Baptism Guidelines

After reading the following Baptism Guidelines, please submit a "Request to Schedule a Baptism" by Clicking Here.





 Introductory remarks. 3

Baptism guidelines for infant or young child only. 4

After reading these guidelines. 4

Date and time of the Baptism.. 4

Who can be baptized at Saint Catherine Church?. 5

What must be the status and intentions of the parents?. 6

What if one of the spouses is not Catholic?. 7

Who will be the celebrant?. 7

Sponsors (“Godmother” and “Godfather”) 7

Sponsor proxies. 9

Christian witnesses. 9

Working out the details. 10

Preparation. 10

What Church documents are needed?. 10

Sacred demeanor, dress and respect for Catholic sensibilities. 11

Photography and video equipment 11

Donations and fees. 12

Address and Phone Number 12




Introductory remarks

Congratulations on the birth of your child.  With you we strive to provide the spiritual best for your child by bringing him or her into union with the Mystical Body, the Church, and beginning with the Sacrament of Baptism. 

Through Baptism, God enables us to participate in his life in Jesus Christ and makes us his children. It is through this Sacrament that we receive the Holy Spirit and become members of the People of God, of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Baptism becomes our commitment to grow in this new life and to strive to acquire spiritual maturity. By Baptism, God purifies us from sin.

Baptism is the sacrament of faith which has the Risen Christ as its source, and it is the offer of salvation for all people. Intimately linked to Confirmation and to Eucharist, Baptism is, with these two sacraments, Christian Initiation. The child is baptized in the faith of their parents, godparents, and of the Church.

Parents are responsible for bringing their child to the Sacrament of Baptism as soon after birth as possible. Except in case of necessity, the church is the usual place of Baptism.

In order that a child be baptized, it is necessary for the parents to consent to the Baptism (or at least one of them).


Baptism guidelines for infant or young child only

These guidelines apply to the Baptism of an infant or young child only.  

If you have a child to be baptized who has reached catechetical age/the age of reason (Grade 2 or 7 years of age), you and they will receive different preparation according to the guidelines of the Parish Religious Education program.  Contact the Director of Religious Education for details ( 703-759-3530). After the “age of reason” Baptismal preparation takes a different approach.


After reading these guidelines

Contact the Parish office and express your desire to have your child baptized (703.759.4350).  Generally, the Office will provide or reinforce these guidelines and direct you to speak to the Pastor by phone (703.638.8451).  He will provide additional guidance according to your specific circumstances.


Date and time of the Baptism

Upon meeting all Church requirements (Canon Law and this Parish), a child may be baptized after the Noon Mass on Sundays (around 1 p.m.), schedule permitting.

A visiting priest (see “Who will be the celebrant” below) will be permitted to baptize the child after the Noon Mass as well, or after the 8:30 a.m. Mass (around 9:15 a.m.) on Saturday (except the first Saturday of the month).

The Office Staff will assist you in scheduling the tentative date of the Baptism.  The tentative date must be approved by the Pastor after you consult him (according to the terms of these guidelines).

In order to assist parents in their responsibilities as Catholic parents, we offer a Baptismal Catechesis session to promote an understanding of both the Sacrament and the Ritual.  Contact the Pastor to schedule your catechetical meeting with him.


Who can be baptized at Saint Catherine Church?

At least one of the parents needs to be a practicing Catholic and/or exhibiting a founded intention to bring the child up in the practice of the Catholic faith with the following conditions:

  • The babies of registered parishioners (provided parish registration took place in good faith with a reasonable intention of truly becoming part of the Parish).
  • Grandchildren of long-time parishioners.

For families from other parishes who wish to have the Baptism take place here because of family connections, a letter of permission from their own pastor is required.


What must be the status and intentions of the parents?

Parents must give their assurance that the child will be given every benefit of a Catholic upbringing. The responsibility of raising the child in the ways of the faith begins immediately with Baptism and extends all the way to adulthood. If parents are not able to make this commitment to the Church, they should consider delaying the celebration of Baptism until they are prepared to undertake these responsibilities.

At least one of the parents of the child must exhibit a reasonable intention to bring up the child in the Catholic faith.

A child of couple in an invalid marriage (a marriage not recognized by the Catholic Church) will usually not be Baptized because of the evident faulty intentions of the parents.  The child is not being “punished” by the Church in such instances.  The parents are indeed neglecting the child by failing to regularize their marital status.

However, parents who exhibit a true intention to work to regularize their marital status may obtain the Pastor’s approval for a child’s Baptism even before the completion of the marriage regularization process.


What if one of the spouses is not Catholic?

As long as one of the parents is a practicing Catholic with the intentions as describe above, a Baptism will be approved.

It will be assumed, however, that the non-Catholic parent will cooperate with -- or at least not object to -- forming the child in the practice of the Catholic faith.


Who will be the celebrant?

Depending upon scheduling constraints, the Pastor will celebrate the Baptism. 

You may select a priest from outside the Parish with the permission of the Pastor, a permission that is routinely granted if the priest is in good standing.

A priest from outside the Diocese of Arlington must comply with the customary paperwork requirements of the Diocese of Arlington (the parish priest must contact the priest preparing you for marriage).  It is your responsibility to ensure that the priest contacts the Pastor well before the Baptism.


Sponsors (“Godmother” and “Godfather”)

Godparents are chosen by the birth parents to assist them in their Christian upbringing of their child. They should, therefore, be models of Catholic faith and examples of prayer, worship and Christian practice.

