Conditional Baptism

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I was reading your recent article in the Priest Magazine on the new OCIA translation, and I have read others of your liturgical commentaries, which I find very helpful.

I thought I would pass along a question, if you wouldn’t minding guiding me in the right direction.

This year, I have a person who wants to enter the Church, is being catechized, etc.  

However, they are not able to find a record of their baptism. Their Church (a Christian alliance community) was closed and all the Church’s records were destroyed by a severe storm.  It was not part of a larger Christian denomination, but an independent Christian congregation.

They also have no photographs of their baptism, and they do not remember the ceremony.

Technically, the person is “Christian” in that they participated in their youth program. However, there is no way to determine if they were only dedicated or if they received a valid baptism.

So, I was thinking to receive this particular adult into the Church outside the Easter Vigil at a weekday Mass, celebrating a conditional baptism, then celebrating Confirmation and Holy Communion at the Mass.

Do you have any insight?  Is there a particular formula for conditional Baptism…I don’t recall anything being mentioned in the new rite of Baptism.

Any guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.



A: Thanks for your comments on my work.

If you enter “conditional baptism” in the search box on my web site, you’ll find several entries there. I also have an article here: .

In a nutshell, check with diocesan authorities to find out how they regard baptismal validity. If someone can testify to the baptism, that may be enough. If a doubt persists, the bishop is to determine the form of conditional baptism.