The Role of a Catholic Godparent

What is a godparent? For many Christians, ‘godparent’ has become an honorary title given to a family member or friend. They show up to a baptism but after that, their faith role might evaporate altogether. You may get a present from them on your birthday but they don’t have any part in your spiritual formation. Sound familiar?

While you may have godparents who are actively engaged in your life and seek to offer guidance in your spiritual journey, many people do not. So what exactly should the role of a godparent be?

According to Patrick Madrid, godparents make an implicit promise provide spiritual support, assistance, and be a role model of faith. “Being a godparent means that you are undertaking a lifelong commitment to doing what you can … to try to help the child grow into a good, strong, mature Catholic faith,” he explained.

Sometimes, godparents can even step up to be a spiritual mentor when the parents do not fulfill their own obligation. You might think about it as a safety net or an extra parachute. “If someone’s going to go skydiving, you don’t pack one parachute, you pack a second backup parachute in case the second one doesn’t deploy properly,” said Patrick. “So if the parents aren’t 100%, that’s okay, you’re that backup parachute and you do what you can to try to help. And maybe your good example will spur the parents on to become more serious about their own faith and their own commitment.”

Practically, what can we do when a godchild strays from the faith? Mary called to explain that she had kindly confronted her goddaughter about some concerning behavior but was met with hostility and didn’t know how to proceed from there.

“Do what you can do, speak the truth in love, show that you genuinely care about your goddaughter, you seek after her welfare both spiritually and physically. And if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t say anything. But because you care you will go the extra mile and deal with the wear and tear when it comes to speaking the truth in an area that somebody gets a little offended; you’re going to do it anyway because you love her,” said Patrick.

He advises her to not overdo it. While her parents may need to bring the topic up again, he tells Mary that because she said her piece, she does not need to hash it out another time. Rather, it’s important for her to maintain a good, loving relationship with her goddaughter and show her love, empathy, and support.


Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays at 8-11am CT only on Relevant Radio®.

Lindsey Kettner serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a wife, mother, and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied journalism and advertising. She writes daily at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.