On Easter Sunday 2014 a new church ministry was created in Kilkerley Parish when Fr. Gerry Campbell commissioned a Baptism Team. The team consisting of five members had undertaken a training course with Sr. Monica, Convent of Mercy, Dundalk and had also shadowed the St Patrick’s Baptismal Team in the Magnet Training Centre, Dundalk.
The purpose of this ministry is to instruct parents on the meaning and significance of the Sacrament of Baptism and how important it is for parents to pass on the gift of faith to their children. The meetings are informal and have been taking place in the Parochial House and usually lasting an hour. Parents are welcomed by two team members and offered tea/coffee and the opportunity to chat about their new arrivals! The meeting covers the format that the ceremony takes and the parents are given the opportunity to choose readings and biddings prayers. The rich symbolism of the sacrament is also explained. The meeting opens and closes with a prayer. The team members who gave the course are also in attendance at the baptismal ceremony. They are there as representatives of the community into which the child is being baptised and also help to ensure the smooth running of the ceremony.
The team meet during the year and discuss any ideas they have that might help improve the service they offer. One such idea was our very own Baptismal Booklet. This is available to view on Here. The team also decided to welcome the babies into the parish by placing their baptismal announcement in the Parish Bulletin. Another idea was a special celebration on the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism. Each January, for the last three years Fr. Gerry has issued an invitation to the parents who have had a baby baptised the previous year to attend Mass on this Feast Day. At this Mass the parents and babies receive a special blessing. They are also presented with a beautiful certificate commemorating their babies’ baptism. Light refreshments are served in the Community Centre afterwards. To date this event has been hugely successful and very much appreciated by parents. The Baptism Team also enjoy reconnecting with the parents and seeing how the babies have grown!
Following Fr. Gerry’s appointment as Parish Priest of Knockbridge and Fr. Paddy Rushe’s appointment as curate in Kilkerley in September 2016, it became evident that some changes regarding the number and frequency of baptisms would have to occur. Baptisms had been taking place at a date and time chosen by the parents. It was decided to amalgamate the Baptismal teams of Knockbridge and Kilkerley. So from January 1st. 2017 baptisms will now take place as follows: Every 2nd Sunday of the month in Kilkerley after 10a.m. Mass, and every 4th Sunday of the month in Knockbridge after 11.30a.m. Mass. Baptism Courses for both parishes will take place each month and the venue will alternate between both parishes. A list of the schedule of courses is available in each church. So while membership of the Baptismal team has grown and changed, our mission remains the same, to help parents appreciate the richness of the Sacrament of Baptism.