“Go…and make disciples of all nations….” Matthew 28:19

Guideline 1



The Parish Director of Catechetical Ministry is the professional staff person responsible for the coordination and administration of the total religious education program of the parish under the supervision of the Pastor. Depending on the size and structure of the parish, this person may be assisted by other staff persons responsible for one or more specific areas, i.e., sacramental preparation, elementary religious education, youth ministry programs, young adult programs, adult religious education programs, Hispanic programs, etc.

In parishes where there is more than one Director, close cooperation and communication with each other, under the leadership of the Pastor, shall be emphasized to insure unity in all programming.

Responsibilities of the Director of Catechetical Ministry (DCM)


  • To develop a philosophy of religious education for the parish in collaboration with other professional staff and parish leadership.
  • To assess the total religious education needs of the parish in collaboration with other professional staff and parish leadership.
  • To establish goals, objectives and strategies for parish catechetical ministry in collaboration with other professional staff and parish leadership.
  • To assess progress toward goals at regular intervals, in collaboration with other professional staff and parish leadership.


  • To design or otherwise assure strong catechetical programs to meet the needs at each level.
  • To enable leadership to respond to the needs at various levels.
  • To oversee all programs and supervise those conducted by coordinators and volunteers.
  • To assure the selection of appropriate catechetical texts and materials according to diocesan guidelines, in collaboration with professional staff.
  • To encourage parental participation in appropriate programs.
  • To evaluate all programs at regular intervals, in collaboration with professional staff.


  • To recruit, screen, inservice coordinators and others responsible for servicing programs, in collaboration with professional staff.
  • To be a resource person to all coordinators.
  • To recruit, screen, inservice catechists.
  • To provide training for catechists in accordance with diocesan guidelines.
  • To provide opportunities for on-going education and spiritual formation of personnel.
  • To inform personnel of opportunities for professional courses/workshops for spiritual growth.
  • To recognize, encourage and support the catechetical efforts of those involved in the programs.
  • To evaluate all personnel and supervise paraprofessionals and volunteers in collaboration with professional staff.


  • To organize and supervise the parish Religious Catechetical Center.
  • To oversee proper use of parish facility.
  • To develop job descriptions for program coordinators in accordance with diocesan guidelines.
  • To develop a budget in collaboration with professional staff.
  • To be responsible for overseeing the expenditures of money.
  • To assure the maintenance of catechist and student records.
  • To prepare and recommend policies and procedures regarding parish religious education to Pastor/Education Committee/Parish Pastoral Council in collaboration with professional staff.
  • To coordinate the scheduling of all religious education programming.
  • To conduct meetings of catechetical staff.
  • To organize a parish Catechetical Resource Center.


  • To meet regularly with the pastor and pastoral team.
  • To serve as an ex officio member of the parish board for educational ministry or parish pastoral council.
  • To communicate policies and procedures to parents, students, catechists, team members and other adults in collaboration with the professional staff.
  • To prepare a master calendar for catechetical ministry in collaboration with professional staff and parish leadership.
  • To maintain close communication with the Diocesan Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry.
  • To participate in local community and ecumenical religious education activities.


  • To be available to parents, students and adults for consultation, advice, referral.
  • To serve as a resource to parish groups when appropriate.

Guideline 2



The Coordinator is the compensated or non-compensated person responsible, under the Director of Catechetical Ministry, for the implementation of the catechetical program in a specific area.

The Program Coordinator may also be a paid professional staff person, such as the Coordinator of Youth Ministry, the RCIA Coordinator, the Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation, the Parochial School Coordinator, etc. Where the coordinator is a paid professional staff person, diocesan guidelines for qualification and job description of the position are normative. In any case, the Coordinator of a particular program should be knowledgeable and competent in the program area, and should take advantage of on-going education and growth through courses and workshops.

Responsibilities of the Program Coordinator

  • To collaborate in the development of philosophy of catechesis, needs, assessment, goal setting and evaluation.
  • To give input regarding budgetary needs, program planning and scheduling, procedures and policies for catechetical or evangelization programs.
  • To recruit personnel needed for particular program (catechists, aides, substitutes, team members, facilitators, sponsors, etc.).
  • To insure readiness of facility.
  • To provide materials for catechists and aides.
  • To provide community experiences for group for which she/he is responsible.
  • To participate in catechetical or evangelization meetings, where appropriate.
  • To avail of opportunities for professional, personal and spiritual growth.

Responsibility for the program area should be commensurate with the professional preparation and experience of the coordinator, safeguarding at all times the integrity of the total catechetical education program of the parish.

Guideline 3


These competencies are taken from Guidelines for the Certification of Parish Catechetical and Youth Ministry Coordinators, developed by the California Catholic Conference of Diocesan Directors of Catechetical Ministry and the Region XI Diocesan Directors of Youth Ministry, 1989.

Core Competencies

  • Apply appropriate principles of human development, especially faith and moral development to a catechetical program.
  • Utilize appropriate methodologies of child-centered and/or adult-centered learning;
  • Implement a program of catechist formation according to diocesan certification norms;
  • Select an appropriate curriculum design consistent with the [National Directory for Catechesis] and diocesan norms;
  • Articulate a vision of catechesis and the catechetical process in light of the applicable documents and pastoral letters of the Church;
  • Assist people to understand and interpret their life and faith experiences in light of Scripture, the Church’s tradition and their culture;
  • Discern and call forth the talents and gifts of various individuals in order to develop and sustain diverse leadership within a program;
  • Promote multilingual and multicultural ministry by involving the parish community in Christian faith experiences reflecting the ethnic diversity of the Church;
  • Provide opportunities to experience and participate in Christian service, especially linking such opportunities to the fostering of peace and justice;
  • Apply appropriate managerial principles and administrative skills to the coordination of a parish program;
  • Provide opportunities for participation in prayer, personal spiritual development and communal worship while maintaining sensitivity to the cultural practices of the faith community;
  • Develop systems to extend program opportunities to groups and individuals less likely to participate because of factors such as physical or developmental disabilities, educational disadvantages, language barriers or social alienation;
  • Assure that appropriate legal and moral responsibilities are provided for within the context of a parish program;
  • Maintain a collaborative relationship with other pastoral staff, parish ministry leadership, diocesan offices and colleagues in the field;
  • Facilitate the planning, implementation and evaluation of both long-range and short range program goals in light of the specific needs and ethnic-cultural composition of the parish.

