Godparents have a special place in the life of a Catholic child. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “… the godfather and godmother… must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult – on the road of Christian life.” (#1255) This is the Church’s way of saying that being a godparent is truly a ministry in the Church, and not simply an honorary title.
The role of godparents is to pledge support to the parents of the infant being baptized as they strive to bring up their child in the practice of the faith. Godparents do this through the example of their own Christian lives and by maintaining a presence and interest in the life of the child.
Requirements for being a godparent:
Each child to be baptized must have at least one godparent. The godparent must be at least 16 years of age and have fulfilled all three sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Also, it is expected that the godparent be an active Catholic. A second godparent, who meets the same qualifications as the first, is desirable. If there is a second, that godparent should be the opposite gender of the first so that there is one male and one female godparent. At least one godparent must be present at the time of Baptism. It is entirely allowable for each child to have a Christian witness as well. A Christian witness is an adult who is baptized in a Christian tradition other than Catholic and is practicing in that Christian tradition. The Christian witness, however, is not considered a second godparent but can be listed as a Christian witness in our parish’s official sacrament record and on a baptismal certificate.
How can godparents continue their role after the ceremony?
- Remember the child in daily prayers.
- Keep in touch with what is going on in the child’s life.
- Mark each anniversary of the baptism by sending a card or email.
- Give religious books, music, and other items as gifts to help teach more about God and the Catholic faith.
- Be willing to talk about faith and prayer with the child and parents.
- Encourage participation in Church worship, faith formation, and service opportunities.