Some of the most important figures in my faith journey have been my godparents (sponsors). My grandfather was my sponsor for Confirmation and I credit him, among others, for fostering my vocation to the priesthood. My godmother is probably reading this right now! She has always been present in my life and continues to support me even attending Masses that I celebrate! How lucky am I?!
Many people call the rectory asking what the “rules” are for choosing a godparent. The Rite of Baptism asks godparents this question: “Are you ready to assist these parents to bring the child up in the practice of the faith, and to see that the divine life which God gives them is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his/her heart?” So the first criteria is that the person you choose takes their Catholic faith seriously. Do they go to Mass? Do they love God? Do they pray? Don’t just choose a godparent because they were your best friend in college!
There is a Latin saying: Nemo dat quod non habet. You can’t give what you don’t have! The godparent you choose must be “able and ready to help the newly baptized…on the road of the Christian life” (Catechism 1255). At the bare minimum, godparents must be fully initiated Catholics who have been baptized themselves, received their first Holy Communion, Confirmation, and if married they should be married in the church. They also must live this faith.
If you have someone in your life you want to be a sponsor for baptism or confirmation, this might be an opportunity to evangelize! Let them know that you are thinking of asking them, but they need to really practice their faith. It might be the little spark to get your loved one back to church!
PS: I know you’ve been reading and seeing much about the misconduct and abuse that has continued to shake the church in the US to the core. I plan on addressing this more once I am over the shock myself and can collect my thoughts.