"Big Four" Highlights


Good Godparents

They should offer a lifelong service of faith and guidance

By Ashley Kepper

Choosing a godparent is often a decision made lightly, without much thought regarding the significance of the role. Frequently it is a title given to the parents’ closest family member or friend, often offered as a way to honor someone close to them, and at times with little thought about their level of faith. The role of godparent, however, is as much a great responsibility as an honor. During his homily on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January 2000, St. John Paul II reminded both parents and godparents: “These little ones must find in you, and in their godparents, support and guidance on the path of fidelity to Christ and the Gospel.”

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I remember praying about who would be the best godparents for her. I wanted to ask people whom I could count on to pray for her throughout her life. I wanted people who were faithful to the teachings of the Church and would serve as powerful role models for her. If anything would happen to me and my husband, I wanted to know that her godparents would teach her about Christ and his Church in our absence.

After much prayer, I discerned along with my husband that the best godparents for her were the priest who celebrated our Nuptial Mass and someone who is my close friend and mentor. I knew that a possibility of hurt feelings may exist on the part of some of our other family members or friends, but my husband and I were prepared to explain our choice: we wanted practicing Catholics who take their faith very seriously. It was more important, in our minds, for our daughter to have godparents who will pray and serve as examples of faith for her than it was for us to protect the feelings of family or friends. Fortunately, no one has ever questioned our decision.

Today godparents often live far away from their godchildren. But even in our transient society, there are a number of practical ways in which godparents can remain connected to their godchildren and, in the process, fulfill their call to support and guide them as a role model of faith:

1. sending an age-appropriate Catholic gift and/or card on the anniversary of their Baptism each year. By remembering the day like a birthday, your godchildren will grow up understanding the significance of becoming a child of God.

2. offering Masses for them and their family regularly.

3. emailing them your prayers – and your advice on life and spiritual formation tips when requested.

Godparents, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult – on the road of Christian life” (1255).

My husband and I have been honored to serve as godparents on a few occasions. Even though we don’t see our own godchildren as often as we would like because they’re all in another state, we still pray for them daily, making it a point to pray particularly for their discerning God’s will for their lives and in their vocations. It is important for godparents to remain connected to godchildren, keeping the lines of communication open, so that they can find in us the support and guidance they need in their journey of faith.

Ashley Kepper and her husband, Jimmy, live in St. Marys, Ga., with their 2-year-old daughter.