Hi! I’m new to Catholic Answers, and am hoping someone can give me some ideas here.
My friend has asked my husband and I to be godparents to her new son. The baptism is coming up in June and will be in Southern California. The parish where the baptism will be requires that godparents take a baptismal prep class ahead of time. We do not live local to her parish, so we’ve been instructed to take a class at our local parish and just bring a certificate of completion to satisfy this requirement.
I feel like I’ve checked everywhere around my local area and none of the parishes near me offer any baptismal prep class for godparents that we can take. We live in Northern California (Bay Area). I have no idea where to turn next.
Does anyone know of any credible online courses we could take that could provide us with a certificate? I’m starting to get worried about finding a class.
It’s frustrating when each parish has their own rules about what is required for their sacraments. I wish they were all the same so at least I wouldn’t get really confused responses when I inquire about taking a baptism class that isn’t a requirement for most parishes near me. (Rant over :shrug:)
It sounds strange to me that a parish wouldn’t have a class for parents and godparents. In the parishes I’m familiar with, the classes last an hour or two – they’re just very basic information.
Just for grins I looked at some parishes in San Jose as an example of the Bay Area. Looking at their web sites I see:
Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph
Parents and sponsors of children under 5 years of age must attend a Baptism preparation class. Orientations are offered once a month in English or Spanish.
Holy Cross Parish
Baptisms and Baptismal Preparation by appointment only…The class is a must for Parents and Godparents.
St. Martin of Tours Parish
Baptism of infants and children under the age of seven is celebrated twice a month at our church at our regularly scheduled weekend Masses. Parents are required to attend a preparation session before the baptism of their child.
So there are three parishes that offer baptism preparation classes.
Have you checked the web sites of parishes near you?
Thanks for searching for me! My home parish is Christ The King in Pleasant Hill, which is about an hour from San Jose. I don’t see anything about baptismal classes on my parish’s website. I searched for baptismal classes at other parishes in the surrounding area, and the only one that came up was St John Vianney in Walnut Creek. I emailed them, but they said they basically couldn’t help me because their class is ONLY for parents…
St. Agnes Parish requires parents of the child to be baptized, to attend two classes before the Baptism and the Rite of Welcome Mass.
The Baptism date, for your child is scheduled after completion of these classes.
Class is held in the St. Agnes Ministry Center at 7:00 P.M.
For further information, please contact the Ministry Center at (925) 689-0838.
St. Mary, Walnut Creek
Deacon Tony (se habla español): 925-891-8937
English, 2nd Saturdays at 10:00am
Español, 3rd Saturday at 10:00am
Parents must attend a preparatory class.
Christ the King, Pleasant Hill
Baptisms are celebrated on Sunday, immediately following the 12:15 p.m. Mass. Arrangements should be made well in advance in order that Parents and Godparents will have adequate time to prepare for the celebration of the Sacrament. Parents will be asked to attend a one evening preparatory session, in the home of one of our trained team couples, who will share the evening with them.
Contact the Parish House 682-2486
St. Stephen, Walnut Creek
The pre-Baptism program guides parents and godparents in preparation for baptizing their children. Coordinator - Sandy Vinson.
Parish phone: 925-939-3826
I wouldn’t bother taking class. What I would do, in fact what I did b/c my brother’s parish also wanted a Godparent class certificate and my parish doesn’t do any such thing, was simply typed up my own form/certificate, went to my priest and explained, asked him to sign it and put the parish seal on it.
I wrote something to the effect of 1ke and Mr. 1ke have been “suitably instructed and meet all the canonical requirements” to be the baptismal sponsors of 1ke’s nephew. My priest was happy to sign it and put the parish seal on it, and away it went. None of that is untrue-- my DH and I are suitably instructed and prepared to undertake the role of sponsor, and meet the canonical requirements.
We simply weren’t instructed in a class.
If it has your pastor’s signature and parish seal then they really can’t argue with it. If they do, make something that looks like a certificate and “this is to certify that Mr X and Mrs Y have completed gosparent instruction with Pastor Z”. Let pastor “instruct” you in whatever manner he deems necessary-- a few minutes after mass or in a sit down meeting.
“godparent class” is ridiculous. I’m sorry but DREs are out of control setting up requirements that are NOT canonically supported.
