Jasmine Kuzner describes three ways to step up your game as a godparent.
This summer, my husband and I were asked to be godparents to a beautiful little girl whose family was new to our parish. Though we were new friends, the parents of our goddaughter-to-be told us that they wanted to ask a couple whose faith they admired, but also a couple who were members of their parish family. While they had friends and family members who could fill the role well, by asking us, they hoped their daughter would be supported by her godparents' presence not only on special days like Baptism and Confirmation, but also in her everyday life of prayer and worship in the Church.
Aside from being honored by this request, this insight of our new friends reinvigorated the way my husband and I approach our godparent roles. While we know that our Catechism instructs us to be “able and ready to help the newly baptized—child or adult—on the road to Christian life” we thought to ourselves: what does it really look like when a godmother or godfather goes about supporting their godchild in their everyday life of prayer and worship? What are tangible things to give, in addition to cards and gifts on special days, that provide direction and support along this path of Christian life? What can godparents do to help parents in their work of raising a child in the faith, without overstepping or infringing on the joys and struggles that belong solely to a faithful mother and father?
Coming up with answers to these questions got us thinking. While the following list is by no means exhaustive, we think it’s a good start in our efforts to help our godchildren grow into faithful adults.
Pray and Worship Every Day
In addition to praying for your godchild, making small but meaningful efforts to share what your own prayer and worship life looks like can go a long way in setting an example for your godchild. A few ways to start? Take your godchild out to lunch and frequently get “caught” saying grace over your meal even if you are at a restaurant or in a public space. Make a Holy Hour each month and offer that time for all the godchildren that you are blessed to have. Obtain a Mass card for your godchild for Mass to be said for his or her intention not just on a special day but also on a day that he or she has a big milestone or an important test, and by doing so, show how one can bring every struggle or joy and lay it down at the foot of the altar at the holy sacrifice of Mass. Firming up your own prayer and worship life and finding small ways to share it provides a structure for the life in faith that your godchild will seek.
Celebrate the “Other” Days
Aside from remembering to reach out to your godchild on the anniversaries of their special days like Baptisms and first holy Communions, reach out on days that are in some way meaningful to our Catholic faith. Perhaps you could reach out on a day that is of special significance to our liturgical calendar. During Advent or Lent, for example, drop by with a small bowl of purple grapes to share, and stay to chat about the holy season. Get to know a favorite saint of your godchild and celebrate that saint’s feast day with treats or, as is appropriate, a fun activity that has to do with that particular saint’s special symbol (did you know, for example, that Saint Norman is the patron saint of bowling balls?). By trying to celebrate these “other” days, the life of the Church is brought into your godchild’s forefront. Additionally, depending on how creative you get, it can be fun!
Support Your Godchild’s Parents
Because a godparent promises to provide Christian direction for their godchild should their parents become unwilling or unable, godparents should find ways to support and nurture not only the spiritual life of their godchild, but also of their parents. Being a source of encouragement and a resource for your godchild’s parents, especially when it comes to their spiritual life, helps to ease the burden of a busy parenthood and brings light to the family’s faith journey.
The best gift a busy parent can receive? Time. Offer to babysit your godchild and their siblings so that their parents may have time to go to Adoration. Give your godchild’s parents a copy of your favorite Catholic novel or spiritual read, and offer to take the kids out while they get started on the first chapter. Making small sacrifices for your godchild’s parents to grow in their own faith is a beautiful offering of self and takes your role as a godparent to the next level.
Copyright 2022 Jasmine Kuzner
About the Author
Jasmine Kuzner is a wife and mother to two beautiful, quick-witted children, and is the Director of Religious Education at Saint Bernadette Church in Silver Spring, MD. She is also a consultant for the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and has been published in Humanum Review, Busted Halo, and Catholic Mom.