First communion protocol

I am the non-Catholic Christian godmother of the son of my confused, lapsed Catholic friend. I will be attending my godson’s first communion next weekend, and I want to make sure I follow whatever Catholic customs are expected. I plan to wear a nice pastel “church dress.” If I am supposed to wear something other than that, I would like to know. Also, I suppose I should give a gift to my godson, but I don’t know if there is anything in particular that is traditional or expected. Is it customary to give something to the parents or priest ? I may do it anyway, but I simply don’t know what I don’t know regarding what to expect. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I’d like to make sure I do what I’m supposed to do.

Suggestions ?

A nice pastel church dress is perfect. Everyone should be in Sunday best. Well, except the boys and girls making their First Communion. Most likely, the girls will be in white, the boys in dark pants, light shirt and possibly a white tie.

There isn’t anything that says you have to give your Godson a gift. But it would be nice. If there is a Catholic store around, you can go in and tell them that your Godson will be making his First Communion, they will have ideas. If not, try a Christian store. A nice picture frame, cross or crucifix, or even a gift card to a local ice cream shop would work. You might also ask the parents for ideas. :shrug:

I am Catholic, and my Godson made his First Communion this morning. I got him a Missal, rosary and pin, that came in a set. It was about $20. I got it at the local Catholic book store.

God bless for serving as what you truly are a Christian Witness for this child. The sponsor for first communion may be the baptismal godparents, or someone else the child or family chooses. There is no canonical (“official”) role or duty for the sponsor at this time during the Mass and reception of the sacrament, and there is no requirement for a sponsor for first communion. This person should be Catholic and have the other qualifications of a godparent (fully initiatiated, living in conformity with Catholic moral teaching etc) but as you have been honored to be ask, please do come you are most heartily welcome. The sponsor is supposed to help the child prepare for first communion, not only in the learning aspect, but in understanding and by example on how to receive worthily and the true meaning of Eucharist. Sounds like this parent, from what you say, needs all the help she can get, so the child is lucky to have you with her. The role of the baptismal godparent is to help the parents raise the child Catholic and see to his religious formation, and set a good example of the Christian life.

Wear what you normally would for church. If the parish has some other guideline they will send something home. If you are not Catholic you will not be receiving of course, nor should the parent if she is not in right standing with the Church, but that is her problem not yours. Every parish has its own customs, sometimes the children sit together and receive at the same time as a group, before the rest of the congregation. In other churches the child is brought up by his parents and/or godparents (they simply do not receive if they are not properly disposed). You may participate in Mass, the posture, responses etc. as you feel comfortable. No one will think anything of it if you prefer to sit for instance.

good gifts include a children’s bible (Catholic versions can be found on the web or a Catholic bookstore, which will also have gift sets, usually containing a prayerbook, rosary, perhaps a pin or memento). A statue of the child’s patron name saint is also a possibility. If you feel uncomfortable giving a specifically “Catholic” devotional gift, a picture frame would be a good choice. Often there are formal photos taken, or the priest will pose with the children after Mass for photos.

In some cultures there are monetary expectations on the godparents. For instance here with our dominant Hispanic culture, the godparent or padrino has a bigger role to play, is often the person who brings the child to the sacraments or religion classes, attends preparation meetings, and may be expected to pay for the childs outfit, party or whatever. That you would find out by discretely asking the parents. It can, in some countries, even be construed as constituting a quasi-legal guardianship if the parents cannot care for or raise the child.

again thank you for making this child’s reception of the Sacrament so important and special, you have been honored by this choice and have a chance to make a real difference for her.

a nominal donation, which can simply be placed in the collection basket, is common but in no way required, and is just that, a donation and not usually a large amount, and helps cover extra costs incurred by the parish.

Thank all of you in sharing your wisdom so generously.

I am the official godmother of this child and was present at his baptism. The Monsignor Chancellor of the Diocese is a personal and profession friend of mine, and he said my role was permissible as long as the godfather, another friend, was Catholic, which he is. He is not in close contact with my friend or his godson anymore. My friend’s husband, the boy’s father, is not Catholic, although I believe he is silently Christian if that makes any sense.

I know a good deal about Catholic theology and tradition, in fact probably even more in depth than my friend, the boy’s mother. She struggles with Christianity in general and told me I was better able to raise him Catholic than she is.That is probably true, as strange as it may seem. Nonetheless, I am not as familiar with details of specific Catholic rituals as I am with the theology itself.

I know I am not to partake the Eucharist, and I am respectful of that fact, since I don’t meet the Church’s requirements.

I will ask my friend about gifts, etc., but I wanted to have some objective input first, and you all have provided that. I think a Catholic Bible and a personal note (which will not matter to him now, but may be meaningful to him someday), is my first choice as long as he doesn’t already have one.

The family is financially secure, so they do not need my help in that area.

My final request of all of you is that I am able to be some sort of a bridge to faith for both my friend and my godson. I hope this event will provide an opportunity to talk with her about faith–which has always been an uncomfortable subject between the two of us–because she has a deep-seated, knee-jerk hostility toward “religious” people and those who are socially conservative and pro-life, as I am. She has said in the past that she does not believe in the atonement of Christ. Maybe she’s never really seriously contemplated the subject, and I’d like to explore it with her in a Socratic, non-judgmental way. It’s hard to get started on the subject, though, when a person says that. One of her best friends is Jewish, so she tends to want to go down the rabbit trail of the “arrogance” and exclusivity of Christianity in order to avoid a real conversation.

In addition, I believe my godson has a very mild form of autism, which makes it hard to have meaningful, personal discussions with him, even though he is a smart child. I think this will improve as he grows up.

If you think it can’t get any weirder or more difficult than this, add in to the mix the fact that my friend and I are both lawyers. So that’s why I need additional prayer support !

For the purpose of your prayers, my godson’s name is Conor, and I’d rather not give his mother’s name.

Blessings to all of you,
Margaret Anne

love your last line, which I take to mean possibly that because you and she both are trained to look at facts and evidence, that may make it harder for her to accept and look for spirituality, and to have faith and the hope in things unseen. I think you are quite right in seeing your role as a bridge to faith for your friend and her son, and have know doubt this is part of God’s plan for all of you. I also have no doubt that because of this receptivity to God’s grace you will also, in time perhaps, be an agent for the good of the godfather. May I add how refreshing it is to speak with sponsors who understand their role and undertake it seriously with a view of being the best they can be for their godchild, and am forced to say, sadly, this is not always the case. How wise you are to point out that theology is not always a suficient guide for the practical evangelist, that there is a time when relationship takes over.

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