The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Overheard in the rectory: money talks

posted by deacon greg kandra

Once again, the subject is baptisms.

Caller: We have people from overseas visiting and I’d like to have our baby baptized while they’re here. Do you have any room in October?

Deacon: Actually, no. October is booked solid. We try to limit it to eight babies, and we’ve already got 12. We can do November or December, though.

Caller: Tell me, Deacon, how much you charge for a baptism?

Deacon: We don’t charge, but there’s a suggested donation of $75.

Caller: Okay. Will, say, $250 get me a baptism in October?



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Mary Martha

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:14 am


I know I am supposed to be rueful at the fact that someone tried to buy their way into the sacraments. But I am way more struck by the concept of being 'booked solid' for the month of October. Seriously? You only allow so many baptisms a month? That seems totally crazy to me.I know someone who hasn't baptized her 3rd child because the parish made it difficult. Over time she stopped trying and now the child is 10 and the family attends a megachurch which is much more 'welcoming'.



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NC Sue

posted August 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm


I can just see it now. A billboard for "Baptisms Offered to the Highest Bidder!!!"Good grief.



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rightwingprof

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm


So what IS the smiley for a raised eyebrow?



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm


MM…It's never been a problem. We have baptisms the first Sunday of every month, at 2:30 in the afternoon. We try to keep the maximum to eight, but it sometimes creeps higher. Parishioners are generally understanding, and the bulletin makes clear they need to make arrangements at least two months in advance. I've done as many as 12 and, trust me, it's a zoo. You end up with over 100 people (most unchurched and, frankly, clueless) and a dozen crying babies. It isn't pretty. I've heard stories of deacons and priests who have done even more than that, and I don't know how they did it. Dcn. G.



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Holly Hansen

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm


About the cost. Is it waved if the family is poor?



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Michael

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm


You don't have baptisms at Sunday mass?



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:58 pm


Michael…No. It's a separate liturgy. Holly…Yes. The "cost" is just a suggested donation. It's free will. People can give as much or as little as they want, no obligation. Sometimes, people do, in fact, give nothing. (Whether or not it is because they are poor is open to debate…) Dcn. G.



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rightwingprof

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm


One of the things I really love about the OCA and the ROCOR (as opposed to other Orthodox jurisdictions) is that we have kept the Prayers over the Catechumens. After the deacon chants the Litany of the Catechumens, they come up and stand in front of the ambo as the priest comes out from the Royal Doors and prays over them by name.



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Holly Hansen

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm


Thanks Deacon Greg, I'm familiar with honorarium for weddings and funerals, baptisms was a new one.



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Michael

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:15 pm


Interesting. I've very often seen it done during mass. It's lovely, and makes a point of welcoming the newly baptized into the parish family, as well as reminding the congregants of their own baptisms.



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Mary Martha

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm


When did Baptisms become such big productions? My first niece's baptism (14 years ago) took maybe 15 minutes and was simple and to the point. The pastor would make the effort to have an open hour every weekend for baptisms. Her baby sister's (last summer) took an hour and included a full liturgy of the word with music and readings by the liturgical director. It's now only offered once a month and there is zero flexibility (little Sarah also had to wait a couple of months for there to be enough 'space'). The whole thing gives the impression that baptisms are a chore for the church and her staff – one they will do grudgingly and as rarely as possible. If there are more baptisms than are ideal at one time – why not offer a second time in the month?I will also say that it's no surprise that people think that throwing some more cash at the parish will let them get their way. Most people have seen it work that way for their whole lives.



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Tewkes

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm


I feel embarassed now, I didn't know a free will offering was expected at a baptism. I came into the Church a few years ago at Easter Vigil and I didn't give them anything for it. I think I better find a way to make up for it, maybe an extra large amount during the collection or something.



