First baby's baptism? Here's what to expect on the day
Army Recruitment Officers often patrol shopping malls and teen hangouts hoping to round up lost souls promising them a new adventure and a brighter tomorrow. In the Baptism scenario, my mother was the ARO and my son’s soul was the one at risk. She encouraged us to sign up for a tour of duty promising several fun days out and salvation in the final days.
In hindsight, she was very sketchy about the actual details. It had been over two decades since she had been in the trenches, so she told me to toddle into the community centre after Mass, where someone would show me the ropes.
If any of you have ever seen any Army recruitment film, you know that this is the part where the unsuspecting newbie gets an earful from a ruthless Staff Sergeant. That didn’t actually happen to me, but only because I happened to meet a very nice lady down in the church who helped me with everything. As far as my mam's help was concerned I could have met Platoons Staff Sergeant Barnes, and had a very different outcome.
Just in case the personnel at your local church are a little on the psychotic unhelpful side of religious leaders, here is a little information to help you find your way.
The process is as follows:
- Ring up the baptism committee (number is on the parish website usually) – they will arrange a meeting to meet you and the baby and get some details from you (like the birth cert). Both parents can attend, but are not required. Godparents do not go.
- The baptism committee arranges a welcome meeting for you and the other babies getting christened that month. It’s a meet-and-greet with a prayer. Both parents can attend, but are not required. Godparents do not go.
- The Christening is scheduled at a date and time, and the Welcoming is scheduled at a date and time.
- The Welcoming is where you introduce the baby at a regular mass to the rest of the congregation (because the baptisms these days are just the families). This is usually the Sunday before the Christening.
- Day of the Christening:
- What you need: 1 white candle, 1 white shawl, 1 baby
- Show up to the church early – the baptism committee will explain how things go that morning, so being there early helps that
- The parents and godparents sit together with the baby up at the front, the rest of the family sit together further back
- Priest welcomes everyone and does a bit of mass. The only things you need to watch for are: Priest puts oil on the baby’s head and chest and Godparents are required to light a candle.
- Priest calls the parents to the baptismal font for the christening.
- Godmothers drape the Christening shawl afterwards.
- It’s totally fine to feed the baby, amuse the baby, change the baby during the ceremony (the facilities are usually around the bathrooms). Anyone who thinks otherwise has clearly never met a baby – they don’t wait for service.
- Delegate photography duties to somebody sensible. You do not want someone who thinks this is their chance to create that abstract portfolio they always wanted, or someone whose finger will be in every photo. You also don’t want someone who will get in the priest’s way, or who has other duties to preform (such as being the parent, godparent or grandparent).
- Afterwards, one parent has to fill out a book giving the details of the baby, parents and godparents. This is usually the time a ‘voluntary donation’ is given – going rate seems to be between €50 - €100.
Cathy lives in Kildare with her husband, 10 month-old son and too many animals for a small household, in fact the place often feels like a petting zoo. She is one half of the team behind AHomeMadeByCommittee (an Irish Lifestyle blog) where she discusses motherhood, weddings, DIY, GIY, and everything in between. Follow her on @CathyCClarke.