Elevate the role of a sponsor in Confirmation. Learn how to select, guide, and support young candidates on their faith journey.
Beyond the Ceremony: Equipping Sponsors for the Confirmation Journey
"How do I ask her to be my sponsor?" The high school student's nervousness was palpable, but it filled me with warmth. It was remarkable that she wanted her small group leader to be her Confirmation sponsor. Although there's nothing wrong with enlisting family members or family friends, the joy I feel is immense when a young person chooses an adult from the parish to be their mentor and guide in faith. So, my advice to her was simple: "Just ask. I'm sure she'll be honored. This isn't a prom-posal, after all."
Sponsors. We understand their role in preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation, yet we often fall short in utilizing them effectively. In many parishes, sponsors are relegated to a ceremonial role—showing up for the Mass is their only duty.
This reality is disheartening, especially when the rite of Confirmation clearly outlines the sponsor's role:
"[The sponsor] brings the candidate to receive the sacrament, presents them to the minister for the anointing, and will later help them to fulfill their baptismal promises faithfully under the influence of the Holy Spirit" (Rite of Confirmation 5).
We frequently overlook that crucial second responsibility. If we expect sponsors to aid candidates in living out their baptismal promises, then it's incumbent upon us to prepare them for this sacred task. Even the most exemplary sponsors must be equipped by us, and that preparation should include:
A CLEAR DEFINITION OF ACCOMPANIMENT
What does it mean for sponsors to help candidates with their baptismal promises? A good starting point is 'Christus Vivit: Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis.' Yet, if distributing this document for sponsors to read through is impractical (and it often is), then we must pass on its essence to them.
Sponsors should be informed that regular communication and interaction with their candidates is expected. The frequency may depend on the distance between them, but the focus should be on the quality of these interactions.
Encourage sponsors to pray with their candidates, inquire about their lives and faith, and then listen intently and validate their thoughts. Sponsors must realize that accompaniment is about fostering a relationship, not merely teaching, but demonstrating what it means to live as a follower of Christ.
Offering devotionals and Bible studies is beneficial, but the crux is developing trust and rapport. Remind sponsors that their role is far from just ceremonial; they are called to journey alongside their candidates and grow with them in faith.
AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT YOUR PARISH OFFERS
It's crucial for sponsors to be aware of what the parish offers for youth and their families in terms of faith development—regardless of whether they're parish members. Ensure that they are familiar with navigating the parish website, subscribing to newsletters, and engaging with social media updates. This knowledge empowers sponsors to assist the family and their candidate more effectively throughout the preparation process.
RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONTINUED FAITH GROWTH
Even the most devout Catholic sponsors must recognize that their spiritual journey is ongoing. Share resources for adult discipleship provided by you or your parish, and if they are local, invite them to catechetical and worship events. Challenge them to deepen their involvement in parish life, underscoring that sharing personal faith experiences is a profound way to accompany young people.
How do we pave the way for our candidates' success? By ensuring they are surrounded by faith exemplars who can support them throughout their journey. Remember, an integral part of readying individuals for Confirmation is to furnish their supporters with the knowledge and chances for growth.
What is your parish currently doing for confirmation sponsors? Share your comments below or join a deeper conversation on the Discord Channel (MYM Premium Members only).