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Thread: Catholic christening & god parent customs & etiquette - what did you do?

  1. #1

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    Question Catholic christening & god parent customs & etiquette - what did you do?

    Hi all,

    DP is catholic - baptised & confirmed but not practicing and I've been brought up baptist, but not baptised. We both believe in our faiths. We have decided to get DS baptised catholic as that is tradition in DP's family and it isn't so much of an issue for me as I believe they are all branches of Christianity ultimately (I know they have their differences and no offence is intended!) Also, re god parents...I have read that it is customary to have 2x god fathers and 1x god mother for a boy and 2x god mothers and 1x god father for a girl. Thing is, there are 2 good girl friends of mine I'd like as god mothers and we don't have a second person we'd ask as a god father (so complete opposite of the customs for a boy).

    I have no real idea about the customs, where to start and what the criteria is.

    So a few questions:

    Will it be a problem that I am not catholic?
    Will our preferred god parent arrangement be a problem? Do all the god parents have to be confirmed catholics? 2 of our chosen are but 1 is Greek orthodox...
    Will it be a problem that DP and I aren't married?
    Can we choose whether the ceremony is held during mass or afterwards? And if afterwards, is it customary to attend mass beforehand?
    What is the go with donations? Is this the usual practice and how much is appropriate and how do you give it?
    Is it normal to be "interviewed" by the priest prior to booking? What are appropriate reasons to want to have your children baptised?



    Sorry about all the questions! I just don't want to make contact with the church sounding foolish and ignorant as I don't want to offend or sound as though we're doing it for the "wrong" reasons. I would really appreciate your replies and how you went about it

  2. #2

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    It really depends on your parish and the priest doing the baptism.

    I'm not Catholic so it didn't matter, our wedding wasn't in the catholic church (however we did have a marriage blessing at the baptism as it was something we wanted to do for MIL, as it didn't mean much to us but a lot to her). I have friends who were never married but kids were baptised fine, but some churches don't allow it, so you just have to see what the church you have in mind is ok with. Godparents are fine as long as you have 1 Catholic godparent. We couldn't have 2 of our godparents present, so we had stand ins. We gave I think $250 for the baptism, and we had a family priest come to our parish to perform the ceremony but he wouldn't take a donation so we just made him stay for lunch We were never interviewed but I think it was because we had our own priest. Yes you can speficty when the ceremony is held providing the priest is available. We had ours done post Mass. It was a private ceremony.

  3. #3

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    Friends of ours have their DD christened catholic.
    They weren't married & she wasn't catholic. The 2 god parents they chose weren't cetholic either, so they had an extra god father who was catholic. So their DD has 1 God mother & 2 God fathers (DH is one).

    It is actually costomary as far as I know just to have one of each. My brother, sister & I were all christened catholic & have one of each.

    Mum & dad had issues getting us christened as they were married in a garden rather than the catholic church, so the curch didn't view them as married & refused to do it.
    The only reason we were don is coz there was a fill in preist with me & my brother was inly done coz I was.
    When it came to my sister, the church wanted mum & dad to re marry in the church. They refused to do it til mum & dad were married in the eyes of the church.
    Eventually though it was all ok & when my sister was one they finally agreed.

    All churches IME have different policies. Its up to that particular church & that preist how things are done. My bro sis & I were done 25, 23, & 19 years ago, so most of them are alot more relaxed about it these days.

    I always wanted to have my kids christened, but my DH doesn't have any beleifs & didn't want to do it. He did agree to us marrying in the catholic church though.

  4. #4

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    hi holly - i'll answer this from the POV of both a Catholic Godparent and a mummy who has recently booked the baptism of our Gremlin (yes, i'm organised in advance - but i have to plan around family travelling for another event!)

    Will it be a problem that I am not catholic?
    not a problem at all - my DH isn't Catholic - and the only thing that will be asked is whether YOU have a problem raising your child in the Catholic faith. as long as you are prepared to help your DH in raising your child within the Catholic faith you'll be fine. my dad isn't Catholic, but i'm baptised and confirmed Catholic, so it really doesn't make a difference! As you yourself mentioned, the basic Christian values are very much the same...

