Concerning Baptism at St. Elias Parish
It is a great blessing to our community when a child is brought by its parents and family for Baptism and Chrismation in our parish. It is an occasion of great rejoicing, because we have shared in the announcement of the child's expectation, its birth and the mother's return to worship at the 40th Day Blessing.
All this points to the child's continued presence among us and its growing as a member of our parish family. This is the expectation of all Orthodox/Catholic communities and when it takes place as described above, it all falls into place as it should.
However, there are other times when I am approached to baptise a child from outside the parish, or when the parents are not in the habit of attending Divine Services.
When this is the case, it puts me on the spot, as I tend to be as accommodating as possible (in spite of what some might say). For this reason, I ask parishioners to consider the following:
THOSE ASKING FOR BAPTISM SHOULD:
1. Be actual practising members of the parish. (Membership means: Regular Attendance at Divine Services; Volunteer Work; and Financial Support). If not a member of our parish, but wants the baptism here, a letter of delegation from the actual Pastor elsewhere is needed.)
2. New Members Welcome!
3. If new to the community, at least three months of regular worship with us is required. (Services are Saturday evenings at 7:00 p.m., Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.)
4. If a first child, two instruction sessions for the parents are required.
5. Adult Baptisms will take place after a period of instruction during Great Lent. The Baptism will be held on Lazarus Saturday or the Vigil of Pascha.
6. The parents may request a specific day for the baptism, but, as we continue to grow, it may be necessary to baptise several candidates at the same Liturgy. Probably, Baptism will be scheduled during the Christmas/Theophany season, during the Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday or the Easter Vigil, and perhaps also sometime in September.
7. After Baptism, I, as Pastor, expect to see the child in Church, to get to know it by name, and to establish a relationship with it as a spiritual father. As the baptising priest, I, along with the godparents, have to answer to God for the continued formation of the child in the Faith.
Baptism is union with Christ and His Church. And at the Last Judgement, God will deal better with the non-baptised than with those who accepted the gift of Baptism and then rejected it.
"Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me your statutes!"
Fr. Roman Galadza