I'm godfather to my nephew but I've got a problem

My nephew is getting baptized next week and my sister told me that I need to get a letter of good standing from my church in order to be the godfather. The problem is that I have been attending a new (Catholic) church that is just 10 minutes from my house as opposed to driving the 40 minutes to my old (Catholic) church of which I am a member. This has been for the last 2-3 years and I never got around to changing my membership. When I called the old church, the secretary said they couldn’t give me a letter because there is no record of me making contributions each week. (I’ve been giving cash to the new church whenever I attend.) Needless to say, I got into it with the secretary who says that she was given authority to determine if somebody is in good standing (which I find hard to believe). The lady from the old church suggested I call the new church. I think they would be less likely to do so. And I’m not a very social person. I attend mass every week and then leave. So I’m not sure I could get anybody to vouch for me.

I was just told by my sister about the requirement of a letter last week for a baptism which is next week. I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done at this point.


Perhaps try talking to the priest at your new parish? Do you have friends from the new parish that could vouch for you?

Also, contributions does not make one a Catholic in good standing. That is quite absurd for the secretary to say. :shrug: Regular Mass attendance, Confession, living a life dedicated to Christ, etc are a better judge of a good Catholic than just “monetary contributions”. I am disabled and live off of disability checks. My priest still considers me to be a Catholic in good standing. :slight_smile:

Call the new parish and make an appointment with the pastor. When the secretary asks what it’s about you can say “a personal matter.”

Secretaries are often the gatekeepers. Whether they should be or not is open to debate. But in this case, since the secretary doesn’t know you she won’t be able to help anyway. The pastor may or may not be able to help. Hopefully he has noticed you in the pews from time to time.

Speak with the pastor of your former church, since you are a member of it. Membership has nothing to do with your monetary donation, but your pastor - not the secretary - gives permission for you to be a godparent outside your parish. “Good standing” for a godparent/sponsor means that you are over the age of seventeen, are a practicing Catholic in communion with Rome, have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, are married in the Church if you are married, and have no canonical penalties (i.e. formal excommunication) against you.

I agree with what’s been said. I would try the “old” church again first, explaining your situation to the priest (but not to the secretary). And if you get a difficult secretary who wants details in order to make you an appointment, simply tell her that it’s personal. Then, if the priest feels that you need to get the letter from your “new” parish priest, then go by what he says. Or if you can’t see that priest in time, then see if you can speak with the new parish’s priest and explain the situation to him.

I would also recommend “unregistering” at the old parish and registering at the new if you intend to stay at the new one. But I would wait to do so until after all this has been sorted out. :wink:


I would suggest speaking directly to the old priest, tell him you have been attending closer to home, but that you are registered there. Or you could speak with the new priest you could give a summary of the last 4 homilies or so, to prove that you are attending regularly. While you do so that I would suggest deregistering at the old Church and becoming members of the new Church.

Do either of the pastors in either of the churches you have been attending know you?
If you have been receiving the sacraments and are attending weekly Mass, I would think the priest would know you. I do not want to be known as uncharitible but if an individual is involved with a parish they should be known at least to the pastor.

I think that is quite an assumption. Especially in a big parish, or if you sit near the back, and aren’t involved in an a visible ministry and you are a rather new attendee. Priests must see so many people every Sunday, 3 Masses, so many people are guests, or people who go to different Mass times. I don’t know everyone who normally attends the one Mass that we attend.

We were rather transient for a time. Going to different parishes and moving every couple of years. It is difficult to get to know your pastor. Because you don’t usually have the time to be involved other ways besides the sacraments when you are a transient person.

I attend a parish of 1500 families, it is not a stretch to know your pastor. If you are involved in ANY ministry of a parish the pastor or one of the associate pastors will know you. I would be very surprised if a priest would not recognize a parishoner by face at least. The OP has been attending the “new” parish for 2-3 years.

You can be a sponsor from the age of 16.

At the parish I’m attending now, even though the priest is new, and even though I am not very involved and don’t always attend Mass at the same time (3 Masses available), the priest knows me on sight. He’s apparently got a pretty good memory for names and faces.

However, before coming to my current parish, I attended another nearby parish for just over 5 years. The priest that was pastor there has been formally introduced to me several times over those 5 years, has known my father and uncle for years, baptized one of my children, and shook my hand as I left Mass nearly every Sunday and HDO, yet he still didn’t (and doesn’t) recognize me when he saw me, nor does he know me by name. When I called him for permission to have our youngest child baptized at my uncle’s parish, I had to explain to him who I was and who my uncle was. And I was registered in the parish, so he agreed. It doesn’t bother or offend me that he didn’t/doesn’t know me; because of the community, the parishioners change often, and I am the type that tends to just “blend in” in any crowd, rather than stand out. :shrug:

Anyway, because of my experiences, I would not dare to assume that any priest knows everyone in his parish by name or sight, whether or not they’re involved in ministry… even if they’ve been to the same Mass every Sunday for 2-3 years. Or 5. :smiley:

But I do recommend being registered in the parish you regularly attend. :wink:

First of all, your former parish is out-of-line. It is not canonical to determine who can be a Godparent based on parish registration,membership or contributions.

1500 families? Must be nice. The parish I attend has 6,000 families.

I didn’t realize your priest had to give permission to be a godparent.

Is that really so?

I know of several examples of people who I never see in Church being godparents.

In a former parish, I taught CCD for 3 years, was a member for 5. I attended Mass every Sunday, sat in same pew, about 1/3 of the way back, on the left side, and shook Father’s hand on the way out the door. My pastor came into my CCD classroom, greeted the kids, told them to thank their teacher, etc. I assumed he knew me, so I was utterly shocked, when we met to discuss my upcoming wedding, that he had absolutely no recognition of my name or face.

Some parishes require a letter from the sponsor’s parish, verifying that they are a Catholic in good standing, eligible to be a Godparent. I don’t know how common it is. My children have been baptized in 2 different parishes and I’ve been a Godparent in 2 other parishes and I’ve never been asked to provide such a letter.

Don’t want to derail the OP’s thread. NC is about 2% Catholic. We’re a novelty here and according to many folks here are headed down with gasoline underpants!:eek:

My present parish doesn’t and neither did the parishes where our kids were baptized many years ago. OTOH, the parish down the road requires that and more.


The Code of Canon Law specifies who is eligible to be a godparent and (surprise, surprise) tithing isn’t included. :slight_smile: When my oldest was baptized, my brother had to demonstrate that he had received baptism, first holy communion, first penance, and confirmation to be godfather. When my second child was baptized and my brother was again godfather, we were in a different parish and no one asked for anything. Check it out – maybe this is something to read carefully before meeting with the priest at your old parish?


I am still laughing at this! :rotfl:

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