It’s interesting that the priest encouraged you to baptized as soon as you could, but did not volunteer to do it himself. Perhaps, as others have said, what is meant is, you should begin seriously seeking baptism now by means of beginning RCIA, not you need to get baptized today. Of course, if he discerns a sense of urgency for you to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, he might offer you an expedited path to baptism. Why don’t you ask him for clarification?
I, even as a Christian who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church (read Protestant), would tell you that generally people are baptized in the church which they intend to be their community of faith (and place of church membership). It would be irregular (though I’m sure neither a first nor last) to be baptized into a church which you had no intention of joining or participating in. If you want to join the Roman Catholic Church, it would be logical to seek baptism in the Catholic parish where you intend to attend mass every week (and hopefully will find involvement in other church activities such as Bible studies (yes there are Catholic Bible studies), small groups, Knights of Columbus, Rosary making and praying groups, special ministries to the home-bound, imprisoned, ill, etc.).
If you absolutely feel that God is calling you to baptism NOW share this with your priest. See what he says. If baptism isn’t an option at the Catholic parish, PRAY. If you feel that God is calling you to immediate baptism you could ask other Christian clergy to do it, explaining the situation to them. I think the Church of Christ denomination is well known for being “let’s do it right now” people about baptism, though they might not be willing once you tell them you intend to be Catholic. You might try a Disciples of Christ church in your area too. We (Disciples) are (usually) not hostile toward Catholicism and very open to a diversity of beliefs, so if you explain your situation you might find a minister willing to help you there.
Worst case scenario, find someone (very preferably another Christian) and ask them to baptize you themselves (they need not be ordained) with at least two witnesses present who will be willing to sign a statement attesting to the baptism for the Catholic Church. This baptism, or one performed by a Protestant minister, would be considered valid in the Catholic Church as best I understand it, but you should consult your spiritual director to be sure so long as the baptism is performed
- With water (not just anointing with oil or something else…I don’t know I’ve never actually heard of anyone baptizing without water…)
- Says the words “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (or something similar, what matters is that all three Members of the Holy Trinity are named and the baptism is said to be performed in Their Name). This is important because some churches say “In the name of Jesus” and don’t name the Father and Holy Spirit, or with some others words. In the eyes of the Catholic Church (and some Protestants) this doesn’t count).
- The person baptizing has the same intention as the Catholic Church as when she baptizes. This is why I advised it be another Christian performing the baptism.
The CCC tells us:
1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize, by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.
I would also affirm that if you find yourself in danger of death, Canon law takes a back seat to you receiving the sacraments. I HOPE YOU DO NOT FIND YOURSELF IN SUCH DANGER, but if you do, and there’s some time, the priest should be able to baptize you on the spot (if I understand correctly).
I would also add that from the Catholic perspective the CCC says:
1281 Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16)
That is to say, according to Catholic teaching, being in RCIA could be “good enough” should you die prior to being baptized (though once again may God not allow such a thing to occur.)
From a Protestant perspective, what matters is your faith. Have you prayed to God and told Him you’re a sinner and want His Son Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior? For most Protestants (especially Evangelicals) this is the actual moment of salvation, whereas baptism is the outward sign of an inner change and a manifestation of your faith.
So in short, most Protestants and Catholics agree, although baptism is the normal means of entry into the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord- it is not always necessary for salvation should someone with genuine and living faith in Jesus who desires baptism be prevented from receiving it by death. So since you desire to be Catholic, there’s good sense in going through the Catholic Church’s process for adults entering the Church. Talk to your priest, and explain your concerns. You desire to be baptized. This is good, it means you desire God’s forgiveness for your sins and to live with Him forever, and be in communion with His Kingdom on earth, the Church of Christ our Lord. Do what you believe God is calling you to do, but don’t make a rash and impulsive decision. Being baptized outside the Catholic Church will NOT negate your need to learn about the Catholic faith before being received and confirmed.