What is baptism?
Baptism is a Sacrament of Initiation by which we become members of the Body of Christ, the new people of God, the Church. Those who are baptized experience the beautiful symbol of “living water.” In the waters of Baptism, a person truly participates in the dying and rising to new life with Jesus. It is through Baptism that we begin our journey of faith with God, supported by our Catholic Christian community.
For more information on what baptism is, and what it does, please see these references:
- From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
- Some articles from BeginningCatholic.com:
What is the role of parents and godparents?
In Baptism, the Church sees the role of parents and godparents as extremely important. As representatives of God and the Catholic Church, parents will serve as the primary teachers of faith and will care for the spiritual needs of their child throughout his life. Godparents, for their part, assist the parents in this task. (See below to find out the requirements for godparents.) For this reason, a preparation class is required to help parents and godparents fulfill this role.
To baptize your child at St. Clare: Summary Check List
- Preparation class for parents.
- Parents must read and sign the Baptism Requirements and Consent Form.
- Preparation class for godparents.
- Godparents meet qualifications. (See below for more details)
- Godparents must fill out and sign the Godmother and Godfather Baptismal Covenants.
- Parents must be parishioners at St. Clare to baptize their child here. (See below for more details)
- If not parishioners at St. Clare, then parents need a letter of permission to baptize their child outside their parish, sent directly from their pastor.
- If you have difficulty with #6 or #7 above, you may need to consult directly with the pastor of St. Clare, Fr. Vincent. See below for more details.
- Turn in the following paperwork to the parish office (or email directly to John Kovacs) before the preparation class (or before the baptism, if you’ve taken the class at a different parish, or if you’ve taken a class within the past three years):
- A copy of both parents’ photo ID (driver’s license, passport, visa, etc.)
- A copy of the godparent’s photo ID (driver’s license, passport, visa, etc.)
- State-issued birth certificate for the child being baptized. (If the child has not been born yet, or if you haven’t received this from the state yet, it must be provided before the baptism can take place.)
- Baptism Requirements and Consent Form
- Godfather and/or Godmother Baptismal Covenant Form(s)
- Letter of permission from your pastor, if you are not a St. Clare parishioner.
- Documentation for the parents and/or godparents, if you’ve taken a class at a different parish, or if you’ve taken a class within the past three years.
- The appropriate fee for the class and/or the baptism. (See below for more details)
Please note the following regarding the preparation classes:
- Both parents and the godparent(s) need to take a baptismal preparation class. These classes are offered every other month at St. Clare. Please see the schedule below.
- Classes from other parishes will be accepted if the parish sends us a letter or certificate indicating that you have taken the class. Please send the letter (or fax, 281-286-1256) to the attention of John Kovacs.
- Classes taken within the past three years, whether at St. Clare or at another parish, will be accepted.
- Parents are strongly encouraged to register and attend their preparation class before their child is born.
- Register online for both the baptism class, as well as for the baptism. See below.
Is you child older than seven years?
Parents requesting Baptism for a child who is older than seven years should ask to speak to John Kovacs at 281-286-7729, ext. 125, concerning RCIA for children and youth.
Are you only interested in taking the class?
If you are the parents (or the godparents), and you plan to baptize your child at a different parish, you are welcome to take the preparation class here. There is no need, in this case, to be parishioners at St. Clare or to have a letter of permission. This requirement is only if you plan to do the baptism here.
Please register for the class, then, and select “Baptism will not take place at St. Clare” for the desired date for the baptism.
A certificate of completion for the preparation class will be mailed to the address you give us when you register, usually within a week.
What is the cost?
Fees for parishioners at St. Clare (see below for more details) are as follows:
- Parents are asked to contribute a $25 donation for the baptismal process.
- If you are only doing the class at St. Clare, the fee is $15.
- If you are only doing the baptism at St. Clare, the fee is $10.
- Godparents are asked to contribute $15 for the class, if they take it at St. Clare.
