Sometimes — most often at weddings — people ask me what do I like most about being a priest. This puts me in a predicament: because I think they might expect me to say that the nicest part is being at so many weddings! And I do enjoy weddings but when my heart and spirit are in the best form is likely to be after I have ministered at a celebration of baptism.

I am privileged to be in the place where I am entrusted with welcoming new life, a baby parishioner, a whole bundle of possibilities wrapped in a baptism shawl and laid in its parents’ arms. As I stand facing the parents and the chosen sponsors for their child I can sense the mix of joy, anxiety, wonder and tiredness!

Parents always have a lot going on but on christening day most of the pressure points get parked up somewhere else and the baby becomes the centre of attention. They come to church hoping that somewhere along the way a ray of grace from God will illumine the path of life for their child.

It’s also the first enrolment of the child — even if parents may not be aware of this. Several years away they will labour over which creche, which school, which sport, which instrument … but baptism is also about an enrolment — for eternity, into the family of God, the Pobal Dé.

It’s a beautiful first step that has so many aspects to it. No two families approach it in the same way. Yet all are facing in the same way. It’s a blessing to be part of this sacred moment in someone’s life. It’s one of the many things that go to making me thankful for the blessing of being a priest.

Baby Maggie Kate with dad John and mum Máire.

This photo is from baby Maggie Kate’s baptism today in Enniskeane. I like it because it captures some of the spirit of what the day is about. Baby Maggie is not paying attention to what’s happening but in a vein of deep, intimate communication with her mum and dad it all comes together and makes sense. Máire and John are holding their dreams for her future in their hearts while they hold her in their hands.

Congrats and every blessing! And happy birthday John!