    Will our preferred god parent arrangement be a problem? Do all the god parents have to be confirmed catholics? 2 of our chosen are but 1 is Greek orthodox...
    i've never heard of a "preferred" arrangement. I am Godmother to two of my brother's children - both have two "sets" of Godparents - myself and SIL's brother, and then a second couple. nothing has been said about the arrangement. provided ONE Godparent is Catholic, it's fine. The Godparents we've chosen for Gremlin will be from two religions - my bro and SIL are confirmed Catholics, the other couple are (ummmm, forget!) - but they, like us, believe that the Christian values are the important factor, and the second set (DH bestie and his wife) respect that our child will be Catholic. their comments were that my bro and SIL could take care of the "church" related "duties" and they would be there for the additional support Godparents can offer.
    FWIW - my family have LOTS of Greek friends and have been to many a Greek church ceremony. the beliefs of the Orthodox Church aren't that different to Catholic at all...

    Will it be a problem that DP and I aren't married?
    this will come down to the Priest at the time. friends of mine had their daughter baptised when they weren't married. they were asked if they intended to marry (they did, but not at that point), the DP was not Catholic, so he was asked if he supported the mother's decision to have the child baptised Catholic. no dramas at all. i'm not sure if that just comes down to us having a very "open minded" priest locally though

    Can we choose whether the ceremony is held during mass or afterwards? And if afterwards, is it customary to attend mass beforehand?
    Our baptism is booked for a Saturday afternoon - no mass before or after at the Church we will be using (it's literally right next door to home!) - we chose the date to coincide with a family event on the Sunday so that family only had to travel once, and the Priest has agreed to fit in with this for us. normally, they tend to baptise during a normal mass, but it really does depend on how you go about talking to your Priest. the only service on the day we chose was not at the Church next door (was about 20k's away) and not until 6pm, so he has agreed to fit in with us. it is normal to attend one mass prior to the baptism (at least a week before i believe) to introduce your child to the Parish (well, this happened with my brother's children) - and there is usually a meeting with the Priest (sometimes one on one with the parents, sometimes with a group of people also baptising their children at a similar time) in which you receive some information about what baptism entails etc

    What is the go with donations? Is this the usual practice and how much is appropriate and how do you give it?
    i think this is very individual depending on the circumstances (financially) of the parents and the Parish into which the child is being baptised. we are yet to discuss this with the Priest (my big bro is working for the Priest at the moment, doing some repairs on the rectory, so he booked it all for us!)

    Is it normal to be "interviewed" by the priest prior to booking? What are appropriate reasons to want to have your children baptised?
    i think it's pretty normal to meet with the Priest prior to the baptism to discuss what will happen and what it all means to you as parents, and to your child. the reasons for having your child baptised are very personal, so probably not something i can answer for you sorry! for us, our choice to baptise Catholic was similar to yours - DH is from a Christian religion, so we looked at which religion to bring our child into. our choice of Godparent influenced our decision (bro and SIL being Catholic) as well as the fact that i am confirmed Catholic like your DH. we wanted to make the Godparent role "official" and also to have the support of our local Parish for the Gremlin as she grows up. we don't attend Church regularly, were not married in the Church - but if the Gremlin wants to attend when she is older, we will. we try to live with good Christian values in our everyday lives, and i think this is very important... to have the extra support to continue with this when our daughter arrives is important to us.

    HTH

    BG

  5. #5

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    We had our DD baptised in the catholic church last year.

    It was simple for us as we are both catholic, although I am not confirmed, and we were married in the same church we went to for the baptism. We don't attend mass.

    You will have to have an interview with the priest but we found it very informal. I just phoned and asked to come and talk about getting it done. Our priest it very easy to talk to and open but there are rules all the same which he must stick to.

    It is customary to have two godparents and you may have either sex or both. At least one of them must be a confirmed catholic. The other doesnt need to be catholic but the priest will want to talk to them first (to make sure they have christian values). I dont know if they check up on the confirmation through records though? we told him the name of the parish she was done in and he may have checked later although I doubt it. He did get our records out though while we were there. Mainly because I asked for a copy of my baptism certificate to have at home.

