How to prove I am in good standing to be a godmother?

I was asked by a relative to be the godmother of their baby. But the parish at which they are registered is requiring that I be registered at their parish or have a letter from a local parish in which I am registered stating that I am a member in good standing of the Catholic church.
Which of course, I am!!! :smiley: However, I have only lived here a year, and I am still parish shopping. I haven’t registered anywhere, but I am still registered at my parish in another state, but they said the letter has to be from a local parish. But being registered at a local parish is hardly a guarantee of being a member in good standing, is it? Can they require this? :eek: I’ve never been a godmother before, so I don’t know all the rules. Don’t they just have the parents/godparents sign a statement attesting to the godparent being a member in goo standing? When I was a maid of honor, and two other times (for unusual reasons), I had to sign a statement for couples getting married in the Church that they were members in good standing, and there was no requirement that, I, the witness, be registered at any parish anywhere. :shrug: So what’s a girl to do? How do I get someone to vouch for me? I might add, I personally know about 50 priests and some rather prominent Catholic laity who can vouch for me, but they don’t live here! :nope:

Help! And thanks!

you have to get a letter from your pastor attesting you have his permission to serve as godparent for sacraments in another parish. That is the parish where you reside, you don’t have to register, but frankly they have no way to know if you are active if you don’t register and make your donations in a way that can be tracked. Contact that pastor today, tell him what you need, ask to speak to him personally not the secretary, and tell him your story, that you are new and have not yet found a parish home. He should invite you to become involved and support his parish. He will ask about your sacraments, you need to be fully initiated, and your manner of living, is it in accord with Catholic teaching. That is his right and his responsibility.

Definitely talk to the pastor, either of the parish you are considering or of the parish where the baptism is to be held. But the only thing that was required when my niece was baptized (hubby is the godfather) was his baptismal and confirmation certificates. He wasn’t even present at the baptism because he was deployed at the time, his cousin stood in as the proxy, so I’m not understanding the requirement that you have to be registered at a local parish.

Catholics often confuse being “registered” in a parish with being a member of the parish. The two are not the same.

A Catholic is a member of the parish in whose territory that particular person has a residence. This has nothing at all to do with being registered.

Registered means nothing more than giving the parish office your name & address, and sometimes things like keeping an unofficial record of your sacraments (the official one is at your place of baptism). It also means keeping track of your donations so that they can give you a tax receipt. But being registered does not make one a practicing Catholic, and not being on the parish mailing list has nothing to do with being considered a practicing Catholic in good standing (although in many large parishes, the pastor might insist on this simply for the sake of keeping track since he can’t look out every Sunday and notice who is/isn’t there.)

Again, you are a parishioner of whatever parish territory you have a residence. This is like being a resident of a state. Whether you live in North Dakota or South Dakota is determined entirely by what side of the state line you live on. You can’t live south of the state line, but get a drivers license from North Dakota. Likewise if you live in the parish territory of St. Mary’s parish, you are not a parishioner of St. Joseph parish regardless of where you might go to Mass, or whose mailing list you happen to be on.

Now, having said that, to get back to your own personal situation:

What you need to do is go to the pastor of the parish in whose territory you live. Ask him for a “sponsor certificate” Don’t worry because he will know exactly what that means. It can be on parish letterhead, but these things are very very common, and most parish offices have a pad of them at the ready (little 3 X 5 fill-in-the-blank certificates). This is a routine thing that’s done all the time, and it’s no big deal to get one.

As long as the pastor is confortable stating that you’re a Catholic in good standing, it only takes a few minutes to get one of these.

Being registered in a parish is a start to demonstrating that a person is an active and practicing Catholic.

Simply producing baptismal and confirmation records does not demonstrate that. It merely demonstrates the individual received those sacraments. Even though a person can show they were baptized and confirmed doesn’t mean they aren’t attending and worshipping at the protestant church down the street.

Being a Godparent is more than witnessing a baptism. It is also making a promise to aid in the spiritual formation of the child, within the Catholic faith. That would be kind of hard for the non-practicing Catholic to do.

Now, do all parishes follow the rules on this? Probably not. Should all parishes follow the rules? Absolutely.

With regard to your husband being a Godparent, could it be that the celebrant knew who he was, so the certificate requirement was just a matter of “paperwork”?

The pastor at your geographical parish can probably assess your situation by talking to you about how you live your life as a Catholic. He might want to talk to your previous pastor, or he might just want to ask about what you considered “active” before you moved and about your more recent “shopping” experiences to get an idea of whether you’ve really been looking yet otherwise active or just drifting around and doing little more than putting a Sunday appearance in “most of the time.”

It is unlikely, though, that he’s going refuse to say you’re an active Catholic and therefore are ineligible to be a godparent because you’ve spent a year at a new address without signing up in a particular parish to be a CCD teach or to man the Sunday coffee and doughnuts, but have done nothing but volunteer for non-Catholic charities, have spread your money in support of the Church all over the place, and have seen to your prayer and sacramental life with the help of more than one priest. Possible, I suppose, but not that likely.

He is going to have to make sure that you have more than a baptismal certificate and a pulse, though. He does have that responsibility to the sacrament. If that is where you are, maybe it is better that someone else is chosen for such a role of influence in a child’s life.

