532 Ave M NW Winter Haven, FL 33881


First Sacrament of Initiation

Baptism puts us in touch with Jesus, the Word made flesh, the incarnate expression of God’s love.  The Church, the body of Christ, bears new children of God through water and the Spirit.  The sign of Baptism has been a key part of the Church from the beginning.  Baptized and confirmed in the Spirit, we are led to the altar to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Thus, to be a Catholic is to be Eucharistic in who we are and in the way we live.  Baptism means we are christened a priest, prophet and king as Christ was anointed, we are one with Him in the Body.  Paul puts it clearly: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” Gal 2:20.

From Baptism, Our lifelong call by Nicholas Lohkamp, O.F.M in Catholic Update, July 2006

We offer Baptismal Preparation Classes in English on the second Wednesday and in Spanish on the second Sunday of each month.  Baptisms are celebrated at 10am on the second Saturday of the month in English and on the 4th Saturday of the month in Spanish.  Please come by the office to pick up a baptism packet prior to attending the class.  This packet contains instructions and forms needed for baptism.  Once all the documents have been returned to the office for verifiication, the next available baptism date is assigned to the family. 

Baptisms are celebrated in the chapel at 10 am on the 2nd Saturday of the month in English and on the fourth Saturday of the month in Spanish. 


Stained Glass Window


Baptism Q & A


Q. I am a registered parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Winter Haven. What requirements must be met in order to have my child baptized?

 A. It depends on the age of the child.  As an infant (birth to seven years old), your child is incapable of personal responsibility.  At this age, parents and godparents, who represent the local and universal Church, proclaim the faith of the Church for them.   In addition, you must also attend a Baptismal preparation Class.

 Q. Tell me about the Baptismal Class.  Do both parents have to attend?  Do godparents have to attend?

 A. Parents and both godparents are required to attend the baptism preparation class. Christian Witnesses are not expected to attend the class.  The class is approximately one hour and must be taken within three years of the date you wish the Baptism to occur.  At this class, you will learn the meaning and purpose of baptism.  It is best that both parents attend the class but at least one parent must attend the class. Attendance at this class is required before scheduling any baptism.  Detailed policies and guidelines are discussed at the class. There are no baptisms during Lent and Holy Week.

Q. My children are age seven or older.  Why can’t they be baptized like infants?  They are still children.

 A. At age seven, your child has reached the age of discretion and is able to have or profess his own personal faith.  He is no longer an infant in the eyes of the Catholic Church and is old enough to be instructed or catechized.  Therefore, he should be accepted into the Order of Catechumens and prepared for the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

Q. I am not registered at St. Joseph.  Can I still have my child that is younger than seven years old baptized here?

 A. Yes, but parents should normally seek baptism in the home parish or the church in which they are registered and where they are known.  Because you are unknown to us, a Letter of Permission must be obtained from your pastor allowing us to baptize your child here and a letter verifying that you are an active and practicing Catholic, (go to church on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation) there.  If you are new to St. Joseph and wish to register, the forms are available in the church office or at the Baptismal class.  Please bear in mind that registration is not proof that you have received all the Sacraments of Initiation nor is it proof of your active participation in Church life. 

 A. The pastor of your church has a responsibility to answer truthfully that you are Catholic and that you are serious in your intention to raise your child as a Catholic member of your family and your church.  Therefore, if you attend church, registration establishes your parish identity in order to prove Sponsorship eligibility and record Sacraments received.  Your registration and support, either financially or through volunteer ministry, allows you to become known as an active member of your Catholic family.  If you are asked to be a godparent or Confirmation sponsor, you will be asked for a sponsor verification form from your parish that proves you are a “practicing Catholic” or face disqualification from that honor. In the event you move, it is important to notify the church that you are leaving so that your Sacramental records can be kept up to date in your new parish after you register with them. 

 Q. What requirements must be met in order to be Godparents?

 A. Canon law (canons 873 and 874) requires that:

  • Godparents must be fully initiated (have received the initial Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation) and practicing Catholics (go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation).  This information must be verified by a letter of sponsorship from the home parish of the godparent.  The sponsorship letter must be in our possession no less than two weeks before the baptism date requested.

  • Must be over the age of sixteen.

  • There may be either one or two godparents and if there are two, there is one from each gender.

  • If there is only one godparent, it may be from either gender.

  • Members of other Christian churches may not be godparents but may serve as a Christian witness as long as there is also one eligible godparent.

 Q. Now that I have taken the Baptismal class and have selected eligible godparents, when can I schedule my child’s Baptism?

 A. Baptisms are scheduled for the 2nd Saturday of the month in English and on the 4th Saturday of the month in Spanish.   Please remember that all dates must be confirmed by the Office of Faith Formation at least two weeks prior to the Baptism.  When all the required documents have been returned to office, a date for the baptism will be arranged.  If out of town guests are a concern, we will make every effort to work with you in advance.   Call the office if you have any questions.  We are open Monday through Friday during office hours between 8:00 am. and 4:00 pm.

 Q. Is there a charge expected for a Baptism?

 A. No.  There is no charge.  Many people, as a courtesy, do give a stipend to the priest or deacon who officiates but this amount is a personal choice.