FAQ About Baptism
How do I arrange a Baptism?
Parents should call Marc Laudonio, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis, at 257-5000 to schedule a baptism and the baptismal preparation sessions (Catholicism 101).
How soon should I have my child baptized?
Children should be baptized within the first weeks after birth. You are enthusiastically encouraged to arrange a date for the Baptism and to participate in Catholicism 101 before the child is born!
Must our child be baptized with the name of a saint?
The actual requirement is quite minimal. You are only obliged to avoid names that are “foreign to a Christian mentality.” It is highly desirable that either the first or middle name of the child be that of a saint or of other Christian significance.
Is it possible to have a Baptism on a day other than Sunday (so that relatives from out of town can be present, for example)?
Yes. We will do everything we can to accommodate such family considerations.
Will there be a baptismal ceremony for our family individually, or will the ceremony include several children being baptized together?
Since Baptism is a celebration of the community of the Church, it would not be appropriate to separate ceremonies artificially, celebrating one individual Baptism after another. In fact, however, there is seldom more than one child being baptized after any particular Mass, so the ceremonies are in practice usually individual.
Can the Baptism be celebrated at our home?
No. Your child already belongs to your human family. In Baptism, the child is being baptized into the community of the Church. The Baptism should take place in one of our parish churches (currently either Holy Redeemer or St. Patrick).
Must I be a member at the Cathedral Parish to have my child baptized here?
Generally, yes. Every Catholic should be a registered member of the local parish where he or she regularly attends Mass; and that parish is the place where the members of your family should normally receive the Sacraments. If you are not currently registered, but regularly come to Mass at St. Patrick or Holy Redeemer (or are beginning to do so), you will be encouraged to register in the Cathedral Parish.
There is occasionally a situation in which parents who live far from Madison want to have a child baptized here because the majority of their relatives live here. This is permitted, but the parents must (1) be registered members of their own local parish; (2) complete the baptismal preparation required by their home parish; and (3) obtain the permission of their pastor for the Baptism to occur here.
I am not married. Can my child be baptized?
Yes. A child may be baptized so long as there is a well-founded hope that he or she will be brought up in the practice of the Faith. This is present so long as one parent is willing to practice the Catholic Faith and share it with the child. A child is not penalized for having been born out of wedlock.
If the parents of a child are living together without benefit of marriage or in a civil marriage not recognized by the Church, they would be encouraged to regularize their situation so that they can fully practice the Faith they are called to share with their child.
Questions about specific situations should be discussed with Msgr. Holmes or Marc Laudonio, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis. If the parents are willing to do what they can, there is never an insurmountable obstacle to the Baptism of a child.
Neither my spouse nor I is Catholic. Can our child(ren) be baptized Catholics?
Parents have the responsibility to raise their children in the Catholic Faith. In order to do so, at least one parent should be Catholic.
If you are not currently Catholic but wish to enter the Church yourself in conjunction with the Baptism of your child, that is certainly possible. This process would involve prayer, instruction and sharing in the life of the Catholic community over several months at least. (See also Becoming Catholic.) The most appropriate conclusion to this process is for the family to be baptized together. Please contact Marc Laudonio, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis, for further details.
What if we have trouble finding one man and one woman who satisfy the requirements and can be sponsors at the Baptism?
First, only one sponsor is required, and that sponsor may be of either gender.
Secondly, although it is preferable that sponsors be present for the Baptism, this is not required. One or both sponsors may be represented by proxy (someone present at the Baptism who speaks for the absent sponsor). There are no special requirements for proxies ( - they need not be Catholic, for example).
Finally, it is not required that godparents be relatives of the parents. If you are a part of the life of our parishes, you have come to know friends here who could be very fine sponsors for your child.
Can we have more than two sponsors for our child?
No. The Church does not want the responsibility of sponsors to be diluted. The maximum number of sponsors is two; and if there are two, one must be male and one female.
Can’t non-catholics sometimes be sponsors?
No. In order to sponsor someone to become a member of the Catholic Church, one must be a Catholic oneself. (Could you imagine sponsoring someone to become a member of the Elks Club if you yourself were not an Elk?)
However, if a child being baptized has only one sponsor, a non-catholic Christian may serve as an additional witness of the Baptism and be recorded as such. The rules about gender do not apply to a witness; so, for example, a child may have a female sponsor and a female witness. Nor is there any requirement that a witness be an active member of his or her denomination.
May we take photographs or video during the Baptism?
Yes – but anyone with an official role in the Baptism (parent, sponsor or witness) should give their attention to that responsibility and not serve as a photographer during the ceremony itself.
Is there a fee for Baptism?
No. Since it is presumed that the parents belong to the parish and are regularly supporting the Church according to their ability, there is no fee for Baptism. The priest or deacon performing the Baptism is often given a monetary gift as a token of appreciation, but this is at the discretion of the family. If the parents do live elsewhere and are celebrating the Baptism here for the convenience of the family, a donation to the parish would be very appropriate.