Of course it is the pastor’s right and responsibility to make sure a member is in good standing. But why will a letter from my pastor in the other state in which I am still registered not suffice? And yes, the church lady did say “registered”. I get they want people to be registered. I don’t wish to register anywhere until I find a parish I like. I happen to live within the boundaries of this parish where the baptism will take place, but I will not register there. The only reason I have gone there at all and not done too much church shopping was lack of gas money to go to other parishes. I can guarantee that talking to any priest for 5 minutes would assure anyone I am a member of the Church in good standing. I have received all my sacraments, I am not living in sin, I have never, I would never, I know church doctrine well, I know all the duties of a godmother and I take them seriously. I don’t understand why a statement from a priest who knows me well won’t suffice, but I need a letter from a priest who wouldn’t know me AT ALL?

(the above was posted before my previous reply)
See, I was thinking along these lines. I did parish activities for many years, but I’m terrible at anything done by committee and I am rather shy. I’m not super active in parish life, and I would only be interested in like a Catholic book club or something. Not CCD or coffee and donuts. Sorry, i don’t do well with large numbers of people coming at me, even ones I know. I would appreciate the pastor questioning me, that is all I want, that in person, they can see that I am indeed on the up and up. :thumbsup:

and that is why I suggest meeting with your pastor (of the parish in which you now reside) not any church lady. The pastor, your pastor, is the one charged in canon law with the care of your soul, so he is the proper person to grant this privilege to you. there is nothing wrong, however, with referring him to those other 50 people who can vouch for you when you have your meeting to request the letter. If you could see the people we “church ladies” have to deal with when arranging the logistics of baptisms, confirmations and the like, and the trouble we have trying to comply with our bishops’ rules, you would sympathize with our POV as well. The pastor explains the rules to the church lady, and she has the responsibility to execute them, and if her vocubulary is poor she needs a better choice of words.

Talk to the priest and see how it goes. Priests are human beings, but most do not try to be difficult. I’ve found that it is a good rule to expect that they’re easy to deal with until proven otherwise. You can expect, though, that priests do have this expectation that the word “active” implies a certain number of concrete acts in support of the Church’s mission, even if it isn’t centered in one particular parish. They are pretty literal men, that way. :smiley:

You may have to register at your geographical parish in the end, but oh, well. Don’t worry about it. If your diocese wants you on some parish’s rolls whether you go there the majority of the time or not, be obedient to that. Do resolve to take the trouble to call their office and get yourself off of their rolls if you ever decide to register somewhere else.

Oh, and if you’ve never bothered to inform your old parish that you no longer live in the same state, now would be a good time. If you were well-known to your old pastor and you’ve really only been gone a year, he might write you the letter you need, by the way, noting that you are in the process of moving, if that is an honest assessment.

It is astonishing how much of the work of the parish, in a parish of 3,000, is done by 50 people. One hopes there are lots and lots of and lots of them advancing the work of the Church in places unseen.

If you spend your life at the local food bank and only contribute directly to the parish by physical presence and financial contribution, that’s OK, though. The 50 people doing all the work in your parish will not consider the likes of you one of the “inactives”, but just as someone with doing the “off-campus” work of the Church. You just have to have someone at the food bank vouch for you when the “active” question comes up.

The reason is because the pastor of the place where you used to live is not your current pastor. I know that sounds a bit obvious, but the fact that he can certify that you were a practicing Catholic until a year ago (since that’s the limit of his information) isn’t saying that you are a practicing Catholic now. He might be able to say you were an outstanding, very faithful Catholic, but that applies to the past, not the present. That’s the difference.

And yes, the church lady did say “registered”. I get they want people to be registered. I don’t wish to register anywhere until I find a parish I like. I happen to live within the boundaries of this parish where the baptism will take place, but I will not register there. The only reason I have gone there at all and not done too much church shopping was lack of gas money to go to other parishes. I can guarantee that talking to any priest for 5 minutes would assure anyone I am a member of the Church in good standing. I have received all my sacraments, I am not living in sin, I have never, I would never, I know church doctrine well, I know all the duties of a godmother and I take them seriously.

If the place of the future baptism is also the parish where you reside, then the pastor is one and the same. He is the one who needs to know that you’re Catholic, and he also is the one who determines if you’re qualified to be a Godparent.

I don’t understand why a statement from a priest who knows me well won’t suffice, but I need a letter from a priest who wouldn’t know me AT ALL?

That’s what I’m trying to explain here: it’s not a matter of a statement from a priest who knows you, it’s a matter of getting this information from your own pastor–and that’s the pastor of the place where you live. Whether you “register” there or not makes no difference–you are a parishioner there because you live within the parish territory. The whole idea here is that your own pastor is supposed to be precisely that priest who does know you.

Catholics might not “like” their own parish (and let’s face it, that happens a lot), but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still members of that parish. Parish membership is based on where you live, it’s not based on where you happen to go to Mass. (unless we’re talking about a “personal parish” like an ethnic parish but that doesn’t seem to apply here, and would only get us way off topic).

From a pastor’s point of view: someone who is a parishioner of that parish, but does not attend Mass there is often (but not always) an unlikely candidate to be a Godparent, and that often causes the pastor to hesitate on allowing that person to be a Godparent without looking further into the matter. I’m not saying that about you, I’m only making a general statement about how pastors look at this type of situation.

At first, I thought that the place of baptism, and your own parish were two different parishes. Knowing now that they are the same, the whole topic of a sponsor certificate doesn’t matter anymore–because the priest issuing it and the priest receiving it are the same priest (it’s pointless).

What you really need to do here is have a visit with your pastor and explain your situation to him. You don’t need a sponsor certificate. That’s the bottom-line. Everything else is just secondary. I don’t want to confuse you or take us off topic by discussing the issue of parish territory–that’s only meant by way of explanation. Since your pastor and the pastor doing the baptism are the same man, you need to talk to him about this, because deciding whether or not you’re a practicing Catholic (and I don’t doubt you here), is his determination to make.

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