Guideline 4


The preferred academic qualifications in our diocese for the professional Director of Catechetical Ministry are:

  • The Masters in Religious Education; or
  • A Masters in Religious Studies or Theology with an understanding of contemporary catechetics; or
  • An Advanced Degree with a Certificate in Catechetical Ministry issued by the San Diego Diocesan Institute.
  • The preferred academic qualifications in our diocese for the Program Coordinator are:
  • B.A. in Religious Education or in Religious Studies or Theology with an understanding of contemporary catechetics; or
  • Diploma in Religious Education issued jointly by the Diocese of San Diego and the University of San Diego between the years 1977-1993. or
  • Certificate in Catechetical Ministry issued by the San Diego Diocesan Institute.

Guideline 5


The Certificate in Catechetical Ministry provides fundamental Catholic theological, doctrinal, and catechetical formation for interested adults wishing to pursue ministry in the areas of Director of Catechetical Ministry, Program Coordinator, or California Master Catechist Certification.

This certificate program offers college-level courses which provide:

  • a general orientation to basic aspects of Church teaching, in the areas of Revelation, Scripture, Jesus Christ, Church, Liturgy, Sacraments, Morality, and Spirituality;
  • a basic orientation in catechetics, catechetical method, and growth and development of the whole person;
  • a course of study which strengthens a person’s talents and gifts for ministry by enriching their understanding of Catholic faith within a pastoral perspective;
  • training to interpret the challenges of contemporary Catholic living and to integrate the Gospel message into both life and ministry.


Completion of the certificate requires:

Current California Catechist Certification or the following courses

  • C110—Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (15 hrs) and
  • S100—Faith Growth: Childhood/Early Adolescence (15 hrs)
    S105 Faith Growth: Adults (15 hrs)
  • S120—Catechetics (15 hrs).
  • (Completion of C110, S120, and S100 or S105 grants California Catechist Certification)


a minimum of 255 clock hours taken for credit and obtained through the following courses

  • C120—Local Church (15 hours
  • C200—Introduction to Morality (30 hrs)
  • C210—Introduction to Old Testament (30 hrs)
  • C220—Introduction to New Testament (30 hrs)
  • G100—Fundamental Theology (15 hrs)
  • G120—Introduction to Spirituality (30 hrs)
  • G130—Christology (30 hrs)
  • G140—Ecclesiology (30 hrs)
  • G150—Introduction to Liturgy and Sacraments (30 hrs)
  • G200—Multicultural Pastoral Focus (15 hrs)

Candidates may be dispensed from courses on demonstration of equivalent background, but may transfer in only 90 clock hours from other institutions.


Tuition for 15 hour courses is $50.00. Tuition for 30 hour courses is $70.00. Special rates are available for parish groups of 4 or more. Books and handouts will be approximately an additional $15-25 per course.


Acceptance into the certificate program requires:

  • Completion of a Ministry Profile Form available from the Diocesan Institute Office.
  • Active membership in a parish.
  • Capability of study at the college level.

Candidates may go at their own pace in pursuing the Certificate in Catechetical Ministry, depending on the availability of courses. Ordinarily it will take a minimum of two years to complete.


Candidates should consult the Student Handbook for complete course descriptions and information regarding prerequisites for various courses. The Handbook is available online at: www.sdcatholic.org/institute.


Courses are offered at a central diocesan site as well as, periodically, at parish sites in North County, South Bay, East County and the Imperial Valley. Courses are held on weekdays, evenings, or in intensive summer sessions. Course schedules are available by mail or online at: San Diego Diocesan Institute.


Candidates agree to attend class regularly, to be active participants in class discussion, to complete reading, and take exams. Participants will receive grades and transcripts.

For further information regarding Institute Courses and Certificate Program, please call 858-490-8212.


Persons interested in completing ministry formation as a DCM or Coordinator, should also take the following courses/workshops offered by the Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry: Practical Aspects of Ministry of DCM/Coordinator and Supervision Workshops. The Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry serves as a liaison for Pastors seeking to hire a DCM and persons seeking employment. For further information regarding ministry as DCM or Program Coordinator, please call 858-490-8232.

Guideline 6


(prepared by the Office for Human Resources, Diocese of San Diego)



Responsible for providing Christian formation, religious education and sacramental preparation to members of the parish faith community.


Religious Educator positions are found in parishes at one or more levels. The series includes the following four levels:

Director of Catechetical Ministry II:
Fully responsible for a comprehensive parish religious education program including adult Christian formation. This includes supervising other Religious Education personnel; managing the office; recruitment and training of volunteers; planning programs for adults, teens, children; evaluating program curricula and acting as parish resource person in methods and some areas of theology. The classification requires a MDiv/MA Degree in Religious Studies, Religious Education, or related field and three to five years of experience in the field.

Classification Level: M-5 FLSA Status: Exempt

Director of Catechetical Ministry I:
Directs several dimensions of a comprehensive parish religious education program OR has full responsibility for a less comprehensive parish religious education program. This typically includes supervising support staff personnel; recruitment and training of volunteers; planning programs for adults, teens and children; evaluating program curricula and acting as parish resource person in methods and some areas of theology. The classification requires a MDiv/MA degree in Religious Studies, Religious Education, or related field with no experience OR graduate level background in theology/catechetics with experience in the field.

Classification Level: M-4 FLSA Status: Exempt

Catechetical Program Coordinator II:
Responsible for a parish religious education program, utilizing a variety of resources to complement the Coordinator’s background and skills. This typically includes managing the Religious Education Office; supervising staff; recruitment and training of volunteers; planning programs for adults, teens or children; and evaluating program curricula. The classification requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies or related field, or Certificate in Catechetical Ministry, and parish experience.

Classification Level: M-3 FLSA Status: Exempt

Catechetical Program Coordinator I:
Responsible for implementing and overseeing a narrowly conceived religious education formation program or one facet of a total parish program. The classification typically supervises volunteer staff, recruits catechists, plans and chairs meetings, schedules classes and facilities, orders materials and books and, in general, carries out program organizational details for the Pastor, Religious education director or Coordinator. The classification requires the related education and experience to perform basic religious education responsibilities. Participation in an educational program toward a Certificate in Catechetical Ministry helpful.

Classification Level: M-2 FLSA Status: Exempt



To develop and implement activities and programs designed to build up the faith life of adults in the parish for the purpose of enriching the faith life of the whole parish. Assesses needs of parish adults for spiritual, intellectual, emotional and religious growth. Conducts or coordinates programs, counseling and spiritual direction.


