Frequently Asked Questions

A. You should let your pastor know of your desire for baptism as soon as possible, even before the birth of your child. This will allow ample time for preparation for both the birth and baptism of your child. It also allows your parish to hold you in prayer while you are anticipating the new addition to your family.

A. A godparent must be 16 years old, fully initiated (received Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation), and in good standing with the Church. Parents of the child being baptized cannot be the godparents. The godparents may be male or female; if two godparents are to be used, one of each gender is allowed.

A. We have developed a course for godparents on our Learning Management System. It is free, and anyone who wants to learn more about Catholic godparents is welcome to participate. You can find it at under the “Sacraments” section.

A. A baptized non-Catholic may be a Christian witness to the baptism, but there must also be a Catholic sponsor (godparent) who meets the requirements.

A. Once a person has reached the age of reason (defined as 7 years old), the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the proper preparation process for all the Sacraments of Initiation. Prior to seven years old, the Rite for Infant baptism is used and the child prepares for the other Sacraments of Initiation independently.

A. The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is the process by which adults (anyone who has reached the age of reason at 7 years old) join the Catholic Church. It has four stages and culminates at the Easter Vigil. You can learn more at our RCIA page.

A. As long as there is a well-founded hope that the child will be raised Catholic, the parent’s marital status should not impede the baptism. This is, however, an opportunity for couples to learn how they can have their marriage recognized.

A. If there is serious reason to suspect the child will not be raised in the Catholic faith, a pastor may delay baptism until those worries are alleviated. This time of delay should not be seen as a punishment, but a more in-depth preparation to give the child the best Catholic life possible.

A. YES! Through the prayers of the priest and the gathered assembly at Mass, we believe a process called Transubstantiation changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. We believe that Christ is fully present – body, blood, soul, and divinity – in the Eucharist. It is not simply a symbol, it IS Jesus.

A. Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharist sharing in exceptional circumstance by other Christians requires permission from the bishop. For more information, please visit the USCCB’s page at

A. No. As Catholics we celebrate a Sacrament in the Eucharist that should not be confused with other symbolic acts. It is, however, important to clearly distinguish between Eucharist and other prayer. Praying with our fellow Christians is good, however, we must not confuse their prayer for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Nor should we substitute our obligation to the Sacrament with anything else.

A. The only acceptable bread for Communion will always contain some gluten. While low-gluten hosts may be used, wheat flour is still used

A. No. If someone cannot receive wine at Communion they should abstain from the chalice. The fullness of Christ is received under either species of bread or wine.

A. Yes. Prior to receiving Communion, a person should fast from food and drink (with the exception of water and medicine) for at least one hour. The elderly and sick, as well as those who care for them, are not required to maintain the hour’s fast.

A. For youth who were baptized as infants, Confirmation preparation in the Diocese of Rochester begins no earlier than the 8th grade. With a two-year process, the majority of Confirmands (those receiving Confirmation) are in the 9th or 10th grade.

A. Yes … and no. The religious instruction your child receives in Catholic school is more than sufficient to meet the catechetical requirement for proximate preparation. However, there is more than just learning that happens in preparation. The other requirements, such as retreats, service, parish involvement, and the Immediate Preparation session(s), should be completed with the parish and the Sacrament received with the parish group.

A. A person serving as a sponsor for Confirmation must be designated by the one to be Confirmed, at least 16 years old, a fully initiated Catholic who leads a life in harmony with the faith and role to be undertaken, not bound by canonical penalty, and not the parent of the person to be Confirmed.

A. By preparing for Confirmation over two years, candidates are given a grounding in the Catholic faith, they have time to process and learn about what the Sacrament will mean in their lives, and they are able to build relationships which will sustain their faith life moving forward.

A. It is acceptable to prepare with multiple sponsors, and even record up to two in the Sacramental Registry; however, only one person should be designated as the liturgical sponsor who will present the candidate for Confirmation.

A. A proxy may stand in the place of a sponsor, however, it is recommended to choose a sponsor with the intention that he/she will be present at the Sacrament and involved in the candidate’s preparation.

A. The Sacrament will be conferred by name (“NAME, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”). A person’s baptismal name is absolutely appropriate, but a new name may be chosen. A Confirmation name should reflect Christian virtues or qualities the candidate hopes to emulate in their life. For example, one might choose Ignatius if they hope to follow the values St. Ignatius exemplified.

A. The Catholic Church does not have a rite of adulthood. Confirmation is when one’s baptism is sealed and initiation is finalized. It is a very mature decision, and should not be taken lightly.

A. No, you are not being commissioned into an army. The term soldier for Christ refers to your role in defending the faith. When Confirmed, you should have a sufficient knowledge and grounding to remain true to the Catholic faith even when the world would challenge it. Your sponsor and the entire Church community remain by your side to support you!

