During our very first session together you will hear the word “Sponsor” mentioned. But how do you get one, who is eligible to serve as a Sponsor, and what is their purpose?
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults manual edited and published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops states that “the people of God, as represented by the local Church, should understand and show by their concern that the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptized. Therefore, the community must always be fully prepared in the pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ…the community must ready themselves to give evidence of the spirit of Christian community [by] entering into personal conversation and community gatherings with the catechumens and candidates” (no. 9).
You are eligible to serve as a Sponsor, if you are a fully initiated Roman Catholic (having received the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation) who is a practicing Catholic, and actively engaged in his or her parish community. You only need one Sponsor, and they can be male or female.
Therefore, since it is the responsibility of all baptized Catholics to serve as a witness to the “spirit of Christian community” for all those seeking Christ, a Sponsor is a member of the community who comes forward to accompany any candidate seeing admission into the catechumenate, A Sponsor is called to be:
- A Role Model: A Sponsor is responsible for “showing the catechumen/candidate how to practice the Gospel in personal and social life, to sustain the catechumen/candidate in moments of hesitancy and anxiety, to bear witness, and to guide the candidate’s progress in baptismal life” (no. 11).
- A Companion on the journey: Sponsors are people who have journeyed with a catechumen or candidate and are willing “to stand as a witness to the catechumen’s moral character, faith and intention” (no 10). Your Sponsor needs to be willing to attend each catechetical session with you and meet individually with you after class to ensure ongoing communication and support.
- A Listening ear: During this process of conversion, you may have doubts, fears, concerns, or feel hopeful, joyous, inspired, or perfectly content. Although the content can at times feel overwhelming, the Sposnor is meant to help you “unpack” what you’ve learned, assess your readiness for various stages of the
- A Participant alongside the catechumen/candidate during liturgical rites: the Sponsor will stand with the cathecumen for the Rite of Acceptance/Election and during the reception of the Sacraments during the Easter Vigil. However, a Sponsor is also encouraged to be present during the entire period of instruction (the catechumenate), the periods of enlightenment and purification, as well as the period of mystagogy (ongoing faith formation and instruction following reception of the Sacraments).
How do I choose a Sponsor?
Sponsors “are chosen by the catechumen/candidate on the basis of example, good qualities, and friendship, as delegated by the Christian community, and approved by the priest” (no. 11).
You may know a family member or friend that is a fully initiated, practicing Roman Catholic. If you do not, then please take the time to meet our esteemed R.C.I.A team members (you’ll know who they are by the star sticker on their name tags). Often times, friendships emerge between catechumens/candidates and our team members. If you find that there’s a special connection, ask them about serving as your Sponsor. Don’t be nervous! Remember that it is an honour and privilege to be asked.