Director of Adult Faith Formation:
The Director of Adult Faith Formation is responsible for directing, facilitation and conducting a number of adult faith activities and programs in a parish. The programs typically include RCIA, RENEW, scriptural study, retreats, support groups, Small Christian Communities, etc. The position is responsible for budget preparation, needs assessment and retraining of volunteers. He/she operates with a high level of delegation from the pastor and should have a Masters Degree in Religious Studies, Religious Education, or a related field or equivalent experience and education as well as spiritual leadership skills.

Classification Level: M-4 FLSA Status: Exempt

Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation:
The coordinator is responsible for conducting and directing adult faith formation activities and established programs in a parish. The program at this level does not possess the breadth described by the Director level above. The coordinator would serve more as a direct contact and resource for small groups and facilitate prepared educational programs. The position would probably not have budget responsibility nor would it coordinate speakers series. The position operates with oversight and assistance provided by the pastor and should require a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field, certification in catechetical ministry or equivalent experience and education.

Classification Level: M-2 FLSA Status: Exempt

Guideline 7



Guideline 8



Guideline 9


The Diocese of San Diego provides an Employee Assistance Program for all employees of the diocese through Horizon Health. The program is free to employees and eligible household members.

The Employee Assistance Program (E.A.P.) provides confidential services for a wide range of concerns that include:

  • Difficulties in Relationships
  • Emotional/Psychological Issues
  • Stress and Anxiety Issues with Work or Family
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Grief Issues
  • Legal or Financial Issues
  • Personal and Life Improvement
  • Depression

To access services, please call the toll free number—1-800-342-8111 or log on to www.horizoncarelink.com (login—dosd; password—eap).

The service is paid for by the employer as an employee benefit. Assessment, referral and up to eight face-to-face counseling services are available.

Guideline 10


The following rules of conduct are taken from the Personnel Manual for the Diocese of San Diego. The following categories include, but are not limited to, those types of conduct that are considered unacceptable and may be the basis of disciplinary action up to and including termination:

  • Inability or unwillingness to work harmoniously with others;
  • Insubordination;
  • Violation of safety regulations;
  • Unauthorized removal of church property;
  • Gambling on parish time or property;
  • Possession, use, distribution, dispensing or selling of illegal drugs;
  • Working under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants;
  • Harm or threat of harm to persons or property;
  • Possession of a weapon or explosives on church property;
  • Unexcused absences or tardiness;
  • Sleeping on working time, wasting time;
  • Misrepresenting, falsifying or concealing information;
  • Improper use of parish resources;
  • Failure to protect parish business interests;
  • Soliciting others or distributing literature without permission;
  • Conviction of a felony, or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude;
  • Other criminal conduct even though not resulting in a conviction;
  • Unsatisfactory job performance;
  • Behavior which seriously and/or publicly violates the official teachings of the Catholic Church;
  • Sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.

Revised October 1, 1995

Personnel Manual, Diocese of San Diego

Guideline 11


The Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry fosters the evangelizing, catechizing mission of the Church by assisting parishes in forming true disciples of Christ through a) missionary activity directed to non-believers; b) initial proclamation directed to those inquiring about the faith; c) initial catechetical activity directed to catechumens and to candidates seeking full communion; d) pastoral activity directed to the baptized but uncatechized and the unchurched and e) permanent catechesis centered around ongoing conversion, discipleship, maturity in faith and fullness of life in Christ.

The Office offers vision and framework for evangelization and catechetical ministry that is grounded in Scripture and based on The Diocesan General Plan, The Catechism of the Catholic Church; The National Directory for Catechesis, Go and Make Disciples, and Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us. The office provides formation for catechists, preschool through adult, including those with special needs and serves in the formation and resourcing of parish catechetical and evangelization leadership in the areas of Catechetical Programming; Evangelization; RCIA; Adult Faith Formation; Infant Baptism; and Small Christian Communities.

Goal One:
To promote enthusiastic evangelization and systematic, authentic catechesis embracing Catholics of all ages who are in need of ongoing evangelization and thorough catechesis.

Objective A:
To assist and encourage parish evangelization and catechetical leadership through ongoing formation, inservice, consultation and support.

To offer regular inservice meetings, days of reflection and retreats; to provide courses and workshops on evangelization and catechesis; to provide orientation to new leadership; to review curriculum; to communicate pertinent information; to maintain adequate statistics; to consult on individual basis as needed; to serve as a liaison for hiring parish catechetical and evangelization leadership.

Objective B:
To give priority to and promote adult catechesis as the principal form of catechesis.

To offer courses, workshops, inservices and suggested resources on adult formation, discipleship, Scripture, inculturation of the Gospel and transformation of the culture; to promote intergenerational and whole parish catechesis.

Objective C:
To make accessible audio-visual and curriculum resources for use in programs of evangelization and catechesis.

To provide resources through Media and Resource Centers in San Diego and Imperial Valley; to provide a media catalog and resource lists, to consult and recommend media for programming; to provide workshops on the use of media; to maintain a curriculum library.

Goal Two:
To form, certify and renew catechists and master catechists.

To provide formation and renewal opportunities for master catechists and for catechists of preschoolers through adults, including special religious education.

To offer Basic Catechist Formation Courses throughout the diocese; to offer specialization courses and workshops in areas such as Preschool, Special Religious Education, Catechetical Methods, Adult Faith Formation, Evangelization, Infant Baptism, RCIA; to provide master catechist formation as needed; to provide renewal opportunities through conferences and workshops; to assist with coordination and implementation of the Annual Conference for Church Ministers; to integrate media and technology into formation programs wherever possible; to issue all certificates and maintain certification and renewal records for all catechists and master catechists.

Goal Three:
To promote evangelization and integral catechesis to those who do not know Christ and have not been baptized, and to Christians seeking full communion.

To assist parish evangelization and initiation leadership through ongoing formation, inservice, consultation and support.

To offer courses, workshops and inservice opportunities in developing the evangelizing and initiating dimensions of ministry; to organize parish participation in the Diocesan Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion; to provide consultation and to suggest resources.

Goal Four:
To promote the new evangelization and integral catechesis for Catholics who are alienated, inactive or unchurched.

To raise awareness and support parishes in efforts to evangelize or re-evangelize and to assist in developing the welcoming and evangelizing dimension of parish ministry.

To offer inservice opportunities, courses and workshops in developing the evangelizing dimension of ministry; to provide training for Visitadores por Cristo; to serve as a resource.

Goal Five:
To integrate pertinent church documents and the six tasks of catechesis into programming.

Objective A:
To provide opportunities for leadership, catechists, and adults to explore content, implementation and integration into parish ministry.