I would just have my pastor certify something with the parish seal and if they didn’t like it then I would contact the diocese. While we have obligations under canon law, we also have rights. And there is NO canoincal requirement for “godparent class” in canon law and they cannot refuse to allow you to be a godparent if you meet the ACTUAL canon law requirements, which are:
Can.* 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:
1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;
3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;
4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;
5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
What? Your local parish does not offer baptismal classes? You can attend the baptismal classes, the ones parents are mandated to take on site. Does not have to be a specific class geared only for Godparents. If your parish does not offer classes at all, then it is time to call your Diocese.
Baptismal classes for parents and Godparents are two different ones. Most church requires both for both parties. The former is for the child’s parents, the latter is for the Godparents. This is to emphasize the important roles of parents and Godparents in helping the child develop his or her faith. This responsibility is not to be taken lightly.
I agree with the individual that stated that there is no requirement for God Parents to take this class.
Go and talk to the Pastor at your parish. Explain the situation and he will either call the Parish making such a foolish request and take care of things, or will arrange a time for you to sit down with him, a deacon, and/or the lay minister teaching the class.
I don’t know any cannon law about this, but St. Mary in Walnut Creek requires it. They want to see the paper before one can be the godparent in the ceremony. Some other parishes I have been also have the same requirement. The bottom line is not if this is a cannon law. The bottom line is if the church you are going to be Godparent requires it, then you have to respect their requirement; otherwise, they will not allow you to be the godparent in the baptism at their church. Or you can just decline to be the godparent if it is asking too much of you.
Baptismal classes are NOT mandated. Therefore, no reason to call the diocese if a parish does not have one.
Canon law states only that:
Can.* 867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.
Parents and godparents can be properly prepared to baptize their child in many ways that have nothing to do with sitting in a class, such as being an active practicing Catholic knowledgeable in their faith.
The pastor can interview them, the pastor can talk to them… If the pastor knows them well, he will know if they are “prepared” or not simply by knowing their practice of the faith, their knowledge of the sacraments, etc. If the pastor believes their knowledge and preparation to undertake raising their children in the fatih is somehow deficient, then he can take appropriate steps.
What can it hurt to take the baptism class. You might learn something new about what the Church teaches about baptism. The parish probably just wants to be sure Godparents know what is required of them and what baptism really means. It is only an hour. When I was teaching baptism class I had lots of godparents that would come, although we didn’t require it. No one seemed to complain and they found it interesting.
When my goddaughter was baptized I was asked to take the class for parents and godparents despite the fact that I’m the RCIA director in the same parish. The pastor asked that all parents and godparents spend an hour – ohmygosh, an entire hour! – in a class that briefly reviewed what the sacrament was about.
It was eye-opening to me to see how very little most of the people knew. For many people, baptism is mostly an exercise in making grandma happy or participating in a cultural ceremony that happens to take place in a church.
For me it was an opportunity to hear other people’s points of view and meet the others who would be participating in the baptism on the upcoming Sunday. I even walked away feeling a bit inspired about the wonderful event that would be taking place.
The parish requires one hour of class is not trampling upon anyone for anything.
A reasonable Catholic would have the courtesy to respect the parish’s requirement.
A conscientious Catholic would be glad to enhance his knowledge of Sacrament.
A responsible Catholic would want to be a good Godparent and refresh the church’s teaching.
After we are only talking about the effort of “one hour” .
Generally speaking, the parishes in my area (also Northern California, a little further north), do not have this requirement, but I have heard of it. Some parishes issue a “Godparent letter” from the pastor, indicating that the person is in good standing in the Church and canonically able to serve as a Godparent. I would imagine this would suffice. The person who has made the request that the Godparents take a class in their own parish are probably so used to the way that the home parish and surrounding parishes do things that they are unaware that this is not a universal requirement.
One local parish says this:
[quote=]2. Register for the Baptism Preparation Class.After you have been a registered practicing member of the parish for at least 2 months, please call the parish office to register for a class. Parents are required to attend a Baptism Preparation class. This 90 minute class includes the baptism rehearsal and is offered each month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Claussen Center. Please contact the parish office for dates. All godparents are welcome and encouraged to attend the class if they are in the local area. Please be sure that you have competed and turned in the information sheet to your class facilitator before you leave class.
This seems to be a reasonable way to approach the situation.
And I wholeheartedly agree with 1ke that parishes need to stop making requirements for sacraments that are not required by the Church. I think that parishes that do make these requirements are only trying to improve the catechesis of their people and the quality of their programs, and I understand the goal, but it is wrong to place significant barriers to the reception of the sacraments.
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