Advice about Baptism & Christening

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello. I’m looking for some recommendations from this community. I am a non-practicing Catholic (more of a cultural Catholic) and my husband is agnostic, but he agreed to baptize all of our children before we were even married because it was so important to me. In the past we baptized our two older sons at Saint Agnes in San Francisco and tried to go there again to baptize our third child, but they are now requiring a letter of permission from our parish allowing us to have our baby baptized at St. Agnes. I am not currently a registered parishioner of any church, but I am trying to baptize our baby daughter because it’s important to me to keep this tradition alive as a sort or rite of passage and to have my child blessed. I’m having a hard time finding a church that doesn’t strictly adhere to requirements such as: must be registered parishioners, both parents must have completed all sacraments, at least one godparent has completed all sacraments… Does anyone know of a Catholic Church (I’m not interested in other nondenominational churches) that has relaxed requirements for an infant baptism? 

    Yes. Our lady of the rosary church in Union city. That is where My infant was baptized. I had lots of troubles when looking for a Catholic Church because they all required the god parents to complete all sacraments. They even have a short virtual class for god parents a week before the baptism to walk them through the process

    Similar to you, my wife grew up Catholic and I did not. We had our wedding in a Catholic Church and our kids were also baptized in SF (at St Cecilia). 

    I think we also had to get a letter of permission from our parish for all of those sacraments. We were not parishioners but, if I remember, we needed to get permission from the Oakland Diocese? My wife primarily handled it because it was important to her, but I do remember us also needing to get permission even though there was not a church we were parishioners of.

    I think for the baptism, we needed to go to our most local parish to get sign off.

    Why don't you join the St. Agnes parish? It's just a card you fill out with your family information.  We are parishioners of St. Agnes, but I'm pretty active with the kids. We baptized my youngest about 6 years ago, and I don't recall all of those requirements.  My husband is only baptized, not a practicing Catholic, and that was not an issue. 

    Have you tried a Newman Center? (at universities)

    Check out St. Hilary in Tiburon!

    I believe you just need to do a baptismal prep class.

    I'm not sure that you will find a church that will waive all of the requirements for baptism, it is a sacred sacrament. I'm curious as to why you would want to baptize your child into the Catholic Church if you are not practicing? This is meant to be a thoughtful question, not an accusatory one. I hope you might think about the reasons it is meaningful to you. Baptism means that the universal church welcomes your child into the Body of Christ, but if you do not participate (or really believe) in that body, why is that important to you? I am Catholic but was away from the church for many years. When our kids were born I also wanted them baptized, and in order to do so, I did end up joining a parish and attending mass and getting involved, and it has been the best thing that ever happened to my spiritual life. I hope that you might think about the role of religion in your children's lives, and your own, and find your way back as well. Best to you!


    my husband and I recently had a baby with the assistance of a gestational surrogate. He’s Catholic and I’m Jewish but he really wanted our son to be baptized. We had luck with Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Castro (SF). Father Matt did a very nice ceremony for us with a small number of invited guests. I would encourage you to contact them.

    Good luck!

    I suggest talking with the priest at Saint Agnes (or at a local parish) about the baptismal requirements, not to get around them but to understand them. You're asking this question, obviously, because your Catholic identity and baptism are important to you. I urge you to find priest with whom you feel some rapport and to reach out to him and have a conversation about baptism and faith.

    The question is not ... can I find a church with relaxed requirements for baptism? ... but can I find a church with whom I can explore and deepen my Catholic identity and help my sons and daughter grow in theirs?

    I guess you could try Father Leo from Corpus Christi in Piedmont.

    We were in the same situation but 20+ years ago.... still, give him a call.

    Hi There! I had to go through this process as a Godparent. They talked a lot about the strict requirements, including that I obtain a letter saying I’m a parishioner in good standing (I don’t attend Mass). So my parish said they’d work around that by submitting a letter saying I had completed all my sacraments. Also, the class leader made abundantly clear that the church’s policy was to baptize regardless of the requirements so long as the parents were wanting to have the child baptized. This was at St. Charles Borromeo in Livermore. I suspect if you talk to a priest and explain the situation, they’ll likely allow you to baptize your child. Best of luck! 

