Whatd'aya mean I can't be a sponsor?!?!?
As we enter the Spring months (particularly this year as things might be starting to "loosen up" in pandemic restrictions), we have received more calls for sponsorship letters for Baptism or Confirmation. Sometimes - unfortunately - we can't fulfill that request because the person is in fact
eligible to be a sponsor (i.e. Godparent). Why not?
This primer for Sponsors, longer than the usual weekly posting, will hopefully provide some answers to that question. More importantly, it may alert someone who is or might be asked to be a sponsor that they need to address something sacramentally *now* and not when the occasion arises (where it is unlikely that it could be addressed in time for the sacrament). While written primarily for Baptism, many of the points described are applicable to Confirmation sponsors as well.
Please print this or email it to someone that you think should see it.
Chosen as a Baptism Sponsor – A Guide
Being asked to serve as a baptismal sponsor is an honor.
It is also a fulfilling experience. Whether asked by family members, friends, or other Christians, the sponsor has been chosen for a special relationship with the one to be baptized, with the baptizing community, and with God. The parish leaders of Visitation Church believe that sponsors can more satisfactorily fulfill their role if they have same preparation before the baptismal rite and guidance following it. This Guide is offered as an aid for the sponsor.
Baptism is the sacrament of God
within the Christian Community in which a person is initiated into the Church and connected with a local church community.
During the baptism the person is called by name and is claimed and sealed by the sign of the Cross for the Church of God. This shows the personal relationship between God and the one baptized through the worship community. Thus, it is both a personal action and an action of the community. In the case of an infant or small child, the parents and sponsors perform this action on behalf of the candidate.
Baptism takes place as part of the sacramental life of the Catholic community.
The baptismal party includes the candidate (the one who is to be baptized), the candidate’s parents (if the candidate is an infant or small child), and one or more baptismal sponsors. Sponsors of infants and young children are commonly known as Godparents.
What Qualifies a Person to Serve as a Sponsor?
The Church’s requirements for a sponsor:
In order to provide the best possible assurance that the sponsor can properly participate in developing the spiritual life of the person to be baptized, the following requirements are put forward by the universal Catholic Church (from the
Code of Canon Law for the Catholic Church
They must be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
They must be at least 16 years old, unless the pastor or minister has granted an exception;
They must be a Catholic who has been Confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;
They must not be under any canonical penalty or impediment. The most common implication of this requirement is that if the sponsor is married, it must be a marriage recognized as valid by the Catholic Church;
They cannot be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
In cases where one or more of these requirements are not met, the parish staff of Visitation Church will do everything possible to accommodate; however, respect for the laws of the Church established by Christ must still be maintained.
A person who is baptized in a non-Catholic Christian faith may serve and be listed in the Church Baptismal Register as a
. In such a case, the other sponsor must be a baptized Catholic who meets the above requirements. Only one sponsor is required for baptism; however, if there are two sponsors, one must be male and the other female.
In addition to the formal requirements, there are roles that a sponsor is expected to play:
Sponsors should actively participate in the Church for their own spiritual growth.
It is within the worshiping community that the sponsor has direct contact with the foundations of Christian belief and life. The foundations are the Holy Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition of the Church which guide the informed exercise of human mind and heart.
Sponsors are persons who commit themselves to a long-term relationship with their candidate.
The particulars of this relationship should be developed and adapted as needed. The important point is that the candidate and sponsor maintain a continuous relationship, however it is lived out. This Guide contains some suggestions to help in this regard.
Sponsors are asked by the candidate or the family to perform this role, which is an expression of confidence in the person's ability to be a worthy sponsor
. While it is a serious undertaking, discovering with someone else the treasures of Christian life is a growing, fulfilling experience. Becoming a sponsor serves as a reminder of one's own relationship with God through baptism and is a way to live into the promises made at the time of the sponsor's own baptism.
What Is Expected of the Sponsor?
It is expected that the sponsor will:
Establish a special relationship with the candidate
Represent Christ and the Church to the baptized person and vice versa
(for example, standing with the candidate at the time of baptism and assisting the candidate to live their baptismal promises);
Set an example of Christian life for the candidate
Support the baptized person through prayer.
Where Did the Practice of Baptismal Sponsors Come From?
The Latin root of the word sponsor is
. It means "to promise"
and is also the root of “spouse”. In the early days of the Church, when the threat of persecution was often a reality for Christians and there was a fear about spies, sponsors stood up for the candidates to the baptizing community by presenting them and guaranteeing that they were who they said they were. The sponsor stood as a witness to the Christian community that the person seeking baptism truly wished to follow Christ and of serving and loving God and God's creation. In addition, sponsors joined their candidates during the days of baptismal preparation. This walking together included praying for the candidates, instructing candidates in the faith, helping candidates understand what they ,were turning from and toward, and preparing candidates for Christian living in the world. The sponsor has a vital role in helping the candidate and family accept their full participation in the Christian community and the world. With God's help, the relationship between the newly baptized and the sponsor is enduring and fruitful.
