Information about sponsorship
Church law requires that a Confirmation sponsor be a practicing Catholic, i.e. one who attends Mass and receives the Sacraments regularly. When someone who does not meet that requirement is designated as a sponsor, it is always an unpleasant and painful experience for the priest, the parents of the child, and most especially for the person designated.
The pastor has a serious responsibility not to admit that person to serve as a sponsor here at Sacred Heart. Nor, may the pastor issue the person certificate of eligibility to serve as a sponsor elsewhere.
The reason a sponsor must be a practicing Catholic is that a sponsor is expected to pay special attention to the efforts of the person who is being confirmed to live a Christian life in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sponsors are also expected to assist the parents of the child in their Christian duty as parents, by offering them support through good example, encouragement and prayer.
Certificates of Eligibility must be received by Sacred Heart before a Confirmation will be performed. If Certificates of Eligibility are not received two weeks prior to the ceremony, the candidates Confirmation date will be postponed.
Some advice that we hope will avoid difficulties:
Choose Confirmation sponsors whom you know to be practicing Catholics.
If you decide to choose a sponsor who is not a practicing Catholic, inform the person at least six months before the Confirmation, so that they may begin attending Mass and the Sacraments regularly.
Certificates of Eligibility
Priests are frequently asked to verify the good Catholic practices of parishioners who want to be sponsors for those receiving Baptism and/or Confirmation. Sometimes this is easy, for most of our active parishioners, but sometimes this request turns out to be an unpleasant experience when one requests verification and a Priest, in good conscience, cannot give it. Why?
Let us clear up all of the vagueness that exists, and if you can answer yes to the following questions, you should have no trouble obtaining a certificate:
- Am I a registered and active parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish for at least six months?
- Am I at least 16 years of age?
- Have I received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in the Catholic Church?
- If married, was I married in the Catholic Church?
- Do I attend Mass regularly on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation?
- Do I receive the Sacraments of the Church regularly?
- Do I understand and accept the responsibility which I undertake as a sponsor, and do I promise to pay special attention to the person I am sponsoring in his/her efforts to live a Christian life that reflects the spirit and teachings of the Catholic Church?
- Am I prepared to assist the parents in their Christian duty by my example, support, encouragement and prayer?
What is a Christian Witness?
In order to be a sponsor at a Catholic Confirmation, one must be a Catholic and meet the requirements mentioned above. Occasionally, there may be a request to involve a non-Catholic as a Christian Witness. In general, this often causes more confusion, but in special circumstances a non-Catholic may act as a Christian Witness. This is not the same as a non-Catholic Sponsor, which does not exist. While a witness may be admitted to a ceremony, they are not recorded in the Sacramental register and will not be listed on certificates, as certificates require the names of sponsors only.