RCIA and Conditional Baptism


#1

Ugh. I am so enthusiastic about my conversion to Catholicism, but I am starting to get a bit frustrated with the process.

I was baptized in the Reformed Church in America, in the name of the trinity, through the pouring of water. Although my parents have my baptismal certificate, it is currently unavailable to me for reasons that I won't go into. So, I contacted my home church. They have records going back to 6 years after I was baptized. There may be more, but the church was flooded, so things are a mess right now.

Anyway, I keep getting push-back from the educational director at the church about making sure that my baptism was done correctly, and it seems that, even with the certificate and testimony that I was baptized in the trinity through the pouring of water, they will want to perform a conditional baptism. I really have no problem with it, but it was pointed out to me by the current pastor of my home church that it may be upsetting to my parents - causing them to question whether we are not one in Christ.

The current pastor said he would be happy to provide a letter stating that I was baptized and include the liturgy. The pastor who baptized me is also still alive and, I'm sure, would be glad to testify to how I was baptized.

The educational director at the RC church I am joining seems to be indicating that she thinks the pastors have been instructed just to do conditional baptisms now for just about everybody. Is this true? I'm starting to feel like the main problem is just ignorance regarding the Reformed faith and liturgy.


#2

Note:

If a conditional baptism is done...it is done privately.

Such is done when there remains a doubt as the the validity due to the great importance of Baptism..(one does not want it to be in doubt). It is not done though in a public forum.

If it was a valid baptism -- a letter from the Minister that did it that it was done and how --I would think can provide the needful information. The question is not so much as to a certificate but as to the reality of what was done. A certificate is not per se needed necessarily.


#3

Interesting. My Father was a conservative catholic, my sister Dalia Lama, My brother Non denominational Christian , my other sister liberal Catholic., Mother Lutheran.

So what I have learned is diversity of opinion and all religions believe that have ultimate truth. You are caught up in a web of power struggles., when this should be about and focus on God and our savior Jesus Christ. Remind the church of that and it usually helps as it helped me with my local RCC


#4

As Bookcat pointed out, a conditional baptism is done privately so it shouldn't be a concern to anyone else.

When you talk about the pastor of your "home church," do you mean the pastor of the church you are leaving? If so, why do you care what he says? If you have concerns, talk to the pastor at your Catholic parish. He would be the one to decide if you need to be conditionally baptized.

Chances are your RCIA director has conferred with the pastor about your situation and is passing on what he has said. (At least that's what I do. I'll take a baptismal certificate, letter, or whatever other evidence about baptism that I've been given and talk with the pastor about it.) However, it wouldn't hurt to go directly to the pastor and hear from him what the problem is with the evidence of your baptism or what you need. Perhaps a letter from your previous church or from your parents or godparents would be sufficient.


#5

Conditional baptism is a last resort.

You have your parents and the pastor who actually baptized you. All you need is an affidavit from one of them.

If the director persists with this conditional baptism stuff, talk directly to the pastor. No, it is not to be done if you have an affidavit.


#6

In my experience in dealing with this, an affidavit from the person who baptized you would be accepted as proof of your baptism.


#7

If I were you I'd take the path of least resistance and just let them give you a conditional baptism.


#8

[quote="DAML72, post:1, topic:300179"]
Ugh. I am so enthusiastic about my conversion to Catholicism, but I am starting to get a bit frustrated with the process.

I was baptized in the Reformed Church in America, in the name of the trinity, through the pouring of water. Although my parents have my baptismal certificate, it is currently unavailable to me for reasons that I won't go into. So, I contacted my home church. They have records going back to 6 years after I was baptized. There may be more, but the church was flooded, so things are a mess right now.

Anyway, I keep getting push-back from the educational director at the church about making sure that my baptism was done correctly, and it seems that, even with the certificate and testimony that I was baptized in the trinity through the pouring of water, they will want to perform a conditional baptism. I really have no problem with it, but it was pointed out to me by the current pastor of my home church that it may be upsetting to my parents - causing them to question whether we are not one in Christ.

The current pastor said he would be happy to provide a letter stating that I was baptized and include the liturgy. The pastor who baptized me is also still alive and, I'm sure, would be glad to testify to how I was baptized.

The educational director at the RC church I am joining seems to be indicating that she thinks the pastors have been instructed just to do conditional baptisms now for just about everybody. Is this true? I'm starting to feel like the main problem is just ignorance regarding the Reformed faith and liturgy.

[/quote]

Did you actually hand in a copy of your Baptismal certificate? Or give them something in writing from witnesses that you were baptized?

Or is she just supposed to trust that these things exist?

If she hasn't got a physical record of your baptism, then they have to do a conditional baptism, in order to have something on file to show that you have been baptized, before you can move to the next level.

I don't know what the issue is with you getting your baptismal certificate from your parents, but if you are over the age of 18, it is your own property. If they demand to know why you want it, just tell them that you are reorganizing and you want to have all of your identity papers in a safe place at your house.


#9

As others have said, a letter or affidavit from somebody who witnessed your Baptism should be sufficient.

I'm the RCIA coordinator for my parish, and last year we had a woman who was Baptized as an infant in Bolivia, but could not produce a record of it and could not get in touch with the original church. Her mother wrote a letter certifying that she had witnessed the Baptism, that it was in the proper form, etc. and that allowed us to move forward.

We will do a conditional Baptism, but it is a last resort if we really can't get any clarity on whether a valid Baptism was performed or not. In the two years I've been running RCIA for my parish, we haven't had to do one yet.

