Too often, the role of the sponsor at Confirmation is treated as though it’s akin to being a bridesmaid or a groomsman at a wedding: just stand there and look good. And, oh yes, be sure to put your hand on your confirmandi’s shoulder. In short, it is a missed opportunity for quality adult faith formation.
At St. Cajetan Parish in Chicago, the Director of Religious Education, Deb Breakey, takes the role of the sponsor much more seriously. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching my friend and Loyola Press colleague, Bob Burnham, facilitate a sponsor-candidate “meeting” at St. Cajetan at Deb’s invitation. She asked him to facilitate interaction and conversation between the candidates and their sponsors.
I enjoyed watching as Bob provided solid theological background on three topics (15–20 minutes each) and facilitated three meaningful conversations between the candidates and their sponsors (10 minutes each) on the topics, truly honoring the role of the sponsor as someone leading an apprentice on a faith journey. Specifically, Bob invited the confirmandi and their sponsors to engage in meaningful conversation about the following three topics/questions:
- Becoming DO-ERS of the Word—Candidates, what do you like to do? What are your gifts and talents? How can you use these to set goals for your life? Sponsors, how can you help your candidate reach these goals?
- Gifts of the Holy Spirit/Saint Examples—Sponsors, which gift would you like to share with your candidate? How would you share it? Candidates, which gift do you see and admire in your sponsor?
- Bringing Grace to Others—Candidates, complete the following sentences: I use my talents and gifts to serve God and others by… / I see God in… / I bring out the best in people by… / The person I look to the most for help is…
Bob finished the evening by leading the entire group in a guided reflection. It was beautiful to watch about 100 people, kids and adults together, with heads bowed and eyes closed, spending some time silently talking with Jesus.
If you are looking for a way to bring Confirmation candidates and their sponsors together for meaningful conversations, I suggest that you look into Faith to Faith Magazine from Loyola Press which helps sponsors, mentors, or parents to find ways to build meaningful relationships with Confirmation candidates and honors the role of the sponsor as one who is apprenticing another in the life of discipleship.