I was so excited when my sister and brother-in-law asked my brother and I to be godparents to their first child, Xavier. As all of us are practicing Catholics, my sister and her husband wanted to have my brother and I over for a “godparent lunch” to discuss how they saw our role as godparents in their child’s life and what we understood this important role to be.
More than Just a Title
Over breakfast quiche, homemade waffles, and mimosas, the four of us had a very honest conversation. My sister said it was important that we did not just show up for birthday parties, but were to play a key spiritual role in the formation of their son. It was important that we take seriously our role as spiritual mentors for our godchild and to be an active part of his entire life.
I was struck by this intentional way to choose and discuss the importance of the role as a godparent. Part of my current role as a Pastoral Associate in a parish is teaching the Baptism prep class for parents wanting their child to be baptized. I have seen a different families attend class with varying levels of belief or commitment to the practice of the Catholic Faith. Some know it is important to have a child baptized, but may not see the importance of weekly Sunday Mass or being a part of the parish community. Some may be well catechized and others may not.
How to Choose Godparents for Your Child
One of the things I spend a significant amount of time discussing in the class is the great importance of the role of godparents and the importance of choosing the right ones.
Things to Consider
- How long have you know the person you are considering? What kind of relationship do you have with him or her?
- Is he or she a practicing Catholic? Are they comfortable with being a frequent spiritual witness in the life of your child?
- Is this a person striving to follow Jesus? Do their actions and words properly align?
- What traits or characteristics do you most respect or enjoy about this person?
- In what ways could this person be a good spiritual big brother or sister to you child as he or she grows up?
What Godparents Are … and Are Not
Godparents are not something to be chosen at random. This is not something you go down the role call of family relatives or friends thinking, Well Uncle Joe is up, let’s ask him! Or, Cousin Sarah is the only option because she still occasionally practices her Faith and goes to Mass.
Godparents are not to be lightly considered.
Godparents are spiritual mentors. They are critical faith role models to help be a part of a child’s developing faith story. As a little one grows up, he or she can rely on their godparents when maybe they have questions or are wrestling with their Faith.
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More Questions to Consider
For many faithful Catholics, it can be difficult to find good practicing godparents for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people pick well-intentioned godparents, but then the godparents may leave the Church.
A helpful tool to have in your Catholic toolbox in this area is a set of questions to ask people you are considering to be the godparents of your child:
- What is your understanding of the role of a godparent?
- How do you see yourself being involved in our child’s life as a spiritual role model?
- Do you see this as an important spiritual commitment?
- Share some of your own faith journey.
- Are you a practicing Catholic? Do you attend weekly Sunday Mass? Do you pray regularly and go to Confession on a frequent basis?
- How can you help support us as parents to help our child grow in faith?
These questions are just a guide! They are not a catch-all, and you may want to edit these and add your own.
Pray About It
The critical point is to set aside time to reflect, pray, and think about whom would fit this spiritual role well for your child. The importance of choosing godparents matters too much to not have an honest conversation with people you are considering.
The choosing of godparents is not necessarily an easy task, but it is a matter of grave importance. If anything, these questions and ideas to consider will help streamline the process for you in making that important decision.
How have you typically gone about picking godparents for your child/children? When considering someone, what are the most important things you consider before making a decision?How to Choose Godparents for Your Child #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Patty Breen is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a full-time lay minister who finds joy in running, strong cups of coffee, and all things Ignatian spirituality. A Midwestern gal from the mitten state, she is constantly learning to find grace in all things. She is passionate about ministry to divorced Catholics and women whose relationships have been impacted by sexual addiction. You can find out more about her here.