How Do I Chose a Godparent?

Father Phil:

Thank you for your web page and for the beautiful service you provide for all of us who have questions. I actually have two quick questions.

First, my wife, who is pregnant with our first child, has expressed a desire to have her one and only sister be the godmother. I have serious reservations about my sister-in-law being the godmother because she is divorced with two children, is involved in an illicit relationship with a divorced man (I believe she was the cause of the man's divorce), she does not honor her mother's wish that she end the relationship with the man, and she does not attend Mass regularly. Am I justified in not permitting my sister-in-law to be my child's godmother? Can you suggest a way in which I can gently oppose my wife's wishes without appearing to judge her sister?

Second, I struggled for about seven years with discerning a vocation to the priesthood. My discernment including thousands of hours before the Blessed Sacrament, Daily Mass, Rosaries, several retreats, meeting and writing to vocations directors, weekly meetings with a spiritual director for about a year, and completing the Spiritual Excercises of St. Ignatius. Obviously, I chose not to pursue the priesthood. As much as I love my wife and feel blessed, at times I feel a deep regret and sadness that I might be like the young rich man who rejected the Lord's invitation to follow him. Can you offer any suggestions, prayers, meditations, or scriptural readings that can provide some reassurance that marriage is a holy and viable vocation for me?


Dear S,

Difficult situation with your sister-in-law. Here are the official church requirements for a baptismal sponsor (godparent):

Can. 872 In so far as possible, a person being baptised is to be assigned a sponsor. In the case of an adult baptism, the sponsor's role is to assist the person in christian initiation. In the case of an infant baptism, the role is together with the parents to present the child for baptism, and to help it to live a christian life befitting the baptised and faithfully to fulfil the duties inherent in baptism.

Can. 873 One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex.

Can. 874 1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:

1 be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;

2 be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;

3 be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;

4 not labour under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;

5 not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.

2 A baptised person who belongs to a non-catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism.

Perhaps you might want to show this to your wife. It would seem that her sister might have a problem w/ #3. The baptismal rite itself would require her to make a profession of faith and renunciation of sin. You might want to talk w/ your sister-in-law if she were ready to do that. It doesn't mean the sponsor has to be a saint, .but to at least be facing in the right direction.

The second question is easier: You are in your correct God-given vocation. God's call and election is permanent. But keep praying because you will need his grace every day, as all of us do, to be faithful to your vocation.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

P.S. Thanks for the kind words.