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Resources for Baptismal Preparation

by Genelda Woggon

According the the Catholic Church, “catechesis is the act of handing on the Word of God intended to inform the faith community and candidates for initiation into the Church about the teachings of Christ, transmitted by the Apostles to the Church. Catechesis also involves the lifelong effort of forming people into witnesses to Christ and opening their hearts to the spiritual transformation given by the Holy Spirit.”

The process of handing on our faith is all about experience. It is an experience of building a relationship with Jesus, lived out in community. Being formed in faith into the life of a community is not about sitting at a desk and readying a text, but growing in faith with one another in the name of Jesus.

We might consider four stages of the Catechumenal Process,  intended as preparation for or follow up from the Rites from Book of Occasional Services (BOS) and the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as outlined in the BOS p 159-161 (pages vary with edition). Many of the resources listed below have grown out of the work of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd which have been made available to the larger community. In a few cases, the resource compliments the works of Catechesis(*), but is not directly related. Others have been developed from congregational practices in a variety of settings. Bless This Child gives an example of one these stages noted below.

Stage One – Rite One: The Blessing of Parents at the Beginning of the Pregnancy (BOS  pages 175 & 159)

  • Waiting in Hope: Meditations for Expectant Parents by Christine Dubois Bourne & Steve E. Bourne (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993, Order direct from the author, PO Box 12777 Mill Creek, WA 98082.  Enclose $10 to cover cost of book plus shipping.)  This may be given before or after the “Blessing” – as soon as the Pregnancy is announced.
  • Baptism is a Beginning edited By Rebekah Rojcewicz (Liturgy Training Publications, 2009)  Book with CD-ROM includes 18 different pamphlets (bilingual English/Spanish reproducible handouts) that can be copied and given to the families, godparents and sponsors. They include preparation, continuing support, and formation after Baptism.  Pamphlets appropriate for this stage are: Awaiting the Birth of Your Child and A Message to Adoptive Parents.  This may be given to expectant parents by parish clergy, staff member or parish sponsor (who may or may not be a godparent but one who helps to create a bond to parish life.)
  • The Seed of God Written by Genelda Woggon, Illustrated by Alicia Jewell (Center for Children and Theology, 2004) is a series of five bilingual books (English/Spanish & Haitian Creole/French separate editions) for children ages 3-7 to prepare for and deepen their Baptismal life.   These books, written for the child, are especially complimentary with Baptism is a Beginning, written for the adult around similar themes and philosophy. The booklet appropriate for this stage, especially if there is a toddler or young sibling in the family, is The Seed.  Otherwise boxed gift set is often given by the parish (grandparent or godparent) to the child’s family in anticipation of baptism or at the baptism itself.

Stage Two – Rite Two: Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child (BCP pages 439-445)

  • Baptism is a Beginning (see above) Pamphlet for parents:  Religious Capacities and Needs (Birth to Three Years); Praying with Young Children. 
  • The Seed of God (see above) – Booklet for child (especially if baptism is delayed until the child is a toddler): The Good Shepherd.
  • Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Parenting by Anne Kitch (Morehouse Publishing, 2006) A resource for parents and godparents as they begin a faith journey with a child. The question format at the end of each chapter also makes it a rich resource for parenting classes.
  • Godparenting: Nurturing the Next Generation by Nancy McLaughlin and Tracey Herzer (Morehouse Publishing, 2007) Explores the history and theology of godparenting, offering plenty of helpful tips on how to be the best godparent ever.

