How to Choose the Right Godparent: Baptisms can bring fallen away Catholics back to the faith

Ms. Nelson often has the unpleasant task of telling parents they cannot honor friends with the godparent role because they are not Catholic or because they are in an invalid marriage.

“No one gets involved in church ministry because they want to make people unhappy,” Ms. Nelson said. “It’s very difficult. If this person is taking tentative steps [toward the church] and is hit with obstacles, he’s going to say, ‘Why did I bother?’ and give up. And then I’ll think it’s my fault he’s turned away from Jesus.”

She tries to present the church’s teaching on godparents as a positive opportunity rather than a list of rules. “But sometimes the rules bring people back,” Ms. Nelson said.

Read the rest of my latest for America magazine.

Photo “Double Baptism” by Maria Eklind via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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2 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right Godparent: Baptisms can bring fallen away Catholics back to the faith”

  1. Cultural expectations can be tricky. When we asked a Filipina friend to be godmother to one of our sons, we did so because she is a lovely, warm person and very devout. I was really startled to get a call from her a few days before baby’s first Christmas about him paying her a visit that day. She really was certain we would of course do that, because that’s what godchildren *do*. In the Philippines. Meanwhile our family had arrived at a comfortable place where we could have a good chunk of the day just relaxing as a family before heading to the grandparents. It was awkward, we explained, she understood, but I was just so surprised by the whole thing.

  2. This is beautiful. I want to get involved in family ministry at some point, and this was really eye opening.

    I also live in a Hispanic area in Texas. I dont think it’s the same thing as a godparent for baptism, but a tradition down here is for young couples to ask family members to sponsor their wedding by purchasing a certain item (the bride’s boquet, or veil, etc). They’re always listed in the program as ‘Padrinos’ along with the item they sponsor. I think they’re even incorporated into the ceremony. To be asked to sponsor something is considered an honor.

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