I am interested in becoming a Catholic. What should I do?
The first step is to talk to the priest. Before an adult person is received into the Catholic Church a period of instruction is necessary. During this period the Church’s teaching is explained and studied. Sometimes this is done individually depending on circumstances but more frequently nowadays as part of a series of group meetings which the parish holds from time to time. If after the period of instruction is over you still feel that God is calling you to full communion with the Catholic Church you will be received into the Church. The form of this reception will depend on whether or not you are already baptised. If you have never been baptised in any other religious tradition you will need to receive that sacrament. The Church recognises the validity of baptism in every Christian denomination so if you have already been baptised it cannot be repeated. A simpler reception service is all that will be required for you. In either case however baptism or reception is immediately followed by Confirmation and Holy Communion.
I have a baby for baptism. What do I do?
A parent of the baby to be baptised must speak to the Parish Priest a minimum of three weeks prior to the Baptism in order to make an appointment.
I am told that we will have to choose two Godparents for the baptism of our son. Why do we have to have Godparents and what are they supposed to do?
Godparents go back to the days when most adult converts to the Christian faith had no Christian parents. Godparents spoke up for the baptised person and if necessary helped him or her to grow in the faith. Today in the vast majority of infant baptisms these tasks belong primarily to the parents.
The Godparents primary role remains that of supporting the parents in bringing up their child in the Christian faith. Therefore the Church insists that at least one Godparent is a Catholic of sufficient age and maturity to appreciate his or her role.
How much does a baptism cost in the Catholic Church?
Nothing. There is no charge for a baptism or any other church service. It is customary however for an offering to be made. This is at the discretion of the family. If you cannot afford any offering don’t be anxious. It is a purely voluntary contribution.
My baby was baptised at birth because of illness. Can he be re-baptised in church?
Baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It means that we become a member of God’s family; we become a Christian. We cannot become what we already are.
The baptism can’t be repeated but it is desirable that you have a celebration in church and share in the prayers and blessings which are part of the baptismal ceremony. You may also wish to appoint godparents at the same time. Such a service is a lovely thanksgiving for the safety and well-being of your baby. Your priest will advise you.
I’m a single parent. I want my baby baptised but am anxious about the kind of reception I’ll get.
You will be given a friendly welcome by the priest or parish representative who will be happy to help you arrange for the baptism of your baby. So don’t worry at all. The Church will simply want to be assured as with any other parent of your own commitment to your child’s Catholic upbringing.
My wife goes to a different Christian Church and would like her minister to take part in the baptism. Is this possible?
Yes. Your wife’s minister may share in the prayers and readings at your baby’s baptism. Discuss it with your priest; he will be happy to explain what is customary.
My mother says I have to give my baby girl the name of a saint but I don’t agree. Who is right?
In the first few centuries of the Church the custom grew up of changing one’s name at baptism to express some Christian idea such as Irene (peace). In succeeding centuries the Church advised parents to call their children after a saint. These customs were confirmed in the seventeenth century when priest were instructed to discourage parents giving their children strange, laughable, obscene or idolatrous names. You are not obliged then to call your daughter after a saint (although there are plenty to choose from) but the Church still encourages you to choose a name which reflects your own Christian faith.
What do I do when I’m getting married?
Contact the Parish Priest to book the Church as early as possible.
Make an appointment with your Parish Priest to establish if he is available.
At least three months before the wedding day you must make an appointment with the priest of your district so that the necessary pre-marriage papers can be completed and later that arrangements can be made for the important wedding rehearsal.
Attendance at a Pre-Marriage Courses is seriously expected. In the Halifax Deanery such a course is held in the spring of every year.
To fulfil the requirements of Civil Law in relation to marriage you must go to the local registrar.
All the above information and more will be explained to you by the Priest responsible for your wedding.
Is it the custom to invite the priest to the wedding reception?
It is entirely up to you whether you invite him to your reception. Couples often do invite the priest to join the celebrations but he is not always free to accept their invitation. He may have other appointments or another wedding later in the day.