Stage Three – Rite Three: Holy Baptism (BCP page 299)

Preparation for Baptism

  • Baptism is a Beginning (see above): Pamphlets for parents & godparents: Baptism Is a Gift, The Signs of Baptism in the Episcopal Church;  Choosing Godparents in the Episcopal Church;  A Message to Episcopal Godparents;  The Rite of Baptism in the Episcopal Church. (Similar titles to above for Catholic Rite of Baptism); A Message to Grandparents; A Sample Letter to Parents Who Have Asked to Have Their Children Baptized.
  • The Seed of God (see above) Boxed Set – a baptismal memory gift with place for inscription on box.  (for infant or young child) Booklet for toddler or older child: Jesus Is Risen; Your Baptism. 
  • Called By Name by Helen Barron is a booklet for children (ages 6-12) that are being presented for Baptism, or ready to examine promises made when they were an infant. Comes with removable stickers and places to add drawings and thoughts. Companion booklet for parents explores the concepts of baptism. Can be used for teaching and/or preparation classes.(Candle Press, 2004)
  • Entering the Household of God: Taking Baptism Seriously in a Post-Christian Society by Claudia Dickson (New York: Church Publishing, 2002) The basic history of baptism, followed by suggested plans for study sessions for parents, godparents, candidates or individuals preparing to renew their baptismal vows, with questions and exercises.
  • Holy Baptism: A Guide for Parents & Godparents by John Westerhoff (Morehouse Publications, 2002) A short guide to help parents and godparents reflect upon baptism as it is celebrated in the Episcopal Church and to prepare faithfully for their role as a sponsor. Also appropriate for adult baptism.
  • Christ’s Own Forever: Episcopal Baptism of Infants and Young Children by Mary Lee Wile (Morehouse Education Resources, 2003) A leader’s guide and parent/godparent journal designed for baptismal preparation that explores one’s own spiritual journey as well as the spiritual development of the child to be baptized.

Deepening of the Baptismal Life

  • Baptism is a Beginning (see above) Pamphlets for parents: Joy; Cultivating the Gift of Wonder; Moral Formation in Young Children: Religious Capacities and Needs (Three to Six Years)
  • The Seed of God (see above) Booklet for child: Living in the Light.
  • A is For Altar, B is for Bible (for the child) by Judith Lang Main (Liturgy Training Publications)
  • The Good Shepherd and the Child: A Joyful Journey (for parents) by Sofia Cavalletti, Patricia Coulter, Gianna Gobbi and Silvanna Quattrocchi Montanaro (Liturgy Training  Publications – English and Spanish editions)
  • Double Close: The Young Child’s Knowledge of God (for parents) by Catherine Maresca (Treehaus, 2005)
  • Sittin’ in the Lap of God – The Child As Mystic Among Us, (for parents)  Occasional Paper by Genelda Woggon, Center for Children and Theology
  • *When I Make Silence: Nurturing Silent Time of Reflection by Jennifer Howard, (Booklet for ages 6-9), Center for Children and Theology
  • *My Shining Light: Sharing the Light Within by Nidhi Misra (Booklet for ages 6-9) Center for Children and Theology
  • Children and the Eucharist (for parents) Occasional Paper by Genelda Woggon and Ann Garridotraditions and practices in the Episcopal and Catholic communities. Center for Children and Theology
  • Celebrating Baptism by Helen Barron. (Candle Press) A booklet for godparents or parents to keep as a memento of a child’s baptism with suggestions as to how to continue to “support these persons in their life in Christ.”
  • I Belong: My Baptism Scrapbook by Valeria Gittings (Morehouse Publishing, 2000) A guided scrapbook for children to record their baptism.
  • Happy Baptism Day by Judy Jolly (Abingdon, 2002) A picture book for 4-8 year olds getting baptized.
  • New Life by Gretchen Wolff Pritchard (New Haven: The Sunday Paper, 1986) 82 pages long, this booklet follows the rite of Holy Baptism in bold, cartoon style pictures with the people’s responses from The Book of Common Prayer as well as most of the celebrant’s words. Appropriate for pew use as well as an educational tool.
  • Water, Come Down! The Day You Were Baptized by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (Augsburg Fortress, 1999) A picture book for children that celebrates their baptism and becoming part of the ‘most wonderful family in the world’ with appendix of ideas for parents.

What other resources could you add to this list?

© 2013. All rights reserved. Genelda Woggon has been ministered to and by children for over 40 years in her professional work as a Christian Formation Leader, most especially through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the past 20 years. 

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