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The Sacrament of Baptism

A Life in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism

“Every encounter with Christ, who in the Sacraments gives us salvation, invites us to ‘go’ and communicate to others the salvation that we have been able to see, to touch, to encounter and to receive, and which is truly credible because it is love. In this way, the Sacraments spur us to be missionaries, and the Apostolic commitment to carry the Gospel into every setting…” ~Pope Francis, November 6, 2013

Congratulations on the planned baptism of your child! Saint Joseph Cathedral welcomes families to celebrate with great faith and joy the baptism of their children and are pleased to be the Church where this first Sacrament will be celebrated. The Sacrament of Baptism is administered following the 12:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral.

Baptism is the first sacrament of Christian initiation. It is the sacrament that frees a person from original sin and makes that person a member of Christ and His Church, thus beginning the way to a new life in Christ. It is administered by a priest or deacon pouring Holy Water on the person’s head “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” One must be baptized before receiving any other sacraments. Baptism is the foundation for all ministry and life in the church, and confers a commitment to follow Christ and spread His message throughout the world.  Furthermore, in baptism, one is incorporated into the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and thus participates in the gift of resurrection and eternal life with Christ. Infants can be baptized soon after birth. At the time of baptism, parents vow to practice their faith and provide a Catholic upbringing for the child.  Adults who have never been baptized take part in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), and will typically be baptized during the Easter Vigil Mass.

Selecting a Godparent or Sponsor

The duties of godparents are more than ceremonial. The principal responsibility of a godparent is to give witness to the Catholic faith by his or her words and actions, thus parents need to find practicing Catholics to faithfully serve in the role as godparents. As noted in the Code of Canon Law, “Insofar as possible, one to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who is to assist an adult in Christian initiation, or, together with the parents, to present an infant at the baptism, and who will help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it” (Canon 872). In selecting godparents, the Catholic Church requires:

  • A godparent must have received the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.

  • A godparent or sponsor must be at least 16 years of age.

  • A godparent must be living a life consistent with faith and morals as taught by the Catholic Church.

  • A godparent must be a registered, active Catholic in their parish church, and needs to provide a letter of suitability from their pastor. A non-Catholic, baptized Christian must also be a registered, active member of their Christian faith community, and also must provide a letter of suitability from their pastor.

  • There must be one Catholic godparent; a non-Catholic, baptized Christian may be chosen as a Christian Witness.

At the Baptism of their first child, both parents must participate in a Baptismal Workshop prior to the Baptism. The Baptismal Workshop is also recommended for any godparent who has not previously taken a Baptismal Workshop. Baptismal Workshops are held  every odd numbered month on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 1:30 pm. (January, March, May, July, September, and November) in the Cathedral Undercroft. Please register in advance (no walk-ins) by contacting the Cathedral Office at (614) 224-1295 or  To inquire about possible dates for the actual Sacrament of Baptisml contact the Cathedral Office  at (614) 224-1295 or


Baptism: The Door of the Catholic Church

The Sacrament of Baptism is often called “The door of the Church,” because it is the first of the seven sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics receive it as infants) but in priority, since the reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church. Traditionally, the rite (or ceremony) of baptism was held outside the doors of the main part of the church, to signify this fact.

The Necessity of Baptism

Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

Baptism of Desire

That doesn’t mean that only those who have been formally baptized can be saved. From very early on, the Church recognized that there are two other types of baptism besides the baptism of water.  The baptism of desire applies both to those who, while wishing to be baptized, die before receiving the sacrament and “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of conscience” (Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council).

Baptism of Blood

The baptism of blood is similar to the baptism of desire. It refers to the martyrdom of those believers who were killed for the faith before they had a chance to be baptized. This was a common occurrence in the early centuries of the Church, but also in later times in missionary lands. The baptism of blood has the same effects as the baptism of water.

The Form of the Sacrament of Baptism

While the Church has an extended rite of Baptism which is normally celebrated, which includes roles for both parents and godparents, the essentials of that rite are two: the pouring of water over the head of the person to be baptized (or the immersion of the person in water); and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Minister of the Sacrament of Baptism

Since the form of baptism requires just the water and the words, the sacrament, like the Sacrament of Marriage, does not require a priest; any baptized person can baptize another. In fact, when the life of a person is in danger, even a non-baptized person—including someone who does not himself believe in Christ—can baptize, provided that the person performing the baptism follows the form of baptism and intends, by the baptism, to do what the Church does—in other words, to bring the person being baptized into the fullness of the Church. In both cases, a priest may later perform a conditional baptism.

Infant Baptism

In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While some other Christians strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that baptism requires assent on the part of the person being baptized, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and other mainline Protestants also practice infant baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced from the earliest days of the Church.  Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child’s salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized.

Adult Baptism

Adult converts to Catholicism also receive the sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult has already been baptized, the priest will perform a conditional baptism.) A person can only be baptized once as a Christian—for instance, someone who was baptized as a Lutheran cannot be rebaptized upon conversion to Catholicism. While an adult can be baptized at any time after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion. 

The Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:

  1. The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) and personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves).

  2. The remission of all punishment that we owe because of sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell).

  3. The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace (the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the three theological virtues.

  4. Becoming a part of Christ.

  5. Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.

  6. Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood of all believers, and the growth in grace.


Planning an Infant Baptism at Saint Joseph Cathedral


  1. Complete and submit the Baptism Information form. Once this form is received the parents will be scheduled for the next available Baptismal Workshop. Attendance at the Baptismal Workshop is mandatory.

  2. The Baptismal Workshop is offered every odd numbered month on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 1:30 pm. (January, March, May, July, September, and November).  If either parent has already attended a Baptismal Workshop at another parish, please obtain a letter or certificate with the seal of the church stating that the parent(s) has attended the Baptismal Workshop.

  3. Godparents must provide Godparent letters*. Godparent letters are letters from the Godparents’ current parish stating they are active Catholics and in good standing with their parish.  The parish office will know what a Godparent letter is. Godparents, per Canon law, must be one male and/or one female.

  4. Once the parish office has received the registration form and the  Godparent letters, and the parents have attended the Baptismal Workshop, the Baptism can be scheduled. Baptisms take place on Sundays after the 12:30 pm Mass. The only time a Baptism can't be scheduled is if there is an event scheduled that day or no Priest or Deacon is available. The parish office will work with you to find a day that works best for you.

  5. Any parent who  is not a registered parishioner of Saint Joseph Cathedral  will need to provide a letter from their  current pastor* giving Saint Joseph Cathedral permission to baptize their child.

* All documents requested must be an original copy from the church office with the official seal of the church.

Adult Baptism
For information on Adult Baptism please contact the Cathedral Office at:

(614) 224-1295