Godparents are representatives of the Roman Catholic community who are willing and able to assist you in the religious upbringing of your child.
Godparents (sponsors) of infants and others preparing for baptism are committed Roman Catholics who are chosen by the parents or by the person to be baptized. They serve as role models and promise to assist in the religious formation of the child or adult.
Contrary to popular opinion, Godparents do not possess legal rights to care for your child should you become unable to do so. Nor do they assume legal custody of children in the event of the death of both parents. The role of a Godparent is not legal but spiritual. Godparents are people chosen by you, who will play an important role in the faith-life of your child. During the baptism liturgy, your Godparents will be asked to publicly profess their faith and will promise to assist you in the Christian upbringing of your son or daughter.
Consequently, it is important that the persons you choose be mature and deeply committed to living their Catholic faith. In order to assure this, church law proposes the following requirements for Godparents:
- Godparents must be adults (at least 16 years of age).
- They must be fully initiated members of the church, having received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist.
- They must be regular participants in the worship and life of the parish.
- If they are married, they must have entered into a marriage covenant recognized as valid by the church.
- Above all else, they must in your estimation, be persons striving to live their lives consistently with the teachings of Jesus Christ who you feel would be excellent role models.
Usually, two persons are chosen by parents to assume the responsibility of Godparents. However, it is perfectly acceptable to simply choose one Godparent. Godparents are usually asked to present a "sponsor letter" before the baptism that has been signed by their pastor, attesting that they are active members of the Catholic community. For Baptisms celebrated at Saint Mary Parish we ask that the Godparent(s) present their sponsor letter before the date of Baptism is scheduled. If this is not possible they are asked to participate in baptism prep meetings and conversations, along with the parents, with either the deacon or pastor of St. Mary Parish.
If only one Godparent is chosen, a non-Catholic Christian may be invited by you to participate as a "Christian Witness," in place of a second Godparent. The "Christian Witness" is invited to participate in the baptismal liturgy and religious upbringing of your child insofar as he or she is able. Of course, it is important that the person you choose be someone who you feel is deeply committed to his or her Christian faith.
Baptism is the beginning of your child's life in the church. It is our hope that the persons chosen by you at the font of Baptism will inspire and lead your child to a deep faith in God as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. If you have any questions or concerns concerning Godparents, feel free to discuss this with the deacon or priest preparing with you for the baptism of your child.
Some thoughts for further reflection
- Are the people I'm considering as Godparents genuinely interested in the religious/spiritual upbringing of my child?
- Do they have a good understanding of the role we are asking them to play in the life of my child?
- Will they be a regular and active part of my child's life?
- Are they willing to share and discuss their faith and values with us, and eventually with our children?
For more information about choosing Godparents click Godparents and Sponsors Catholic Update.