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Baptism of Infants and Young Children


A birth is a moment of great rejoicing.  Parents want what is best for their child. After all, bringing a child into the world is an act of faith towards the future, an act of confidence towards life.  It also requires that parents make decisions for their child.  Initiation into the Church is one of these decisions.

The term ‘children’ or ‘infants’ refers to those who have not yet reached the age of discernment and therefore cannot profess personal faith. Children who are older than 7 are able to request baptism for themselves, and are old enough to begin to learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

From the earliest times, the Church has baptized not only adults but children as well. Young children are baptized in the faith of the Church, a faith proclaimed for them by their parents and godparents, who represent both the local Church and the whole society of saints and believers: 

To fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament, children must later be formed in the faith in which they have been baptized. The foundation of this formation will be the sacrament itself that they have already received. Christian formation, which is their due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn God’s plan in Christ, so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized.[1]

I want to request baptism for my child

You will want to contact a parish near you, which you can find here.  Your parish will ask you to join a baptism preparation group with other parents, where you will be able to reflect together on the meaning of baptism and prepare for the day of the baptism. 

Why do I have to find a Catholic who is confirmed to be the godparent of my child?

Baptism is not just a private affair – it is communal.  In baptism, we are incorporated into the People of God, which is the Church.  The role of godparents is to help the parents foster the faith of the newly baptized child.  In order to do this, they need to take their own life of faith seriously.  So it only makes sense that the godparents would be fully initiated into the Church – through baptism, confirmation and the eucharist.

The pastoral notes to the Rite of baptism has this to say about godparents:

  • Together with the parents, godparents present the child for baptism, profess the Church’s faith, and assist the parents in their responsibility to raise their children in the practice of the Christian faith.
  • Only when godparents are people of firm faith and committed love can they influence the newly baptized child to live the Christian life. 

Godparents are to assist the parents by prayer and their own faithfulness to Christian living.  Parents and godparents should inspire and encourage baptized children to model their lives on Christ, whose life they share.

[1] Catholic Church & National Liturgy Office. (1989). Rite of baptism for children (Canadian ed.). Ottawa: Publications Service, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, no.1-3.

Archidiocèse de Gatineau
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Gatineau (Québec) J8Z 3J5
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