What is Baptism?

Baptism is the first of three Sacraments of Initiation in the Catholic Church, the other two being Confirmation and Eucharist. Through Baptism we are incorporated into the body of Christ.

Baptism is celebrated by immersion or the pouring of water with the words

“I baptise you in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit”.

Parents who ask to have their children baptised accept the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith and bringing them up to keep God’s commandments.

What happens during a Baptism?

Reception of the Child

What happens during a Baptism - We Gather

The Baptism ceremony begins at the entrance of the church where the parents and godparents are waiting with those who are to be baptised.

The priest or deacon will ask the parents what name they have given their child and what they ask of God’s church. They are also asked if they accept the responsibility of bringing up their child in the practice of the Christian faith.

The priest or deacon, with the parents and the godparents, greet the child with the Sign of the Cross.

Celebration of God’s Word

What happens during a Baptism - We Listen

Scripture is always proclaimed at a baptismal liturgy. In the proclamation of the word, Jesus is present amongst us and is calling us to be disciples.

Prayers are offered for the child and their family, and the community present asks for the guidance of the saints in Heaven, reminding us that Baptism is a gathering of the whole family of the Church. The child is anointed on the chest with the Oil of Catechumens which signifies the strengthening and healing that Christ brings through Baptism.

Celebration of the Sacrament

What happens during a Baptism - We Baptise

Parents and godparents renew the promises which were made at their own Baptism before the priest or deacon pours the baptismal water over your child’s head or immerses them three times saying

“I baptise you in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.”

We use further signs and symbols to demonstrate what we celebrate in Baptism. The child is then anointed with the Oil of Chrism, clothed in white and receives the light of Christ through a lit baptismal candle. The priest or deacon will bless the child’s ears so that they will listen to the teachings of Christ and the lips to proclaim the Good News.

Conclusion of the Rite

What happens during a Baptism - We Go Forth

The celebration concludes as everyone prays together the prayer Christ taught us, the Our Father. The priest or deacon will pray a blessing for the parents and all who have joined in this joyful welcoming of a new Christian into the Church.

What do I need to do if I want to have my child baptised?

The Kota Family in 'Essie wants to be Baptised'. Watch now.

To start the process to have a child baptised you will need to contact your local parish. We have a page to help you find your nearest parish if you are unsure of your parish contact details.

Parents are usually asked to take part in a preparation program to enable them to understand the sacrament and the commitment they will make to support their child’s growth in faith and life.

Sacramental preparation for the Baptism focusses on God’s grace and welcoming the child to life in the Spirit. It takes up the parent’s request for Baptism and offers them support in raising their child in the midst of the Church family.

Symbols used in Baptism


Baptismal Font
Water is the central symbol of Baptism. Because water is essential to all life, the water of Baptism symbolises the life-giving grace that sustains those who have become children of God.

White Garment

White Garment
The white garment with which the newly baptised is clothed symbolises their new life in Christ.

Candle / Light

A baptismal candle is lit from the paschal candle and presented to the new member as a sign of the light of Christ.

Oil – Oil of Catechumens & Oil of Chrism

Oil is used twice in the ceremony.

Before the Baptism, the child’s breast is anointed with the Oil of Catechumens as a sign of healing and strengthening.

After Baptism, the crown of the head is smeared with the Oil of Chrism as a symbol of joy and thanksgiving.

The assembly

The Assembly
The assembled community at Baptism is a symbol of welcome and represents the community of Christ into which the baptised will be incorporated.

The Word of God

The scriptures are always proclaimed at a baptismal liturgy. Jesus is present in the proclamation of the word, calling the gathered community to be disciples. We are reminded that the Christian story is a living story, carrying on throughout the generations and continues through each baptised person.

Sign of the Cross

Sign of the Cross
The Sign of the Cross is the mark of Christians leading us into the full story of the Paschal Mystery – life, suffering, death and Resurrection.

