Let’s get back on topic with RCIA, shall we? In the last post, covering section 10, the Church covered the role of sponsor. The more serious role of godparent is next up:
11. Their godparents (for each a godmother or godfather, or both) accompany the candidates on the day of election, at the celebration of the sacraments of initiation, and during the period of mystagogy (see Christian Initiation, General Introduction, 8 and 10.1).
There’s a checklist for godparents in the choosing:
Godparents are chosen by the candidates
- on the basis of example,
- good qualities,
- and friendship,
- delegated by the local Christian community,
- and approved by the priest.
And in the doing:
It is the responsibility of godparents
- to show the candidates how to practice the Gospel in personal and social life,
- to sustain the candidates in moments of hesitancy and anxiety,
- to bear witness,
- and to guide the candidates’ progress in the baptismal life.
Chosen before the day of the candidates’ election, godparents fulfill this office publicly from the day of the rite of election, when they give testimony to the community about the candidates. They continue to be important during the time after reception of the sacraments when the neophytes need to be assisted so that they remain true to their baptismal promises.
RCIA 11 should be near the heart of every RCIA director, and definitely the sponsor. Many of my colleagues have at least one separate session with godparents so that the responsibilties are clear.
Note that the candidate chooses a godparent. This presumes a person who is familiar enough with the faith community to know at least one person who fits the pattern of good example, good qualities, and friend.
These would be my questions of a godparent: Do you pray and can you show a noewcomer how to pray? Are you a true friend? Are you willing to extend that friendship and example well past Easter? Because that is what the role requires.
I know there’s concern in some quarters about post-Easter dropout rates for new Catholics. The sponsor should be one of the defenses against this, prepared and ready to assist the person to integrate into the social and spiritual life of the faith community.
Your own comments?