The arrival of a newly born infant is the occasion of great happiness. Like the friends of St John the Baptist’s parents, Elizabeth and Zachary, we might wonder “What will this child be?” There could be countless answers to this question, but the one thing that is certain is that each baby is called not only to be the child of Mummy and Daddy, but also to be a child of God. As the waters of baptism pour over a child’s head, something really wonderful happens: the original sin with which we are all born is really washed away; sanctifying grace (God’s life and love) are poured into the soul; the image of Christ is stamped onto the soul forever, the baby becomes a child of God and an heir to His kingdom.
By having a child baptised, the parents commit themselves to bringing him or her up as a Catholic; they must pledge themselves to educate the child in the Catholic Faith and give practical examples of living that Faith. In real terms, this means being active members of the Catholic Church, beginning with weekly Sunday attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and regular family prayers at home. Without this commitment, parents risk taking baptism for a more or less empty cultural gesture with little significance. On the contrary, by pledging to involve their children actively in the life of the Church, they give their children the best start in life and set them up to be life-long members of the Church founded by Christ.
Having a Child Baptised at St Gerard’s
As a rule, only children of parents registered for some time at St Gerard’s will be admitted to baptism in this parish. All others ought to arrange baptism with their local parish priest if they live outside the parish or commence attending weekly Mass at St Gerard’s if living in North Dandenong. A list of contacts for parishes in the Archdiocese of Melbourne can be found at:
For parishes in the Diocese of Sale (Eastwards from Narre Warren and Cranbourne inclusively) see:
Ideally, infants ought to be baptised as soon as possible. Many parents delay baptism by spending months preparing a large party. While baptism is certainly something worth celebrating, the focus is above all on the infant’s becoming a child of God and therefore must not be unnecessarily delayed.
Soon after the birth or even before, parishioners of St Gerard’s must arrange to meet with the parish priest who will then be able to confirm a date and time for baptism.
In choosing godparents, the parents should be mindful that only one male or one female godparent, or one of each sex is to be asked (Canon 873); they must be at least sixteen years of age, be a practicing Catholic who has received the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion (Canon 874). A practicing Catholic is one who leads a life in harmony with the Faith and the role to be undertaken.
What to Bring to the Baptism
The only essentials to be brought to the baptism are the parents, the godparents and – of course – the baby. Babies are usually clothed in white as a symbol of the purity of the newly cleansed soul; the church has its own simple baptismal candles which are handed over at the end of the ceremony, but some parents like to bring a more elaborate and personalised candle. They can be purchased in any shop that specialises in church supplies.