Baptismal Certificate - Wrong Middle Name

I’m getting married this summer and needed to get my baptismal record from the Parish where I grew up. I called and gave them the information, and the certificate arrived in the mail yesterday. The problem is that it shows the wrong middle name (different from what is on my birth certificate, passport, wedding invitation, etc.)

I talked to my mom, who thinks they must have simply copied it down wrong. (There’s no long forgotten story about the priest not liking my middle name and deciding to use a different one - which I thought might have been an outside possibility :eek: ).

I figure there are two possibilities. Either the name was recorded wrong in the baptismal record at the time I was baptized, or they copied it wrong out of the book when they issued the certificate. I’m wondering what I should do. Should I call the parish and ask them to double-check the registry? Or should I simply give the certificate I have to the priest who is marrying us, and figure he probably won’t notice? (He has the correct name in his records from our marriage prep).

Anyone ever face a similar issue?

Call the parish and ask, if they made the certificate out incorrectly ask for a corrected one. The Certificate you have should not effect the Marriage preparations.

Call and ask. It’s not a rare thing to have the wrong name in the register. And I’ve been known to copy down the wrong name when issuing a certificate.

If they made a mistake when they issued it they’ll simply issue a corrected one. If the name that’s on the certificate is what appears in the register the only thing they can do is add a notation saying that there is a discrepancy between the birth certificate and the baptismal record.

My father was named Bennett. The priest claimed there was no Saint Bennett; so baptized him Benedict. My father went through life thinking his legal name was Benedict, but always went by Bennett. When he died his death certificate, like his birth certificate read Bennett, but his insurance police was Benedict. Fortunately his mother was still alive and was able to supply an affidavit for the insurance company.

Probably best to get it straight as soon as possible. It only gets more complicated as time passes.

Frankly yes it does happen sometimes. It could either of what you mentioned. First step is to see if the new certificate was issued wrong–if that’s the case, simply ask for a new one. If it accurately reflects your baptismal record, it won’t affect your ability to get married so long as the pastor of the place where you’re getting married has no doubt “that’s you.” Don’t just hand it in and hope he doesn’t notice. Point it out to him because he has an obligation to notice and you’re much better off not being in a position where he points it out to you.

This happens a lot with spelling (Steven or Stephan for example), or last names that the family has slightly changed over the generations (the priest wrote it down the way they spelled it in the “old country” but it doesn’t match the spelling on the birth certificate issued here for the next generation). In other words I’m trying to say that this sort of thing does hapen and pastors realize that, so while it’s an inconvenience, it’s not an obstacle.

go back to the baptismal parish, first ask secretary to check the actual entry to see if it is right. If they do have the name wrong in the “book” you need to bring your birth certificate with the correct name in so they can correct the sacramental record and issue a new certificate. My brother is supposed to be Patrick Michael, but the godparents and the priest were all Irish (we are not) and in those days my mother was not present for the baptism and my dad did not catch it, but he was baptized with the Gaelic equivalent of those names, and the baptismal record still shows that.

Thanks all for the replies. I called the parish that issued the baptismal certificate this morning, and the middle name on the certificate is how it appears in the registry. They tell me they can only issue the certificate as it appears in the registry, which makes sense. I’m just very curious how this happened. Next time I am at my parents house I want to look through my “baby box” and see what is on the commemorative certificate issued to my parents.

As Fr. David suggested, I will take the certificate to the priest at my new parish, point out the discrepancy, and see what he advises.

I am just going to echo every one else’s advice. Call and ask. :slight_smile:

While volunteering as a receptionist at the local Roman Cathedral, we had a situation we thought was a registry error… until we cross checked the date. Two families, same first and last name, different middle name for the children, baptized a couple weeks apart, and on different pages. We needed page X, and working from the back to the front (it was easier with that registry), we found the wrong one on page X+1, made the cert. When they picked it up, and noted the wrong middle name, they also spotted the wrong date, and we looked in the registry, and found the correct date.

