Resurrection Elementary
Adopt A Pagan Baby - 1959

Adopt-A-Pagan Certificate - 1959

Back in the 1950s and early-1960s, and possibly before that, the Catholic schools sponsored an ongoing drive to raise money for missions in foreign lands. It was called Adopt-A-Pagan-Baby.

At every Catholic school in those days were collections to save unbaptized children not taught about God (Pagan Babies). Pictures of Cherub-faced Indian, African, and Asian babies graced small cardboard collection boxes given to each child. Students gave their allowances to save those babies.

The price of adoption was five dollars, and kids were allowed to give their baby a Christian name. Many students adopted several babies. In return they were given a decorative certificate commemorating their adoption pledge. Their adopted Pagan Babies were then given the Sacrament of Baptism. Many of those kids still have their adoption certificate, like Bob Daley, who adopted "Michael" on February 24, 1959.

Saving Pagan Babies occurred during a simpler time, before cynicism and political correctness found their stride. Someone must have decided it was no longer a good way to raise money for Catholic missions. The concept, however, rings true today. It seems hard to believe, but according to the National Catholic Register, more than one-third of millennials now say they are unaffiliated with any faith.

Christians have always believed that “baptism is the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission…” (CCC 1213)

Other Brookliners Remember Adopting Their Pagan Babies:

"Lord have mercy! I had one certificate for a Pagan Baby but lost touch. That bring back memories!" - Vera Marie C.

"Me too! I had several, actually ... all girls named Mary, of course." - Ann C.

"I remember those." - Bill R.

"Wow, that certainly brings back memories. I used to take my dad’s loose change on a regular basis. I ended up with about five babies!" - Sharon S.

"I remember Pagan Babies!" - Sharen D.

"I remember donations that were not enough to "buy" a whole baby we're combined and the class voted on names. Some we're pretty outrageous!" - Nancy K.

"I think they cost five dollars." - Karyn D.

"Wasn't there a bridge we had to get them over. I spent all my paper boy money." - Sal S.

"That’s what I remember. There were milk cartons to hold the money. It was boy versus girl in the classroom to see who had the most babies. I also remember something about a bridge ... probably denoting how much money was collected. My grandmother gave me $5 to buy my own pagan baby! But I don’t remember her name." - Kathy F.

"I loved Pagan Babies. Imagine what they would cost now." - Donna B.

"What I loved about the Pagan Babies is that we were allowed to name them with our names. I had a lot of Pagan Babies named Mary Margaret!! A lot of people never knew what I was talking about!" - Mary A.

"I also had a Pagan Baby; I regret to say I haven't kept in touch with him." - Bob H.

"I named my Pagan Baby Patrick. He's probably still wondering, "How did I wind up with an Irish name?" - Bob U.

"Wow, what a blast from the past!" - Mary Ellen M.

"We thought that some nun in China would go out and select a baby of the proper gender, baptize it and give it the name we chose." - Ann C.

"I loved the Pagan Babies! Really thought I was saving a baby!" - Betty L.

Some Other Local Pagan Baby Adoptions

From Saint Norberts Elementary

Adopt-A-Pagan Certificate - 1962

Adopt-A-Pagan Certificate - 1962

Adopt-A-Pagan Certificate - 1963

<Local Schools> <> <Brookline History>