Catholic godparents serve two important functions:
1. They represent the larger Catholic Church community. They, along with the priest and the parents, welcome the child to the community and signify that welcome by marking the child with the sign of the cross. As community, they are obliged to protect this newest member, guiding, advising, and nurturing the child as he or she progresses in the understanding of faith.
2. They pledge to continually support the parents so that they can successfully train the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. They pledge an allegiance to the parents to bolster them in times of discouragement and to celebrate with them in times of joy. Godparents need to be actively involved in the Catholic tradition because they serve as models and guides to the child and the parents.
What documentation is needed from the godparents?
Godparents are asked to complete the Godparent Form and turn it to the parish office at least two weeks before the desired date of baptism.
Who can be a godparent?
According to the Canon Law #874, godparents must:
· have received the three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation)
· they must be at least 16 years old (exceptions can occasionally be made)
· they must live a life in harmony with the faith (they should be registered in a parish and be attending Mass every week with regular reception of the Eucharist)
· they must fully understand what they are undertaking
The Canon also lists two restrictions:
1. There is to be only one male or one female or one of each. This means that you may have either ONE Godmother or ONE Godfather OR you may choose to have both a Godmother and a Godfather but not two of the same sex.
2. They cannot be the father or the mother of the one being Baptized.
If you have someone in mind that is Catholic but does not meet the above requirements they would be unable to be a Godparent for your child.
What is a Christian Witness?
Technically, a non-Catholic may not serve as "godparent." However, a baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve as a "Christian Witness" to the baptism along with a Catholic godparent. A Christian Witness needs to complete a Christian Witness Form and turn it in to the parish office.
The canon is brief but specific when it comes to the Christian Witness:
A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.
If any these requirements for Catholic Godparents or Christian Witnesses present a problem, please contact the parish office at 888-2770 to discuss the matter.
God bless you on your journey toward Baptism for your child!