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Helga Arnold wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am active member in the RCIA program at my church. Last year was asked a sponsor a young woman whose Asian grandmother asked her to become Catholic.

We mostly went through the motions and after the Easter Vigil, I never saw or heard from her again.

I always felt that one is called by God to a certain vocation and not just there to oblige a relative but I would not like to sponsor a person that is not sincere. Am I really wrestling with this because I might be asked to be a baptismal sponsor again.

  • Am I wrong to feel this way?

Thank you for your help.


  { If I'm asked to sponsor someone for Baptism, am I wrong to refuse if they are not sincere? }

Eric replied:

Dear Helga —

You are absolutely right to feel that way. Baptism of someone beyond the age of reason is predicated on the sincere faith of the catechumen, who should really believe, believe freely, and not be under coercion. Nevertheless I think, being her sponsor now, you should reach out and contact her if you are able and gently invite her back.

Some people who left the Church, when asked why they never thought of coming back, say that someone never invited them. A personal connection is essential for keeping neophytes in the Church. Make friends with those you sponsor. Welcome them into the church and keep in touch with them. In my experience, multiple invitations are necessary to encourage people to join a particular group and stay. The same is true of the Catholic Church. Make sure they are integrated into the social life of the Church after initiation, especially if they have no other contacts in the Church, such as a spouse.

If I were you, I would approach the pastor about this and ask his opinion on how to proceed in the future. Don't accuse him of being wrong but express a concern about what to do in the case of people who you sense don't really believe the faith but are being coerced, such as this woman. I think he needs to be aware of the situation.


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