the celebration of baptism. He or his designated minister are welcome to provide a letter indicating your status in his parish.
When and where will Baptisms take place?
When: Baptisms are normally held on the Fourth Sunday of the month at 2:00pm (Spanish) and 3:00pm (English).
Where: In the narthex (vestibule) of the main church.
NOTE: there is a list of dates when baptisms are scheduled to be celebrated on page 15.
Who celebrates the Baptism?
A parish priest or deacon ordinarily celebrates Baptism.
NOTE: If you request a priest or deacon whose assignment is not in the Diocese of Phoenix, a “Letter of Suitability” is required from the bishop of that celebrant’s diocese, stating that the prospective celebrant is in good standing. It is the responsibility of the parents to obtain and present this letter to the Baptismal Coordinator at least two weeks before the Baptism.
Are their required classes parents need to take?
The life of the parish is the “class”: parents are expected to be (or become) immersed in the Christian way of life in the parish community of St. Joan of Arc for at least three months prior to the celebration of Baptism. Because the faith of the Church is living, it presumes that what we all believe and pass on to others (e.g. our children) is fully integrated into our lives. By joining the community in reflecting on the value of knowing Jesus Christ, especially through participation in Mass, parents are expected to renew their own faith, nurturing a life in union with Jesus and his Church. This immersion in the Christian way of life in the parish community is achieved in four ways:
NOTE: Please contact Brian Hanson for English or Maria Diaz for Spanish with regard to discussing suitable preparation for baptism. Their contact information is available in the packets.
- Encountering Jesus each Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation. Participation in Mass and the Eucharist is central for our lives; it is the source and summit of our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the Word of God, which is celebrated in the Liturgy of the Word each Mass, should become an intimate part of one’s life, fostering a sense of the mystery of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
- Living faith within the parish community. In various settings, parents learn how to witness and share their faith with others within the community, and practice love of neighbor – even at the cost of self-renunciation. This can only happen by spending significant time with the community, meeting others and forming relationships.
- Worship and Prayer. Parents actively and consciously participate in Sunday liturgies (e.g. Mass); they also learn how to pray with others in communal settings, as well as develop prayer in their daily lives and in their home, which is the first place prayer is learned and practiced.
- Witness and Service. Parents learn how to work actively with others to spread the Gospel and build up the Church by the witness of their lives. This is the meaning of living a baptismal life.
These four disciplines in the Christian way of life are what “make up” the ordinary life of the parish in its various activities. The process for parents is meant to be suited to a spiritual journey that is appropriate for each family. This will vary according to the many forms of God’s grace as well as the circumstances that make up the lives of the parents, including their own cooperation and that of the community. Everyone’s journey is unique; what is necessary is for one’s conversion and faith to become strong through immersion in the life of the parish.
What if one parent is not a baptized Catholic?
In the event of a mixed religion marriage, the Catholic spouse must remember their commitment to living out their own baptism as expressed in their wedding ceremony: to raise their children in the faith of the Catholic Church. At least one parent must be a baptized Catholic, and there must be a well founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion.
What if the parents are not legally married?
- Parents are strongly encouraged to look into Marriage in the Church, which is a natural requirement of love (and not optional), and a vocational calling for those who are baptized. Responding to the call to Marriage is the first and greatest witness given to children who have a right to the love that is demanded by the Marriage itself.
NOTE: If parents are not married or merely in a civil union, it is not an impediment per se to celebrate the baptism, so long as they are aware of their duties and responsibilities to train their children in the practice of the faith. The greatest way parents can do this is to live a life that is consistent with the faith they profess and into which they are having their children baptized.
- If the parents are unmarried, we will not be able to list the name of the father of the child unless we receive one of the following:
- A copy of the child’s birth certificate which lists the father’s name;
- A copy of a legal document that lists the father’s name, establishing his paternity;
- A sworn declaration by the father himself in the presence of the parish priest and two witnesses.
- NOTE: this sworn statement must be notarized.
- NOTE: At least one of these documents or the sworn declaration must be provided at least two weeks prior to the celebration of Baptism.
Selecting Godparents - Information & Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for someone to be allowed to serve as a Godparent?
For the grace of baptism to unfold, it is important to have the help of godparents. The role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, must be able and ready to help the newly baptized on the road of Christian life.
Godparents officially represent the Church by witnessing what it means to live a baptized life, confirmed in the Holy Spirit and faithfully participating in the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life. Below are the official requirements of godparents:
- They must be at least 16 years of age and living a life that is consistent with the function they have been asked to undertake.
- This means that they have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.
- If they are married, this means they are married in the Church. A “civil marriage” by itself does not actually constitute a marriage in any sense for the baptized.
- Their pastor signs the Godparent Form (pages 11-14 in this packet), indicating that they are registered in a Catholic parish, are in good standing with the Church and actively living their faith as disciples of Jesus Christ, and regularly participating in the Sacraments and life of the Church.
- NOTE: The Godparent Form must be completed and turned in at least two weeks before the Baptism.
- Through a suitable process of preparation, they are expected to have undergone a conversion in mind and action in a spirit of faith and charity.
- If there are two Godparents, they must be of the opposite sex.
- If someone was ever baptized as a Catholic and currently claims to “…have left the Catholic Church,” then he/she cannot be a Godparent or a Christian Witness.
How many godparents can I have or do I need?
You are required to have at least one active, confirmed Roman Catholic Godparent who is in good standing with the Church (see the criteria listed in Question #1 above).
What if the Godparents cannot be present for the Celebration of Baptism?
If a Godparent cannot be present at the Baptism, a proxy should be designated to witness the Baptism itself. As proxies, they should normally meet the same qualifications as Godparents (refer to Question #1 above). They will be listed in the baptismal registry as “proxies”. They must be designated by the godparent, and approved by the parents.
What is a Christian Witness?
- If there is only one Godparent, another person may serve as a Christian Witness. A Christian Witness is someone who simply “witnesses” the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism as a non-Catholic Christian.
- The Christian Witness is an individual, at least 16 years of age, who has been baptized into Christ in a non-Catholic Christian community.
- The Christian Witness is not a Godparent, and therefore does not assume the responsibilities of a godparent.
Who can/cannot serve as a Christian Witness for the sacrament of Baptism?
- Only someone who is a baptized non-Catholic can be a Christian Witness for the Baptism.
- A Christian Witness cannot be listed as a Godparent because their life does not fully witness to the practice or support of the Catholic way of life to which you, as parents, are professing to your child.
- NOTE: A Christian Witness must provide some written indication or proof of a valid Baptism (e.g. a baptism certificate) to the Baptismal Coordinator (Brian Hanson) at least two weeks before the scheduled Baptism.
* Please note: if someone was baptized a Catholic and currently claims to “…have left the Catholic Church,” and/or has not yet received the sacrament of Confirmation, then he/she cannot be a Godparent or a Christian Witness.