On the day of Confirmation, a sponsor is expected to stand behind the candidate as the Bishop confirms. However, there is more to this role. It is the beginning or the continuation of a lasting relationship of mentoring and guidance.The prayers and support of the Sponsor are an important part of preparation for Confirmation. This helps the Confirmation Candidate live his or her baptismal promises both before and after the reception of this sacrament.
The primary responsibility of the sponsor is to provide the candidate prayerful support and guidance in his or her Christian walk and to “take care that the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament” (canon 892).
Qualifications To serve as a Sponsor for Confirmation within the Catholic Church
- The individual must be at least 16 years old.
- He or she must have received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in the Catholic Church.
- If he or she is married, the marriage should have taken place in the Catholic Church.
- The person must have the intention, the ability, and adequate time to be a Sponsor.
- The Sponsor should live according to the Catholic Faith: attend Mass every weekend and receive the sacraments of the Church regularly especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist.(A Catholic is required to receive Reconciliation and Eucharist once each year.)
- The Sponsor should practice the Faith within a Catholic parish community, and live a moral life.
- Lead and guide the candidate to a personal relationship with the Lord and to a deeper familiarity “with the Holy Spirit—his actions, his gifts, and his biddings—in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life” (CCC 1309).
Some of the responsibilities of a sponsor to the confirmed after confirmation:
- Maintain regular contact with the confirmed by phone, email. Also, sending a card on the anniversary of his/her confirmation.
- Pray regularly for the confirmed and when possible pray with him/her.
- Help the confirmed to learn how to experience a deeper prayer life (e.g. eucharistic adoration).
- Encourage participation in the life of the Church, especially through his/her parish.
- Continue ongoing catechesis (e.g., sharing good books) and be available for questions.
- Help the confirmed to understand how to bear witness to Christ in the world and to fulfill his/her baptismal promises faithfully through the Holy Spirit.
A parent may not serve as a Sponsor for their child. It is true that this arrangement was allowed at one time, but it is currently not allowed within the Catholic Church. Also, the gender of the person serving is not a deciding factor. The Sponsor may be a man or woman. A man may serve as a Sponsor for a girl, a woman may serve as a Sponsor for a boy, or the Candidate may choose a Sponsor of their own gender. One of a Candidate’s Godparents is an ideal choice. Choosing the same person as Sponsor for both Baptism and Confirmation helps emphasize the connection between the two sacraments.