Derry parishes are rolling out a new Baptismal training course for parents which will begin before childbirth.
The Baptismal Programme, which has been devised at Diocesan level to ensure parents fully understand Baptism, has already been adopted by Templemore Parish. Other parishes in the diocese - Claudy, and Omagh and Killyclogher - have already signed up to the new programme and have trained teams on hand to talk parents through the significance of baptism in the Catholic Church and Christian faiths.
Speaking to the Journal, Thérèse Ferry, of Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre, said the new programme was designed to “help parents to fully understand the sacrament of Baptism”.
She said that programme was introduced for two main reasons - a desire throughout the diocese for parents to fully understand what they and their child are entering into and as an extension of the adult baptism programme, a course designed for adults entering the faith.
She said there had been an increased demand from parishes for support with adult baptisms within the diocese in recent years and after the formation of the adult programme by a specially formed group, it was decided extend the programme to parents.
The Derry Diocese has a training team in place to provide coaching for parish teams to ensure parents are made aware of the various aspects of Baptism.
A newsletter from Templemore Parish explains that the programme begins during pregnancy “when the expectant parents are invited for blessing for both themselves and their unborn baby”.
It adds: “After the blessing parents will receive a prayer that they can say during pregnancy. When the baby is born the parents will be invited to an evening of celebration before the Baptism ceremony.”
Blessings for new parents have already begun in the parish while ‘evenings of celebration’ are to begin in February.
The programme, which each parish can tailor to its needs, will consist of the following elements: Blessing for expectant parents; Information evening on Baptism; Home visit by Baptismal team; Celebration of Baptism; Annual Blessing of newly baptised babies at weekend celebration of the Eucharist.
More parishes are expected to sign up to the new programme.