49 West North Street
Clayton, New Jersey 08312
Main: (856) 881-9155 Fax: (856) 881-9166
"To bear witness to God the Father, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ,
and to be guided by the Holy Spirit."
Arranging a Baptism
The birth of a child is a most beautiful and wonderful event. Needless to say, you
have been preparing in many ways for this event from the moment you learned of the
expected birth. Most likely you have been in close consultation with your medical
doctor and with the hospitals that provide various classes in preparation for your
child's birth. This is as it should be because a child changes his or her parents' lives.
You will never be the same again as you welcome with love this new life into
Baptism is an important event for you in the life of your child. The people of God,
the Church made present in the local Parish have an important part to play in the
Baptism of children. Priests and Deacons represent the Parish community. Here at the
Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel, we wish to assure you that we will do all that
we can to help make your child's Baptism a meaningful celebration. These guidelines
are intended to explain what preparation is required and, hopefully answer some
questions you might have. Please feel free to ask any questions, if they are not
Preparing for the Celebration of Baptism
According to the law of the Church, the parents of a child who is to be baptized are to be suitably instructed on the meaning of this Sacrament and the obligations attached to it. Certainly it is a timely opportunity for parents to review their own faith, especially regarding Baptism, and to consider the responsibility they have in handing that faith on to their children. Parents requesting Baptism of their first child or families new to the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel should make an appointment with the Pastor. In addition, no Baptism will be administered at the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel until parents have met the obligation of attending a Baptism Preparation session. If you have attended a Baptismal Preparation session here at the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel within two (2) years of your new arrival, you do not have to attend another session.These sessions are generally held on the third Monday of the month in the Rectory Conference Room (located at the driveway end of the building ... the ramp door entrance) at 7:00p. (Please call the Parish Office to confirm and / or arrange your Baptismal Prep class.) The following is a list of requirements particular to the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel:
Parents must be registered and practicing members of the Parish (exceptions are the sole prerogative of the Pastor and require his permission.) If you need to register in the Parish, you may obtain the Parish Registration Form by clicking here.
Pre-registration for a Baptismal Preparation Session is necessary and is expected at least two (2) weeks prior to the session. Couples do not have to wait until the baby has been born to attend a session.
No Baptism will be administered at the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel until the parents have attended the Baptism Preparation session (out-of-town parents coming home to the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel must have a letter from their local Pastor stating they are registered and practicing members of his Parish and that they have met all of the requirements for Baptism in that Parish).
It is expected that both parents attend the class. Godparents and children are also welcome to attend.
Scheduling the Baptism
In making arrangements with the Parish Office, please come to the office during regular office hours, 10:00a to 2:00p on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays) to pick up the necessary paperwork. This paperwork is required for us to complete the necessary Church records. Please call the office to let us know you're coming or if you need to stop by the Parish Office at at time when the Office is closed.
The times for Baptisms are:
During the 4:00p Vigil Mass on Saturdays and / or during the 8:00a Mass or 10:00a Mass on Sundays
10:00a until 1:00p on Saturdays
11:30a on Sundays (after the 10:00a Mass and after the church has been cleaned and sanitized.)
Please contact the Parish Office before making any restaurant or catering arrangements. Other days of the week may be requested for Baptism for pastoral reasons and are subject to the Pastor's approval.
Stipends for Baptism
In thanksgiving for the gift of faith and the reception of a Sacrament, parents may wish to make a donation to the Church on the occasion of their child's Baptism. In general, a gift of $50 is recommended to assist the Parish in the work of the Church.
What if I am Single or We are Unmarried?
The Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel is happy to welcome all who wish to receive the Sacraments of the
Church as they seek to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. If you are a single parent or if you are an unmarried couple, part of the paperwork required is a copy of the child's Birth Certificate. If you are married outside of the Catholic Church or if you are an unmarried couple, you should meet with the priest to discuss your relationship and the possibility of celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church. The grace of the Sacrament of Marriage is fundamental to a good and holy family life.
What if I do not practice my faith?
Even though you don't participate in Sunday Mass now, perhaps "now" is a great time to begin! You are most welcome! If you have issues with the Church or your faith, please feel free to contact the Priest / Pastor to discuss these issues. He can assist you in any way needed by answering questions, providing proper information, and by the healing the comes through prayer and the Sacrament of Penance.
