Shae O'Brien is an English teacher, writer, wife, and mother to three beautiful girls. She takes life with a grain of salt and two spoonfuls of sugar! Please be sure to follow her on www.facebook.com/catholicmamablog.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

So, you need to choose Godparents?

The tradition of godparents dates back to 2nd century CE, when Christianity decided to baptize infants and required an adult to stand in for the confession of faith. It only made sense that if a person was willing to bet their soul on a child's future faith, then they should spend their lives assisting the child in the development and understanding of that faith.

Today, godparents are seen from both a secular and spiritual standpoint. No matter a parent's faith, they may choose a "godparent" to hold responsibility for a child in case the parent no longer can. However, in the Catholic faith, a godparent is much more than a back-up guardian over a child. The godparent role is taken very seriously and is expected to carry the weight of spiritual growth for their godchild throughout the young one's life. This role is designed to provide spiritual support in addition to your own parental guidance. It is a lifetime commitment, and an eternal gift.

Who can be a godparent?

With such a sacred view of this role comes high expectations for the godparent:
  • At least one godparent should be Catholic. While it is understandable that non-Catholic believers may also make wonderful examples of faith to your child, there are certain beliefs and practices specific to Catholicism that should be properly addressed by the Godparent. Therefore, you may have two godparents, one of which may be Catholic and the other (if you choose) would be considered a "Christian Witness".
  • If the godparents are married, it must be within the Church. No, I do not mean any church. Just as described in the first expectation, it is important that godparents serve as an example through their own lives. The sacrament of marriage is a very important practice of the Catholic faith and must be upheld by those taking on this charge.
  • Godparents must be at least 16 years old. This makes sense considering the role of the godparent is to guide your child in their growing faith, and children below the age of 16 may not have completed their own faith education and confirmation yet.
This being said, every parish has their own expectations for godparents, and it is important that you discuss your choices with your priest or deacon.

So, who do I choose?

Good question. I have three children, two of which are baptized. (My little Cassidy will need godparents soon!) I will admit it, choosing godparents was not an easy task. Some people suggest it should be family, others suggest it should not, and regardless of suggestions, some people just don't have a large Catholic pool of loved ones to choose from!

Our first daughter's godparents are my husband's uncle and his wife. They are two very beautiful, devoted, and loving Catholics whom I have learned very much from in my own faith. We knew they would be godparents we would stay close with throughout our daughter's life. This was very important to us.

Our second daughter's godparents are a friend of mine from our parish and her husband. She is a very devout Catholic, volunteers at our church through various groups, and her husband (while not Catholic himself) attends church with her and is a wonderful example of love and acceptance. I met her through a church retreat, and as we discussed children (she confessed she and her husband could not have any for certain medical reasons) I felt strongly in my heart that her faith and love would serve as a perfect example for a child someday...I found out a week after that retreat that I was pregnant, and she graciously accepted the role when asked.

Now, here we are again (and so soon!). If you are in the same boat, and trying to decide how to go about finding godparents for your child, here are some possibilities to assist you:

  • Check your Family Tree! If you have Catholics in your family, take time to discern if they would serve a positive double role in your child's life as godparents.
  • Check your phone contacts! Chances are, you know Catholics even if you don't know them through your church. Always take the time to learn about the faith of your friends, as they may be the perfect choice for your child!
  • Check your bulletin! No, they don't put ads for godparents in church bulletins....yet. But if you are one of those shy people (like me!) who has had a hard time making friends in your parish, or if you are new (or renew) to the faith, look for retreats for church groups you can join to get to know your fellow parishioners better. God may just send His choice your way.
  • Check your priest! It always seems to hold true that no one know the flock better than the shepherd. Ask your priest for suggestions, and he may know some wonderful people for you to consider.
As you are praying, discerning, and choosing who your child's godparents will be, know that I am praying for you and with you. This is the first spiritual responsibility you will decide for your child, and I know it can feel daunting. Take this as an opportunity to get to know your parish, to grow in your faith, and trust in God to provide the perfect people to serve this role in your child's life.

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