Being a godparent for Baptism is an important role in the Catholic Church. The godparent is asked to represent the Church’s teachings and practices in the life of a child and also make a promise to lift that child up in prayer and to serve as a mentor and guide throughout life.
Precisely because it is important, there are certain requirements that must be met for those seeking to be sponsors or godparents. The sponsor represents the Church, and because of that, there are inquiries made about the spiritual life of the individual before allowing that person to fulfill that role.
Parents, the Church asks that you seek out the assistance of actively practicing Catholics to serve in the role of godparents. Please consider the following guidelines when choosing potential sponsors. Ignoring these regulations could be embarrassing for your sponsor, especially if that person is not approved for the role.
The Church requires that a godparent must meet the following requirements (canons 872 - 874 of the Code of Canon Law):
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Be an actively practicing Catholic
- Have already received the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist)
- (If married) Be in a valid marriage recognized by the Catholic Church
- Cannot be the father or the mother of the one to be baptized
While it has become a tradition to have two sponsors at Baptism, having only one sponsor is acceptable. No more than two sponsors are permitted, however, and the two sponsors may not be of the same sex.
A non-Catholic baptized Christian may be a Christian Witness. A baptized person of another faith may act as a Christian witness together with a Catholic godparent/sponsor. The role of Christian Witness is reserved for non-Catholic, baptized Christians. They may act as a sponsor for Baptism only when accompanied by a practicing Catholic sponsor. The Christian Witness must obtain a letter of Christian Witness from his or her church, where they are an active and registered member.
The Catholic godparent must obtain a sponsor certificate from his or her parish and submit this to St. Joseph Parish at least two weeks prior to the baptism.
If you are a member of St. Joseph Parish and will be a Catholic godparent for a baptism taking place at a different church, please stop by the parish office to pick up a sponsor certificate.