A godparent they must be chosen by the parents, have the ability and the intention to fulfill the role, be at least 16 years of age, and be a confirmed Catholic, who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist, is leading a life in harmony with the Catholic Faith (including marriage, if applicable) and will be a good role model for the one being baptized, and be neither the father nor the mother of the child.

The Church does not require two godparents. When there are two, however, there can be only one godmother and one godfather. Only one of the godparents needs to be a Catholic. The other must, however, be of the Christian faith and be active in that faith.  The Catholic godparent(s) need to have received the Sacrament of Confirmation and be practicing members of the Church.

To recap, at minimum, there must be one sponsor.  If there are two sponsors, one must be male and the other female (“Godmother” and “Godfather”). 

Sponsor certificates:  The sponsors must be practicing Catholics and must present to the Parish office the appropriate certificate of a Catholic in good standing at least two weeks before the Baptism.

This requirement is common throughout the country.  Simply ask the sponsors to contact their respective parish offices for the necessary information.  It is common for the priest to ask the prospective sponsors general questions about the practice of the faith and this should be considered a friendly and useful pastoral encounter.

It is your responsibility to ensure the sponsors submit the certificates to the Parish office.


Sponsor proxies

At times it is not practicable for a sponsor to be present during the Baptism ceremony.  If the parents are so inclined, they are free to identify a sponsor “proxy” to stand in for the Godmother or Godfather.  Like the sponsor, the proxy must also be a practicing Catholic and is in need of the same “Catholic in good standing” sponsor certificate as required of the designated sponsor (see above).


Christian witnesses

You may identify any number of “Christian witnesses” – Catholic or non-Catholic.  Christian witnesses will not be recorded in any Church documents, but you may find it opportune to record their names in your personal record of remembrances of the Baptism.


Working out the details

The working relationship between the parents and the priest (and to some extent, the Parish staff) is confidential.  Please advise parents and friends that you alone will be working out all of the details of the Baptism ceremony with the priest (or his staff, as necessary).



The parent(s) will meet with the priest for a friendly catechesis on the Sacrament of Baptism.  This requirement can be waived as circumstances warrant (e.g., the parents are CCD teachers).


What Church documents are needed?

Aside from the Sponsor certificates and, if necessary, permission from your pastor to have your child baptized at Saint Catherine of Siena Church, there are no other official Church documents required.

However, before Baptism, you will provide all the necessary information for the Parish’s sacramental records such as:

  • Full legal name of child.
  • County of birth (usually the county of hospital where the baby was born).
  • Full legal names of the parents, including the maiden name of the mother.
  • Contact information: address, phone numbers, etc.
  • Full legal names of Sponsors.


Sacred demeanor, dress and respect for Catholic sensibilities

Since Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament, please demonstrate your respect for Catholic sensibilities through subdued talk and actions when inside the church building. 

Dress should be modest and in accordance with Christian sensibilities.


Photography and video equipment

We hope you understand our insistence on proper reverence during the Baptism.  Pictures may be taken before the ceremony begins and directly afterwards. 

During the ceremony, pictures may be taken during the actual Baptism itself (pouring of the water).  Indeed, the priest normally instructs the parents or godparents on how to hold the child for the Baptism for this purpose.

Video equipment is not allowed.


Donations and fees

Donations to the church and/or offerings to the priest are strictly on a free will basis and are not expected, especially in view of your long-standing commitment to support the Church during your weekly Mass attendance.


Address and Phone Number

Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

1020 Springvale Road

Great Falls, VA  22066


Pastor:  703-638-8451 (direct cell)

Parish Office hours:  Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.



Sacramental Schedule

The Church typically opens by 7:30 a.m. and closes around 7 p.m.  But times may vary because of variations in the Pastor's schedule and the occasional inability to obtain help in locking the church at night.

The Confession Schedule continues

Sacrament of Penance:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 7:45 am – 8:15 am (No Confessions on Holy Days and civil holidays)
Saturday afternoon: 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Expanded schedule for Advent and Lent
All Day Eucharistic Adoration
Every Wednesday: 1 pm through Thursday morning, 8:30 am
Every First Friday: 9 am through Saturday morning, 8:30 am

Mass Schedule:
8 am 10 am 12 Noon*
*Novus Ordo Latin Mass

Saturday: 8:30 am & 5:30 pm Vigil Mass

Weekdays: 8:30 am, (Wednesdays: 12:15 pm)

Holydays (except Christmas):
8:30 am & 7 pm

Although the regular weekday Mass schedule is solidly in place, since this is a one-priest parish, there may be times when Mass cancellations are necessary.  Please register here if you attend weekday Masses and want to receive cancellation notifications and other updates as opportune.  We will not abuse your contact information.  Click here

 (Note: After clicking the weekday Mass registration link above, please scroll to the bottom right of the page and replace the "0" with a "1" to proceed.)

Contact Us

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky
Direct Line to Pastor 703.759.3520
No text messages please; contact the office for administrative questions.

Office Hours
Monday - Friday: 9:30 am to 1:30 pm 
Closed on Federal Holidays

Saint Catherine of Siena Church
1020 Springvale Road
Great Falls, VA 22066
Have a question? Have a comment? Please contact us!
Phone: 703.759.4350
Fax: 703.759.3753


For Parish Registration, click the following link:

Interested in Catholic Inquiry Classes (for non-Catholics or Catholics interested in deepening their understanding of the Faith)?  Click here.



St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

1020 Springvale Rd., Great Falls, VA 22066

Parish Office: 703.759.4350
Fax: 703.759.3753
Religious Education: 703.759.3530
Siena Academy: 703.759.4129