Celebrating baptismal anniversaries as a family

January 9, 2024 at 2:59 p.m.


It’s a little more than a month into the new liturgical year and the Church has already observed more than a handful of holy days, feasts and solemnities, even memorials (both obligatory and optional!). Although the average churchgoer may not readily identify the distinct characteristics of these various sacred celebrations, what is apparent to all is the goal of each – to sanctify time, as we remember God’s saving action in history and the life of the Church.

Special occasions are not just part of the Church calendar but are ever present in family life as well. We honor major events, anniversaries, and especially birthday celebrations each year. Since “…the family is, so to speak, the domestic Church” (“Lumen Gentium,” 11), we might want to consider adding the spiritual milestone we all share to the list of annual celebrations – our baptismal anniversaries – to take time to honor the day of our “re-birth by water and the Holy Spirit.”

A baptismal anniversary can be especially instructional for our children, as it reminds them not only of the gift they are to the family (as their birthday does), but the gift they’ve received from the faith of the family — the promise of a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. In her commemoration of feast days, the Church not only remembers but makes present the grace of the original moment being celebrated. In a similar way, as we recall these solemn sacramental moments in the lives of our children, we can be renewed and revitalized in the grace they originally bestowed on us.

So, as you plan for a child’s baptismal anniversary, be sure to include elements of both remembering and enjoying the present moment together, the abundance of life Jesus came to bring us. Once you’ve dug out the baptismal certificate to remind you of when to celebrate, here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Set the scene: Prepare ahead for the special day by finding memorabilia from your child’s Baptism — photos and cards received, maybe even the baptismal gown or candle if you can find it.
  • Share the memories: Recall the details of the day together, who was present and how you celebrated, the special moments, gifts and memories you cherish most about the day. Consider inviting your child’s godparents to join the celebration — in person if they’re close by — to emphasize the importance of the spiritual role they play in your child’s life.
  • Emphasize the faith: Find ways to focus on the deeper meaning of this special day. Read a story of the saint whose name your child shares and reflect on how God used him or her to impact the world, simply by means of baptismal grace working in their lives. Or plan to attend Mass together, perhaps even at the church where your child was baptized. Be sure to stop by the baptismal font before or after Mass and use the holy water to bless each other. If Mass isn’t possible, make some time for prayer at home. Loyola Press has composed a short prayer service for the occasion, which you can access here: www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/family/holidays-and-special-occasions/other-special-occasions/celebrating-baptismal-anniversaries/.
  • Make it Fun: You don’t need to pull out all the stops with balloons and a piñata, but it’s important to make sure your child enjoys the occasion. Let them choose a favorite meal or activity as part of the celebration, and a cake wouldn’t be out of order either; after all it is a spiritual birthday!

Article 1254 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “…Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.” Incorporating baptismal anniversaries into our annual family celebrations provides a practical reminder for our children of the need to walk in the power of our Baptism and to return repeatedly to that wellspring of grace to nurture and sustain us, leading us ever more deeply into the life of faith as a family of believers in Jesus Christ.

Nancy Arkin is director of faith formation in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.

Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry.  For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever.  Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE).  Thank you for your support.  



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It’s a little more than a month into the new liturgical year and the Church has already observed more than a handful of holy days, feasts and solemnities, even memorials (both obligatory and optional!). Although the average churchgoer may not readily identify the distinct characteristics of these various sacred celebrations, what is apparent to all is the goal of each – to sanctify time, as we remember God’s saving action in history and the life of the Church.

Special occasions are not just part of the Church calendar but are ever present in family life as well. We honor major events, anniversaries, and especially birthday celebrations each year. Since “…the family is, so to speak, the domestic Church” (“Lumen Gentium,” 11), we might want to consider adding the spiritual milestone we all share to the list of annual celebrations – our baptismal anniversaries – to take time to honor the day of our “re-birth by water and the Holy Spirit.”

A baptismal anniversary can be especially instructional for our children, as it reminds them not only of the gift they are to the family (as their birthday does), but the gift they’ve received from the faith of the family — the promise of a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. In her commemoration of feast days, the Church not only remembers but makes present the grace of the original moment being celebrated. In a similar way, as we recall these solemn sacramental moments in the lives of our children, we can be renewed and revitalized in the grace they originally bestowed on us.

So, as you plan for a child’s baptismal anniversary, be sure to include elements of both remembering and enjoying the present moment together, the abundance of life Jesus came to bring us. Once you’ve dug out the baptismal certificate to remind you of when to celebrate, here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Set the scene: Prepare ahead for the special day by finding memorabilia from your child’s Baptism — photos and cards received, maybe even the baptismal gown or candle if you can find it.
  • Share the memories: Recall the details of the day together, who was present and how you celebrated, the special moments, gifts and memories you cherish most about the day. Consider inviting your child’s godparents to join the celebration — in person if they’re close by — to emphasize the importance of the spiritual role they play in your child’s life.
  • Emphasize the faith: Find ways to focus on the deeper meaning of this special day. Read a story of the saint whose name your child shares and reflect on how God used him or her to impact the world, simply by means of baptismal grace working in their lives. Or plan to attend Mass together, perhaps even at the church where your child was baptized. Be sure to stop by the baptismal font before or after Mass and use the holy water to bless each other. If Mass isn’t possible, make some time for prayer at home. Loyola Press has composed a short prayer service for the occasion, which you can access here: www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/family/holidays-and-special-occasions/other-special-occasions/celebrating-baptismal-anniversaries/.
  • Make it Fun: You don’t need to pull out all the stops with balloons and a piñata, but it’s important to make sure your child enjoys the occasion. Let them choose a favorite meal or activity as part of the celebration, and a cake wouldn’t be out of order either; after all it is a spiritual birthday!

Article 1254 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “…Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.” Incorporating baptismal anniversaries into our annual family celebrations provides a practical reminder for our children of the need to walk in the power of our Baptism and to return repeatedly to that wellspring of grace to nurture and sustain us, leading us ever more deeply into the life of faith as a family of believers in Jesus Christ.

Nancy Arkin is director of faith formation in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.

Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry.  For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever.  Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE).  Thank you for your support.  


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