    I have never been to a catholic baptism as part of a mass. They have all been seperate. Our priest preferred to do ours on a saturday as he has a travelling parish to minister to on sundays so he is busy all day. It took about 30mins, we had no hymns or readings as my family and most of our friends are not practicing. Instead he did a fantastic job of explaining the whatfors and whys of the ceremony and it was great for the notreligiousy people. He just said "leave it to me" and we did.

    I think we only donated $150 for our ceremony.

    You dont need a proper christening gown. You just need something white, it can be a special bib or cloth to lay on the baby during part of the ceremony.

    It shouldnt be a problem being unmarried. My friend wasnt married when she had her children "done" LOL. Her partner isnt catholic either.

    As for reasons? I explained that we are do not attend church but that we hold the values of the church and want our child to grow up with the structure ofthe church behind her. He was happy with that.

    Good luck. Dont stress too much about the interview. They are there to help

  6. #6

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    Hi there
    As has been mentioned, it greatly depends on the church that you will be attending.
    In terms of Godparents, for my eldest DD we only had a godmother.
    A friend of mine is having her 7 year old dd baptised soon. They are not married, but she just isn't going to mention it. When they filled in forms, she just said that she uses her maiden name.

  7. #7

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    Hi Holly,

    I just want to encourage you to ring your local priest and have a chat about what you want to do - we have a local priest who pops in about twice a year to check up on our girls. DH is Greek Orthodox but we want the girls to be baptised Catholic - long boring story - BUT he has been fabulously supportive, providing information and is amazingly relaxed in regards to 'rules' etc.
    I would think whomever you ring will be keen to have the opportunity to expand their parish.

    GL

  8. #8

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    All the big questions seem to have been answered so I am going to put my two cents in about the donations.

    I asked our parish, and got the best answer I could have asked for, it is a donation and therefore donate what you can afford. We could barely afford $10 at the time so DS' godfather donated some money as well (bless his soul) and we forwarded many second hand and barely worn clothes that were in good condition to our parish.

    We had DS baptism at The Easter Vigil last year which is one of the times most parishes expect 'large' donations because they only accept donations for the parish priest twice a year, at Christmas & Easter. I couldn't decide if it made me feel more, or less guilty for not being able to afford it.

  9. #9

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    Will it be a problem that I am not catholic? No it won't be a problem, I'm catholic, my df isn't catholic and we christened ds catholic.

    Will our preferred god parent arrangement be a problem? Do all the god parents have to be confirmed catholics? 2 of our chosen are but 1 is Greek orthodox... We had to have 2 catholic godparent and the others it didn't matter. Ds has two godmothers and two godfathers.

    Will it be a problem that DP and I aren't married? We weren't married and they didn't treat us any different then if we had been. My sister and brother also got their children christened catholic before they were married.

    Can we choose whether the ceremony is held during mass or afterwards? And if afterwards, is it customary to attend mass beforehand? It depends on the church. Ours was afterwards and we didn't have to attend mass beforehand.

    What is the go with donations? Is this the usual practice and how much is appropriate and how do you give it? It depends on the church. Ours was only $40.

    Is it normal to be "interviewed" by the priest prior to booking? What are appropriate reasons to want to have your children baptised? You normally see the priest or attend a christening information day, which is usually under 1 hour.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for all the replies

    Sounds like it shouldn't be too much of a problem to get him baptised and also DP's Grandmother is a member of the church we wish to go to so hopefully that will help and we won't be rejected! We are hoping to have the christening around July. SO I guess I'll make the call and enquire then!

    Anyway, thanks again

  11. #11

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    Holly,
    I would encourage you to phone the parish well before the date you want as they are often very busy and you may not get the day you want. Especially if you are planning for guests who have to travel. We have a small parish but were lucky to get the date we wanted. Also if they want you to attend a class they are often only run at certain times so you would have to wait for the next available one.

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