QUAERITUR: Giiving a gift to the priest after a baptism

From a reader:

Do you recommend giving a stipend to the priest and/or parish when an infant is baptized? If so, how much is a good amount?

This is the old question of “stole fees” which I have presented on this blog before, such as here, about weddings – more complicated and time consuming.

I cannot recommend any set amount since I don’t know your circumstances or the priest.  But I can say this.  You may give Father something if you want to.  I also doubt Father will be expecting it.

Priests have expenses in order to live and they appreciate an unforeseen gift.  I sure do.  It raises the spirits.  Deacons, who do many baptisms these days, often have families to raise, and things aren’t getting easier in that regard.

That said, it may be that the local diocese has a policy about “stole fees”. You might want to check into that.  Also, it may be that the priest would prefer a donation to the parish.  You should ask around where you live.

Perhaps some of the readers can chime in with what they have given their priests or deacons.   Or bishops!  They can baptize too!

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  1. kat says:

    My husband usually hands the priest a $10 or $20, depending on what we can afford, after the Baptism and my churching; once our baby’s godparents did it instead, which was nice too!

  2. associatepastor says:

    The usual donation here is $25, but I’ve received everything from $2 to $250 (and nothing, on occasion). The diocese here is firm on ‘stole fees’ (sacramental offerings) and canon law does say that they belong to the juridical person of the parish, not the individual priest. But I nonetheless mention envelopes and collect them. These funds are used here to renovate the rectory, an ancient edifice.

    BTW, my Hispanic parishioners have the custom that the godparents cough up the offering. Not a bad idea, since the godparent has to take a least something seriously in order to fulfill their role!

  3. trad catholic mom says:

    you can ask the parish secretary, they are usually well informed of what is customary and typical.

  4. My uncle, a permanent deacon, baptized my son. We had a mass offered for him and my aunt.

  5. contrarian says:

    I go to a rather large parish in a big city. They do baptisms once a month, baptism factory style. You have to sign up for a slot many months in advance and pay a fee, otherwise, you get pushed back to a slot many months after your child was born. Perhaps this is just my conservative Lutheran background getting in the way, but this all seems scandalous to me–especially the rather casual pronouncements by the parish secretary that they can schedule you in, in about six months after the child was born. But perhaps this is common practice and I should calm down?

  6. dans0622 says:

    The bishops of the province are supposed to determine the amount of these “stole fees” (c. 1264.2). It is also worth noting that the law (cf. c. 531 and c. 1267.1) states that any offering made on such an occasion is to go to the parish, not the priest, unless the donor makes it clear that the offering is to go to the priest. I would guess that most people presume that such a gift automatically goes to the priest; so, the donor wouldn’t think of making this intention known.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    Typically the stole fee here for baptism is $50 which might be something that comes up during the baptism class, something along the lines of “the stole fee is customary, but it is not a requirement for the baptism.” Usually there is a stole fee, sometimes not. We do all of our baptisms at mass. The family can pick any weekend mass. However we only do one baby at a time (no factory). On the other hand, if there are two or three children to be baptized in one family we will do them together, unless they are of catechetical age which puts them at the Easter Vigil.

  8. MarkDes says:

    We gave $100 to the priest who baptized our daughter last year. The large amount was in gratitude that he had accomodated us outside of the customary schedule for baptisms at our parish due to family scheduling conflicts.

    I don’t find money to be crass as a gift, but I did feel it important to write a note of our thanks to accompany the check.

  9. everett says:

    I can’t remember exactly, but I want to say we gave stipends of $25 for each of my first two children. One thing that I find unfortunate is the practice of having baptisms done midday on Saturdays – for some reason we’re separating the baptism from the larger community, when it seems that baptism is one sacrament that really should be done as a part of the whole parish community (at least that attend a particular mass).

  10. lucy says:

    We’ve given $100 for our wedding, $50 for funerals within the immediate family, $25 for baptisms or whatever more we could afford at those times. I also gave $25 for confirmation. And I think that we gave $25 for each of the first Holy Communions thus far.

    I’ve heard folks complain if baptisms are done at Mass – takes longer. Amazing, no ?

  11. MichaelJ says:

    I’ve heard folks complain if baptisms are done at Mass – takes longer. Amazing, no ?

    Sounds like an opportunity for a new lay ministry to me! I think I’ll suggest that my Parish immediately appoint several “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Baptism” so that Mass doesn’t take soooo long. Of course, alphabetically, EMHB’s would come before EMHC’s so proper catechis and pastoral care needs to be considered…

  12. wolfeken says:

    If you are fortunate enough to have a traditional Latin baptism for your baby (aka from the Roman Ritual) I would suggest trying to give a little more than usual. For one, it thanks the priest for taking the time to learn the more complicated sacrament; also, it sets a good precedent among traditional Catholics.

