Baptism is the first sacrament to be celebrated. Baptism, along with the commitment that it requires, makes us members of the Catholic faith community - those who believe and follow the God that we name as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word baptism literally means plunging or drowning. As we know well in our Australian landscape, water can be both death-dealing and life-giving.
The symbolism of water is best seen in the way early Christian communities celebrated Baptism. In the baptistery, the candidates - anointed with oil to strengthen them for the journey - went down three steps into the water. There they underwent a drowning-type of death experience during which they affirmed their belief in the Trinity. They then went up out of the water to receive a white garment and lighted candle, symbolic of the new life they were undertaking as followers of Jesus Christ. Amid great joy they were led to the Bishop who anointed them with sweet-smelling oil of Chrism, a further sign that they had now committed themselves to live as 'other Christs'. For the first time these newly-baptised/confirmed were allowed to stay for the whole of the Eucharist and receive Communion.
The sacrament of Baptism is received only once in a person's life. Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church recognises the validity of Baptism within the other mainstream Christian churches. However if a person wishes to receive further sacraments within the Catholic Church, a ceremony of reception of Full Communion into the Catholic Church is usually required.
For more information about baptism (or to begin the process), you should first contact your local parish. For adults seeking to join the Catholic community, you can research the Rite of Christian Inititation of Adults on our "Becoming a Catholic" page.
To recieve a copy of your Baptism certificate, please contact the parish where the Baptism took place.