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February 07, 2012
Doubtful baptism
By Father Rocky Hoffman *

By Father Rocky Hoffman *

Hello!  I am a former protestant who became a Catholic as an adult.  When I went through the RCIA process, my baptism was accepted as valid since I was baptized as a child in the Church of the Nazarene.  I was only confirmed in the Catholic Church.  However, recently my great-grandmother was passing away and my family was randomly talking about baptism.  Someone mentioned that they remembered that I was baptized with oil instead of water.  The pastor of my former church only did that for a few baptisms, mine being one of them.  I had no idea!  For them, as Protestants, it was no big deal.  For me, though, I am now worried about what that means.  Does that mean that I never really was baptized?  What do I need to do to resolve the issue?  I have received the effects as if I had but still my heart is not at peace.

If you have a well founded doubt about the validity of your baptism – and in this case you do – you should explain the situation to your pastor and ask that he perform a ‘conditional baptism.’  For the record, baptism with oil is not valid.  For a valid baptism you must have the pouring of or immersion in natural water, as the minister recites this formula:  “I baptize you N., in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”  No other formula or liquid substance will do.  Why?  Because we do what Jesus did, nothing more, nothing less.  You must be baptized with water.

Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, JCD (Fr. Rocky) is Executive Director of Relevant Radio.  Ordained as a priest for Opus Dei in 1992 by Blessed John Paul II, he holds a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and a BA in History from Northwestern University.  His Question and Answer column appears in several Catholic newspapers and magazines across the country.

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