By most metrics, participation in the life of the Church is trending downward in United States — Mass attendance, marriage rates, funeral rates even, are mostly on the decline.
But while the number of U.S. infant baptisms is also dropping, another category of baptism seems to be defying the general trend. The number of older children being baptized – between the ages of 7 and 17 – has risen over the last decade. In some dioceses, those baptisms actually outpaced the number of infant baptisms in 2019.
And some diocesan officials say they expect the number of “older child baptisms” to continue rising.
To be sure, the baptism of older children represents a small fraction of overall baptisms each year in the United States. But while the number of infant baptisms declined by more than 250,000 between 2010 and 2019, the number of older children baptized climbed slowly – and some dioceses have reported dramatic increases in the practice.
When children are baptized who have achieved the use of reason – which is presumed at seven years old – Church law requires that they be confirmed at the same time, and receive their first Eucharist.
In a typical American diocese, about 10% of total baptisms were of older children in 2019. But in some dioceses the share of older child baptisms was much higher.
In fact, 2019 older child baptisms outpaced infant baptisms in the dioceses of San Bernardino, Galveston-Houston, and Venice – and several other dioceses saw older child baptisms at a higher-than-average rate that year.
Continue reading Older child baptisms on the rise, while infant baptisms decline at The Pillar