Baptism FAQs

Many first time parents have questions about celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism. We hope your questions are answered here below. If not, please contact the Parish Office at 813-229-1595 to learn more.

How old should my infant child be to be baptized?

Under ordinary circumstances, parents should see to the Baptism of their infants within the first few weeks: “As soon as possible after birth, even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child and to be themselves prepared for it.” (Canon #876) The first consideration in determining the time is the welfare of the child, says Father John Huels, OSM, in the Pastoral Companion (Franciscan Press). Fr. Huels notes that the phrase “within the first weeks after birth,” may be interpreted to allow for special family considerations, for example, allowing the parents and other family members time to adjust to the new arrival and scheduling the participation of extended family and friends who may have to travel some distance. On the other hand, the Baptism should not be unduly delayed.

What if my child is no longer an infant – does that change what we need to do?

A child who has not yet celebrated their 7th birthday is considered an “infant” in regards to baptism within the Catholic Church. As long as your child is less than seven years of age, the process and requirements are the same. Depending on the understanding and maturity of your child, this might be a wonderful opportunity for them to share in the preparation for the sacrament.

If your child is seven or older, we will work with you to find the best pathway that leads your child to the sacrament of Baptism – and the other sacraments – and will depend on the age of the child. In this case, please contact the pastor at the Parish Office. If you would like to know more about the parish’s Children & Youth Faith Formation and Sacramental Preparation program for children older than seven, click here.

Must you be a registered member of Sacred Heart Parish in order to have your child baptized here?

Yes, you must be a registered and active member of the parish. Baptisms are celebrations of the Catholic community where you worship, and so you should celebrate with your home parish.

We are not currently registered at any parish. May we register at Sacred Heart and have our child baptized there?

If you live within the Sacred Heart boundary (Osborne Ave to the north; Davis Islands, Harbour Island, Bayshore to Howard Ave to the south; Channelside and Nebraska Ave to the east; Hillsborough River, Rome Ave, and Howard Ave to the west), you are welcome to register with us.  If you live outside of this area, contact your local parish for all sacramental preparation.

Are there Baptismal preparation classes for parents? If so, when are they?

Yes, there are preparation classes. Please consult the parish calendar for upcoming classes.

Do both parents have to attend a Baptismal preparation class?

Yes, both parents must attend a Baptismal preparation class if this is their first child being baptized. If both parents have attended the Baptismal preparation class at some earlier time, we would welcome their participation but do not require that they attend again. Godparents are also welcome to attend.

Do we have to register for the Baptismal preparation class, or can we just show up?

We ask that all parents register prior to attending the class by calling the Parish Office at 813-229-1595. Our classes tend to be filled to capacity, so please consider registering at least two months in advance.

Do we have to complete the Baptismal preparation class before we can set the date for the celebration of Baptism?

No, the date can be set in order to allow for out-of-town family and guests to attend. However, you may attend a Baptismal preparation class prior to setting the date for the Baptism.

Can we prepare for the Baptismal preparation class?

For all parents and godparents who are preparing for the celebration of your child’s Baptism, prior to the Baptismal preparation class, we would ask you to please read and reflect on this article, Baptism: Celebrating the Embrace of God.

Because this important sacrament is an outward celebration of God’s grace where we enter into a new relationship with Jesus Christ and the Body of Christ, the Church, it serves as a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the significance of our own Baptism and the difference it has made within our own lives. If, after reading and reflecting on the article, you are unable to articulate anything of substance, you might consider what hopes you have for the newly Baptized child, and what special role you might play as they begin their Christian journey of faith. Please stay mindful that the class is not only a brief presentation about the sacrament of Baptism but also a group discussion of parents and godparents. Your own personal experiences, thoughts, concerns, and hopes for your newly Baptized child can be of benefit to all as we prepare to welcome them into the community of the church.

Are there requirements of the parents who want to have their child Baptized?

Yes. At least one of the parents should be a practicing Catholic willing to commit to the task of rearing their child in the faith of the Church. Parents should accept that they are the first and foremost teachers of the faith.

What does it mean to be a “practicing Catholic?”

It means that not only do you hold true all that the Catholic Church teaches and proclaims, but that you are active in worship and liturgical celebrations of the Church. Oftentimes, the Baptism of the child can be the tipping point to move a parent to a greater commitment to the practice of the faith.

I am Catholic, but my spouse is not. May our child be baptized in the Catholic Church?

If one of the parents is a practicing Catholic, as long as the other parent is in agreement, the child can be Baptized. There must also be a well-founded expectation that the child will be brought up in the Catholic tradition.

What is the role of the godparents?

They represent the larger Catholic community. They, along with the priest and the parents, welcome the child to the community and signify that welcome by marking the child with the sign of the cross. As a community, we are obliged to protect this newest member: guiding, advising, and nurturing the child as he or she progresses in the understanding of faith. The godparents pledge to continually support the parents so that they can successfully rear the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. They pledge to the parents to bolster them in times of discouragement and to celebrate with them in times of joy. Godparents need to be actively involved in the Catholic tradition because they serve as models and guides to the child and the parents. Read more here.

Whom should I choose as godparents for my child’s Baptism?

Whether you select very close friends or family members as godparents for your child, it is a very personal decision. However, the Church does ask that certain requirements be met.

What are the requirements to be a godparent?

In order to be a Catholic godparent, a person must be:

At least 16 years of age;
A practicing Catholic who is Baptized and confirmed and has received First Holy Communion;
Someone other than the parents of the child to be Baptized;
And leading a life in harmony with the Catholic faith and the role they are about to assume.
We ask for a letter from their parish stating that they are members of that parish and eligible to be a godparent.

How can potential godparents obtain a letter indicating that they are eligible to be godparents?

Parishes routinely provide these letters, so the easiest way is to ask your local parish, and they will know the information to provide in the letter. Please read more here.

How many godparents can (must) I have?

It is customary to have two godparents – in this case one must be female and the other male. The Church does not make any provisions for more than two. Technically, godparents are not absolutely necessary – but it is the norm in our practice.

Do both godparents have to be Catholics?

Yes, a godparent, by definition, is necessarily Catholic – thus all godparents are Catholic. A Baptized Christian from another Christian denomination may serve as “Christian witness.” Jews, Muslims, and believers from other world religions may not serve either as godparents or Christian witnesses under normal circumstances but are always welcome to participate in the celebration.

Are there costs associated with the Baptismal preparation or the ceremony?

There are no fees for the preparation program, and there are no set fees for the ceremony. There is a tradition of a stipend for the church. The local custom is $25.00.

When are Baptisms scheduled?

The Sacrament of Baptism is a wonderful opportunity for the Sacred Heart community to celebrate and welcome our newest members into the Body of Christ. We celebrate Baptisms as listed here.