Coronavirus doesn’t stop baptisms

Father Marty Goetz baptizes Olive Vogel as her dad, Ben Vogel, holds her. She was baptized March 20 in Burlington.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

At least two infants have been baptized in the Catholic Church amidst the suspension of all public liturgies in the Diocese of Davenport. Although Sunday celebration of Mass is suspended, the rites for baptisms, weddings and funerals are permitted with immediate family members and a maximum of 10 people present.

Olive Vogel was baptized March 20 at Ss. John & Paul Parish in Burlington-West Burlington. Her mom and dad, Bre and Ben, had been trying to set a date since their daughter’s birth in January but travel and illnesses in the families prevented that from happening.

“With everything going on we weren’t sure when Mass might happen again. We decided we needed to do this and have peace of mind and have her baptized. We wanted her original sin wiped away and for her to become a member of Christ,” Bre said.


On March 16, Bre called Father Marty Goetz, the parish’s pastor. “I told him I had the crazy idea of having her baptized as soon as it could happen. He said yes. We appreciate what Father Marty has done for us.” Father Goetz set the date for March 20.

“It was very intimate and honestly it was exciting,” Bre said. “But it was also sad that many of our family could not be there. Father Marty was very lighthearted and hopeful.”

The baptism “was very beautiful,” Father Goetz said. At the same time, it was a little different because usually a lot of extended family is present, he said. “It gave me a chance to include Olive’s two big brothers more often.”

Father Goetz used the new Rite of Baptism for the first time. “I had the old rite memorized and so to look in the book was different.” He also wondered whether he should continue his tradition of taking a selfie with the newly baptized after the baptism. Olive’s parents wanted the picture taken.

“This was a sign of hope for me that even in a world that is now turned upside down, we have a little bit of normalcy. It was great being able to celebrate the sacrament of baptism with Olive and her family,” Father Goetz said.

He baptized Olive in the presence of her parents and brothers Will, 5, and Sam, 2, and Bre’s parents, Don and Carol Hunold. The grandparents stepped in as godparents. Later this summer the family hopes to celebrate Olive’s baptism with other relatives.

Allison (Alli) Peer was baptized March 22 at St. Alphonsus Church in Mount Pleasant. Her mom, Jessica Peer, said the family had a hard time planning a date that worked for everyone. Then they set a date and didn’t want to reschedule because of the uncertainty about when the baptism could be celebrated within Mass.

“Our immediate family was able to attend, but getting her baptized was most important,” Jessica said.

There were great aunts and uncles, as well as cousins, who probably would have come if the number wasn’t limited. Jessica noted that they were able to videotape the baptism and lots of pictures were taken for family.

Jessica Peer holds her daughter Alli as Father
Paul Connolly baptizes the baby March 22 in Mount Pleasant.

Alli wore a baptismal gown that Jessica wore when she was baptized. The baptismal blanket had been used at the baptism of Alli’s father, Devin. Jessica noted that their pastor Father Paul Connelly wore a stole that he bought near Bethlehem.

“We were able to keep the holy water used for Alli’s baptism,” Jessica said. “Everyone took some home. We bless ourselves with it daily and ask for God’s protection.”

Father Connolly said the sacraments are an intimate encounter with Christ. “Being a pastor of a smaller parish we often only have one child being baptized at a time, whether during Mass or outside of Mass. But it is always a great honor to be able to celebrate this special moment with the parents and their families.”

This was the first time Father Connolly used the Rite of Baptism of Children using the option of baptism outside of Mass. “I got a little tongue tied at times.”

The baptism was originally schedule to happen during Mass “because the Eucharist is very important to both families. Also, our community really likes being a part of this special moment of faith for the child and the families,” he said.

Two more baptisms of children are scheduled at the parish with Father Bernie Weir who ministers to the Hispanic community. Both families plan to have the baptisms whether Mass is allowed or not.

Those present at the baptism were Alli’s parents Devin and Jessica Peer; grandparents Dave (godfather) and Kim Peer, Phil and Diane Tone; great-grandmothers Patzy Zerbonia and Ruth Hammes; uncle Ryan Tone; and aunt (godmother) Jasmin Tone.

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