If you are unable to get an affidavit you may have to be conditionally Baptized, but if that troubles your mom you can tell her that it's just because they couldn't verify your Baptism, and all validly Baptized Christians (water + trinitarian formula) are one in Christ.

I understand your frustration. I'm sure that your parish Priest(s) and RCIA folks are doing the best they can. Getting all the paperwork in order can be very frustrating, for them and for you. Believe me, I know ;). But it's worth it.

God bless you!


#10

Oh my goodness people!

First of all, the pastor who mentioned it might be upsetting to my parents is the current pastor of the church where I grew up, but has only been there 2 years. My parents are no longer at that church, but a neighboring one of the same denomination - they have been at the different church for at least 15 years now, but they live next door to the church where I grew up and know the current pastor. I am no longer a member of that church, as I now live 5 hours away, and haven't lived at home for 20 years. But I grew up there - was in the pew every Sunday, was confirmed and married there, and had my son baptized there. The reason I would care about what he has to say is that he is an ordained minister of the RCA, which is the church of my family and, as his brother also converted to Catholicism, perhaps he has some insight that he was sharing with me. He is very excited for me and supportive of my decision (not that I even know him), but he just brought up the fact that it might be a sensitive issue for my parents when I mentioned I don't know how their are going to feel about my conversion. I appreciate this input because I hadn't really thought about it. I think it would be a very Christian thing to do to consider my parents' feelings in this. Just because I'm converting to Catholicism, doesn't mean I should stop taking others' advice and considering feelings, should I?

Second of all, my mother doesn't know where my baptismal certificate is at the moment because she and my father have been flooded out of their home, and all their items are in storage. I had left out that information because I didn't want my post to identify me in case there are others on here who would recognize me due to the circumstances. But, some of you think you need to know the details to answer the question I posed.

And no, I don't expect the church to take on faith the fact that I was baptized. I am not an idiot.

I will just make sure to speak directly to the Priest when he returns from retreat. It has only been a few weeks. I thought I would need this evidence right away, but it sounds like they wouldn't even do the baptism until holy week anyway, so there is time to get it straightened out. I just wanted to know what is appropriate proof and whether the church has changed its direction on this issue recently as has been indicated to me. By the various responses given, I can see this is going to continue to be a bit of a confused mess.

Thank you.


#11

[quote="bitznbitez, post:7, topic:300179"]
If I were you I'd take the path of least resistance and just let them give you a conditional baptism.

[/quote]

This is what I'd do too..in private of course....it can't hurt, and it will help to keep peace in the family.


#12

[quote="DAML72, post:10, topic:300179"]
...] but he just brought up the fact that it might be a sensitive issue for my parents when I mentioned I don't know how their are going to feel about my conversion. I appreciate this input because I hadn't really thought about it. I think it would be a very Christian thing to do to consider my parents' feelings in this. Just because I'm converting to Catholicism, doesn't mean I should stop taking others' advice and considering feelings, should I?

...]

I will just make sure to speak directly to the Priest when he returns from retreat. It has only been a few weeks. I thought I would need this evidence right away, but it sounds like they wouldn't even do the baptism until holy week anyway, so there is time to get it straightened out. I just wanted to know what is appropriate proof and whether the church has changed its direction on this issue recently as has been indicated to me. By the various responses given, I can see this is going to continue to be a bit of a confused mess.

Thank you.

[/quote]

Hello :-). You are absolutely right that you should take advice and consider others' feelings, especially those who are close to you (like your parents). I don't think anybody meant to imply otherwise (I certainly didn't!). In my humble opinion, you are approaching this exactly right -- doing what is right for you and your spiritual growth, while being considerate of others.

You are exactly right; you have some time to get these things in order. For the RCIA group at my parish, we collect general information at the beginning (via a form, that includes some questions about Baptism and any other sacramental history)...but the formal paperwork isn't 'due' until later in the program. Earlier is always better, but we try to be as accommodating as we possibly can. I assume the leaders of your program will do the same.

God bless you :)


#13

[quote="achmafooma, post:9, topic:300179"]
As others have said, a letter or affidavit from somebody who witnessed your Baptism should be sufficient.

I'm the RCIA coordinator for my parish, and last year we had a woman who was Baptized as an infant in Bolivia, but could not produce a record of it and could not get in touch with the original church. Her mother wrote a letter certifying that she had witnessed the Baptism, that it was in the proper form, etc. and that allowed us to move forward.

We will do a conditional Baptism, but it is a last resort if we really can't get any clarity on whether a valid Baptism was performed or not. In the two years I've been running RCIA for my parish, we haven't had to do one yet.

If you are unable to get an affidavit you may have to be conditionally Baptized, but if that troubles your mom you can tell her that it's just because they couldn't verify your Baptism, and all validly Baptized Christians (water + trinitarian formula) are one in Christ.

I understand your frustration. I'm sure that your parish Priest(s) and RCIA folks are doing the best they can. Getting all the paperwork in order can be very frustrating, for them and for you. Believe me, I know ;). But it's worth it.

God bless you!

[/quote]

I am the RCIA coordinator for our parish (15 yrs), and I agree with you totally.

We had a similar case to the one you describe, but ours got a little more complicated. Ours was a Catholic baptism from Guatamala that could not be verified. Then the person was baptized at a Presbyterian church that could not be verified.

Neither one could be verified by witness statements, or church records.

We had to end up doing a conditional baptism, and get a mandate from the Bishop in order to do the confirmation.

You almost need a flow chart for some of this. :p


#14

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