Requirements for Baptism in a Roman Catholic Church

Priest baptise baby as mother and godmother assist in Mississippi.
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Roman Catholics believe that they have been commanded to participate in baptism as a demonstration and commitment to the Christian faith. They also believe that this baptism is essential to being saved from sin. Most Roman Catholics like to baptize their babies in the first few months after they are born, but adults also may be baptized. Baptism in the Roman Catholic church has several prerequisites.

1 Registration

Rev. carries a monstrance during a mass in Boca Raton, FL.
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Parents who wish to have their children baptized have to be registered members of the parish in which the baptism is going to take place. Generally, this means that the parents have to have attended the church and attended mass for at least two months.

2 Cathechism/Instruction

Young child being baptised inside cathedral
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If the person being baptized is under 7 years old, she doesn't have to take catechism classes (classes that teach what the Roman Catholic church believes). However, parents and godparents are required to take instruction, as are individuals being baptized who are more than 7 years old. If the parents and godparents already are practicing Catholics who have been baptized and who have had communion, then the instruction may be limited to baptismal responsibilities and beliefs only and is very brief (usually only a few hours). If the parents and godparents are not Catholic, they must take regular catechism courses over several months to become members of the Catholic church (not registered with the individual parish). This is because the parents and godparents act as sponsors for the person to be baptized and are expected to guide the baptized person in the Catholic tradition and faith. You usually don't have to attend this instruction if you've done it recently (within the past three years). If you wish a non-Catholic who hasn't received instruction to stand up with you at a baptism, you may, but they'll be witnesses only. At least one godparent must be Catholic.

3 Certificates

Inside large traditional Catholic church
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Those who wish to sponsor a baptism must request baptismal forms from the parish office. These forms verify that the sponsor has met the requirements for acting as a sponsor, which (in addition to the instruction requirements) are as follows:

1) at least 16 years old 2) practicing Catholic with good standing in the church 3) not of the same gender as the second godparent 4) have received the sacraments of baptism, eucharist and confirmation

If the requirements for certificates are met, the certificates then should be presented to the baptism coordinator for the parish.

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.