How to prove baptism?


Hello: I’m in sort of a pickle. I believe I may have been baptized Catholic. However, given that there was some chaos in my step family around the time (mom was separated from her husband) and that she suffered a stroke a few years after I was born I don’t know what church it happened in. I know it did as several people who’ve since passed on witnessed it. But, considering the time and my mom’s inability to remember it much at all I could’ve been baptized in another church entirely and have no idea where to start. I’ve begun RCIA. But, can’t honestly say if I should be classified as catechized or not. Any ideas?


Do you know the city and approximate date, month, year? I had a somewhat similar experience. I found it by calling all the Churches in the city I knew it happened in. Wasn’t too big of a city, thank goodness.


You can try calling the churches in the area where it would likely have occurred, but it isn’t that much of a dilemma. If you’re not sure, and you can’t confirm, you can receive a conditional baptism. Essentially, it is in practice like a baptism, but the words said are a little different, something along the lines of “If this person has not yet received the sacrament of baptism, I baptise them…”

Make best efforts to find out, but it isn’t an impediment to your becoming a full member of the faith. And welcome!


Hehe, that’s the problem, it could’ve happened within a 50 mile radius of the town where I grew up in predominantly Catholic Massachusetts. So, I’d have to call quite a few.


The deacon I’ve been speaking with says that may be the road to take as I honestly don’t know where it could’ve happened in Massachusetts. Which, being predominantly Catholic and dense poses a location problem.


Just have them give you a conditional baptism if you can’t prove or are unsure if you’re validly baptized.

The person baptizing you will say “If you are not already baptized, then I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”


Do a mass email - put them all on there.:smiley: alphabetically (that was not a problem in my town - there were only two I think)

Good luck - I mean it is important; might be worth investigating. Get a friend to help.


Tell the pastor of your parish that you’ve been told you were baptized but no one who remains can tell you where or when, and you have no eye witnesses remaining who can sign an affidavit . Tell him you cannot prove you were baptized so you will need a conditional baptism.


If you were baptized in the Catholic Church, it would have been recorded in the parish where you lived in at the time. If you know the address you lived at, the diocese can tell you what parish you were in.


My son’s baptismal certificate was never issued (and I not having been raised Catholic didn’t know to look for it) so when he went to attend 1st communion we were in a bit of a pickle having moved several states away. We were able to recreate it by sending pictures and the invitation. The secretary was able to figure out who the priest was and fill out the record accordingly.

So, perhaps, reach out to family and dig through some albums to see if you can find pictures, from that you could post on a Facebook group for the Boston area asking if anyone recognizes the church. Having the church would get you most of the way there.


If an answer isn’t found, Baptism can be done conditionally in your case, since one can’t be rebaptized. Ask your local priest in RCIA what can be done.

Re:" catechised, that refers to your formation (education) that has occured so far in the faith. You probably meant to say catechumen,


Thank you, but, there’s the rub: mom’s stroke took the part of her memory of where it happened as it wasn’t local, apparently.


I’m sorry to say I don’t. It could’ve happened within in a 50 mile radius of where I grew up for all I can tell.


Thank you. It looks as if that may have to be the case as the list of churches within the area is too great to really deal with per this matter.


Hehe, I’d have to do a mass email to what looks to be half the phone book. lol But, I’m giving it one more week of looking before I toss in my cards.


It’s not a close enough family for ones to exist, sorry to say. I was an out of wedlock birth and, well, the three that were present only one is still living as far as I can tell. But, cannot be found. So, I’m sort of stuck there.


If you’re mum had you baptized in a catholic church, shouldn’t her previous parish registration be recorded at her current church?

People can trace their ancestry back hundreds of years, and church records are a big tool, and they do it without the advantage of doing it when most people involved are still alive. I think you can do this


Well, therein lay another rub: she was born and baptized in Austria and moved to the US. Her parents then went on to attend a UU church for most of her time growing up and she wasn’t a practicing Catholic due to her husband’s sentiments on the matter at the time this happened. As such there’s really next to nothing to go on beyond it having happened somewhere in Massachusetts. I was conceived out of wedlock. So, this got tricky.


As others have said, whenever there is uncertainty about whether somebody is Baptized or not, a conditional Baptism can be done.

My suggestion is to do what you can (within reason) to contact the most likely churches and have them check the records. You might also consider contacting the diocese(s) where the Baptism may have occurred. They might be able to help. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s at least possible that they could send out a mass-email to every parish in the diocese or something.

All-in-all though, after having made a reasonable effort, you can just go ahead with a conditional Baptism. If you haven’t already, you should make sure your pastor and RCIA leaders are aware of the situation, and it’ll get worked out :slight_smile: . This uncertainty should not be an impediment to your reception into the church!

God bless you.


You don’t have to prove you were baptized. You don’t have to email all over creation.

Tell your pastor you have good reason to believe you were baptized, as you have been told you were, but can’t prove it and need a conditional baptism.

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