You should try to have your child baptised as soon as possible after birth. You should be coming to Mass regularly and you need to attend a short baptism course. Remember to sign the sheet labelled “School forms and Sacraments” each week. If the child is under 2 years old you should sign it at least 12 times. Over 2 years old and you should sign at least 26 times before the baptism. A child over six and a half will have to join the 1st Communion Course.
The child will need one or two godparents who must be a Confirmed and practising Catholics.
At least one of the parents must be a baptised Catholic. I need to see their baptism certificate.
A person can only be baptised once. No other form of baptism in any other church is allowed.
First Holy Communion and Confirmation.
To receive holy Communion a child needs to be over seven years old and understand that he is receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ. For Confirmation the child needs to be in secondary school or above.
First holy Communion courses run each year for about 12 or 13 sessions ending in May or June.
Confirmation courses run every other year and the timing depends on the dates given to us by the Bishop.
You will need to sign up for these courses, and you must attend regularly and faithfully. You also, naturally, need to be attending Mass.
If you or your fiancé live in this parish, you will probably need to do some paperwork here. This needs to have been started at least four months and preferably six before the proposed wedding. This applies whether you intend to be married here or somewhere else.
You will need baptism, confirmation, and birth certificates. In many cases other paperwork is also needed.
It is right that a Catholic should be given a Catholic funeral. Catholic funerals can also be given to Baptised non-Catholics if they or their family wish to receive the prayers of the Church.
Only a Catholic funeral can take place in a Catholic church. So for example someone wanting non-Catholic rites would need to have the funeral conducted somewhere else.
The following points should be noted:
Music. Only Hymns and sacred music are allowed in the church. Sombre classical music is permitted.
Readings. Only readings from the Bible are permitted, no other poetry or prose is allowed.
Account of the life. A short account of the life of the person who has died is permitted but subject to fairly strict rules. If it is done, it should be short, typed out, checked by the priest beforehand and be objective. Attempts at humour or oratory are out of place in a church; they is much more suitable in an informal setting after the funeral.
Anointing. The Sacrament of the sick, or extreme unction, is the anointing of someone who is near death, or who has an illness from which they are likely to die. The priest should be called while the person is still conscious, if possible. The priest cannot anoint someone who is actually dead, but if there is any doubt, the priest should be called.
The Sacrament of anointing has two main purposes, to prepare someone spiritually for death, or to help them recover if that is the will of God. I have known from personal experience people very close to death, who have recovered after the anointing.
It is common for Catholic schools to require the parents to ask the priest to sign a form, which is often part of the entrance form. They usually ask me whether the child has been coming to mass regularly for the previous two years, and if so how often. The only way I can sign this honestly is with your help. Consequently I ask children to sign each week when they come to church.
If you are expecting your child to be entering or moving to a Catholic school within the next year, please get them to sign the form at the back of the church each week. If the child is under five years old, it is quite in order for one of the parents to sign on their behalf. But if the child is over five they should make some attempt at a signature themselves. Remember that the school is generally asking for the mass attendance of the child.
If you have just moved into the area, it makes a lot of sense for the priest of your previous parish to sign the forms instead. Please sign the forms at the back of the church anyway and I will write a covering note.
Please note that from now on the signatures on the forms at the back of the church will be the only basis on which I sign school forms. If your children have not signed the forms, that is what I will tell the school.
Obviously, I make allowances for the fact that people go on holiday and are occasionally ill.
I do not sign forms for entry to non-Catholic schools. No Catholic should be willingly sending their children to a non-Catholic school.