    I would rather give a bigger stipend to a priest than give toward a collection that has a cut of it going to the diocese.

    Friends in the D.C. area usually give $100-$150 for traditional Latin baptisms.

  13. priests wife says:

    stipends are very sticky things…but a sacrament shouldn’t be ‘paid for’- it’s confusing….BUT should the priest get a gift for hours of classes, chasing after paperwork, etc? I think so

  14. Joe in Canada says:

    I would add that apart from a stipend, if the priest has to travel any distance more than the size of the parish, you might consider covering gas. I recently did a wedding as a favor to a religious companion, travelling 1 1/2 hrs each way for the rehearsal and the wedding (i.e. 6 hrs of driving). I didn’t mind not getting a stipend, but a gesture towards gas would have been reasonable.

  15. Cricket says:

    I have a suggestion for those who are unable to afford a monetary gift (or whose priests will not accept such). Awhile back the secretary to one of our very holy diocesan priests was making a pilgrimage to Rome. She asked Father what kind of a souvenir he’d like: Rosary? Statue? Blessed medal? He simply said, “Pray a Rosary for me at the tomb of Bl. John Paul II.” Ever since then, I’ve made it a point to give priests (& seminarians) “spiritual bouquets,” in the form of dedicated holy hours, enrollments in perpetual Mass associations, &c.

  16. Jason says:

    Sort of related but, about a year or so ago, it occurred to me that I would like to meet the priest who baptized me as an infant and thank him for baptizing me and for his priesthood. He was a Holy Cross father and, unfortunately, was already deceased.

  17. eulogos says:

    I never knew I was supposed to give anything to the priest, so I never had done so. The same priest had baptized all but one of my previous children, traveling to whatever parish we lived in at the time. For my seventh child we were doing a “home baptism” which was a fad at the time, along with home first communions. I know you will disapprove of this, but please forgive, it was the early 1980’s. Anyway, the godparents tried to give the priest $50 after the baptism. He refused. The godfather went outside while we were socializing, and finding the priest’s car unlocked, tucked the money under his breviary on the car seat. The priest didn’t notice it until he got home. So he took the money and bought us a beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which he sent to us.
    That priest is now deceased. If everyone who reads this story says a quick prayer for his soul, it would be appreciated.

  18. frjim4321 says:

    I guess an icon is a nice gesture but frankly most priests have plenty of things already to decorate their walls. The last think I need is another plaque, picture or something else to put on my wall. Money is nice because you can’t put a useless wall hanging in the gas tank.

  19. These things really do differ from one country or even diocese to another. For instance, in my own diocese, priests receive no salary whatever and are entirely dependent on the freewill offerings of the faithful for anything more than their bare living expenses. So when we hear of priests declaring that they never take stole fees or stipends (because they receive a salary), it can sometimes very negatively impact on those of us who need such things for our books, our clothing, retreats, running our cars and so much else. It often happens that people might give us an envelope after a baptism or a wedding, saying ‘for the church, Father’ because they don’t wish to embarrass us, or because they assume that we have other means. And often priests are personally poor and the parish relatively well off. Please don’t assume that clerical salaries are a universal practice: some of us need those stole fees!

  20. Perhaps I should add that I would never actually suggest a particular sum to people. That to my mind would smack of simony. The giving must be totally free, and the priest should never put himself into a position of appearing to suggest that the administration of the sacrament is dependent on a payment. And if the people (for whatever reason) make no offering, the priest should be as generous in his celebration as he would for someone who had been liberal.

  21. TMKent says:

    Our son was just married in a large southern city. When we met with the bride’s church’s “mandatory wedding director” she informed the bride’s parents that her fee was $250 and the “mandatory minimum” offering we were to give the priest was $250. Both families were trying to keep the costs down while celebrating a traditional church/family wedding . I was shocked that a Catholic parish would place such expenses on a couple at a time when “doing the right thing” and having a wedding mass is so very rare. Don’t get me going on the hoops (forms,family testimonials,tests,classes, waiting period, etc) that these two baptized, practicing, over 21 year olds, who had been dating since high school had to jump through! It will be a miracle if their younger siblings don’t elope!

  22. RichardT says:

    The formal policy in my archdiocese is that there should never be any suggestion of a recommended amount.

    Whilst I can see why they would not want to do anything that might suggest a set fee, that isn’t very helpful to the laity who want to know what is considered a reasonable offering.

    I gave the parish priest £100 for each of my children’s baptisms (a Saturday afternoon, not during a Mass, so extra work for him). In view of his education and training, it seems reasonable that a priest should be paid in line with other local professionals – say a High Street accountant.

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