The Sacrament of Baptism initiates a person into the Paschal Mystery, that is, into the experience of the dying and rising of Jesus Christ. This fundamental experience and encounter with Jesus is the guiding principle of a Christian’s life. Through Baptism a person becomes a member of the Body of Christ in the Catholic Church thus a member of the worshipping, witnessing and serving Church and is cleansed of Original Sin.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
The Second Vatican Council designated as the norm for initiation into the Catholic Church a spiritual process known as the Catechumenate. Through this process of an indeterminate length of time an adult (a person 7 years of age and older) comes to the knowledge of Jesus Christ primarily through hearing and meditating on the Sacred Scripture (Gospels). As Saint Jerome taught, “Ignorance of the Gospels is ignorance of Christ.” The candidate is also invited to participate in the service dimensions of the community to live the Christian life, supported by sponsors and the people of the parish through example and prayer. The emphasis is on being formed into the values and lifestyle of a Christian not providing information about Catholic belief and tradition. This informational aspect is often what may draw a person to inquire about the Catholic Church but is secondary in importance to living Jesus Christ. Public rituals and prayers accompany the journey and mark significant points of passage toward the celebration of the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist during the Easter Vigil or other appropriately chosen time.
You can make an initial contact in regard to your questions with Fr David or with our RCIA coordinator, Mel Sperti.
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Baptism of Infants
Though adult initiation through the process of the Catechumenate is the norm for entrance into the Catholic Community, the Church continues to baptize children. In this process the Church celebrates with families the new life that they have brought forth from their mutual love or through adoption. Unlike an adult candidate who can reflect on the Gospels and make a personal decision for Jesus Christ, in the case of infant baptism the Church relies on the faith and example of the parents, godparents and family to be the immediate and initial “school of holiness” for the infant. The faith, prayer life and values lived out by the parents is vital for such a decision if the child is to mature in the Christian faith. It is more than just making sure a son or daughter “gets” their Sacraments rather it is about a prayerful, moral and Christ-like lifestyle. The baptismal liturgy teaches in various and repeated ways of the parental and familial responsibility:
The vocation of parenthood in the mutual love of marriage is a wonderful and yet daunting mystery and responsibility. The Church acknowledges that family life has been and is changing. The norm often is Catholic families affected by the pain and separation of divorce, single parenting and families where grandparents or guardians have a significant role in the life of children. These familial situations bring undo pressure on all members of the family. The baptism of a child is not dependent on a traditionally intact family but rather on the family members being willing to bring the child up in the practice of the Catholic Faith.
The Church strives to be present to all who approach her to walk the way of Christ with their children.
For questions concerning the baptism of a child or to make preparations for the celebration of the Sacrament please contact Fr. David: 607-432-3920, ext. 4.
Priests who are members of a family or are family friends are welcome to come and celebrate the Sacrament, if that is the desire of the family.