  • I have been looking to have my son baptized in a Catholic Church.  I am looking for a place that will allow multiple godmothers, one that is Catholic and married and one that is a young single woman, my sister.  Is this even possible having no godfather?  We were looking into this before the shutdown happened.  His father, a Catholic,  recently passed away, and it was the one thing that he was adamant about happening, besides keeping him a Raider fan. I am not Catholic and was not raised in a church.  I would prefer something in the Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland area.  

    St. Columba Catholic church ..many social justice oriented ministries. 


    I can’t make recommendations for churches in those areas, but having recently gone through the process for my son, I can tell you that you only need one godparent who is Catholic. The other godparent can be a witness and would only need to be non-Catholic Christian (although I don’t think they do anything to confirm this.) Since the witness is not technically a godparent, it’s possible they would not have an issue with it being another woman. Hope you’re able to find a church that supports you and your son.

    Our son was baptized at Corpus Christi Church, and had two godmothers. Both parents were Catholic, and the ask was that one of the godmothers must be Catholic, but the second didn’t need to be. Father Leo is very warm and progressive. 

    Assumption Church in San Leandro was excellent! We had one godparent who had made her confirmation and one not but it wasn’t an issue. All Saints in Hayward refused our Godfather because he wasn’t confirmed which was surprising since he was married in that parish and served as an usher weekly. Just call around. 

    My nephew was baptized at St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley.  He has two godmothers - myself and his other aunt.  The church had no issues with that arrangement.

    Many Catholic families baptize their children with multiple godparents. Some are single, some are married. In some cultures, like Latino and Filipino, there are SO MANY godparents, like a dozen - maybe more! I recommend speaking with Deacon Dave at The Cathedral of Christ the Light near Lake Merritt. Other option to consider is Newman Hall in South Berkeley (close to UC Berkeley).

    My partner [now spouse] and I, both women, are our now 17 year old nephew's godparents. We did a brief meeting with a priest at St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley, with no questions or problems. The baptism itself was at my brother's church out in Modesto, and no one batted an eye when we stood up for him at the ceremony. I was raised Catholic, but my spouse was not, and it didn't seem to matter to any of the people involved.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about Baptism  


Seeking baptism for 5-year-old

May 2007

Hi everyone. I have a boy that just turned 5 but we never baptized him. I am culturally Catholic but do not believe in the Catholic church and dislike the idea of the dogmas and the fact that certain people are supposed to have God\x92s truth. I really do not believe in that. However, I am very spiritual and I do believe in God. So, I thought that since culturally I am very Catholic I would baptize our son in a Catholic church and then, as he grows up, maybe move to more of a non-denominational church or something like that; I\x92m not clear yet how to do that. We live in Moraga but have a Berkeley mentality combined with a European culture (I\x92m not from the US originally)\x85 hehe\x85 sounds funny. Anyway, I\x92m looking for a Catholic church with old European arquitecture (I\x92m an art lover) that baptizes older children. And that\x92s where my next question comes in: are there baptisms just for groups of older kids? I know my 5 year-old boy who thinks he\x92s a really big boy would be mortified to be surrounded by babies! I know he would refuse to go through the ceremony. As you can see, this baptism would have the spiritual and cultural components combined; both very important to me. Any non-judgmental recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Looking for the right church.

The Unitarian Universalist church (Walnut Creek, Oakland, Kensington) could probably work with you on creating a ceremony to your satisfaction. For a while, the Oakland UU church ( was housed in a Baptist building and I considered an adult baptismal ritual myself. Love the UU embrace of multiple traditions

I don't have the answer to your question about an interesting architectural church, etc. but I do have an idea; neither of our daughters were baptized with a group of babies. We had a private baptism for each on a Sunday afternoon. It felt looser and more personal and, therefore, might fit all your cultural/spiritual needs. Just a thought. Moraga Catholic

You sound similar to me and my decision to baptise my daughter in the Catholic Church. Both my husband and I were raised Catholic, but were non-practising when we had our daughter. He did not want to have her baptised but how could I NOT give our daughter the same culture as both our families? She now attends a Catholic High School and is very glad that she was baptised and attended enough CCD for 1st Holy Communion. She struggled over wheather she would be Confirmed this year, she is not sure what she really believes... I gave her the choice and reminded her that God and religion are always a personal choice but that the ritual with friends she has grown up with and who are part of her extended cultural family is always a good thing. Father Leo is a warm & wonderful priest with so much love and compassion. He has even impressed my husband who has ''issues'' with the Catholic church. Fr. Leo at Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Park Blvd. just below Hwy 13. Happy Cafeteria Catholic

Dad's Catholic, Mom's not. Baptize or not?

