The Sacrament of Baptism
The Sacrament of Baptism opens the door to a new life in Jesus Christ... a life that goes beyond our death and into the life of heaven after our death.
Baptism is the sacrament of salvation: an encounter with God that cleanses us from sin and makes us true children of God, sharing in his very own divine life.
This great gift is offered to all who believe and to the children of families of faith. Since her earliest days, the Church has baptized adults and children because it is the only ordinary way God has revealed that we may receive the grace of salvation through this sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Baptism is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation. The other two are Confirmation and Holy Communion (Eucharist). Children typically receive the other Sacraments of Initiation after reaching age 7 and before age 16.
Baptism of Infants and Children (under age 7)
It is an ancient custom and also a requirement of Church law that each new Christian have at least one sponsor, traditionally called a godparent, who “together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations” of this new life. (Code of Canon Law, 872)
Church law and our diocese provide guidelines for the qualifications to serve as a godparent. The reason for these requirements is to ensure that the new Christian will have the support they need from their sponsor who will promise to pray for them and help them as they prepare for other sacraments and seek to live out their baptism throughout their lifetime.
Requirements to be a Godparent
To be a Godparent, an individual must:
1) Be living an evident life of Catholic Christian faith, including regular Mass attendance and Confession.
2) Be at least 16 years of age.
3) Have recieved the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist.
4) Be married in the Church, if married.
5) Not be the Father or Mother of the person to be baptized.
Each person to be baptized is allowed a Godfather and Godmother, yet only one Godparent which meets the above requirements is necessary. Non-Catholic Christians cannot serve as Godparents, but are certainly welcome at the Baptism and may stand in for a Godparent as a "Christian Witness".
Baptism of Adults (and children age 7 and up)
Following the spread of Christianity in the first few generations after the resurrection of Jesus, the Catholic Church developed a process to prepare adults for entry into the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion (Eucharist). Today, the Church calls this process the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA. Through this process, those who express interest in becoming Catholic are welcomed into a special community within the parish to learn about the teachings of Jesus and his Church, to have their questions answered, learn about the new life in Christ offered by baptism, and prepare for the reception of the Sacraments.
Please contact us to get started! Nothing more than an interest in learning more about Catholicism is needed to begin. There is no pressure, only welcome and support as you freely journey towards union with Christ and his Church.
Children who have reached age 7 and have not yet been baptized are considered “adults” with consideration for the reception of sacraments. This is because - at age 7 - they are able to take personal responsibility for their sins and are able to make a profession of faith on their own. A special preparation process is provided for them. Parents, please contact us so that we can help you get started. It is never too late to baptize your children.
Common Baptism Questions
Congratulations on your new baby!
Our Parish rejoices with you and looks forward to helping you welcome your child into God's family and our community at Baptism.
Baptism is the Sacrament that washes us clean of Original Sin and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church. Baptism is also the beginning of the Christian life. In it and through it, we inherit a share in God's love and life: the eternal love of the Trinity.
Here are some helpful points for celebrating Baptism at Saint Agnes:
Baptisms are held on Sundays around 1:15 p.m. in the Church font (just after our noon Mass).
To have your child baptized at Saint Agnes, parents need to have been registered parishioners at Saint Agnes for at least three months, and they must attend a Baptism Class taught by Fr. McShurley. The Baptism Class meets once a month on the first Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. We encourage you to attend the class before the birth of your child! Please contact Marie Macnamara, Director of Faith Formation, at 703-527-1129 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn more about having your child baptized.
Traditionally, godparents often filled this role in the event that both parents died while the child is a minor. However, this is not the case in modern society. Any legal needs to provide for your children should be taken care of in addition to your child's baptism. While it may be the case that a godparent would make a very suitable candidate for this role, the Church does not make any connection between these unique roles in the care of children in this most difficult circumstance.
No. According to the Code of Canon Law: "To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor [for baptism], a person must . . . not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptized" (CIC 874). We may be able to help you find a suitable person to serve as a godparent.