To offer inservices to Catechetical and Evangelization Leadership; to review and/or revise courses and materials in light of documents where appropriate.

Objective B:
To implement aspects of the National Directory for Catechesis which need to be integrated into the work of the Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry.

To discuss the implications and implementation with OECM staff and pertinent diocesan offices; to revise the Master Catechist Formation Course, handbooks, guidelines and materials in light of the NDC; to determine the feasibility of integrating and developing initiatives called for by the NDC, such as curriculum guidelines, evaluation of parish catechetical programming, and certification of parish catechetical leadership.

Objective C:
To keep updated on current developments in catechesis and evangelization.

To study new ecclesial documents and their implications for evangelization and catechesis; to integrate advancements in media and technology, where appropriate.

Guideline 12


  • Mission/Philosophy/Goals
  • Overview of Programs
  • Name, phone number of Pastor/DCM/Coordinators
  • Role of DCM/Coordinators
  • Role of Catechetical/Religious Education Board
  • Office Hours
  • Names of Catechists/Assistants/Staff (may include certification status)
  • Calendar
  • Overview of Curriculum
  • Expectations of Parents (role of parents in religious formation)
  • Policies/Requirements for Sacraments
  • Schedule of Class Times
  • Fees/Scholarships
  • Attendance Policy
  • Student Insurance
  • Discipline Procedures
  • Homework
  • Progress Reports
  • Times when Students are Supervised
    e.g. students should be dropped off ten minutes before class and picked up within ten minutes of end of class
  • Accommodating Persons with Special Needs
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Safety Procedures
  • Safe Environment Procedures
  • Calling in absences
  • Early dismissals with note from parents
  • Children can only go home with designated persons
  • Medical information
  • Fire drills
  • Earthquake preparedness
  • Bomb threats
  • Procedures regarding bicycles, skates, skateboards, etc.
  • Parking procedures
  • Student Threats
  • Resources available in parish

Guideline 13


In addition to the items in the parent handbook, a catechist handbook could include:

  • Catechist certification/renewal requirements
  • Attendance at inservice meetings
  • Attendance at conferences, etc.
  • Information on size of classes
  • Arrival times/dismissal times
  • Safety information (as in Handbook for Evangelization and Catechetical Leadership)
  • Screening Procedures for Catechetical Personnel
  • Safe Environment Procedures
  • Affidavit Regarding Convictions
  • Child abuse reporting
  • Role of assistants
  • Procedure for catechist absences
  • Lesson plans
  • Use and reservation of equipment and audio visuals
  • Collaboration w/parochial school teachers, if applicable
  • Communication w/parents through DCM
  • Food/drink policy
  • Field trip policies
  • Reimbursement policies
  • How to obtain materials
  • Copying procedures
  • Policies on fund-raising

Guideline 14


Family Information

  • Family Last Name
  • Address
  • City/State
  • Home Phone
  • Email Address
  • Mother’s Name
  • Mother’s Religion
  • Occupation
  • Work Phone
  • Religion
  • Marital Status
  • Father’s Name
  • Father’s Religion
  • Occupation
  • Work Phone
  • Marital Status
  • Emergency Contact Person
  • Emergency Contact Phone
  • Relationship to Family

Student Information

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Religion
  • Grade
  • School
  • Male/Female
  • Brothers and Sisters in Program
  • Sacraments Received—Date, Parish, Address of Parish
  • Special Needs (e.g.—Custodial questions)
  • Special Learning Needs
  • Medical Problems
  • Name of Parish where Student Last Attended Religious Education

Bookkeeping Information

  • Date paid
  • Check number
  • Amount
  • Copy of Baptismal Certificate

Guideline 15


  • Every parish catechetical program should provide parents and catechists with a comprehensive handbook, in their language, which details procedures and guidelines for parish programs. “One way to prevent possible misunderstandings is to develop and disseminate comprehensive handbooks which outline the rights and responsibilities of all persons in the programs.” (A Primer on Law for DRE’s & Youth Ministers, Sr. Mary Angela Shaunessy, (Washington: NCEA, 1992), p. 7)
  • Every program should have clear rules for discipline and for procedures for those who violate rules. “Whenever possible rules should be written. …Catch-all phrases, such as ‘other inappropriate conduct’ should be added to the list of possible offenses, so that the program will be able to respond to inappropriate behavior that was not foreseen at the time the rules were written.” (Shaunessy, p. 13)
  • Procedures for Visitors to the Catechetical Programs should be in place. In general all persons who visit a program or class should check in at the office. Parents who wish to observe classroom procedures should obtain permission from the DCM and Catechist. Parents should be advised to confer with teachers after class time.
  • DCM’s shall have a readily accessible card file containing emergency care information for each student. It is the responsibility of the parents to notify the DCM of changes in emergency information as necessary.
  • The DCM is responsible for adequate supervision of students during the entire time they are on the parish premises during regularly scheduled classes. Parents should be advised of the times supervision is provided and what times students may arrive for class. Under no circumstances should a student be left on parish premises alone after classes are completed.
  • Parents should be instructed to call the religious education office if their child will be absent from class. Attendance should be taken at each class and parents or guardians should be notified if students are absent.
  • At no times should students be left without adult supervision. In case of emergency, classes should be combined.
  • Students should never be locked in or out of rooms or buildings.
  • At no times should students be sent on errands outside the supervised premises.
  • Children should only be released from class early with the written request of the parent or guardian.
  • Parents should provide the parish director with a list of persons who may pick students up from programs. The religion program should not be used by non-legal guardians for the exercise of visitation rights.
  • Catechists should be advised of any chronic diseases, allergies, or other health problems among his/her students.
  • Students shall not be provided with any medications by religious education personnel.
  • The DCM should establish procedures for verification of attendance and clearance of students prior to departure on a field trip. A roster of students participating in field trips should be given to the DCM before the trip.
  • The supervising catechist on a field trip shall carry a roster of participants which includes names, addresses and emergency telephone numbers of all participating students as well as parent/guardian release forms. A copy of the roster should be left with the DCM or a contact person at the home parish.
  • Persons, agencies or groups desiring to contact individual students during class time should receive permission from the DCM. The DCM must seek parental consent if the student is a minor.
  • Lists of students names and addresses should never be released.
  • Pictures of students should not be posted on the internet.

