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Martinsburg
United States

Alcove

Baptism of Newborn

alec vanderboom

Has anyone else run into trouble trying to schedule a baptism for a newborn?

We belong to a large city parish. Our church schedules baptisms only twice a month in a small chapel outside of regular Sunday Mass. The earliest baptism date I can get in September will occur when my baby is over two weeks old.

I asked if there was any flexibility to schedule a private baptism with one of our many parish priests. The secretary told me that most parents wait until the baby is 2 to 3 months old before they baptize. She hinted that I was a little nuts for worrying about a baptism before my child was even born.(At my last daughter's baptism at this same parish the Deacon told me he never sees baby's under one year.)

I'm pretty sure that this "common" practice in my parish is against Cannon law. We're supposed to get baby's baptized within the few weeks after birth. I feel like I saw something from our Pope which recommended not waiting longer than 10 days after birth.

Canon 867
ยง 1: Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth; as soon as possible after the birth, or even before it, parents are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared for it properly.

In addition, my parish prints a very unfriendly notice in the church bulletin which states "you must be a parish member for the past 6 months before baptizing your child." Everyone in my community works for the government and the turn-over for jobs is super high. I can't imagine telling a couple that newly relocates to D.C.while the wife is pregnant- "Sorry you need to wait six months to baptize your child." Can't there be some exception if you provide a letter from your old parish stating that you're a Catholic in good standing? Do we really want to raise extra barriers to this extremely important sacrament?

Baptism is so critical. I feel like I'm supposed to say something politely to my pastor about this subtle discouragement of newborn baptisms, but not sure what to say. Anyone have any ideas?

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!