A. Catholics who have not yet received the Sacrament of Confirmation are to receive it before they are admitted to marriage if it can be done without grave inconvenience. A Catholic who has not received all of the Sacraments of Initiation should be encourage and assisted to do so by joining a parish-based adult Confirmation program, or through private instruction.

A. The Catechism calls it the sacrament of conversion, the sacrament of Penance, the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, and the sacrament of Reconciliation. Each name shows a different element of the Sacrament. Most often you will hear Penance, Reconciliation, and Confession used. (learn more in the Catechism 1423-1424)

A. Don’t worry! The prayers are either provided for you or the priest will help you. The prayers are meant to help us experience God’s mercy, not discourage us from seeking it.

A. The priest’s role in the Sacrament is pastoral in nature. He has learned to listen and respond with mercy. When he gives you a penance to complete, it is to help you overcome the hold sin has, not to punish. Beyond all that, the priest is bound by the ‘Seal of the Confessional’ meaning what is said as part of the Sacrament must stay private.

If you are nervous about speaking to the priest face-to-face, you may go behind the confessional screen to preserve your anonymity.

A. First, be comfortable. The priest is happy you are there, and will happily guide you through the Sacrament. Also, don’t be afraid to bring a cheat sheet with you. 

A. Any Catholic who is seriously ill, preparing for surgery, or otherwise in need of healing is welcome to seek this Sacrament.

A. The Sacrament was, at one time, administered to those who were about to die and was called extreme unction, meaning final anointing. But the council fathers at the Second Vatican Council taught that Anointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for only those who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament certainly already arrived.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, §73)

A. The Sacrament of Anointing can be administered to those who will be comforted by the sacrament, including those who are developmentally disabled and those with mental illness. These cases should be handled on an individual basis and in consultation with the person’s physician.

A. Yes! Absolutely! When you are in need of God’s healing grace, call your pastor or priest.

A. Your first step is to talk to your pastor. Meet with him and tell him your plans (even if they are minimal). He will walk you through the remainder of the steps which include a couple more meetings with him (or someone on staff who works with engaged couples), an pre-marital inventory to ensure you and your fiancé(e) are on the same page, and pre-cana.

A. Pre-Cana is the common name for the preparation for marriage. It gets its name from the Wedding Feast at Cana. At it you will explore the Sacrament of Marriage and discuss some of the practical and spiritual aspects. Everyone in the Diocese of Rochester is expected to complete Pre-Cana in some form.

A. Catholics who have not yet received the Sacrament of Confirmation are to receive it before they are admitted to marriage if it can be done without grave inconvenience. A Catholic who has not received all of the Sacraments of Initiation should be encourage and assisted to do so by joining a parish-based adult Confirmation program, or through private instruction.

A. Technically, you marry one another. Matrimony is the only Sacrament where the ministers are the laity. The priest or deacon are there to witness it. But in answer to the question, someone from the clergy (either a priest or deacon) along with two witnesses (typically the best man and maid of honor) are there as witness to your Sacrament.

A. First, because marriage is a Sacrament, to emphasize both its sacredness and importance, it is celebrated in a sacred space that has been designated for such purposes. Most of the time, when two Catholics are getting married, the Church they would get married in would be either the parish where the Bride’s family belongs or the parish where the Groom’s family belong. This brings up another reason why to marry in the Church, by doing it at their family parish, it is a way of including their own faith community as part of the celebration (of course, that doesn’t mean you invite all the parishioners!).   If a Catholic and non-Catholic are getting married, they may ask permission to be married in the non-Catholic’s church (their faith community) and still receive the Sacrament. In either regard, the wedding is celebrated in a Church. 

A. Baptismal records are kept at the parish where you were baptized. If you were baptized in the Diocese of Rochester, but that parish has closed or merged with another parish, you can look here to see where the records are kept.

A. Yes, if you were married before, we recommend that you speak to your pastor and let him know as early as possible.  He will help you figure out what steps you need to take and fill out any needed paperwork to determine if you are free to marry again.  An individual that attempted to get married before is assumed to be married unless proven otherwise (a civil divorce is not enough proof). 

A. The Sacrament can be performed within or outside a Mass. There are good reasons to celebrate the Sacrament either way. Talk to your pastor about which celebration is the most appropriate to accommodate your guests.

A. No. As long as a man is in a marriage, he cannot seek priestly ordination.

A. The first step is to reach out to the Vocations Office ( They will work with you on an individual basis to help guide you through the discernment and application process.

A. The permanent deaconate is a separate call from priesthood. It has its own character and charisms. So it is not a “lesser priest” or second-place to the priesthood. That said, if you are called to the deaconate, talk to the office of the permanent diaconate – 585-328-3228 x1237, or [email protected].

A. The process is different for everyone, depending on your discernment. Priesthood has two years of pre-theology and then five years of theology and pastoral studies. Deacons, after discernment, also follow what is typically a 5-year program of preparation.