The Catholic University of America

Oral Presentation of D.Min. Treatise

Thomas W. Burnford

for the degree of

Doctor of Ministry

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

3:30p.m., Caldwell Hall, Happel Room

 

abstract

 

Baptismal Catechesis: Helping new parents develop good faith practices

 

Director: Rev. Dominic Serra, S.L.D.

 

During the baptism of an infant, parents commit to raise their child in the Catholic faith. In light of historically low Mass attendance rates and an increase in the number of Catholics who stop practicing their faith, the preparation of parents for the baptism of their child is essential. The theology, words and actions of the Rite of Baptism provide the foundational material for catechesis of the parents before the celebration of the sacrament. The Rite also directs the parents, with the godparents and the Christian community, to bring the child’s baptism to fruition by leading him or her to a mature adult Catholic faith. Central to this task of parents are the witness of their own faith and a home environment conducive to the faith formation of the child. Baptism preparation provides an opportunity to help parents develop or deepen good faith practices so they can better lead their child to conversion and faith.

 

This project included the design, implementation and evaluation of a baptism preparation program for fifteen couples at Church of the Resurrection in Maryland. The program included an initial survey, online and take-home resources, a group preparation session, the baptism of the child, a home visit after the baptism for mystagogy, an event at the parish, and a closing assessment survey. During implementation, the parents experienced multiple instances of prayer, learning and sharing faith in the home.

 

The fifteen subject couples provided positive feedback regarding their experience. The assessment survey demonstrated that, as a result of the intervention, the faith practice of the parents grew, as did their commitment to raise their children in the faith. In a particular way, the use of mystagogy after the baptism proved useful to the program objectives, as did the take-home materials and overarching focus on the Rite of Baptism. This project prepared parents for the baptism of their child and helped them develop good faith practices beneficial to raising their newly baptized child in the Catholic faith.