The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


One parish, 600 baptisms a year

posted by jmcgee

baptism_incarnation.jpg
Statistics like that are mind-blowing: my busy parish in Queens averages a little over 100 baptisms a year.

Details:

Extended families greet one another with hearty handshakes and pecks on the cheek as they file in to Incarnation church in Minneapolis on a recent Saturday morning.

Professional photographers and video­graphers scope out ideal vantage points while moms and dads snap photos of their kids in front of flowery side altars. Toddlers dressed in white gowns and three-piece suits squirm in their parents’ arms.

About 15 minutes after the ceremony is scheduled to begin, Deacon Carl Valdez leads the congregation in an opening hymn, explains in Spanish the importance of what is about to occur, then invites families to line up in front of the altar.

Time after time, Deacon Valdez says a blessing as he carefully pours water over each child’s head. By the end of the hour-and-a-half ceremony, he has baptized 28 children.
600 baptisms

It was a typical Saturday for Incarnation’s Spanish-speaking Sagrado Corazón de Jesús community, which celebrates approximately 600 baptisms per year — more than any other parish community in the archdiocese.

Deacon Valdez remembers the first time he was called to do baptisms at Incarnation three years ago, just before he was assigned to the Minneapolis parish. “It was a hot day,” he recalled. “I walked in and there were 54 kids to baptize.”

Since then, Deacon Valdez has reduced the number of baptisms he’s willing to perform at one time in an effort to better prepare families for the sacrament. Parents and godparents are required to attend a three-to-four-hour class, where they learn about the sacraments and the symbols involved. If the child to be baptized is old enough, he or she also receives instruction.

Deacon Valdez realizes that many of the families whose children he baptizes are not regular church goers. And, some parents aren’t married. But he uses the opportunity to gently inform them of their responsibilities as Catholics. Then he invites them into full communion with the church.

“At least we can say in an inviting way, not in a chastising way: ‘You are saying you want to live your Catholic faith because you’re baptizing your child. How are you living your faith?’” Deacon Valdez said.

Read on.



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Panthera

posted September 13, 2010 at 10:55 am


Baptism is the beginning, not the end of the road for families.
Deacon Kandra, I am going to take a long break from posting on your blog. We have reached an impasse. Even on those threads wherein I am in agreement with the position of the Vatican, there are a few people here who have made it their concern to turn everything into a fight.
I enjoy the dialogue and discussion with devout Catholics such as Klaire and Gerard. I neither need nor feel the fighting with people who define their Christianity as heaping abuse upon others who don’t agree with them on every single dotted ‘i’ and crossed ‘t’ is productive.
I can only imagine what a non-Christian reading our exchanges can think of the Christian faith and our emphasis on forgiveness and charity.
Please keep up the good fight.
Oh – and RomanCrusader, no I don’t hate Catholics. My husband is a devout, practicing Catholic as is my father. I wouldn’t be tithing 10% off the top through a group of Sisters nor would I be supporting a foundation to aid women in trouble were I antagonistic to the Catholic faith.



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RomCath

posted September 13, 2010 at 11:24 am


“My husband is a devout, practicing Catholic as is my father.”
I think this statement really goes beyond the pale. For one to be a “devout, practicing Catholic” it seems to me that one embraces what the church teaches in matters of marriage. Since this is clearly not the case here, how can one be a devout and practicing Catholic?



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Tom

posted September 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm


Well, times they are a changin. I guess part of the problem factoring the heterodox perspective is they’ve redefined “devout” Catholicism, whereas in the previous millennium it did mean strict adherence to Church teaching, but what the hey? I prefer to lighten the mood.
I do agree with Panthy in that things do tend to get a little heated from time to time, but perhaps our gracious host (& humble blogger) tries to give us the benefit of the doubt, even when we don’t strictly adhere to the posting guidelines. After all, we’re only fallible human beings.



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cathyf

posted September 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm


A lot of devout, practicing Catholics are sinners. I thought it was pretty much all of us, in fact. But I guess RomCath is an exception to the rule…
We have a family in our parish where the non-Catholic husband was married briefly before he married the Catholic wife 20-some years ago. They have four children, 8th-grade through college. All six are at mass every Sunday. The wife does not receive Communion, and of course the husband does not either, but the four children do.
I would describe the mom and kids as “devout, practicing Catholics” — wouldn’t you?