Fees for non-parishioners are as follows:
- A $30 fee is required for the baptism class, for the parents, if they take the class at St. Clare.
- A $30 fee is required for the baptism class, for the godparents, if they take the class at St. Clare.
- A $20 fee is required for the parents to do the baptism at St. Clare.
Please make checks payable to “St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church,” and put “Adult Faith Formation” in the memo line. Please place your check in an envelope to the attention of John Kovacs. You should mail or drop off the fee at the parish before the class takes place. If you are taking the class at a different parish, or if you have taken a class within the past three years, then please turn in the fee for the baptism before the baptism takes place.
Schedule of Baptisms and Classes for 2017
Preparation classes and group baptisms are offered on the following dates:
Classes: Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. in the Conference Center
- February 11, 2017
- April 8, 2017
- June 10, 2017
- August 12, 2017
- October 14, 2017
- December 9, 2017
Baptisms: Sundays, 1:00 p.m. in the Church
- January 8, 2017
- March 12, 2017
- May 14, 2017
- July 9, 2017
- September 10, 2017
- November 12, 2017
How To Register
Both parents and godparents must attend a preparation class, and are encouraged to attend before the baby is born (remember, you’ve got at least nine months, so plan ahead!). An infant should be baptized within the first weeks after birth, unless there is a serious reason for delay. (C.867.1).
You can register here for a baptism class, for a baptism, or for both:
- Parents, you should register for yourselves as well as for your godparents, all in one registration form, filling in all of the information about the godparents that you can.
- Godparents, if you are taking this class to be a part of a baptism at another parish, please fill in as much information about the parents as you can.
After You Register
The baptism classes are held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Conference Center. When you arrive, we ask that you do the following:
- Sign in so that we know you’ve come. There are separate areas for parents and godparents to sign. Look for your name.
- Check your registration form for errors, and fill in any missing information. Your form will be in the blue binder.
- Take one participant book and one binder per couple. Each godparent should take a book and binder, as well.
- Turn in the state-issued birth certificate if you have it (if you are baptizing your child at St. Clare).
The baptisms take place at 1:00 p.m. in the Church. Please show up at least 30 minutes early in order to check in with the priest or deacon, to get settled, and to prayerfully prepare for the celebration.
Not a St. Clare Parishioner?
It is strongly recommended that both the baptism class and the baptism of your child take place at your home parish. The reason is simple: your home parish is “local,” and your pastor and baptism team can minister to you in a way that is more personal and effective.
However, that being said, it is possible to baptize your child here, even if you’re not a parishioner. In this case, though, we will need a letter from the pastor of your parish, giving you permission to baptize your child here. This letter should be mailed or faxed to us.
If you are not a formally registered parishioner at any particular parish, then you automatically belong to the parish within whose geographical boundaries you live. You can look at a map of parishes in Houston to see which is the nearest parish to where you live here or here. Usually the parish nearest you would also be the parish within whose boundaries you live, but it is not always the case–you might live just over the boundary. So be sure to call the parish to make sure.
If you cannot get a letter of permission from the pastor of the parish within whose geographical boundaries you live–perhaps because you do not actually attend there, or because you do not attend frequently enough for the pastor to know you–then you will need to consult directly with Fr. Vincent, the pastor of St. Clare. To set up a meeting, please call the parish office and ask to speak with Fr. Vincent. Please also contact John Kovacs in the parish office and let him know.
If you are not a registered parishioner anywhere, however, consider that God is calling you to become a part of a stable community–one where you can grow as a family, make friends in Christ with other Catholic families, take part in faith formation programs, and be supported through the Word of God and the sacraments of the Church. God calls each of us to daily conversion and lifelong growth in our relationship with Him, and the best place for this is within a stable parish community.
In Summary: There are two ways to qualify as being a St. Clare parishioner:
- You live within the geographical boundaries of the parish of St. Clare. Please see this map, or the Decree of Erection of the parish (since the text on the map is hard to read).
- Or, you will need to have been formally registered here for at least a year.