May 2007

my husband is catholic and i am not. he has been going to mass regularly since our son was born a year ago and never pressures me to go. i grew up in sf in a bi-racial home (japanese and white) where my mom's buddhist spirtual practice definitely influenced us. my husband's family has asked about baptizing our kid and he keeps telling them we are still talking about it.

we've had several respectful discussions that go in circles--always ends with, ''let's keep talking about it''

i really don't feel comfortable baptizing my child - just don't embrace or appreciate the catholic religion like my husband does. plus can't my kids decide if they want to be catholic or not when they get older? - my husband feels that it's not a big deal that's it's more tradition than anything else. he thinks it's a positive thing. ugggggghhhhh! i don't know what to do.

i would love to hear from folks who have experienced this or have some words of wisdom.

thank you, sf mama

This is a very personal decision, and no matter what people tell you, in the end, it is what you feel is best for you, your husband, and your family.

That being said, I am also not catholic, but married to a catholic. It was important to my husband to baptize her, perhaps out of tradition, or faith, or both. Because it was important to him, we did baptize our daughter catholic, when she was five months old. There was a big party at his mother's house, and so on and so forth. I do not think of her as catholic. Rather, I tell myself that by baptizing her, we were saying that we believe in a higher being or spirit, or even an inner-spirit, and we celebrated the power of that. It was important to my husband, and I was happy for him. It is a fun story to tell our daughter, and show her the pictures, and she kind of gets a kick out of it (she is eleven now).

Can you do two ceremonies, one celebrating his beliefs and one celebrating yours? Good luck! I am sure there are many people in your position! Kati

Baptize or not? Your children should be baptized, as it means much to your husband and the family you chose to marry into. Your children will still decide at some age to practice Catholism, but they will know the religion from within, with shared experiences and understanding from their father. But I suspect you may be avoiding asking the real question bothering you, which may be: Religious or not? You may fear that if your children are baptized, they may go to Church with your husband, eventually identifying the famiy as Catholic, following a tradition you never had. I can only suggest to support your husband's interest, and keep an open mind, to see how the family faith and practice evolve over the years. It's all about love.

Catholics believe in infant baptism, as do several other Christian denominations. Baptizing an infant is very important to a believing Catholic parent, and I would recommend that you accept your husband's wishes and allow the child to be baptized. When the child grows up, he/she can make a conscious decision as to whether to accept Catholicism as a faith, follow a different religion, or accept none. Robert A. Fink, M. D. rafink [at]

One thing you might consider is that in Catholic tradition, ANYONE can baptize a child. You don't have to have a priest do it. I actually think that's kind of wonderful, because to me it expresses the sacredness of the child and the participation of the community in nurturing that child.

Of course, maybe your husband is mostly wishing for a connection with the church and that might not suit you, but I'm wondering if you might be able to create a baptism/celebration that would incorporate elements from both your traditions and invite people who are close to you to attend as witnesses and/or participants. I once went to a very lovely baptism at St. Joseph the Worker in Berkeley that seemed to combine both traditional and progressive ideas. I personally value these rituals and so I come with that bias (even though I'm a Quaker and Quakers do things very, very simply), but this might be an opportunity to do something very loving and creative for your child. Best wishes. Elizabeth

Hello: thank you for writing in. It's good that you're taking this question seriously, and that you and your husband have respectful communication about it. Still, it's probably hard to have an ongoing difference of opinion about what to do.