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Dc Pat

posted September 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm


I heard it said once. . . “The Catholic Church is not a saints hall of fame. It is a hall of fame made up of sinners who are trying to be saintly.” In a way, I agree. We all are sinners. . . I tried filling the bath-tub the other day and walking across. . . didn’t work. The important part is that we try and in trying that we love our brothers and sisters of this world.
We do get stuck on rules and regulations at time. They serve a very important purpose because they lead us to eternal life. What we must never do is to forget about the people. . . those in the pews and those outside the walls. Jesus wanted us to be among the sinners so that they can hear the Gospel message especially the message from this week’s Gospel.



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wineinthewater

posted September 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm


cathyf,
There is a difference between failing to meet the standards set by our Catholic faith and rejecting the standards set by our Catholic faith. The former can certainly be considered devout, but I think it is reasonable to question whether the latter is really compatible with being devout (I honestly don’t know if the two are compatible, but if it described me I certainly would feel very squirmy about describing myself as devout).
As for Panthera, I hope the break is fruitful.



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rick

posted September 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm


Panthera,I don’t want to sound condescending–but I enjoy your comments even when I disagree with them. A few months back I used to get infuriated by some of your statements and on a few occassions I butted heads with you. Even though you challenge Catholics I don’t see the kind of language that used to bug me. I’m able to “hear” your point of view without reacting to the way you commented.
I hope your break from commenting doesn’t last too long.



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romCath

posted September 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm


If one is in a persistent state of sin and is doing nothing to correct the situation (eg doing what is necessary to have marriage validated)how can they be considered “devout” Catholics? Would you call persons who are cohabitating before marriage or in a homosexual “marriage” devout? I can’t see it.
If a person is aware of the sin and tries sincerely to amend the situation and gets to confession and back to the Eucharist, I would say that person is devout. And Cathyf, your sarcasm aside, yes I am included in the sinner category and delight that Jesus came to call sinners!



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cathyf

posted September 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm


In the case of my friends, it is the non-Catholic husband’s first marriage which would need to be declared invalid, and he has no interest in doing so. Also, the family is completely broke, and they have no money to pay for an annulment. Real life is complicated…



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm


RC…
Given what Cathyf has told us, I think these people are doing their best under complicated circumstances to follow the teachings of the Church in a faithful and conscientious manner. That’s all anyone can ask.
And: no matter how things may appear, we don’t know the whole story, and certainly can’t discern the state of their souls.
Dcn. G.



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cathyf

posted September 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm


To bring us back to the topic at hand:

“At least we can say in an inviting way, not in a chastising way: ‘You are saying you want to live your Catholic faith because you’re baptizing your child. How are you living your faith?’” Deacon Valdez said.

When people bring a child to be baptized, sometimes this is your one chance at evangelization. Obviously Dcn. Valdez is very very aware of this. If we want to talk about obedience to the Church’s teachings, to Christ’s teachings, it seems to me that screwing up your only chance at evangelizing a family falls big-time in the disobedience category.



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RomCath

posted September 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm


“I think these people are doing their best under complicated circumstances to follow the teachings of the Church in a faithful and conscientious manner.”
My observation was to question the use of the adjective “devout”. I think they are trying to do the best they can but there is more that could be done. Sadly the husband has no interest in doing what would enable his wife to return to the sacraments. I thought if you loved someone you would be willing to do whatever it took to make that person happy–especially in their relationship to God and their church.
In any case, my original comments had more to do with a completely different situation.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm


RC…
I’m not sure any of us can say with certainty how interested the husband is in helping his wife return to the sacraments. Annulments are complicated, sticky things — I’ve discovered that first-hand, working through the paperwork and testimonials for them.
Dcn. G.



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dymphna

posted September 13, 2010 at 7:27 pm


Never trust anybody who loudly claims to be devout. The saints only spoke to their unworthiness. Pious frauds brag.



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RomCath

posted September 13, 2010 at 7:51 pm


“I’m not sure any of us can say with certainty how interested the husband is in helping his wife return to the sacraments”
I am only going on what was said in the prior post that he was not interested. While annulments may be sticky, they are the way to go in a situation like this. As the children get older, won’t they wonder why mom doesn’t (and can’t) receive Communion? I’ve seen it. It only gets stickier.



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