Guideline 16


Duties of the DCM or Program Coordinator

  • In all emergencies, it is the responsibility of the DCM, Program Coordinator or delegated staff member to guard the safety of the staff, students and or participants.
  • Appropriate emergency services (fire, police, etc.) should be contacted immediately, and drill procedure should be implemented. Phone numbers for emergency services should be readily accessible.
  • Once the building has been evacuated, it should be secured against reentry until its safety has been confirmed.
  • The utility companies (gas, electric, etc.) should be notified, if any breaks or suspected breaks in power or water lines are detected.
  • Familiarize catechists, team and staff with Emergency/Disaster Plans at the beginning of each new school year.

Duties of the Catechist

  • The catechist is responsible for the safety and supervision of the assigned children during all emergency procedures.
  • The catechist is familiar with emergency/disaster plans as designed for their site. During an emergency, the students should remain in the care of the catechist until they can be released to parents or guardians.
  • Any time the building is evacuated, the catechist should carry the class attendance roster with him/her.
  • Every parish should have a program to ensure that the staff, students and program participants are aware of and properly trained in the emergency procedures.
  • All parish facilities where catechetical programs are held should have a dependable and operative fire warning system meeting the California uniform fire code signal specifications.
  • All personnel (catechists, team members, etc) should be aware of fire drill procedures and evacuation routes. Evacuations routes should be posted in classrooms and meeting rooms.
  • Periodic fire drills should be held for religious education classes to familiarize students with evacuation routes.

An earthquake emergency procedure system should be in place for all programs. It should include:

  • A building disaster plan for maintaining the safety and care of students, participants and staff which is ready for implementation at any time.
  • A drop procedure which means an activity whereby each student, participant and staff member takes cover under a table or desk, dropping to his/her knees, with the head protected by the arms and the back to the windows.
  • Protective measures to be taken before, during, and following an earthquake.

Before an Earthquake

Have the following items available:

  • a few flashlights with extra batteries,
  • a first aid kit and handbook,
  • a portable radio to receive emergency broadcasts (with extra batteries),
  • pipe wrenches and crescent wrenches for gas and water lines,
  • available supply of stored water and food.

During an Earthquake

  • If indoors, stay there. Get under a supported doorway, desk or table. Stay away from windows, bookcases and shelves.
  • If outside, stay outside. Get into the open. Get away from buildings and power lines.

After an Earthquake

  • Remain calm in the room until given clearance to move out into open space.
  • Check for injuries among students and participants.
  • Check utility lines for fire hazards.
  • Do not touch downed lines or electrical wiring.
  • Check for gas leaks, do not use electrical switches or appliances if gas leaks are suspected.
  • Minors should remain in designated open areas until their parents come for them, or until instructions are received from those authorities in charge.

When a bomb threat is received, the primary concern of the DCM or Program Coordinator must be the safety of students, participants and volunteers in the building.

Immediately upon receiving a bomb threat, the following procedure shall be followed:

  • Notify police. Police officers are instructed to respond to such calls without the use of sirens or red lights.
  • Wait for police to arrive before a search is conducted. If a suspicious package, box or device is located and suspected of being the bomb, do not touch or move it. It will be the responsibility of the police to remove or deactivate it.
  • Evacuate the building immediately if threat indicates the bomb to be in the building.

Threat by Telephone

In the event that a bomb threat is received by telephone, the following actions will be taken:

  • Person receiving threat should try and keep the caller on the line.
  • Make a note of the exact time.
  • Get as much information as possible from the caller:
  • exact location of the bomb, if possible,
  • time the bomb is set for detonation,
  • description of the bomb,
  • type of explosive,
  • reason why bomb was placed.
  • Note voice characteristics of the caller (boy, girl, man, woman, accent or peculiar voice inflections, etc.)
  • Note background noises (music, traffic, laughter, etc)

Immediately after the caller hangs up report all information to police or sheriff.

San Diego Fire Department


Christmas tree requirements are applicable to all places of assembly, institutions, public lobbies, malls, and other occupancies where the public is admitted or invited.


  • Cut Christmas trees greater than 3′ in height shall be flame-proofed.
  • Living Christmas trees growing in a container with root system intact maintained as a living tree are not required to be flame-proofed.
  • Only persons possessing a State Fire Marshal’s license are approved to flameproof trees.


  • All trees are to be located clear of exits or aisles and in an area separated from ordinary combustibles by a distance at least equal to the tree height.
  • The base of all cut natural trees shall be installed and maintained in a receptacle containing water or wet sand.
  • All decorations used on the tree must be noncombustible or fire-retardant.
  • No candles or open flame device shall be on or near the tree.
  • All lighting shall be of U.L. approved type.
  • Fire extinguishers of dry chemical type with a minimum 2A10C rating shall be readily available.

Artificial Trees

  • Manufactured trees which are constructed of metallic, noncombustible, or fire resistive materials may be used.
  • No electrical lighting shall be permitted on artificial trees with exposed metal frames.


  • The Fire Department may, at any time, field test any cut natural, live or artificial Christmas tree to determine if it is properly flame-proofed or hazardous. Whenever trees are found to be hazardous or in unapproved locations, they shall be ordered immediately removed.
  • The field test consists of taking one or more 6″ to 8″ piece of branch off the tree, removing any flocking and attempting to ignite the branch piece with a match. The branch must self-extinguish when the flame is removed.


Guideline 17


  • Any and all student threats of harm to self or others will be taken seriously.
  • Whoever hears the threat will report it to the DCM/Coordinator or catechist immediately. The catechist will report it to the DCM or Coordinator immediately.
  • Police will be notified immediately.
  • The parent or guardian of the student who has made the threat will be notified immediately.
  • The student will be separated from other students and remain under supervision until the police/parents arrive.
  • The parent or guardian of any student who has been mentioned as a potential victim, as well as any adult who has been mentioned, either verbally or in writing, will be notified immediately.
  • The student will work from home and will not be considered for readmission to the program unless and until the following steps have been completed:
    • The DCM or Coordinator must receive a report from the police, either written or verbal. That report should include notification of whether the student will be charged with any crime as well as an assessment of the student’s access to weapons.
    • A comprehensive mental health evaluation and risk assessment must be conducted by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist.
    • After obtaining the permission of the parents, the DCM or Coordinator will provide the mental health care professional with all relevant facts, including but not limited to aggressive behavior, details of the threat, copies of any drawings or writings, disciplinary history of the student, behavioral concerns, and the names of any known victims or potential victims.
    • The DCM or Coordinator will receive a written evaluation, report and treatment plan from the mental health care professional stating the basis upon which it has been determined that the student does or does not pose a danger to self or others. The report must address any concerns raised by the DCM or Coordinator. The evaluation and report must be delivered to the DCM or Coordinator who will share them with legal or mental health care consultants, as well as any members of the parish administration assisting in the decision regarding readmission of the student.
    • If the psychiatrist or psychologist recommends re-admittance, and if the DCM or Coordinator is satisfied with the report given, and with the outcome of any police inquiry, the student may be re-admitted at the discretion of the DCM or Coordinator in consultation with the pastor.
    • If the student is re-admitted to the program, the mental health care professional must, if the DCM or Coordinator requests it, provide a follow-up assessment of the student. The student’s cooperation with recommendations for continuing care will be a condition of re-admittance and continued enrollment.
  • Counseling will be made available to children who are victims of the threatening behavior or who observed the threatening behavior if it is determined that such counseling is needed and parental permission is granted.
  • Documentation from the mental health care professional concerning the student is to be placed in a separate, confidential file accessed only by the DCM or the Coordinator and the pastor. This documentation will be kept for a period of one year beyond the time when the child leaves the program as a result of expulsion, withdrawal by parent/guardian, or completion of the program before being destroyed.