I'm Catholic and belong to a very liberal parish which accepts many different views of Catholicism and is very tolerant of those who choose not to be Catholic. Perhaps it might be helpful to you to talk with someone who has had a lot of experience baptizing couples in which one partner is Catholic and the other is not. You might consider emailing Al Moser ('Father Al') at the Newman Center at Cal Berkeley. He is extremely gentle, respectful, and non-preachy. He might be able to help you arrive at the right decision for both of you, and allow you to have a conversation which might clarify exactly why your husband prefers that the child be baptized while you do not. His contact info: fral[at]

It's also possible that your husband could accept having a 'blessing' for your child which could be more acceptable for you than a baptism. I'm really not sure. But it's definitely worth talking about and working through.

My very best wishes to you both, and to your child. a Catholic friend

Yes, you could wait, but really, would it be so awful? It seems that it would make your husband and your inlaws happy. And your child could still decide whether or not to become Catholic when older. No one can force Catholicism just because your child gets baptised. Still, if it's something you'd feel really bad about then maybe you could just ask them all to wait until you or your child decide it's time -if at all. (Full- disclosure: Both my husband & I are Catholic and even we have some huge issues with the church and it's policies/politics. However, we agree with what we feel are the important things. We didn't believe that we had to buy into the church's every practice to have our children baptised.) Keeping the options open

I can totally relate. My situation is a little different. I'm an atheist, my husband is agnostic, and we're not raising our kids with any religion. However, my mom and his mom are devout Catholics, as is my sister, and his sibligs are born-again christians. We had our kids baptized and here's why.

I had a daughter from my first marriage and we did not baptize her, despite pressure from my mom. I felt really strongly about this being my decision and not my mom's. But then my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, and as her illness progressed I could see it was really bothering my mother that she wasn't baptized. As much as I thought, and still think, that this is completley ridiculous, somehow in hindsight my philosophical viewpoint isn't as important anymore. It's a few drops of water and some words, and it was something that would have brought enormous comfort to my mother when my daughter died.

So when I remarried and had the children I have now, we had them baptized in the Catholic church. It's hard to find a church that will do the baptism for non-members (not to mention non-believers, which we in fact didn't mention!) but my mom and sister were able to pull some strings at the church that is part of my sister's kids Catholic school, so we made a trip down to my hometown and got it done.

I liked parts of it. I liked the baptismal clothing and the fact that the entire family gathered to honor my babies. We have nice photos from that day with the whole family dressed up. My young neices and nephews got to be part of the ceremony because it was at their school, and they were very proud.

My kids don't go to church or CCD now. That will probably be one of their only church experiences. But my mom's happy, my husband's mom is overjoyed, and my sister is more or less off my case.

Hope this helps. Sorry to tell you a hard story, but from the viewpoint of Catholics, that is the whole point. anon

Yes, your child can choose whether to be Catholic--it is called confirmation and it is the sacrament received as an adult (teenager) when one accepts the Catholic Church and all her teachings for themselves... Baptism offers one membership in the Catholic Church, but you get to accept it or decline it as an adult with Confirmation...

Please consider your husband's wishes. As a Catholic parent married to a non-catholic, I couldn't imagine what it would feel like if my partner barred me from sharing my culture with my children in this most fundamental way. And this is what he is doing--sharing his culture with your/his child. I would just ask that whichever community the child is baptized, you should go to mass there and make sure you feel comfortable with the people.

All the criticism of the Church aside, just think of it as giving your child another community to be a loved part of--where ever you go the Church is there. San Francisco isn't named after a great Catholic Saint for nothing... Catholic Mom

It seems that if you proactively agree to the baptism it would mean a lot to your husband and his family. And, I really don't think that baptizing your child is too big of a deal if it is a symbolic tradition of sorts, so I'd say why not? It doesn't mean that your child can't choose his path down the road. And, it might be a special connection to his dad. (I wanted to mention that we're not religous and neither of my kids were baptized, but I probably would have if I had a reason). good luck!

Well, this is a complex issue and I hear your concerns, but here's the bottom line: It doesn't harm your child, spiritually or physically, to be baptized. He's not even going to be aware of it. On the other hand, it apparently means the world to your husband's family, because Catholics are taught that an unbaptized baby can't go to Heaven. So to them, it's deadly important.

I had a Catholic boyfriend (I'm Jewish) and was with him at church one Easter when the priest did a ritual where he flung holy water on the congregation while strolling down the aisle of the church. My bf leaned over and said, ''You're getting baptized right now,'' and I said ''Only if I believe in it.''