The thing is, that’s more common than one might think!

Wow! Pretty amazing coincidence. I don’t think that’s the case with my situation. It’s a small parish, and while there are a number of people with my last name in the parish, I’m related to all of them :wink: No one else with my name would have been baptized there around the same time. Plus they have my birth date, parents names, and Godparents names all listed correctly.

I dropped the certificate off this morning for the priest at my new parish, with a note mentioning the middle name issue. I told him I had double checked with the Baptismal parish and that is how it shows on the registry. I asked him to let me know if he thought I should do anything further. I haven’t heard anything from him, so hopefully it will all be clear sailing.

Thanks again for all the replies!

Thomas,
Just to set your mind at ease: Again, this isn’t something to worry about. Yes it’s an inconvenience, but as long as there is no doubt that the certificate actually refers to you, it won’t make any difference.

Thank you, Fr. David. I consider this more of a curiousity than a cause for concern. There is no doubt that the certificate refers to me. As I said above, all the other information (birth date, parents names, etc.) matches exactly.

I would be interested in your opinion on one other aspect of this. One or two other posters suggested bove that I should take my birth certificate or other records with my correct middle name to the Baptismal parish so that they can make a notation of this in the registry. Is there any purpose to be served by doing that?

Thank you!

Yes, if you ever want to get married!!! :smiley:

But seriously: Changing a baptismal record is a big deal. I’ve never personally had to do so (and I’ve encountered much more extreme situations than yours, believe me), but from what I understand, it would require the bishop’s permission to do this. Notations can be made, such as adding a confirmation name, but to “cross-out” the baptismal name and change it is something different. Since middle names are somewhat “fluid” in our society, I wouldn’t bother trying to change it. There are so many people out there who have different middle names on their government IDs than what’s in a church registry that priests don’t think very much of it if there’s some discrepancy. When I say “I wouldn’t bother” I really do mean that–my own middle name is on all my official documents, but isn’t in my baptismal registry. Come to think of it, it’s even on all of my ecclesiastical documents, but not my baptismal record.

Also remember that a baptismal registry is recording a fact of history, so if that’s the name which was used at baptism, then that’s the name which must appear in the registry, regardless of what name a person might actually be using (and even if the motivation for using a name different from the one chosen by the parents was improper). To give another example, the baptismal record of a married woman always uses her maiden name, never the married name, because that was her name at baptism, regardless of the fact that her name changed later.

Put it this way - I had my handbag stolen some years back, containing most of my ID. The ID that I DID have had a shortened version of my first name, and wasn’t good enough for me to replace my drivers’ licence. I ended up having to actually go and get my name changed by Deed Poll to have all the ID line up.

It’s just occurred to me that my baptism, first communion and confirmation certificates will be under my full name.

It’s interesting how things are so different in our province. Here, rather than the Vital Statistics record being the final say, it’s the baptismal certificate that is the final say.

I’m on first name basis with the gal at Vital Stats, so often does she call me to check the baptismal registers of the various parishes I work for. If someone requests a certificate with a name that doesn’t quite match what’s in the Vital Stats records, VS calls me and whatever is in the church register is the final say. If it matches what’s at VS the person must accept the Birth Certificate as issued even if all their lives they’ve gone by another name. If the VS info is different from the parish register, VS changes its information.

That’s because, by law, the priest or whoever baptizes is responsible for forwarding the appropriate documents to the Government. It’s so ingrained that even social workers have been known to call and request baptism for a child they had apprehended in order to be able to get him registered and get a birth certificate. The first time that happened I asked “What would you do if this child were a Jew or Muslim?” Dead silence at the other end of the line.

Of course parents always have the option to register the child themselves but VS staff have told me that in many cases the children only show on their records as “Live male/female born to Mother X in town Y on day Z” since that’s the only info they receive from the hospitals. That situation persists until such a time as the child requires a Birth Certificate and suddenly there are all these other forms to fill in to prove who they are.

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