How Can a Sponsor Prepare?
Ways to prepare to serve as a sponsor include:
Read this Guide
and review the resources listed at the end of this document.
Review the baptismal service,
which can be found online at
Attend baptism preparation sessions with the parents
, prior to, the baptism, if possible.
Be willing to explore questions, issues, and expectations around baptism
with the person to be baptized, a member of the clergy, and/or the family.
Pray for the members of the baptismal party
, especially the candidate, that they might approach the sacrament with reverence and thanksgiving.
How Can Sponsors Be Involved with Their Baptized Persons?
Remembering anniversary of the baptism
through a card, letter, phone call or visit;
Noting other life events in a Christian manner
, for example, birthdays, graduations, marriage, birth of children, illness, bereavement;
Attending Mass with the baptized person
Expressing an interest in what the baptized person is learning and experiencing
in Catholic School, CCD or other settings of religious education:
Helping the person learn the basics of Christian worship and practice
, such as the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, the Ten Commandments, the Precepts of the Church and the promises of the Baptismal Covenant;
Reading and talking with the baptized person about stories from the Bible
so the person develops a knowledge and understanding;
Talking about how God continually interacts with the creation and its people
Sharing one's own spiritual journey and experiences
with the baptized person;
Being with the baptized person when he or she celebrates the sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation
at some future time. These are the occasions when the candidate begins to manifest for themselves a mature understanding and acceptance of Christian rights and responsibilities.
Many variables will influence how sponsors carry out their distinctive role. Agreement about the nature of the role, especially with regard to its particular aspects which will need to be carefully tailored to the specific situation, should be reached by the sponsor and the baptized person, or their parents in the case of infants and young children. This process should begin at the time that the sponsor accepts the invitation to serve. The parish leaders and staff of Visitation Church hope that this booklet will serve as a starting paint for such discussion.
The relationship will be shaped by several factors as time goes on. One major influence is how close the baptized person and the sponsor live to each other. Naturally, if the sponsors live far away, they may not be able to be physically present for special events in the baptized person's life. Compensation can be made, however, through letters, phone calls, and cards that reflect the spiritual support and commitment of the sponsors. The nature of the sponsors' involvement will change over time and all members of the baptismal family should strive to adapt to such changes and yet maintain ties with one another. Such is the challenge that is laid before participants in baptism. Christians are strengthened through participation in the Church, the Body of Christ, and through caring deeply about God and one another.
Baptism is the moment of new birth into Christ and his Church, moving from darkness toward God's light, of choosing life instead of death. Baptism is a gift to be remembered with joy and thanksgiving. Thanks be to God that you are part of this gift. Enjoy and rejoice in it!
For Further Study
The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1212-1284
Baptismal Themes in the Bible
Old Testament Passages:
Genesis 1 & 2
Deliverance and promise to Noah
), to Abraham
Genesis 17:1- 8
) and in the Exodus
The people's covenant relationship with God
Promise of the land and an inheritance
New Testament Passages:
The baptism of Jesus
The Christian understanding of baptism
1 Peter 3:21
(http://usccb.org/bible/romans/6; http://usccb.org/bible/ephesians/4; http://usccb.org/bible/colossians/4).
Read the New Testament through baptismal eyes
and see what happens to your understanding of God and Christian life.
A review of our Mass and sacramental schedule for this weekend:
Saturday 5/1 FIFTH SUNDAY OF
in the Rectory Chapel
a congregation, in-church Communion during Mass (
outdoor Communion afterwards)
- Mass Live streamed
a congregation. Outdoor Communion will be available afterwards and radio reception available in the parking lot at 107.7FM.
Please note that outdoor Communion will end
a congregation, in-church Communion during Mass (
outdoor Communion afterwards) PLEASE NOTE: While making a reservation is
required, we are encouraging people to do so; this way you can be assured of having a seat. We have noticed that in-church attendance is steadily increasing and, in anticipation that we may reach capacity at weekend Masses, we have prepared the Church Hall for social distancing and live-streaming the Mass from upstairs. When needed, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will bring the Blessed Sacrament so that people in the Church Hall can receive Communion during Mass.
o access TAKE YOUR PLACE AT TABLE and/or to volunteer to help our Liturgical Environment Ministry in parking, seating or cleaning, please visit our parish website at
Those without Internet access (and please let your friends and neighbors know!) can call
Sunday 9AM Live-stream Mass
Not yet ready to return to the church building?
WE UNDERSTAND and will continue to offer live streamed Mass on Sundays at 9AM with outdoor Communion available in the church parking lot. See this weekend's Mass on YouTube at
Fr. Ed Blanchett
on Friday, April 30 at 3:00PM