This is just a ritual. It doesn't mean anything for his future, IMO. But you guys are going to have to prepare -- his parents might later try to insist on other sacraments that would be more invasive, like first communion, and you've got to have your story straight by then!

First, I am a sort-of-practicing Catholic (of the liberation theology type variety)with a non-Catholic partner. Our son is almost 2, and was baptized in January. I am sickened by a lot of what the church has done and still does, I cringe at a lot of the ways that the principles of Catholicism are manifested in Church doctrine. I dont have a lot of advice, but I thought I would tell you a bit about how we made the decision to baptize our kid.

My advice to you is to not let this be such a big deal. We baptized our son in a progressive parish with an awesome, kind, progressive and open priest (Fr, Stefan at St Joseph the Worker in Berkeley). I wanted to baptize my son not so he could live a life forever in the Church based on no choice of his own just cause his mama said so, but because I think that in our society, it is east to move through the world without having community and we are intentional about trying to build community for our son.

We are a Chicano/Puerto Rican family raising a bilingual son, so his connection to other Spanish-speaking kids was a part of it for us. Also, our parish is very progressive and sees a cornerstone of the Catholic faith as engagement in social justice issues which is also the type of community we want him to be part of.

Fr Stefan described baptism in a way that I found beautiful and grounding: sacraments are ''sacred moment'' - thats what the word means. He explained that the baptism is not for him as the priest to bestow something on our son that he doesnt already have but instead to take the moment to reflect on all of the blessings he has - the love of family, the love of his parents, the love of his community, and the love of god. Thats what a baptism is - a moment to recongize these blessings. I found that very simple and honest. The baptism is also about a congregation/community saying, ''welcome, little one! we have community with you!''. I think this is cool.

Now, we dont go to church every Sunday and we dont practice hardly Catholic rituals in our home. But that baptism was a nice rite of passage, for one day, in which our son was formally welcomed into a community that he can decide later in life if he wants to maintain that relationship or not. Thats all.

Its a symbol, a ritual. Notihng else. Our son was baptized as a toddler so he was pretty involved and active in the ceremony which was slightly insane logistically but really cool. It wasnt something done to him, it was a ritual he participated in. At one point, the priest lit the baptismal candle, which is a sybmol of his faith, and my son was trying to blow it out. My firs impluse was to try to stop him, and Fr Stefan said, ''its okay, its just a symbol, you guys'' and bent down so Amado could blow it out. We all applauded and it was a cool moment that brought it all in perspective for me.

Oh, and one more thing. We wanted this to not be ''baptism as excuse for party'' situation so to keep it mellow, we asked for no gifts and had a very small cermony with a small mellow dinner afterwards. We didnt invite all of our friends, just family and friends for whom we knew particiapting in a baptism would be meaningful for them and who we see as playing a role in the upbringing of our kid - spiritually, emotionally, politically, and socially. I think this helped keep things in perspective also.

So my advice is to not think that in making this decision you are making a decision for him forever. As long as you and your partner are clear on this, its fine. But its your kid and you have to feel comfortable with it. Hope this helps. genevieve, mama of Amado

We had a (somewhat) similar situation: I am protestant, my husband a sort of lapsed Mormon (the two baptism rituals are essentially incompatible). I have practiced pretty faithfully all of my life, he has not so much. We agreed to the following, while I was pregnant (which made it easier): It mattered more to me in some sense, as left to my own devices I practiced, he did not. So I would take our son along when I practiced, and this included the baptism ceremony.

However, as he grew, we would both make very clear that different people (his parents included) have different beliefs and different practices, and when he was old enough, we would allow him to make his own choice. This has more or less worked for us, although there have been tricky renegotiations along the way. For example, religious private school of any sort was out. In addition, the way in which we regard our differences is in itself different -- so the explanation I would give my son of what mommy versus daddy believe is VERY different than what my husband would say, even when we both do our best to be objective. It's a tough world to negotiate. Best of luck to you. anonymous

I am not Catholic, but from my experience in the Protestant church, baptism can be interpreted as making it official that your child is a ''child of God.'' I don't think that it makes the child Catholic, or even necessarily Christian. Thinking of it in that light may be helpful, especially if it is important to your husband.