- If you’ve been registered for less than a year, please contact Fr. Vincent, the pastor of St. Clare, to set up a meeting to consult directly with him.
- If you’ve just moved to the area and haven’t had a chance to register, you can try to get a letter of permission from the parish you used to attend. If you cannot, then please contact Fr. Vincent to set up a meeting to consult directly with him.
Not an Active Catholic?
Many times parents approach the Church and they want to baptize their child, but they are not practicing Catholics. This can be a problem, because once the new life of Christ is given to the child through baptism, this new life must be cultivated and supported. Just as a child must be fed, clothed, given shelter, education, and love, on the natural level, so must the supernatural life of grace be cultivated. This means, first of all, that the child needs to be brought to Mass every Sunday, to fulfill the minimum obligations of Catholics to worship God. This also means enrolling the child in faith formation at your parish so that the child can grow in both the knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith. Ultimately, though, the parents are the primary teachers of the faith to their children, and so it is their obligation, before God, to raise their children in the Catholic faith. If you think you may have problems doing this, contact John Kovacs, the Pastoral Associate for Adult Faith Formation, so that you can discuss your situation.
Please consider carefully the following situations, which are problematic for the supernatural life of Christ within the child:
- When the parents request Baptism for merely social reasons.
- When the parents show no intention of raising and educating the child as a Catholic because they have not done so with other children.
- When the parents have little knowledge of Catholic belief and practice and refuse further discussion or instruction.
The bottom line is: we want you to be active, because this is what God wants! The baptism of a child is a special time of conversion for the parents, a time when God gives many graces. He is mercy and love! So if you find yourself not actively practicing as a Catholic, please consider that now is the time to begin. If you have further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact John Kovacs, the Pastoral Associate for Adult Faith Formation.
Not Married in the Church?
Sometimes people ask whether they need to be married in the Church in order to baptize their children. The answer is no, it is not required. But this is a great opportunity to do so, if you are presently not married in the Church. After all, the parents are the primary teachers of the faith to their children, and baptizing your children means that you want them to be raised as Catholics. So the example you set will have a deep impact on them. Ask to speak with the pastor or a deacon about having your marriage convalidated in the Church. Just call the parish office to set up an appointment.
If you would like to get married in the Church but you were previously married and divorced, visit our page on annulments to find out what the next step is.
Requirements for Godparents:
Choosing Godparents is a very important step. Godparents should be chosen prayerfully and should be individuals who will provide examples of faith, and who will support the spiritual growth of your child.
- A godparent must be a practicing Roman Catholic. A non-Catholic Christian may not be a godparent, but may serve as a Christian Witness to the Baptism.
- There are three options: you can have one godparent, two godparents, or one godparent and one Christian Witness.
- If two persons are chosen (whether two godparents, or a godparent and a Christian Witness), they must be male and female.
- Godparents should be registered in a parish and attending Mass weekly. A Christian Witness must be actively involved in his ecclesial community.
- Godparents and Christian Witnesses must be at least 16 years old.
- Godparents must have received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- Godparents, if married, must be married in the Catholic Church and be in good standing with the Church. Likewise, a Christian Witness, if married, must be in a marriage that is recognized by the Catholic Church.
- Similarly, a Godparent or a Christian Witness should not be cohabiting with someone they are not married to.
The role of godparent must be taken seriously. To help godparents fully understand this responsibility, we ask them to attend the Baptism Preparation Session at St. Clare, or to attend an equivalent preparation class in another Catholic parish. If at another parish, a certificate or letter of completion should be mailed or faxed here, to the attention of John Kovacs.
Baptism of Adults
Adults requesting the Sacrament of Baptism will receive preparation through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Please contact John Kovacs for more information, and to set up an initial interview, at 281-286-7729 x. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-Catholic Christians Who Want to Become Catholic
Parents who are not Catholic but who wish to learn more about the Catholic faith may also take classes through the RCIA. Contact John Kovacs for more information: 281-286-7729 x. 125, or email@example.com.