Conditional Baptism?


Yesterday I had a rather alarming conversation with my mother. I’m a convert from the United Methodist Church, and my baptism was presumed valid so I simply received Confirmation and First Eucharist upon being received into the Catholic Church.

Yesterday, however, I learned for the first time that my mother was disturbed by my christening service, that she thought the wording was “vague” and “wrong” and it contributed to her decision to leave that local church. Unfortunately, she can’t remember any specific details (this happened in 1985) and when I asked her whether the words of the baptism itself, the “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” was part of what the pastor did unconventionally or if it was only other parts of the service before and after the actual baptism, she honestly couldn’t remember.

Needless to say I’m rather concerned about this. Once upon a time conditional baptisms were done for converts to remove any doubt about the validity of their non-Catholic baptism. I wish that was still the policy. Indeed, it seems to me that the policy would be far more appropriate today than it was in earlier times when Protestant baptisms more often followed the traditional formula.

Does anyone know if one can request a conditional baptism today if some doubt arises about the original baptism? Should I refrain from receiving other sacraments until this doubt is resolved?


Yes, conditional baptism is still done today.

Bring your concerns to your pastor and he will guide you.


The best thing you can do is talk to a priest. He’s the one who can say whether you should refrain from the sacraments.


Say what!? <:(


Yes they are done. And now in your case such would be followed by … confirmation …


Do you have a baptismal certificate? Many times those will include the formula used.

John Doe was “Baptized in the name of the Father,…etc.”

Your parish priest may need to see that in order for him to properly advise you.

Knowing as many Methodist ministers and family members that I do, I would be surprised if he deviated from the standard formula. But, there are rogue Methodists too.


I’ve attended several UMC baptisms in which a formula such as “in the name of the Father who created you, the Son who loves you, and the Spirit who sanctifies you” or something like that was used.

The Methodist church did not issue a traditional baptismal certificate, but did give my parents a sort of small folded paper pamphlet stating specifically that I had been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. However, I would not be surprised if such a document would be issued even if those were not the exact words used. In any case the paper has long since been lost.

Talking to a priest is more difficult than it sounds, since following a series of parish closings and mergers the only priest in the region has been reassigned and we do not know when (if?) we will get another. Priests from the surrounding area drive in and out to cover Sunday masses at the two remaining local parishes (which had previously shared a priest), but that’s all and I don’t have the transportation options to go anywhere else.


Contact the Chancery of the Diocese…


Some examples of baptisms found to be invalid:


I think that formula is within the parameters of validity (but your priest is better qualified to make that determination). As long as they didn’t go way off base (e.g. “The Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier”) then you’re probably okay.

Since your priest is currently unavailable, you could write a letter to your bishop about the matter. Ultimately, you are his responsibility anyway, not the local pastor’s. It should be as explicit as possible and true to your experience (so you shouldn’t mention the “Creator…” formula unless you have actually witnessed it).


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