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Fran

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm


In the parish where I worship (a huge parish with many young families) there is a limit on how many at one time. That said, there are baptisms during Eucharist as well as after Mass at other times.There does have to be a limit or it is too much.Where I work the pastor works hard to try to make each baptism be part of the Eucharist. I admire this as the baptism is about being baptized into a Roman Catholic community after all. It is appropriate sacramentality as well as good catechesis and evangelization.People often ask me (at work parish) what it costs, much in the same vein that Deacon Greg was asked.People, so many with the best intentions, see baptism – as well as other sacraments – as entitlements or do them because "it is what you do."That is why when it is done right, it is an opportunity for bringing people into church.As for the zero flexibility Mary Martha mentions, we don't have that where we work but we do try to maintain appropriate liturgical and sacramental standard. The baptism is not there for convenience alone. They are offered twice a month and that is often fine. Sometimes it does get to capacity and then we must schedule to the next month.We are fortunate to have deacons in both of my parishes and that helps. It is important to remember however that sacraments are not "on demand" as so many things in our culture appear to be.Why not have it during the liturgy? If one cannot give one hour in a church as parent, grandparent, relative and/or godparent, what can be expected for life?I am sorry if at that parish it seemed a grudging chore; where I work it is a vibrant and communal celebration. As it should be.Another thread for another day – the canonically required sponsor certificates. I sometimes feel as if I am asking for someone's most treasured possession and they can't imagine why this would be needed!



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Fran

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:49 pm


Tewkes – as a parish employee, I don't think you should worry about it. Freely given means just that and I would say it is not very common for people to do so, which is no problem at all where I work.



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worm

posted August 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm


Well you try getting a sponsor certificate when you don't know any priests and you aren't registered at a parish.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm


Worm…If you were a priest (or deacon, or parish secretary) and someone came in and asked for a sponsor certificate, but you didn't know them and there was no record of them being registered in the parish, what would you do? Dcn. G.



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Fran

posted August 30, 2009 at 4:34 pm


If I might interject here, as a person who regularly deals with these things and the one who brought it up…We use a form of our own design, similar to others of its kind that we have seen.It asks a series of yes or no questions that are required, such as-*Are you over 16?*Have you been confirmed?*If married, were you married by a Catholic priest or deacon?*Do you regularly attend church and support your parish in whatever ways possible?People answer as they will. If their conscience allows them to be less than truthful on a legal Church document, then so be it. If someone comes in looking for one and they seem flummoxed and/or I really don't have a clue who they are, I speak to my boss/pastor. He will often speak to the person. Most people leave with something, but they are reminded of what is required.Recently we got two forms in from a church somewhere in PA that asked the same questions, but also had some very strong language about signing this paper and swearing before God. We do not go that far in writing.As the one who collects these for our parish as part of the baptismal process, and our pastor wants them in in advance of the baptism, not same day, I have lots of challenges. As indicated earlier, people do not always want to comply.The reality is that most people from our parish who need them for other baptisms and most people who provide them are in good standing.I recently had an employee from a another parish asking "why we bothered with this." Oh boy.



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Fran

posted August 30, 2009 at 4:35 pm


BTW worm, one must be a Catholic in good standing to be a godparent or sponsor… If you are not registered at a parish or don't know any priests, nothing personal, then there is question about the good standing.



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Michelle

posted August 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm


My parish does it at a Sunday Mass – and was lovely about scheduling it (and my son's Holy Communion – something else we do a few at a time at a regular Sunday Mass over the Easter season) when my parents were able to come from afar. I like having both these sacraments celebrated at the regular Masses for the entire community to participate in. I think it makes a difference for the community, as well as more welcoming for the parents and children.First Holy Communion in particular is far less of a zoo when done for four children rather than 80. It's more reverent, and seeing children receive for the first time is a potent reminder of how we should all hunger for that food that lasts.



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rightwingprof

posted August 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm


Unless the baby will most likely pass away, in which case the baptism will be done immediately, children are baptized as soon after the mother's churching 40 days after the birth as possible. If there's a schedule, it's determined by when the mothers go into labor. Children are baptized, then immediately chrismated, and given Holy Communion at Liturgy.If there is any honorarium, I have never heard of it.



