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Choosing Godparents For Your Child’s Baptism

A baptism is one of the most joyous events to look forward to in your child’s early life. It’s also the first of several sacraments as a Catholic, and quite possibly one of the most important. Not only does a baptism lay the foundation for their religious journey, but it ‘cleanses them from sin’ and introduces them to the faith early on.  

Since tradition dictates that children should be baptised in their first few weeks of life, Catholic parents often find themselves planning a christening quite soon after birth. And in the wake of current restrictions, it’s wise to think ahead.

But perhaps one of the greatest decisions you’ll make for your child isn’t the church they’re baptised in, or what their christening dress looks like – but more importantly who the godparents are.

When you start planning the ceremony, there’s a few factors you’ll want to consider; who is right for the role, and more importantly, who is acceptable in the eyes of the church.

The Church’s rules for choosing godparents

Godparents play a special part in your child’s life, acting as a sponsor, a friend and a spiritual guide to them as well as your family. You probably have a few people in mind, but might be wondering should godparents be family or friends?

Before you start drawing up a shortlist, it’s wise to know the church’s rules for choosing catholic godparents. 

Canon Law states that a godparent must be a Catholic who is at least 16 years old, who has been confirmed and lives a life of faith that befits the role to be undertaken. You can opt for just one godparent, as long as they are a practising Catholic. If you decide to choose two godparents, they must be a male and a female, and both Christians. This can be somewhat challenging if you have a sponsor in mind who is not Catholic. In this case, as long as they are baptised they can stand in as a Christian witness.

How to choose the right godparents

Understanding the Catholic rules for choosing godparents certainly helps to whittle down the list of suitable candidates. From this list of prospective godparents, you may want to consider someone who is responsible and committed to the faith, and will take their duty as godparent seriously. Someone who will help support your child throughout their formative years, as well as in their First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

It’s a good idea to consider someone you have known for a number of years that will remain in your life, which is why siblings, cousins and relations are often chosen. 

On a practical note, since baptisms take place in the local parish to the family, it might be worth prioritising those who are able to travel to the ceremony, since godparents will need to attend in person. Do note that in this ever-changing situation, there may be restrictions in place with how many guests can attend too.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that a godparent is not a legal appointment. This means that in the event of both parents being incapable of caring for their child (for whatever reason), the legal responsibility is not automatically assumed by the godparents. We hope this helps with the decision making process.

How to ask someone to be a godparent 

In this day and age, the modern role of godparents is to act as a religious support to the child and family. Once you’ve made your decision, there are various ways you can ask the chosen godparent(s).

Face-to-face is often the best way, since it’s such a personal and meaningful ask. However, you may also prefer to write to them (via post or email), to allow them time to mull it over. 

Being asked to be a godparent is a huge privilege and reflection of how important that person is in your life, so ask them in whatever way you feel most comfortable with.

Once you’ve agreed your child’s godparent(s), the next step is to approach your local parish to get the paperwork started and attend classes, as you near this very exciting next chapter. 

And just finally, Godparents these days can get involved with the faith journey of the child in much more creative ways than the past, such as remembering the child’s birthday and name day [such as the feast day of their patron Saint], and with technology, there is more help than ever to support the parents with spiritual/moral formation. This is where Fertile Heart subscription can help.

To find out more about what we do, get in contact!