Spouses as sponsors in the RCIA process

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9 thoughts on “Spouses as sponsors in the RCIA process”

  1. My experience is that for young, newer relationship couples, it is a very bad idea. They are still getting to know each other, and there is risk the transformation conversion process can be compromised because of a reluctance by the candidate / catechumen to be totally open. The candidate is new in his relationship with their spouse and beginning a relationship with God! A sponsor is a companion and must be objective in listening to the genuine doubts, concerns of the candidate. In a young relationship it can be totally unfair and short change the candidates experience in the process to have a spouse as sponsor, in my view.

    Now for long term marriages where they know each other very well, I’ve seen it to be a very beautiful and rewarding experience for the both of them. But I still believe even with the more mature relationships it should be considered on a case by case basis.

  2. It has been my experience over the years to not have spouses as sponsors. I did find a good way to make that inquisitive spouse who wants to join her/his spouse. I have them come and sponsor another person. They do sit with the other person. Then driving home it gives them an opportunity to discuss what went on that evening. So far this has worked best for me. I also remind them that the sponsor represents the parish community, not the family.

  3. I have a policy that anyone who has a spouse, fiance, or family member as sponsor also has a sponsor from the parish – so about 1/3 of my group at any given time has 2 sponsors. They are equal co-sponsors all the way through the process – they both participate in the rites, attend the sessions, and both are listed as sponsors in the records, etc. It works well. The few times that I have made exceptions to this, I have deeply regretted it. As another poster said, especially for young couples – they tend to keep to themselves and totally miss out on the community experience. It’s hard to get a good sense of where they are on their journey because they tend to not participate in discussions, either. I don’t exactly know why this happens, but I think it is because they are so “into” each other and their relationship that they don’t branch out. This is a good thing for Pre-Cana and their personal growth – but not a good thing for the RCIA process.

    I do distinguish between sponsors and godparents, but 99% of the time, the sponsor ends up being the godparent. I distinguish it from the beginning so that there are no questions or hurt feelings if a catechumen chooses someone other than the sponsor to be his/her godparent.

  4. When I started working in RCIA 20 years ago I even allowed mother-in-laws to be sponsors. It doesn’t work! My experience over the years is that many young women who are about to get married to a Catholic are being pressured to hurry up and do this before the marriage. I don’t feel that the young woman can be truly free in her sharing about her unique spiritual journey. In fact, we have now made it a guideline that the sponsor not be any relative.
    We are finding this works so much better.
    Godparents can be relatives not not sponsors .

  5. I have found spouses to be wonderful sponsors. I think my bias began since I was allowed to be my own spouses’ sponsor when he went through the process. He converted years before I became the RCIA director of a different parish in which he was received. My experience is that, spouses not only grow together in the marriage, but they grow together in the faith and support each other through it all. I have even witness marriages even be saved by the RCIA process and the relationship that being a sponsor brings to the table. Somehow I just learned how to express to them that being a Sponsor is the passing on our church’s faith to our neighbor, and if that neighbor happens to be your spouse that responsibility in no less crucial.

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