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badsede

posted August 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm


Worm,Such is the nature of the internet that I can't tell if you are being sarcastic, but in case you aren't…I have to wonder why a person who does not know any priests and isn't registered at a parish is being asked to be a sponsor in the first place. A sponsor or godparent is supposed to be a practicing Catholic, and the very reality of being a practicing Catholic – regularly attending mass, participating in the community, etc. – makes it pretty easy to get a sponsor certificate.



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Michelle

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:15 pm


You can be a Catholic in good standing without being registered in a parish or knowing any priests — there is simply no one to vouch for you that another parish would trust.Having lived in parishes with upwards of 15,000 parishioners and two priests – (no deacons :( ) such papers can be essentially meaningless with regards to one's actual practice.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm


Another valuable document, which we often recommend and encourage, is a copy of your baptismal certficate. If someone wants to be a godparent, and can produce that, problem solved. If you know the church where you were baptized, it's often very easy to call and have one sent or faxed in a matter of days, if not hours. DGK



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Fran

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:43 pm


What Deacon Greg says about the baptismal certificate is of course correct.Michelle, yes in a big parish it can be a challenge. That said, I worship and participate in liturgical ministries at a parish with about 10,000 people. You do at least recognize people if they come to church regularly.All that I would add to that is that in my earlier comment I noted that if people sign a church document and it is not true, then they have to live with that.



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Greta

posted August 30, 2009 at 11:58 pm


Our parish has recently upgraded the entire baptismal process. Both the parents and godparents have to fill out information to confirm that they meet church teaching in regard to the sacrament and will fulfill what the church requires of them. If all agree, the baptism is scheduled and we have seen a huge growth in requests along with these changes. we will see anywere from 20-25 a month. To accomodate them, we now do baptisms every week so that no more than 7 are there in any one week. We offer them both as part of a mass or in the afternoon after the last mass. We want to be welcoming to anyone that wants the sacrament and also make sure that they are well informed. I do not agree with delaying any sacrament for if the parish exists for any reason, the sacraments seem to us to be in the forefront of our purpose.



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Tina aka Snupnjake

posted August 31, 2009 at 11:46 am


I just went through the process of getting my 2nd goddaughter baptized. The process for getting my first and second goddaughters baptized was insane. I had an easier time getting Confirmed. The priest who was supposed to baptize the 2nd goddaughter refused to let me stand as a godparent. His reason? I didn't belong to a territorial parish. I'm a grad student at the University, so I go to campus ministry Masses. The campus priest filled out the paper and everything. I have no problems with there being rules for baptisms. What bothers me is that the rules are not consistent across parishes and even among priests. I know of cases in which one priest refused to baptize a baby born out of wedlock while the priest in the neighboring parish had no problem.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 31, 2009 at 12:03 pm


Snupnjake…Re: child born out of wedlock. IMHO: A child should not be denied a sacrament simply because his parents aren't married. The circumstances of his birth are not his fault. Of course, if they have no intention of actually raising the child Catholic…in a proper Catholic envrionment…that's something else. DGK



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Greta

posted September 1, 2009 at 11:27 pm


Deacon, please explain to me how they can raise the child Catholic, in a proper Catholic environment when they are not married? It is obvious that they are living in grave sin. Kind of like a child brought in by a gay couple who want the child baptised and who promise to raise the kid in a catholic environment. Yes the child can be baptised, but the priest should really have a strong talk with the couple in an attempt to save their souls. It is almost certain that the child will not be reaised Catholic as the parents obviously are not following Catholic teaching.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 2, 2009 at 7:28 am


Greta…Whenever I've encountered this situation — and it happens a lot — I always ask them why they aren't married and when they intend to get married and inquire about the circumstances surrounding this situation. I make sure they intend to get married and raise the child Catholic. Ultimately, you have to take a leap of faith and put this in the hands of God. But generally, permitting a baptism under these circumstances is better than denying one. Dcn. G.



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