Baptism FAQs

FAQS for Baptism
The following section attempts to answer many of the frequently asked questions concerning the Baptismal Rite as it relates to children who have not yet reached the age of discretion (physically and cognitively) - the Catholic Church determines that the age of discretion is 7 years old (a point when the child is capable of making morally responsible choices).  If your child is older than 7 cognitively and physically, then your child should go through the RCIA for Children process to obtain the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist).  If you are an adult seeking the Sacrament of Baptism, then you will be pursuing the rewarding path yourself through the RCIA formation process. 

Note, these are merely those questions which get asked most frequently.  While great care was taken to address the various questions below, it is by no means comprehensive. We encourage you to prepare a list of questions for your Initial Visit.

Can I have my child baptized if I am not a registered parishioner at St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish?
Yes. You don’t have to be registered at the parish, especially if you live out of the Gaylord area (Otsego County), but still have some connection to our parishes. However, if you do live in the area we do ask that you consider registering with the parish office. It helps all of us to get to know each other better and be part of the Catholic community.

How much does it cost to baptize my child?
The Church does not charge for any sacramental celebration. Families may donate to the parish to help cover any of the incidental costs of the preparation and celebration of Baptism. Any donations given directly to the priest after the celebration of baptism will be directed to the parish unless otherwise specified.

When should parents contact the Parish Office about baptism for their child?
We invite parents to schedule their initial visit with the parish staff as early as possible in the pregnancy. Participating in the preparation process during pregnancy allows appropriate time to discern whether baptism should or should not be celebrated once the child is born. Remember that the cornerstone of the Baptism process is the concept that there exists a basis of hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith.

Are parents required to participate in all three phases of formation before their children are baptized?
Parents are to be properly prepared for living out the commitment they are making (i.e., to raise their child in the Catholic faith) and for being able to celebrate the Sacrament with understanding as to its impact, beauty, significance, and nature. Therefore, parents are required to make every effort to make the time of formation before Baptism a privileged moment by sacrificing some time. If you have any concerns about the commitment of formation and preparation do not hesitate to contact the

Are both parents required to attend phase three of the formation process?
It is an awesome opportunity for both parents to be present and go through the formation process together as part of living out the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We would hope that the parents would make every effort to go through this formation process with an open mind and heart. If there are any extraordinary circumstances, please contact us at the Parish Office.

Are godparents/sponsors required to attend baptism preparation classes before their godchild is baptized?
The role of a godparent/sponsor is very valuable in the Christian formation of a baptized child. Therefore, godparents/sponsors must be prepared in order to fulfill their roles in the Baptismal Rite and in assisting the parents in their duties of raising the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. We highly recommend and strongly encourage that the godparent/sponsor attend the Baptism Formation Encounters; but this is not required. There is a lesson for godparents available at

I am to be a godparent at another church that requires classes. Can I take godparent classes at St. Mary Cathedral?
Because St. Mary Cathedral does not require its godparents to attend classes we do not offer godparent classes. However, parishioners are welcome to go through the online course and attend one of our Baptism Formation Encounters after which you will be provided with a "Certificate of Completion" to be presented to an outside parish.

Do parents and godparents need to attend a preparation program again when another child is to be baptized?
As long as parents have completed Baptism Formation Process at St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish for their first child, then the parents will not need to attend the program again. However, phase one (Initial Visit) would still be necessary.

Can a non-Catholic Christian be a godparent/sponsor?
No. Only a practicing Catholic who meets the qualifications can be a godparent or sponsor.  However, a non-Catholic, baptized Christian who participates in the Baptism and accepts responsibility for helping raise the child to live a Christian life can participate in the Rite of Baptism as a "Christian Witness" (and so reflected on the baptismal certificate) if a Catholic godparent is also present. However, a Christian who was baptized and confirmed Catholic and now practices in another Christian tradition cannot be either a godparent / sponsor or a Christian Witness. 

The church requires at least one godparent who is a practicing, confirmed Catholic age 16 or older. That godparent's name is entered into the Parish Record Book as the "official" godparent or sponsor for baptism.  Thus, if you wish to have additional persons bear witness at Baptism as Christian Witnesses and be listed as such, then you must also have one fully initiated (meaning that they have celebrated Confirmation) Catholic godparent who is not impeded from being a godparent / sponsor as well.

Can a brother or sister be a godparent / sponsor?
Brothers or sisters of a child to be baptized may be godparents/sponsors providing that they have completed their 16th year of life, have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function, be Confirmed Catholic and have celebrated their First Communion and not be bound by any canonical penalty (i.e., such as married outside the Catholic Church). It should be noted that specifics on who can and cannot be a godparent/sponsor is a question that should be brought up during your initial visit.

