The guidelines of the Church are very clear on sponsors for baptism. At least one Catholic sponsor is required at a Catholic baptism. According to the Rite of Baptism, the requirements for a single sponsor are mainly that the sponsor:
- Be mature enough to take the responsibility to testify to the faith of an adult convert, or to profess with the parents the Church’s faith when a child is being baptized
- Be able to help the parents as necessary to bring up the child as a good Catholic Christian
- Have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist
- Be a member of the Catholic Church who is living a life in harmony with the faith and with the role of sponsor.
- Be at least 16 years of age, unless an exception is made for a special reason
- Not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized, (CCL 874)
- If there is only one sponsor, that sponsor may be a man or a woman, regardless of the sex of the child. If there are two, there should be one of each sex. (CCL 873)
This is the Catholic policy around the world. Parents do hold the primary responsibility for the religious upbringing of their children. The role of the Godparent is not just an honorary role. The sponsors do have responsibilities since during the ceremony the priest asks them if they are willing to help the parents in their duty to instruct and raise the child in the Catholic faith. This help may be moral support, a small gift on the anniversary of birth or baptism, or encouragement to live a spirit filled life. The fulfillment of these duties does not begin only in the event of parental death; it begins when the sponsor says, "Yes."
A LETTER IS REQUIRED FROM THE SPONSOR'S PARISH INDICATING THAT THE PERSON FULFILLS THE REQUIREMENTS FOR SPONSORSHIP AND IS IN GOOD STANDING. THIS LETTER SHOULD BE SENT A MINIMUM OF TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE SCHEDULED CLASS TO:
Religious Education Department Attn: Baptism
2222 Lake Michigan Dr.
Grand Rapids MI 49504