As you begin to prepare for your child's baptism, one of your first decisions will be the selection of sponsors (godparents). Prior to inviting a relative or close friend to assume the role of sponsor, it is important for you to understand what our church teaches.
Choosing sponsors can be a sensitive issue, but a greater understanding of the role of a sponsor may help you in this matter. Sponsors play a very important role in your child's spiritual life and should serve as role models of the faith.
Your child should be able to look to their sponsors as an example of how the church teaches us to live our Catholic faith. They should support you in your work to teach your child our Catholic faith.
Additionally, in their role as sponsor, they represent the larger church community. As you see, being a sponsor is not only an honor, it is a tremendous responsibility.
Our parish provides the following guidelines to help parents choose the best possible sponsors for their children.
There are typically two sponsors, one male (godfather) and one female (godmother); however, the church does permit to have just one sponsor (male or female).
- There may be no more than two sponsors.
- If two sponsors are chosen, they may not be of the same gender.
Each sponsor for baptism must meet all of the following:
- Be at least sixteen (16) years of age.
- Be a fully initiated Catholic (must have received all three sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist).
- Be a practicing Catholic and a Catholic in good standing who leads a life of faith necessary to fulfill the responsibility of being a sponsor.
- Be a registered member of a parish in the area where he or she lives.
- Attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
- Support the parish both financially and through service to the best of their ability.
- If married, the sponsor must be in a valid marriage. Married, according to the laws and regulations of the Catholic Church, means that they were married by a Catholic priest or obtained an official permission for getting married outside of the Catholic Church. Please Note: Those Catholics who are invalidly married, as for example, before a Justice of the Peace, without proper dispensation, before a minister of a Protestant church or before a rabbi, or those Catholics who are divorced and invalidly remarried do not qualify as a sponsor at baptism even though they may fulfill other requirements listed above.
- If single, may not be cohabitating with someone without the benefit of marriage.
- May not be the father or the mother of the person to be baptized.
If only one Catholic sponsor is chosen, a Christian of other denomination (i.e. Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) may be chosen to be a witness to your child's baptism. This role is referred to as a Christian witness, though most parents still commonly think of and refer to him or her as a godparent.
- A baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve as a Christian witness (witness to the baptism), but there must also be a Catholic sponsor/godparent. The baptismal certificate will denote (C.W.) - "Christian Witness."
- A Christian witness should understand the role and play an active and important part in supporting parents as they teach their child the Christian way of life.
- A non-practicing Catholic or a former Catholic who left the Catholic faith and converted to another faith may not serve as a Christian witness.
- A Christian witness must provide either a proof of baptism or a letter from the pastor of his or her church stating he or she is an active member of the church. Either form is due in the parish office the Monday prior to the baptism.
A sponsor certificate is a letter or a form of eligibility issued by the pastor that certifies that the person requesting a sponsor certificate is a registered member of the parish and is qualified to serve as a sponsor according to sponsor eligibility guidelines.
All sponsors must verify their eligibility to serve as a sponsor.
If the intended sponsor is registered at St. Mary, Mother of God Church:
- He or she must call the parish office as soon as possible to verify his or her parish membership and sponsor eligibility.
If intended sponsor lives outside of our parish boundaries:
- He or she must obtain a sponsor certificate from the parish in which he or she is registered and participates. To obtain the form, one must contact their parish office and request the sponsor certificate for baptism.
- Please advise sponsors to make this request as soon as possible, at least one month in advance of the baptism, to allow a sufficient time to process the request.
All sponsor certificates are due in the parish office the Monday prior to the baptism. The forms may b mailed or dropped off to the parish office.