Radio Show

I Baptized My Grandson, Does It Count?

A listener named Johanna shares that she secretly baptized her grandson seven years ago. Her daughter-in-law left the Church, and Johanna didn’t want her grandson to grow up without the faith. She explains that she used holy water and baptized him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. She asks Father Dave if this counts. She also wonders if she was wrong for keeping this a secret from his parents.

RELATED: Video — Sacraments 101: Baptism (Why We Baptize)

Father Dave explains, “You wouldn’t even have to use holy water. You can just use any old water and if you use the words, ‘I baptize you in the same of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit,’ then yes, it counts as a Christian baptism recognized by the Catholic Church. But I’m going to put a little footnote on it. And that is, since you didn’t do it in a church, and it is not necessarily recorded in the baptismal registry of the church, let’s say if we fast forward 20 years from now and your grandson would like to get married in the Catholic Church, they will ask for a baptismal record. But, is it theologically and spiritually a baptism? Yes.

“It counts as the Sacrament, and we believe that Sacraments are effective. But that particular Sacrament is always in the context, particularly with an infant, of the faith of the community. The community of believers, the community of the family, and godparents. So, lacking all that, he’s lacking a great deal … The sacramental effects are one piece of everything. That’s why we celebrate the other rituals of the Sacrament of Baptism, which involve the godparents. It involves a prayer on the part of the priest or deacon dispelling from evil. It involves the light of Christ, which is a candle held by the godparents, and there’s a prayer and admonition to the godparents which says, ‘It is your job to keep the light of this child burning brightly. And it is your job to keep them safe from sin.’ If we eliminate all that other stuff, we’re kind of cheaping out of passing on the faith to our child … I would say it’s time to tell his parents.” (Original Air 9-27-13)