In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Thank you for your counsel, which has helped me and many others minister to the People of God.

I have a small family in my parish preparing to enter the Catholic Church. They consist of a husband, his wife, her son from a previous marriage (over age seven, younger than 18), and the husband and wife’s two children born from their marriage (younger than seven). The wife is already baptized; her husband and son from her previous marriage have yet to be baptized and have been in the catechumenate for over a calendar year. The two younger children have also yet to be baptized.

The wife’s annulment from her first marriage was recently granted. My Bishop has delegated me to do the Rite of Election for the father and preside over one scrutiny for him; he has permitted me to baptize the father and his stepson outside the Easter Vigil. 

I would like this family to be brought into the Catholic Church together—the father and his stepson baptized, confirmed, and receive first communion at the same Mass where the mother is brought into full communion, confirmed, and receives first communion and the two younger children are baptized.


First, do you know if the stepson needs to receive a scrutiny? I know the Rite of Election is optional for children under 18, but I can’t see where the scrutiny is optional. If it is mandatory, I suppose my Bishop’s permission to baptize outside the Easter Vigil is at least an implicit permission to do the scrutiny for the stepson.

Second, can the Rite of Election be combined with a scrutiny? My Bishop suggested that as a possibility, but I don’t know if that is possible.

Third, when I administer the sacraments of initiation / bring into full communion as described above, it would seem as if I would use the “Celebration at the Easter Vigil of the Sacraments of Initiation and of the Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church,” though without elements that relate mainly to the Easter Vigil (ex. the lighted candles during the Renewal of Baptismal Promises). What would be the best way to incorporate the two younger children’s baptisms within that schema?


A: May God bless you for your careful ministry.

The stepson should receive a scrutiny. I think you may presume that the bishop’s permission to reduce the father’s three scrutinies to one would apply to the stepson, but for clarity it may be good to verify that with the bishop.

The Rite of Election really should be done in every instance. I don’t consider it optional. And it should be kept entirely separate from the scrutiny. Either rite may take place without Mass, if that helps.

You’re correct to look at the combined initiation rite for guidance, removing references that pertain exclusively to the Vigil.

You may also consult the Roman Missal’s pages on the Easter Vigil, which explains how to incorporate the baptism of infants. See, for example, numbers 38 and 49-51.