Q&A: Can directors of the catechumenate be godparents of their catechumens?

Q. I am the director of the catechumenate process in my parish. I was asked by two of my catechumens to be their godmother. While I am so humbled, I am not sure what the proper protocol is. Is it okay for catechumenate directors to be godparents of their catechumens?

A. As long as you fulfill all the basic requirements for being a godparent found in the Code of Canon Law, there is no obstacle for you being their godparent. 

Here’s my paraphrase of those requirements:

  • intends to fulfill their role to the best of their ability
  • lives Christian faith according to disciplines in RCIA #75
  • is at least 16 years of age or older (or granted exception)
  • is Catholic, baptized, confirmed, and receiving Eucharist
  • is not perfect, but genuinely strives to be a role model
  • if married, validly married according to the laws of Church and not bound by any other canonical penalties
  • is not the father or mother of the one to be baptized
  • makes a lifelong promise to help their companion live as a true witness

See Code of Canon Law #874, #892, and #893

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What should godparents keep in mind?

Now, there are some practical issues, however, that you should consider.

The role of godparent begins with the Rite of Election. If your catechumens have been chosen to by your bishop to be baptized this coming Easter Vigil, then it seems a bit late to be asking you now.

But if they are still going to continue their formation as catechumens, not being baptized this Easter Vigil, then they could certainly ask you to be their godmother. (However, it might be a bit early in their formation yet to be choosing godparents if they are not yet ready for baptism.)

Also, as the catechumenate director, you might be busy coordinating things during all the rituals at which the godparent plays a major role (Rite of Election, Scrutinies, Presentations, Holy Saturday Preparation Rites, Easter Vigil). It may be logistically difficult for you to fulfill both roles during the liturgy and may take away your focus on both of these important roles.

Finally, being a godparent is a lifelong commitment. If you are ready to be part of these catechumens’ lives permanently, then this would certainly be an honor. But it is also a profound responsibility.

Your turn

How do you talk to your seekers and catechumens about godparents? What expectations do you find come up most often in those conversations? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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