Parents and godparents trace the cross as a sign that we are claimed by the One who has created us, and who came among us in Jesus, and who continues to journey with us in the Spirit, and who will welcome us home in the life to come.

Frequently Asked Questions about Baptism

Frequently Asked Questions about Baptism

To follow up with these, or any other questions, contact your local parish. The parish office staff will put you in touch with either the parish priest or another suitable person who will assist you in the process of your child’s Baptism.

What if I am not Catholic but my child’s father / mother is?

For sensible pastoral reasons, a child needs at least one Catholic parent to be baptised in a Catholic Church.

Who can be baptised in the Catholic Church?

Any child with a parent who has been baptised Catholic is able to be baptised in the Catholic Church.

Can you be baptised more than once?

Baptism into the Christian faith occurs only once.

I am no longer in communication with my child’s mother / father – do I need to get their permission to have our child baptised?

You need to discuss your situation with your local parish.

What if I am not married – am I still able to get my child baptised?

Of course! Baptism is about the child, not the parent’s circumstances. The Church’s hope is that parents are presenting their child with a desire to share their faith in God and to connect with the Church community. The Church focusses on the child, as well as the responsibilities of those who have guardianship of the child.

When should I have my child baptised?

You can have your baby or child baptised at any age although the Sacrament Policy (Archdiocese of Brisbane) suggests that this occurs within the first 12 months. Your local parish will be able to assist you with any questions you have.

My child is no longer a baby – can they still be baptised?

Baptism can occur at any age although preparation for this varies depending on your child’s age. Your parish will be able to assist you with this process.

What does it mean to have your child ‘baptised’?

Having your child baptised means that they are incorporated into the Body of Christ and have begun the process of initiation which will be completed through the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion. Within the Baptism ritual parents promise to support and nurture their child’s Christian life.

What is the difference between Christening and Baptism?

There is no difference between Baptism and Christening. The Catholic Church recognises the first sacrament of initiation to be Baptism, which comes from a Greek word used in Scripture meaning to ‘plunge’ or immerse. ‘Christening’ is derived from Middle English and means to make Christian and is also connected with the term “Christ” which means “anointed one”. Therefore it is also connected to the “Chrismation” – or “anointing” – of the baptismal ceremony.

How do I choose a godparent and what do they do?

A godparent is to be 16 years or older and fully initiated into the Catholic Church, i.e. one who has been baptised and been Confirmed and celebrated First Communion. One godparent needs to be Catholic although practising individuals of other Christian traditions are welcome to be witnesses. Non-Christians are unable to be witnesses.

There is no legal obligation as a godparent. It is a ministry of love and a privilege to be invited. Godparents are chosen with the hope that they practise their faith regularly, and will be a positive spiritual guide and good moral mentor for the baptised child.

Why might there be several families celebrating Baptism at the same time?

Baptism is a communal celebration. It is not a private family occasion. Therefore Baptisms are normally conducted during Sunday Mass or might be celebrated with several other families at another time in the parish church.

Resources for Baptism

My Baptism Memory Book

‘My Baptism Memory Book’ is a 20 pages book for parents, grand-parents, godparents, parishioners, or friends of an infant to recall the day of Baptism and is intended to be completed post-Baptism. It makes an ideal keepsake for children. This could also be given to school aged children in addition to the my sacramental journey: Baptism book. This resource is available for sale through the Evangelisation Brisbane online store.

The Story of My Baptism

‘The Story of My Baptism’ is a 20 page book to be used with young children and their families as they prepare for the Sacrament of Baptism. This resource is available for sale through the Evangelisation Brisbane online store.

my Sacramental Journey: Baptism

‘my Sacramental Journey: Baptism’ is a 16 page activity book for school aged children who are preparing for Baptism and then will join in the parish sacramental processes for the preparation and celebration of Confirmation and Eucharist. The book uses scripture, prayer and family fun activities to explore Jesus, their church community, and their Baptism. This resource is available for sale through the Evangelisation Brisbane online store.