What do I do now!

After years of living in sin:blush: I have finally decided to do the right thing and get married, much to the delight of my priest (who has never been judgemental towards me even though he must have thought it!).

Trouble is I phoned my original parish for a copy of my Baptism certificate and he cant find an entry for me. He has found my confirmation entry and said I obviously was Baptised otherwise I couldn’t have got confirmed. I remember my Baptism certificate being on the wall at home many years ago but have never seen it for many years either. My parents are no longer alive so I cant even get them to tell the priest when I was Baptised and am having trouble finding out who did go to my Baptism, since it was over 40years ago and many of them are no longer alive either.

I’ve got photos of my communion and confirmation but none of my Baptism. The Priest who was looking for me did say that he has had some trouble in the past finding records as some had never been entered.

I’m feeling rather upset at the moment as I was obviously brought up to believe we are significant to God only to find out that the priest of the time didn’t or couldn’t be bothered to register me. He probably never looked at my records after Baptism as he knew he had Baptised me so would have confirmed it to school when I started, he was there for my Holy Communion, Confirmation and entry to High School. He can’t help me now because he’s dead.

Anyone got any other advice for me on what I can do? I’ll be seeing my present Priest tomorrow but would just like to get advice from others and to be honest probably a bit of sympathy 'Cos I feel as if I’ve had the rug pulled from under me.

Many thanks in anticipation of your help

Are either of your godparents still living? They can swear an affidavit in front of their pastor saying that they were present at your baptism, state the approximate date if they don’t know the exact one and their relationship to you. Anyone else who was present would be able to do the same.

For example, even though I was only 5, I vividly remember my baby brother’s Baptism. I know there were proxy sponsors there, but cannot remember who they were. The only other people present were my dad and my 4 year old brother and old Fr. Sivret, the priest who was pastor in our parish for 33 years. I would definitely be able to attest to the baptism if that ever became necessary.

Do a little detective work. What church would have been the parish at the home your parents lived when you were born? Or the parish your parents were married in? Check with the diocese in case the church in which you were baptised has closed. And ask the priest if he can “conditionally baptise” you if it gives you reassurance – I’m not sure how that works since you have a record of confirmation which does, indeed, seem to verify your baptism as well.

  1. What the priest did or didn’t do with your baptismal records has no bearing on your significance to God. Of course you are significant to God.

  2. In all likelihood, it was not a matter of the priest not having time or couldn’t be bothered to register you. Priests do not usually take care of record-keeping. That is the secretary’s job.

  3. You were baptized forty-plus years ago, and a lot can happen in forty years. Record-keeping was manual then and apparently your records were misplaced or lost – either at the time, during office moves or cleanouts, or during the conversion to computerization. I’m sure the loss of your baptismal record wasn’t intentional!

  4. There are ways of dealing with lost records. If your parish office doesn’t know what to do, contact the diocese; they will know.

It’s my contention, as the parish secretary, then when it comes to baptisms the priests should do the recording as called for in Canon Law. Look at all the old registers and the same hand that signed them did the entries.

I don’t know about other parishes but I would never consider using only computerized records. All our baptisms are entered both in the register and in the computer program. And registers are photocopied once a year and sent to the diocesan archives.

OP, you might inquire at the diocesan office. They might be able to help you.

Cut the poor priest and staff a break! The church I was confirmed in certainly made records of the event, since I received a certificate (presumably still with my parents).

At the same time, the church has been subject to both fire and flood in the 20 + years since, and I know some records have been lost, so it wouldn’t surprise me to find that mine were no longer there.

If you don’t remember your own baptism, then it would’ve happened within probably three years of your birth, most common was to have it done soon after birth so start from your birthdate and work onwards. And was probably done by one of the priests working in your home parish at the time, in case you need to get in touch with them and see if any of them remember it.

A final thought - who has your parents’ stuff now? They should have the certificate that was on the wall, shouldn’t they?

Since the parish has a record of your confirmation, the entries in the Confirmation should refer you back to the original parish and date of your baptism. It is not at all unusual for people to go searching for their baptismal record and come up empty only to realize that one way or another, they were looking in the wrong place. The Confirmation section will list your parish of baptism as well as the date of baptism.

Sometimes when people answer questions over the phone, they tend to answer exactly what’s been asked rather than to give the information that the questioner realy needs. “We have no record of your baptism” is a direct response to a request for one. However, people don’t always “connect the dots” and more than once I’ve been in a situation of finding a confirmation record for someone which indicates that the person was baptised at a different parish. If you didn’t ask “what is listed for my parish of baptism in my confirmation record?” that question might go unanswered. I know that to many people here that might seem like an obvious thing for someone to say, but experience has taught me that it doesn’t always happen.

Another point to make is to be sure that the person researching the record looked in the actual pages of the baptism records–not just the index. Again, experience has taught me that it’s not unusual for someone to say “your name isn’t in the index, so we don’t have a record,” but the record is in fact there.

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