You could also suggest waiting until the child is older. Baptisms aren't just for infants. Protestant interpretation

We had a similar situation. Both my husband and I were raised Catholic, but since his teenage years my husband has claimed himself an atheist. I, on the other hand, still have ties to my Catholic faith. I go to church and do not expect my husband to. However, when it came to baptizing our two children I felt strongly that we should -- mostly for the tradition, the symbolism, and the celebration. My husband agreed to it, because he felt there would be no harm in it, despite his anti- Catholic leanings. I plan on raising our kids Catholic, having them go through first communion -- but at the time of the sacrament of Confirmation,when they themselves must choose to be Catholic or not -- I'll leave it up to them. Hope that helps a little. The Catholic half of our family!

Would you consider baptizing the baby using a former priest? There are many priests who have left the Catholic ministry, but are still allowed to perform Catholic sacraments. When my husband and I got married, we had a priest from the White Robed Monks of St. Benedict (Fr. Gerry Caprio) perform our ceremony, and it was a great compromise - it was in the Catholic tradition, but outside of the institutional Catholic Church. Fr. Gerry is affiliated with the Spirit Rock Zen Center, and uses a lot of Buddhist teachings in his ministry. He could definitely meet with you and help you and your husband make a decision - he won't judge you or try to push you into anything you don't want to do.

You can find more info about the WRM at Email me if you'd like - I'd be happy to tell you more about our experience. Good luck! Kristine

My husband is also a Catholic, but I am a Jehovah's Witness. His mother, and grandmother, etc. are Catholic. There was a lot of family pressure over when our son would be baptized. We had this discussion for a long time about our now 19 month old son. I totally feel your pain on this one. We ultimately decided NOT to baptize our son. Regardless of how many people see it as ceremony or tradition only, it really means more than that. We agreed to leave it up to our son. Here was our reasoning: 1) We are both Christians and as such, we follow the example of Jesus Christ, who was not baptized as a child, but as an adult (Matthew 3:16); 2) Baptism is a public symbol of one's dedication to God, which an infant is not capable of making (1 Peter 4:2); and 3) Because the choice to be baptized involves maintaining one's personal relationship with God (Philippians 2:12) and disowning oneself to do God's will (Mark 8:34) it must be made by the individual. Everyone was appeased this way. We are giving him a spiritual foundation with the option to choose his own faith. Don't think that you have less say if you are less active in a faith - not true. You are equally your son's parent, and thus equally responsible for your son's upbringing (including his spiritual education). It sounds like you are doubtful about doing this and ''doubt means don't.'' I hope this is helpful and that you can reach a solution that you are BOTH comfortable with. You can email me if you want or need anything else or just to vent! Take care. Denise

I was in your shoes when my kids were babies. My husband was raised Catholic, I am decidedly not Catholic. We went ahead and had our kids baptized in the Catholic church. I was apprehensive, but it was no big deal. Quick ceremony, nice brunch afterwards, made my husband and in-laws happy. Definitely did not make my kids Catholic. We rarely go to church, couldn't get into Catholic school, and there's been no mention of first communion. (Now that, I'd have a problem with!)

Only you and your husband can decide what you want to do, but we were in a similar situation so I'll tell you my story. I started going back to the Catholic Church around the time I met my husband. His father is Jewish and was brought up in a pretty secular household, but really enjoys tradition and faith. I even tried the synagogue thing, but because I wallow in my own faith, I didn't have the strong conviction to convert. I eventually settled into a wonderful liberal parish and when our kids were born I told him I wanted to baptize them. We participate in some Jewish holidays, but since his parents are not religious, they are loosey goosey on that. Usually I'm the one who spearheads any holiday celebration anyway.

