People often refer to a Baptism ceremony as a 'Christening'. This is an old English term which means 'becoming united with Christ'. There is no difference between a baptism and a christening.

How long does it take to arrange a baptism?

Three months. From your first contact with the priest, to the day of the baptism itself, allow 3 months. If you try to arrange a ceremony at shorter notice you are likely to be disappointed.

Arranging a Baptism for your child (7 years old or less)

Parents may apply for Catholic baptism for Children under the age of 8 by coming along to a weekend mass over two weekends, and requesting and completing an application form.

One the application form has been received, the family will be invited to a preparation meeting. The priest may be able to confirm a date with the parents when they hand in the form, on the understand that they will take part in a preparation meeting.

Preparation meetings for baptism

When possible, you will be invited to a preparation meeting for baptism. These are held either in the Church, the Presbytery, or in the Newman Room (in the old school, behind the Church, on the corner of Downey Street and Regent Road) and last from 30 minutes to an hour.

At least one parent should attend, and any other family members and Godparents are also welcome.

These meetings take place when there are adequate numbers. If numbers are low, or at very busy times, other arrangements may be made.

Map of Sacred Heart Church, Presbytery and Centre.

(Click the map for more detail).

Do we have to go to Church for our Child to be baptised?

Yes. What we expect is not especially demanding, though - we ask that you come to Mass on Saturday at 12.05pm or Sunday at 11am on two weekends. (as mentioned in the column to the left).

On the first weekend, please see the priest, deacon or parish sister and ask for a baptism application form. Please return this the following (or another) weekend. In the following week you will be invited to a preparation meeting for the baptism. At this meeting the date of the ceremony will be arranged.

There are three other things we also hope for.

1. Firstly, the request for baptism should come from faith (belief). This means it must be an honest request that the child be baptised into the faith of the Catholic Church. Obviously, regular attendance at mass would be one sign of this. Asking for baptism just to get a child into a particular school is not a sign of faith. Normally we would expect one or more of the parents or grandparents of the child to be catholic.

2. Secondly, there should be an understanding of the meaning of baptism, as the entry into the Christian life. There are no tests or exams here - but we do expect those responsible for the child to come along to one or more preparation sessions which we provide.

3. Thirdly, there should be a commitment by the parents to carry out the responsibilities of baptism. This includes bringing up the child in the Catholic faith, taking them to a Catholic School, encouraging them to pray and know the commandments. The best way to ensure this is of course to be regular at Sunday Mass.

If the priest feels that these requirements are absent, he may delay the baptism.

Please note also that if the family are not parishioners of Sacred Heart (live in the parish and/or are regular worshippers) then permission must be sought from their own parish priest before the baptism can be arranged.

Do the parents have to be Catholics?

No - but we would need to be sure that someone involved in the child's upbringing (such as a carer or a close family member) will take on the responsibility of encouraging his/her growth in the Catholic faith.

If neither parent, nor a carer or family member involved in the raising of a child is a yet a Catholic, then one or more of them may wish to become Catholics themselves. See the information elsewhere on the site, or speak to the priest.

If you are unsure about this, please discuss it with the priest.

My child has already been christened in another Church - what can I do?

The Catholic Church does not baptise people a second time. The baptism of most bodies which call themselves Christian is recognised (accepted) by the Catholic Church. If someone is already baptised outside the Catholic Church, then they can be recieved into the Church after a time of preparation.

What is the difference between baptism, christening and reception into the Catholic Church?

Baptism and Christening different names for the same ceremony. Reception is when someone who is already baptised becomes a member of the Catholic Church.

Baptised children are normally received when they make their first holy communion or (if they are too young to make their first communion) when their parents are received into the Catholic Church.

Can I choose the date and time for my child's baptism?

No. However we do try and accommodate your wishes as much as possible.

Baptisms are usually celebrated on Sundays at 12.15pm. Generally we have just one family at each ceremony. Because of other activities in the Church, and the priest's other commitments, other times are not normally available.

Once you have been to the preparation meeting, you will be able to fix the date and time of the celebration. At this stage, you will be able to choose any date and time which is available. Dates are generally booked two or three months ahead, so do not make arrangements for the baptism until the date is confirmed. Sometimes it may be possible to fix the date before the meeting - on the condition, of course, that you will be attending.

Families who attend Mass every week and are well established members of the Parish Community often wish their children to be baptised during the mass. Speak to the priest about this.

Please note that for those aged 8 and older, other arrangements apply.

Is there a charge for baptism?

The Catholic Church teaches that its members are responsible for the material support of the Church and its clergy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2042) When the Church performs a service for a family, it is usual for a generous offering to be made - not as payment for a service rendered, but as an act of thanksgiving to God. We recommend £30-£50.

It would be wrong to think of this as a "charge". Obviously when someone is in danger of death or extreme poverty, no offering is expected.

Baptism is one of the sacraments of the Church, and admission to the sacraments does not depend on money, wealth, finance, privilege or position - the only requirements are faith, an understanding of the meaning of the sacrament and a commitment to carry out the responsibilities which follow from the sacrament.

The offering is an act of gratitude to the Church - a measure of how much you value its services. This can be done in many ways.

Many people use special envelopes to make weekly donations. Others pay monthly by a bank standing order. Some make their contribution in the collection which is taken each week at Mass.

Those who do not make such weekly offerings, and who make use of the services of the Church, are especially invited to make a donation as an expression of their gratitude which takes into account both the costs of the Church and also their ability to pay.

Given the costs of maintaining the Church, and the preparations and materials necessary for a baptism, we consider £30 to be the minimum amount which it is reasonable to ask, affordable by almost everyone. Most people could afford more: for those we recommend about £50. We also ask that you consider your giving in the light of your income, and as a part of the overall cost of your celebration. Those who might be spending considerable sums on a party after the baptism, ought to consider a more generous offering. You may well wish to give more, as a particular expression of gratitude.

Arranging a Baptism for someone of 8 years or older

Application to baptise persons aged 8 and over (and to receive those already baptised outside the Catholic Church) must be made to the Archbishop must be made by the priest to the Archbishop, after the person has followed a course of preparation for baptism, first holy communion and (if an adult) confirmation.

If your child is aged 8 and over, the arrangements are much the same as those for older persons (baptised or not) who wish to become members of the Catholic Church. These celebrations normally take place once each year.

We usually run the course for children in the spring and first holy communions (preceded by the baptism) take place in about May or June.

The course for adults begins at the end of September and concludes at Easter. Please contact the priest or see the information elsewhere on the website.

When there are enough candidates, a celebration of confirmation may be organised when the Bishop visits.