Contact Deacon Jim Mackin if you are seeking a Baptism for a newborn, at deaconjim@ssjpittsburgh.org. If you are an adult and seeking RCIA please contact Bethann Petrovich at bethann@ssjpittsburgh.org.

We become members of Christ and the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.

The Old Testament has many images of water that help us understand Baptism. Each year during the Easter Vigil, the water that will be used in baptism is blessed. The prayers of blessing call these images to mind. At the time of Creation, the Spirit breathed upon the waters (Genesis 1:2). During the great Exodus the waters of the Red Sea parted, allowing the people of Israel to cross from slavery to freedom (Exodus 14: 21 – 31). Later, in the New Testament, John the Baptist administered a baptism of repentance to Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan (Mark 1: 1 – 11).

Knowing that Baptism is necessary for salvation, parents have their babies baptized not long after they are born. Baptism signifies the baby’s entrance into the Church. The community of believers and the parents make a commitment to care for and teach this child as he or she is raised in the Catholic faith.

In the early Church infant baptism was not the usual way that people became members of God’s family. Initiation into the Church was primarily done for adults. They had to enter into a long period of learning and praying with the Christian community. Adults seeking to enter the Church today normally enter into the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults as catechumens. During this process they learn what God has done through Jesus, the teachings of the Church, and how they may respond in faith to God’s call.

In the celebration of Baptism, a person is immersed in water. He or she goes all the way into the water and then comes out. This action is a symbol of dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ. Sometimes water is poured over a person’s head. The celebrant proclaims” “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The person being baptized is anointed with two oils; the oil of catechumens is put on the chest, and chrism is put on the top of the head. Oil is a symbol of strength and healing.

A candle is lit during the celebration. This shows that the person baptized is asked to keep the flame of faith alive in his or her heart.

Through Baptism a person receives forgiveness of original sin as well as personal sins. The newly baptized person receives sanctifying grace and is sealed with a permanent spiritual mark. This is why Baptism can be celebrated only once.

St. Paul the Apostle wrote about the change that takes place in a baptized person in Romans 6: 3–4. Paul explained that in Baptism Christians are united with the death of Jesus – they are in a sense buried with him. Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. United with Christ believers also rise from the dead to live in newness of life.

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Contact Bethann Petrovich at bethann@ssjpittsburgh.org if you are interested in Faith Formation for children in grades K– 8 or if you are an adult seeking RCIA.

Jesus Christ is truly present in our midst. For Catholics, the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, (one of the three Sacraments of Initiation) is the most profound way we encounter the real presence of Jesus Christ.

The Eucharist is holy, a sacred celebration that brings us into close contact with the holiness of God. In the Eucharist the holiness of God is present to us in a unique way. We are made holy by the very act of participating in the Eucharist. Everything associated with the Eucharist is blessed and holy.

The eucharistic community is holy, as it makes the Lord present in its very gathering and then rejoices in the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist. By receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord, we become one body, a holy offering to the Father for the salvation of the world.

The priest is holy, for through his prayer in our name, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Through him the sacrificial offering is made, and the community is united as one holy family.

The place in which we gather is holy, because the church building is consecrated to the worship of God and the service of the community.

The day of the Lord is holy, because the followers of Jesus have been called to keep Sunday a special day of eucharistic prayer and rest in the name of the Lord.

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Contact Bethann Petrovich at bethann@ssjpittsburgh.org if you are interested in Faith Formation for children in grades K– 8 or if you are an adult seeking RCIA.

Confirmation is the sacrament that completes the grace we receive in Baptism. It seals, or confirms, this grace through the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we receive as part of Confirmation. This sacrament also makes us better able to participate in the worship and apostolic life of the Church. Like Baptism, Confirmation is received only once in a person’s life.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Through Jesus, we receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Wisdom helps us recognize the importance of others and the importance of keeping God central in our lives.
Understanding is the ability to comprehend the meaning of God’s message.
Knowledge is the ability to think about and explore God’s revelation, and also to recognize that there are mysteries of faith beyond us.
Counsel is the ability to see the best way to follow God’s plan when we have choices that relate to him.
Fortitude is the courage to do what one knows is right.
Piety helps us pray to God in true devotion.
Fear of the Lord is the feeling of amazement before God, who is all-present, and whose friendship we do not want to lose.

A New Name

When preparing for Confirmation, a person is invited to choose a Confirmation name to show that a change is taking place in him or her. Such name changes are common in the Bible (for example, Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, Jacob to Israel, and so on) to indicate a change in the person. In the New Testament, Peter’s original name was Simon. The name Peter, meaning “rock,” was given to him by Jesus to symbolize Peter’s role in the Church (Matthew 16:18). Often people preparing for Confirmation will choose the name of a saint or holy person whom they look to for guidance in following Jesus.

Signs of Confirmation

The signs of Confirmation are the laying on of hands on a person’s head, most often by a bishop, and the anointing with oil.

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