At the celebration of Baptism, you will promise to raise your child according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Living the faith is the best way to teach your child. You will hear: "... In asking for Baptism for your child, you are undertaking the responsibility of raising him / her in the faith, so that, keeping God's commandments, he / she may love the Lord and his / her neighbor as Christ has taught us. Do you understand this responsibility?" If you can honestly answer the question in the affirmative, that is, "I do," your child can be baptized. By virtue of those words you make an oath before God to deepen your child's appreciation of the Catholic Faith.
Sponsors / Godparents
Since the Sacrament of Baptism is the foundational Sacrament in the life of a Catholic,
and for that matter, any Christian, great care must be taken in deciding who will serve as
Godparent. The decision as to who should be a Godparent should be based upon who would
provide the best example of Christian living for the child and not merely for reasons of
maintaining family harmony. A Godparent is chosen not primarily to honor the Godparent,
but for the well-being and faith development of the child.
Godparents must meet all of the following criteria, which are established by universal
Church law, which do not vary from place to place. Godparents must:
Be an active, practicing Catholic. (A practicing Catholic is one who attends Mass regularly on Sundays and Holy Days and is sincerely devoted to his or her faith in Jesus Christ and His Church. In other words, be registered in a Catholic parish and be able to obtain from his or her Parish Priest a Letter of Eligibility.
Be at least sixteen (16) years of age.
Have completed their own Christian Initiation through reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
Be living a chaste life. (You are not living with anyone, or if you are married, you were married according to the laws and teachings of the Catholic Church.)
Not be the father or the mother of the person to be baptized or confirmed.
Not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared. Any Catholic who has abandoned the faith, even if they now are active members in another Christian church or community, may not serve as a Godparent, Christian Witness, or Sponsor for Confirmation.
Only one (1) Godparent is required by Church law. This Godparent may be a man or a woman. However, if two (2) Godparents are selected (the more common practice), then there must be one man and one woman chosen. In other words, a child cannot have two men or two women as Godparents.
If two Catholic Godparents cannot be found, Church law does permit the appointment of one "Christian witness" to the Baptism ceremony. This witness must be baptized, upright, and non-Catholic (i.e. Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian). This "Christian witness" takes part in the ceremony, but is not a Godparent. As stated above, a former
Catholic, a non-baptized person, or someone who does not live a virtuous Christian life can never be a Christian witness.
Letters of Eligibility
Letters of Eligibility for a Catholic Godparent are obtained from the church / parish where the individual is currently registered (NOT from the church / parish where they received their Sacraments).
A Christian Witness needs a letter from the church where they attend, stating they are Baptized and active members of that congregation.
Letters of Eligibility need to be original with the church seal. All Letters of Eligibility / Letters for Christian witnesses need to be received by the Parish Office at least one (1) week before the scheduled Baptism.
Choice of Baptismal Name
The Rite of Baptism begins with a simple question: "What name do you give (or have you given) your child?" Our names become the main symbols of our identity. The Catholic Church has a tradition of naming children after Saints or Virtues. Today, Church law is very specific. The Church prohibits only those names that are foreign or contrary to our Catholic Faith.
However, the name you give your child can impact their future. Please exercise good judgment, as "trendy" names and spellings quickly become outdated / out of fashion and can burden a child. Remember that your son or daughter must live with the name you give them throughout their lives and into eternity.
Photography at the Ceremony
Please feel free to take pictures and / or video during the ceremony. The Priest or Deacon who performs the ceremony simply asks that you not obstruct the ceremony or enter the Sanctuary in order to get the perfect shot. The church is open to you after the celebration of Baptism for additional pictures.
Children who are in the process of being adopted may be baptized at the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel with the consent of their natural parents. If a letter cannot be obtained stating that, then the Baptism must be postponed until the adoption has been finalized, except in the danger of death. A copy of the child's adoption papers must be submitted with the Baptism paperwork. Foster parents do not have the authority to present a foster child for Baptism.
Record of Baptism
You will receive a Certificate of Baptism on the day of your child's Baptism. Your child's permanent record of
Baptism will always be kept at the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel. Before your child enters Catholic School, Religious Education, prepares for Confirmation, Marriage, Religious Life, or Ordination, they will be asked for an updated copy of their Baptismal Certificate. It will always be issued from this Parish. Please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Office for these copies as needed.
Thank you for welcoming Christ into your child's life. May God bless you in your role as a parent, raising and caring for your child. Remember that you are the first, best teachers they will encounter. They will learn many things from you and others throughout their lives, but none as important as the lesson of faith. As you live your Christian life, so will your children. Please take the opportunities presented to you at the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel and on other pages of this website to deepen your own faith and in turn, the faith of your child.