We baptized our children and will raise them in our way of being Catholic and will see them through First Communion. Confirmation, the adult process of re-espousing your baptismal promises will be up to them. Baptizing them is more about me than them at this point. It pleased my parents, kinda ticked off my inlaws, but they went along. The babies won't remember it and I feel they have the right to go in whatever spiritual direction they choose. The only foundation I can give them is the one I choose, but I will never teach them it is the only way. I think it would be wonderful if you would educate them in your tradition as well. As I understand it, Buddhism is very accepting of other faiths so you have less of a conflict issue than many people would. The point for me was to officially welcome them into my community, one which my husband partiticpates in even though he isn't Catholic. They will still follow their own paths so I don't think Baptism will do any harm. But, that is my opinion. I'm sure many people will disagree. It really is something you and your husband must decide. I will say this, though, if he does attend Church regularly and doesn't pressure you, why not give him this gift? anon

I really couldn't believe in God any less, but I agreed to have my son baptized, and when he's older attend Sunday School. (I actually agreed to it before we got married, years before we had a kid.) It's important to my husband, and I value his beliefs even I don't share them. Plus it's easier to become an atheist as an adult than it is to find religion, so our son can always change his mind later!

It helped that I approve of my husband's church and that they don't judge me for my atheism. They are very liberal and humanitarian. I told the pastor who did the baptism that I didn't want anyone ever telling our son that mommy was going to hell, and she said she didn't even believe in hell. anon

I believe that this is a generosity issue. I think that it is generous of us to give our children access to every culural advantage they can have. Is there a down side to it?

I am a lapsed Catholic and am just hitting the high lights for my kids. Christenings, 1st Communion, & Confirmation. I have chosen equally lapsed relatives to be ''God Parents'' and have no problem with my little Berkeley boys saying things like ''I like Ganesh. He's my favorite God.'' hee hee!!! It is so great that our kids can learn about world religions and philosophies from their friends.

As educated people, we can give our kids a healthier take on it all.

Also, want to mention that at the parent info for 1st communion, I learned that a lot has improved with the Catholic dogma. For example; instead of the confession business being weird in-the-box say 20 roseries for sassing yo mama, it is now if you were mean to your mama be knd to her, or, if you lied to your parents, talk to them.... instead of the ''say 10 hail marys'' I grew up with. The way they put it was ''Now, the punishment fits the crime in penance.'' and I like it.

I think going to church is nice. I still am freaked out by the public health hazard potential of holy water but you know, how many chances do kids get to be in a smallish hall with music & sing? It is nice. It's also a good learning experience looking up the songs in the song book & reading to sing...

I have been called a ''Cafeteria Catholic'' and think that that is not bad. Why not let you kids have every cultual advantage they can? Build in all of the Buddist ceremonies you can as well. It sure makes the holidays more meaningfull! Customize!

You seemed to get quite a few opinions from Catholics sympathetic to your husband, so I feel compelled to write my experience. My husband was raised Catholic and is the only one in his family who has left the faith; his parents are in denial. My parents are both atheist, however my father was baptized Catholic and also left the faith many years ago. I personally went to a Catholic high school (only for the education) and have therefore been taught about the Catholic faith. I subsequently have zero interest in pursuing it.

We ultimately decided to baptize our first child, much against my personal beliefs. I agreed to do it so my husband would not get nagged for the rest of his life. Honestly I have little sympathy for my in-laws, I only regret that they have chosen a faith that has so little room for the inclusion of ''non- believers''. I find it quite insulting that to Catholics, children must be initiated into the faith as an infant, before they have a chance to exercise their own free will. It also insults me that this same faith has put me in a position where as a mother, apparently I am not ''going to heaven'' with my own children because I have not been baptized. It is incredulous.

With our second child, I actually had a panic attack over the proposal to have my husband's entire family return again to celebrate another baptism. We ended up baptizing her just on our own at a local church, with no party and sent his parents photos. This ended up being the best way for us - we performed the baptism to satisfy my in-laws, however I was not forced to endure the pageantry and guilt-trips from them. Believe me no one was the winner here. The whole experience left a bad feeling for all of us.

So, the idea of submitting my children to complete the other sacraments is unnerving to me. I am sure my in-laws wish and even expect this to happen (as I mentioned, they are in denial) however we have no plans to do so. If our kids choose to pursue Catholicism on their own once they are adults, I will have to respect their wishes. However after this whole experience, I can't say that I would ever teach my children anything very positive about the faith.