My fiance is a Methodist but has decided to get married in a Catholic Church. Would his minister be allowed to take part in our wedding service in a Catholic Church?
Yes, he is welcome to share in the liturgy with your priest. He may read the prayers give a short address or be responsible for one of the readings. Discuss the matter with your priest and the minister and decide how you would like the ceremony planned.
My boyfriend and I plan to marry next year. Now I find that I am pregnant. Can we still have a Church wedding?
The fact that you’re pregnant doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Church wedding. Even if the baby is born before you marry you can still go ahead in Church.
Finding out that you’re pregnant can cause you to panic. Don’t. Stop and think about things carefully. Marriage is for life. This decision will affect not only your lives but your baby’s too. If the baby hadn’t come along would you still have gone through with it?
If you are under pressure from your boyfriend or parents to get married you should think carefully. If you feel forced into marriage then it’s not a real marriage at all. You must make a free decision. What good would it be for your child to have a shaky marriage where you and your husband don’t really love each other?
A marriage which breaks down later can do a lot of damage to your child.
Talk this through carefully together. Try to make your decision about your marriage as though you weren’t pregnant at all. If you decide to postpone or cancel the wedding then together look at the alternatives. You should consider the possibility of single parenthood and the question of financial support for your child. Or you may wish your child to be adopted.
We would like to marry in the Church near my parent’s home. Will that be possible?
The usual arrangement is that a marriage takes place in the parish where you live. If you want to marry somewhere else you will need a letter from your parish priest giving his permission.
Ask your parents’ parish priest well in advance if he is able to marry you. A number of reasons may make this impossible. He may have lots of his own parishioners who want to get married at the same time as you. He may simply to unable to fit you in.
I have an uncle who is a priest. Would he be able to marry us?
Yes. Discuss the matter with the priest of your area and he will advise you.
My fiancée has been married before. Her first marriage ended in divorce. She has since obtained a decree of nullity so we are free to marry in the Catholic Church. Are there any special rules for second weddings?
You say that your fiancée has obtained a decree of nullity. This means that a valid marriage never existed in the first place and so her marriage to you will be her first true marriage. When you go to the priest you will need to take along the papers proving both the civil divorce and the nullity.
What is Natural Family Planning? Is it reliable for all couples?
Present day methods of Natural Family Planning predict very accurately the fertile period in a woman’s cycle by monitoring changes in her body. Once a couple have been taught this method they may plan or delay pregnancy according to their situation. Women who have irregular cycles or who are breast feeding can also use this method with confidence.
The advantage of Natural Family Planning is that it is in keeping with Catholic teaching it is very accurate it is free and there are no health risks for either partner.
I need to get my Passport Application signed. What do I do?
If the priest has known you for at least two years he will be eligible to sign your Passport Application.
Make an appointment with the priest.
What do I do when someone dies?
Before the death and in good time as soon as someone you love becomes seriously ill contact the Priest to make sure the sick person can receive the strength and blessing of the last Sacraments.
After the death:
If the death is expected:
- call the doctor who had been attending your loved one.
- the doctor will issue a medical certificate of the cause of death.
- call the funeral director
- call the priest if he has not already been in attendance when your loved one passed away
If the death is unexpected:
- call the doctor of your loved one.
- the doctor may issue the medical certificate if he or she is satisfied as to the cause of death and has been in attendance within the previous twenty eight days
- call the funeral director
- call the priest
If however the doctor is unable to issue the medical certificate you must:
- call the police who will in turn contact the coroner. The coroner will instruct a pathologist to examine the body and report the cause of death to him.
- if the pathologist’s report to the coroner shows that the death was due to natural causes the coroner will issue the Medical Certificate.
- in the case of death by accident or in suspicious circumstances there will be a post-mortem examination.
- if the cause of death is still unclear the coroner may call for an inquest.
- the funeral director cannot remove the body or proceed with the funeral arrangements without the knowledge that the medical certificate will be issued.