This procedure must be communicated clearly to all faculty, staff, volunteers, parents/guardians and students

This procedure will be updated by the Office of Civil affairs and the Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry periodically or as needed to accommodate changes, as mental health professionals are continually addressing the area of risk assessment for violent or potentially violent behavior.

This procedure developed 10/2001 by the Office for Civil Affairs and the Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry.

Guideline 18



Guideline 19



Guideline 20



Guideline 21



Guideline 22



Guideline 23


Discipline is an essential aspect of development. Its purpose in an educational setting is to provide an environment conducive to learning, to educate students to an appreciation of the importance of developing self control and responsibility for their actions and to help build a sense of community. Discipline serves all persons best when the dignity of the individuals are respected and “win-win” situations are negotiated. Discipline provides a sense of favor and security to parents, catechists and students and offers a safe environment which can be trusted.

When considering the development of guidelines and procedures governing discipline, program directors must be aware that there is a time investment involved. If a participant accused of wrongdoing is given notice and a hearing, staff must take the time to tell the participants what it is he or she did that was wrong and also give the participant an opportunity to present his or her side of the story. The benefit of such an approach should be obvious: participants perceive authority figures as trying to be fair and may internalize the values that are modeled. If participants see educators behaving in a manner that is respectful of their dignity, they may be more likely to give that same respect to others. These values are of the utmost importance in religious education and youth ministry programs where example may well be the most effective teacher.

Quoted from A Primer on Law for DRE’s & Youth Ministers, by Sr. Mary Angela Shaughnessy, (Washington, D.C., NCEA, 1992) p. 13.

The discipline procedures for a parish religious education program should be reviewed with all catechists periodically and should be sent to parents at the beginning of the year.

Appropriate Disciplinary Measures:

  • Conference with student
  • Consultation with DCM/Coordinator
  • Denial of privileges
  • Assignment of tasks
  • Conference with parents
  • Suspension
  • Alternative method of catechesis

Inappropriate Disciplinary Measures—The following actions are explicitly forbidden:

  • Corporal punishment
  • Personal indignities or public humiliation
  • Sending a student outside of the classroom if he/she will not be supervised
  • Indiscriminate punishment of all students in a class for the disruptive conduct of one
  • Sending the student home without the knowledge of the parents or guardians
  • Suspension, unless procedures outlined in this section are followed
  • Fines when there has been no destruction of property

“Corporal punishment” means the willful infliction of, or willfully causing the infliction of pain on a pupil. An amount of force that is reasonable and necessary for a person employed in a school to quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to persons or damage to property, for purposes of self-defense, or to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects within the control of the pupil, is not and shall not be construed to be corporal punishment within the meaning and intent of this section. (Education Code 49001)

Guideline 24



Guideline 25

Diocese of San Diego Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry

Lesson 1 Christ the Model Catechist and Evangelist

Lesson 2 The Catechist Understands How People Learn

Lesson 3 The Catechist Prepares and Plans

Lesson 4 The Catechist Responds to the Call to Discipleship

Lesson 5 The Catechist Participates in the Teaching Mission of the Church

Lesson 6 Revelation – God’s Own Methodology

Lesson 7 Overview of the Bible

Lesson 8 Understanding the Hebrew Scriptures – the Old Testament

Lesson 9 Understanding the Christian Scriptures – the New Testament

Lesson 10 Jesus Christ – True God and True Man

Lesson 11 Christology – the Study of Jesus Christ

Lesson 12 The Nature of the Church

Lesson 13 The Mission of the Church

Lesson 14 Church – a Pilgrim People

Lesson 15 Prayer

Lesson 16 Liturgy / the Liturgical Year

Lesson 17 Sacraments, in General

Lesson 18 Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism and Confirmation

Lesson 19 Sacraments of Initiation – Eucharist

Lesson 20 Sacraments at the Service of Communion – Matrimony and Holy Orders

Lesson 21 Sacraments of Healing – Penance/Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick

Lesson 22 Life in Christ – Christian Morality

Lesson 23 Life in Christ – Social Justice

Lesson 24 Life in Christ – Applying Moral Principles

Guideline 26


(prepared by the Office for Liturgy and Spirituality, Diocese of San Diego)

The Introduction to the Lectionary for Masses with Children explains that the fullest reality of the Sunday liturgical assembly is adults and children together. It is important that adequate attention be given to the children’s presence. Separate celebrations can lead to a diminished sense of participation for children in the liturgical assembly.

The Church recognizes however, that sometimes because of children’s inability to participate or to understand what happens and what is proclaimed, it will be appropriate to celebrate liturgies of the word with them in a place apart from the main Sunday assembly.

These guidelines are offered to assist parishes on such occasions. They are primarily for parish leaders who minister to children enrolled in the primary and intermediate grade levels, the age level intended for use of the Lectionary for Masses with Children.

These separate liturgies of the word do not take the place of regular catechetical classes. They are a counterpart to the main assembly’s liturgy of the word. As ritual prayer the liturgy celebrates the Word of God in narrative and song, makes it visible in gesture and symbol and culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is advisable that those responsible for developing separate liturgies of the word with children read and reflect on both the Directory for Masses with Children and the Introduction to the Lectionary for Masses with Children.