My only saving grace about the baptism experience is that my children do not remember it. We will be able to discuss it with them when they are old enough to make up their own opinions regarding religion. I do not believe you can be ''born into'' a faith, especially if only 25% of your family agrees with it. I believe faith is an entirely personal choice. It is regrettable that Catholicism does not see it this way. No, I would not say it is ''all about love'', I would say it is all about alienation. Yes, I am bitter

I can kind of see where your husband is coming from. We are about to baptize our 2nd child. I was raised Catholic and my husband was raised Lutheran. Both of us are not practicing either of those religions and have our own spiritual beliefs. However, our parents on both sides want us to baptize our children. We agreed to baptize them in the Catholic Church with my family and have ventured in to this solely for tradition's sake for the time being. We have yet to decide whether or not we could actually embark on the whole religious education journey in the Catholic church primarily because I wholeheartedly do not agree with all their beliefs nor could I ever see myself embracing the Lutheran Church either. I have come to terms with viewing our kids' baptisms as just a beginning. A tradition to follow and we are open to see what comes next. Of course Catholicism asks that you commit or continue their education within the Church but as a parent, you'll know what is best for your kids when the time comes for the next step.

Although, if it means something to your husband and his family, then it really comes down to the fact that it is just a ceremony. No more, no less. My in-laws and parents believe that if our children are given some kind of structure of religious education, whatever that may be, they may be more inclined to have the knowledge to seek out what might be best for themselves later in life. So, baptizing your child now does not mean that you are choosing one religion over another. I don't see why we cannot integrate a number of different teachings to our kids. There is no one ''right'' way to do any of these things. And as you stated, you just need to do whatever makes you feel comfortable in the end. Good luck with whatever you decide is best for you and your family. I hope this helps a little. anon

Catholic mom seeking non-denominational baptism for baby

March 2006

Hello. My family has recently moved to the Richmond area and we have a 9 month old baby that I'd like to baptize. The problem is, I'm catholic and my husband is agnostic. I very much want to have my daughter baptized, so I'm looking for a non-denominational congregation that can conduct the ceremony. Previous posts are dated, so I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions. Many thanks. Elaine

Have your daughter baptized Catholic! You will regret it in the future if you don't. It doesn't matter that your husband is agnostic--just find a more liberal minded parish (this is the bay area, after all). St. Joseph's in Alameda, Saint Francis de Sales Saint Mary's in Oakland, Saint Joseph the worker in Berkeley... the list goes on and on. If you want the best for your daughter, go for the best! They won't worry about your husband's status... catholic mom

Welcome to the Bay! I'm a mom of the 13 month old and the pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran in Berkeley (we're located at the entrance to Tilden where Grizzly Peak Blvd meets Spruce). In many ways our services are like those you'd find in a Roman Catholic Church. We are very open, welcome all kinds of people, have a great Sunday School and several babies. If you would like to know more about baptism here, give me a call at 510-524-8281. Congratulations! Pastor Katie

Appropriate Baptismal Offering Amount

Jan 2006

We are getting our son baptized later this month at a Catholic church and were wondering what an ''appropriate'' baptismal offering is, since they gave us an envelope with our paperwork and it seems like it is expected. Does anyone have any suggestions about what a good amount is? Thanks!

You would be safe with a donation of between $50 and $100. anonomous

We baptize our child last June in SF and the ''suggested'' donation was $50.00 in the Mission Dolores Cathedral, I was asking around other churches,(since our main concern was the date), and this looks like the standard amount, they range from $40.00 to $75.00, some other churches ask for an extra ''tip'' for the priest time. I think your best bet is to ask them directly what is the expected donation. Congrats on the Baptism of your baby. Fabiola

We baptized our son last year and I think we donated $45. The Church gave us a range (it is pay what you can but they had a suggested amount) at the baptism class. anon

My daughter was baptised last May in our Catholic Church. They recommended an offering of $20. This seemed low to me. Things to keep in mind: is it a private ceremony or part of a regular Sunday service? What can you afford? What do YOU feel is a respectable amount for you in your situation (this will be different for everyone)? Congratulations to you and your family! jennifer

Hi, my husband and I are also in the process of getting our daughter Baptised. Our family has always donated $100 for weddings, funeral, baptism or any other services we request. But really, there is no right or wrong, it's what you can afford. The church really does not mind whatever amount you give, that's why they don't specify any amount on the envelop. And actually, we don't even use the envelop we just give a Thank You card with the donation. anon