Sponsor vs Godparent

Hi. I am starting my RCIA classes in a couple weeks and was just told that “sponsor” and “godparent” are the same thing. My boyfriend’s family takes godparents very seriously, essentially they grow up with multiple sets of parents and can go to their godparent when they feel like they can’t go to their own parents for an issue with full amnesty.

When I originally started considering who I was going to ask for this role, I very strongly considered who my “other” set of parents could be within the Catholic faith. However, I’m stuck up on the word “sponsor” since it doesn’t sound as personal. Is that just me?

When I ask them, am I asking them to be my sponsor, my godparents, or both?

This is a cultural or ethnic, not part of Catholic teaching.

In the Church, there is a Baptismal Sponsor and a Confirmation Sponsor. They may be the same person. The Baptismal Sponsor is colloquially known as “Godparent”.

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Are you being baptized or received into full communion? If you are being baptized the Rite differentiates between the sponsor who accompanies you during most of the RCIA period and the person who will be your godparent. They may be one and the same but they need not be.

OTOH, if you are being received into full communion you would be accompanied by the person who will be your sponsor at your Confirmation.

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You are asking them to be your sponsor. It should be someone that you believe is very devout in their Catholic faith, someone who can offer you support and guidance through this process, who can answer your questions (even if they have to find out the answers elsewhere first-they should know where to do). They may also be able to fulfill the role of spiritual advisor for you.

To add on to what Phemie says, the sponsor does not have to be physically present in order to accompany you, they can do this from far away. They may even have someone stand as proxy if they cannot be present for the Sacrament(s)

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The word Godparent is usually applied to the baptismal sponsors of infant baptisms. If anything happens to the parents of the child, the Godparents are expected to arrange for the child to be brought up in the Catholic faith. If you are baptised as an adult, your sponsor may also be called a Godparent, but the bringing up aspect doesn’t apply.

You also have a sponsor at your Confirmation. In the Latin Rite, children are usually baptised when they are very young and confirmed in their teens and their Confirmation sponsor is usually someone different to their Godparents. If you join the Catholic Church through the RCIA program, you are baptised and confirmed at the same celebration and have one sponsor for both sacraments.

In most Eastern Rites, children are confirmed shortly after baptism and the Godparents are sponsors for both sacraments. That can cause confusion when a teenager originally baptised and confirmed as an infant in an Eastern Rite then finds he can’t be confirmed in the Latin Rite with his friends. This has actually happened in my Parish and we arranged for the individual to attend the Confirmation preparation course and then have an important role on the sanctuary during the Confirmation Mass.

Again, this is a cultural or ethnic practice, but, not the requirement or law of the Church.

This is correct.

The term used in canon law is “sponsor”.

That is a family or cultural construct. It’s not the purpose of a sponsor nor is it required to have this sort of relationship with them.

The sponsor is the person who presents the person for baptism or confirmation, and one who can be an example and mentor in the faith.

With adults they don’t usually take on the character of a parent. With children, the godparent or godparents might be thought of that way because they grow up with them— especially if they are family. but that is not universally the case.

A sponsor and a godparent are the same thing.

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And also not legally binding. Parents should arrange for this in their will, guardianship agreements, and estate planning.

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The US idea of “godparent” usually means someone who will take responsibility for educating the child about Catholicism if the Catholic parent(s) die.
If you are a member of particular ethnic groups within USA it might have additional cultural meanings, but from a church standpoint, “godparent” is limited to what I said.

Presumably you’re an adult or close to it, since you have a boyfriend, so the more correct term for someone your age is “sponsor”. You will be learning about the faith through RCIA and also studying on your own. A child wouldn’t be able to do those things and that’s why he or she would need a godparent.

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