  1. Dismissal from the Assembly
  2. Welcome
  3. Proclamation of the Word
  4. Reflection on the Word
  5. Celebration of the Word
  6. Creed
  7. General Intercessions
  8. Return to the Assembly

1. Dismissal From The Assembly

The children participate in the introductory rites of the Mass with the entire assembly.After the opening prayer the dismissal of the children from the assembly takes place. The presiding priest may call the children and their leaders to come forward and invite them to celebrate the word. He may then present the Lectionary to the one who will preside over the liturgy of the word with the children and formally dismiss them with the following or similar words:

  1. Receive this book of readings and proclaim God’s word faithfully to the children entrusted to your care.
  2. My dear children, you will now go to hear God’s word, to praise God in song, and to reflect on the wonderful things God has done for us. We will await your return so that together we may celebrate the Eucharist.

The leaders and children then process to the place of celebration carrying the Lectionary. A cross bearer and candle bearers may lead them.

It is important to carefully choose a designated place for celebration. Even if it is necessary to select a space outside of the usual place of worship such as a classroom or other non-liturgical space, the environment is to be made suitable for worship.

2. Welcome

The children should be welcomed by their adult leaders with words or gestures which help them to feel at ease. A sung acclamation, sign of the cross or short prayer may be said at this time to focus the children’s attention. The essential goal of this brief re-gathering is to enable them to listen to the Word of God which is about to be proclaimed.

Mindful of our belief in Christ’s presence the children should welcome the proclamation of the word in some ritual manner, such as:

  • with a prayerful silence;
  • with a procession of the Lectionary to the place of proclamation;
  • by lighting candles placed beside the Lectionary.

The actions should be simple and appropriate to the age and development of the children.

3. Proclamation of the Word

As far as is possible, the readings assigned from the Lectionary for Masses with Children should be used. No other English lectionary for Masses with children has been approved for dioceses in the United States.

The Directory for Masses with Children, indicates: If three or even two readings on Sundays or weekdays can be understood by children only with difficulty, it is permissible to read two or only one of them, but the reading of the gospel should never be omitted.

Scripture readings should be proclaimed in a slow, clear, expressive manner. Visuals may be used to enrich the listening experience, but the Mass is not an historical reenactment of the events of salvation history and care should be taken not to give the impression that the liturgy of the word is a play.

This is not to say that dramatic elements may not be used, e.g., the readings may at times be divided into parts distributed among the children; however, the use of costumes, etc. is more appropriate in the context of other celebrations or services.

Readers should be selected based on their competence. It should not be presumed that children proclaim the Word of God in these celebrations. Some younger children are able to read the Scriptures competently, but the witness of older children, teenagers, or adults, ministering graciously and reverently to young children engaged in liturgical prayer, is more conducive to the children’s growing reverence for the Word of God, than the peer ministry of embarrassed or ill-prepared children.

The responsorial psalm and gospel acclamation are integral to the celebration of the liturgy of the word. The responsorial psalms of the Lectionary for Masses with Children have been adapted to encourage the singing of these texts. Normally the psalm is sung by a cantor with the children singing the refrain. Responsorial psalm settings and gospel acclamations composed specifically for children’s liturgies of the word may be used, or it may be preferable to use the same musical settings as the assembly. The objective in choosing music is that it enable the children to express their faith.

The gospel acclamation, the Alleluia, (or other appropriate acclamation during the Lenten Season), is always sung. If the Alleluia cannot be sung it is omitted. Before the gospel is proclaimed it is appropriate for the children to gesture the sign of the cross on their forehead, lips, and heart. They may accompany this by the words, May the Word of God be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.

4. Reflection on the Word

Following the proclamation of the Word of God, the adult leader guides the children in applying the Scripture’s reflection should not take the form of repeating the Scripture in the leader’s own words.

The age level, attention span, and cognitive development of the children should be considered in preparing the reflection. The use of visuals will keep the children’s attention. Questions which draw out the children’s own responses and suggestions for the application of the Scripture to daily living will open the children to new insights and prayerful reflection on the Christian life. If the group is small a dialogue format may be used.

5. Celebration of the Word

Separate liturgies of the word provide an opportunity for active participation of children growing in the faith of their parents.

Activities which engage children to celebrate the word should appeal to their sensory abilities and acquaint them with the symbols common to worship when the Church gathers. Integrating the following is encouraged:

  • music and song to highlight the Scripture texts and messages;
  • incense to appeal to their sense of smell;
  • candles to appeal to their sense of sight;
  • gestures and postures of reverence to appeal to their sense of touch;
  • processions, dance, or silence to help them interpret the mood of the Scripture passages.

6. The Creed

It is fitting that the Profession of Faith be included in these liturgies of the word with children. The Apostle’s Creed may be recited in place of the Nicene Creed. A musical setting may be sung or if it is more in keeping with the children’s level of understanding, the leader could recite the creed, stopping at the end of each of the three main tenets for the children to respond, We believe.

7. The General Intercessions

The general intercessions, often called prayers of the faithful, are to be included in separate liturgies of the word with children to acquaint them with the custom and obligation of the baptized to pray for the needs of others. The sequence of intentions should be:

  • for the needs of the Church;
  • for public officials and the salvation of the world;
  • for those oppressed by any need;
  • for the local community.

The general intercessions may be prepared in advance or with the guidance of the adult leaders the children may make their own spontaneous intentions. A sung response can foster participation.

8. Return to the Assembly

As the liturgy of the word with children comes to a close, one of the adult leaders should observe the assembly to assess where they have progressed in their order of worship. If the adults are still engaged in their celebration of the liturgy of the word, the children should be guided in song or another prayer activity. When the assembly has completed the general intercessions the children should return in procession by way of the center aisle to the places where their parents are seated.

Guideline 27


Bishop Robert H. Brom (August 14, 1997)

As we prepare to launch school and parish religious education programs for another year, all Catholics and especially those appointed as catechists are reminded of our responsibility not only to know Christ evermore deeply and completely, but energetically to make him known. To be faithful followers of Christ and members of his Church we must hand on the faith we have first received so that others, too, might believe in Jesus as the Son of God and believing in him might have eternal life (cf. John 3:16).

Catechesis is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as “an education in the faith of children, young people and adults… with a view of initiating them into the fullness of Christian life”. It includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine which is to be imparted “in an organic and systematic way”. The Catechism itself is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis in order to hand on the content of our faith, whole and entire.

Using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a reference point, catechetical analysts have recently pointed out what appear to be recurring deficiencies in some catechetical texts and, I would add, some teaching. To correct these, where they might be found in our own diocese, I offer the following direction.


The Trinity must consistently be presented as the central mystery of our Christian faith, and the intimate relationships and work of the Persons of the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — always clearly proposed, without any substitutes for these names which are identifications established by Jesus himself.