How should inter-church marriages (marriage between a Catholic and a Christian of another denomination) or inter-faith marriages (between a Catholic and non-Christian) be handled during the Baptism Preparation process?
If the parents were married within the Catholic Church, it is the Catholic parent who is obligated to fulfill the promise of raising their children within the Catholic faith and our Church.  The non-Catholic spouse need not be burdened with the obligation of overseeing that the child be raised in the Catholic faith. Therefore, only the Catholic parent is obligated to attend Sacramental Preparation classes. However, both Christian and non-Christian spouses married in the Church have confirmed that they understand their Catholic spouse’s obligation and as such will not interfere with that most important duty.

Our Parishes welcome and encourage the participation of the non-Catholic spouse in the preparation and celebration of their child’s Baptism.  Even though the non-Catholic spouse need not be burdened with the obligation of overseeing that the child be raised in the Catholic faith, the non-Catholic Christian spouse is certainly encouraged to participate fully, inclusive of renewing his or her baptismal promises. However, a parent unable to make the Catholic profession of faith may refrain from the profession of faith if they so wish. 

Note, the focus of this event is the Baptism of the child, not on any one spouse's religious beliefs.  Take care to ask necessary questions during your Initial Visit about raising a child in a mixed religion household if you and your spouse feel you need more answers.

If the parents are not validly married in the Catholic Church, can the child be baptized?
There is nothing that prevents a child born to parents who are not validly married in the Catholic Church from being baptized. Our Parishes welcomes with open arms your decision to baptize your child in the Catholic faith. As such, you may wish to discuss having your marriage convalidated (recognized) by the Catholic Church, please contact the rector/pastor of St. Mary Cathedral.

If the godparents are not validly married in the Catholic Church, can they be godparents?
Firstly, the chosen godparent(s) does not need to be a married person. However, if the chosen godparent is married (whether to another Catholic or to a non-Catholic) then they must be married in the Catholic Church in order to be chosen as a godparent.

If the parents are not married, can the child be baptized?
Nothing prevents a child born to parents who are not married from being baptized within the Catholic church provided that the parent(s) of that child is/are properly disposed, has/have been appropriately prepared, understand(s) the responsibilities that come with having the child baptized and is/are willing to fulfill the commitment undertaken to raise the child in the rich principles of the Catholic faith. If you would like to discuss preparing for marriage, please contact the parish office.

Can a child be baptized privately?
Sacraments are by their very nature public and communal - indeed, the very name Catholic Church derives from the Greek adjective katholikos meaning "universal" and also has roots in the term "all-embracing" thus so are the sacraments.  They are never private actions.  When one is baptized, the whole Church celebrates and rejoices.  Therefore, the communal nature of the sacrament should be reflected in the manner it is celebrated. We normally do not allow private baptisms (outside of the cathedral or parish churches) except in special circumstances which are usually performed in emergency situations such as in the hospital or nursing home. Even the baptisms celebrated after Mass are public and all the faithful are invited to attend.

Can a family priest or deacon baptize our child?
Because this option requires coordinating with the facility scheduler to "reserve" the church space, please contact the Baptism Coordinator before beginning any other portion of the Baptism Preparation process.   If you have completed the Baptism Preparation requirements for your local parish and you can provide documentation proving such, please have your family priest/deacon fill out the proper paperwork and send it to the Parish office. After approval of all documentation, a member of the Parish staff will contact you - either by email or phone - to have your Rite of Baptism queued up in schedule. Contact the Parish Office for the appropriate paperwork and more information.

May a child with a mental or physical disability be baptized?
“Disability, of itself, is never a reason for deferring Baptism.” If the child has mentally and emotionally reached the age of discretion (age 7) and has not been baptized the child is invited to participate in the RCIA for Children process where they will prepare for all their Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist). However, if the child is over the age of discretion physically, yet their cognitive age is below the age of discretion due to a disability, then the child can be baptized without participating in the RCIA process. Concerns or questions can be discussed in further detail during your initial visit.

Why is the presentation of a birth certificate important for the issuing of a Baptism Certificate?
It is important that the parish be able to properly identify and verify the child’s birth information (i.e. parent’s names, legal name of child, custody, etc.) when preparing the Baptism Certificate.

What if I don’t have a birth certificate yet?
It can take up to 3 months after the child is born to receive the birth certificate. If you do not yet have a birth certificate, please provide us with the Birth Verification Facts that you received at the hospital. Upon obtaining the birth certificate, please email/fax a copy to the attention of Jan Reynolds at 989.705.3589 [email protected] A copy of a state issued birth certificate for children older than 3 months must be in the parish office prior to scheduling the baptism.

Do I need to bring anything to the Baptism?
There is nothing in particular that you need to bring to the Baptism beyond, of course, the parties of interest such as yourself, the child, sponsors, godparents, any Christian Witnesses, and family and friends as you see fit. The parish will provide you with a Baptism candle and white baptismal garment (sort of like a bib). However, if you bring your own candle, simply inform the deacon or priest just prior to the Baptismal Rite.

Credit: FAQ’s taken and adopted from Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, Houston TX
Contact the Cathedral parish office at 989.732.5448 if you have additional questions.