The centrality of Christ in salvation history cannot be denied or obscured. He is teacher, model, brother and friend, but not to be overshadowed is Jesus as “the Savior of the world”, the culmination of God’s plan for our salvation. There should be accuracy and balance in presenting his humanity and his divinity.


The Church should be clearly presented as established by Christ to continue both his presence and his work in the world. The teaching mission, including the role of the Magisterium, and the apostolic nature of the Church should not be under-treated. Diversity should be understood within the context of the Church’s unity.


Christian anthropology, including our creation, redemption and eternal salvation, should not yield to the contemporary “new age” philosophy that human beings with only their inner resources and without God can accomplish their fulfillment. Never to be forgotten is that a desire for God is written in the human heart; we are inherently spiritual, never reducible to the merely material.


To be avoided is insufficient emphasis on God’s initiative in the world with a corresponding overemphasis on human action. Human initiative is not a prerequisite for divine action but, on the contrary, human response is intended to follow upon the priority of God’s initiative which is not subordinate to human experience. As an example of this we can point to the Blessed Virgin Mary.


A comprehensive understanding of grace, including its transforming effects, is not to be neglected. Grace should be presented as God’s love and initiative whereby human beings are introduced into the intimacy of Trinitarian life making us God’s adopted children.


The sacraments should be treated within the Paschal Mystery and presented as the means by which we share in the new life of Christ through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Sacraments are not moments in human life of which God becomes a part, but rather the signs and reality of divine life of which we become a part. In treating the sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders, the character and role of the ordained minister in the life and ministry of the community should not be omitted.


Original sin should be clearly taught as the loss of original holiness and justice, transmitted by our first parents and leaving human nature wounded in all people. To be addressed is how the doctrine of original sin informs our understanding of grace, baptism, human participation in sin, a world which continues to be broken and imperfect, redemption and salvation.

Sin should be treated in a thematic way and in terms of the great struggle going on in the world and in every human heart — a struggle in which God’s grace is available to help us.


Morality should be presented as having its primary source in the revealed law of God, as grounded in the natural law and as taught by the Church with binding force. What is necessary for the formation of a correct conscience should not be neglected.


The eschatological aspect of Catholic doctrine is not to be ignored. Proper emphasis on realizing the Kingdom of God in this world cannot be separated from the culmination of life in the eternal Kingdom. The general judgment and the concept of hell, as well as the eschatological dimension of the Beatitudes and all of Christian life, should be adequately presented.

Guideline 28

The Celebration of Baptism


From: The Pastoral Companion, A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry, by John M. Huels, OSM, JCD

“Since baptism cannot be repeated, conditional baptism or rebaptism should be done only after a thorough investigation has taken place, the results of which demonstrate that the baptism did not take place or was not conferred validly. If water and the Trinitarian formula was used, one can presume that the intention of the minister was to do what the Church does when it baptizes, unless there are contrary indications. A baptismal certificate is sufficient proof of baptism in ordinary circumstances.

The following are some non-Catholic churches which have valid baptism: All Eastern non-Catholics (Orthodox), African Methodist, African Episcopal, Amish, Anglican, Assembly of God, Baptist, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of the Brethren, Church of Christ, Church of God, Congregational, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, Evangelical, Evangelical United Brethren, Liberal Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic, Old Roman Catholic, Polish National, Presbyterian, Reformed, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ, United Reformed, Uniting Church of Australia, Waldensian, Zion.

Some of the ecclesial communities whose baptism is doubtful and should be investigated are: Mennonite, Moravian, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist.

Some ecclesial communities without valid baptism are: Apostolic Church, Bohemian Free Thinkers, Christadelphians, Christian Community, Christian Scientist (no baptism), Church of Divine Science, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Church of the Universal Brotherhood, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Masons (no baptism), The New Church of Mr. Emmanuel Swedenborg, Church of the New Jerusalem, Peoples Church of Chicago, Pentecostal, Reunification Church (Mooney’s), Salvation Army, Shakers (no baptism), Society of Friends (Quakers, no baptism), Unitarian.

“In the absence of a baptismal certificate, proof of baptism can be had as described below:

Baptism is ordinarily proved by means of a baptismal certificate. In the absence of a baptismal certificate, it suffices to have the testimony of one reliable witness; if the person was at least seven years old and had the use of reason when baptized, the oath of the baptized person suffices. In either case, there can be no conflict of interest. For example, one could not prove one’s own baptism by personal testimony when their testimony would be the sole indication of the decisive grounds for an annulment of marriage.

The one who administers baptism should ensure that, if the godparent is not present, there be at least one witness who can prove the conferral of baptism. (CCL 875)”

“…if doubt remains whether the baptism was conferred or whether it was valid, baptism should not be administered until after the one being baptized, if he or she is an adult, has received instruction on the doctrine of the sacrament of baptism. Also the reasons for doubting the validity of the previous baptism should be explained to the person or, in the case of infant baptism, to the parents. (CCL 869.3)

Guideline 29


Questions arise from time to time on how to record the names of baptized Christians who have been received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. You may find the following to be helpful, excerpted from The Catechumenate and the Law: A Pastoral and Canonical Commentary for the Church in the United States by John M. Huels, Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1994, pages 55-56.

The law states that the book for recording the names of baptized Christians who have been received into the full communion of the Catholic church is to be a special book, that is, one different from other registers. When such a book is lacking, however, the intent of the law would be satisfied if the specified information were to be recorded in a designated part of the baptismal register.

Because those received into full communion were not baptized in the Catholic church, this register is their book of permanent record in the church, equivalent to the baptismal register for those baptized Catholic. In addition to the names of those received into full communion, the date and place of their baptism also are to be noted in it (RCIA, 486). It would also be desirable to record the names of the minister of baptism, the parents and the godparents, and the date and place of birth in order to have more complete information readily available if it should be needed later. Those who were not validly confirmed in their previous ecclesial community are confirmed during this rite, and their confirmation should be duly recorded in the proper books.

When parents of baptized children below the age of discretion are received into full communion, they usually wish to have the children become Catholic also. In that case, the names of the children and all other information already noted should be recorded in the register. Although these children are not capable of making the profession of faith in accord with the rite, the faith of the parents suffices, as it does at infant baptism. By recording this information, these children will have a permanent record and proof of their membership in the Catholic church. Children who have the use of reason can be treated as adults when being received into full communion, as they are at baptism. They are capable of making the profession of faith and can freely decide for themselves whether they wish to become a Catholic.

Monsignor Steven F. Callahan in a memo to Priests of the Diocese dated June 7, 2001