How to Choose Your Child’s Ninong or Ninang

For many Filipino Roman Catholics, choosing a child’s ninong and ninang is easy. Here are the most common criteria for selecting children’s sponspors for baptism:

  • Parent’s siblings or cousins
  • Parent’s friends
  • Parent’s bosses or co-workers

Sometimes, status placement is also a factor. As social scientist Belen T.G. Medina (2001) states: “… Through the kumpadre system, the lower class family seeks to improve its status by selecting godparents from the higher socio-economic levels such as a landowner, employer, or a person of influence who is expected to maintain a paternal relationship with the sponsored. The upper class family, on the other hand, seeks to preserve and enhance its place in the stratification by choosing godparents from the same socio-economic stratum.”

But did you know that there are actually qualifications for choosing godparents?

For Roman Catholics, being a ninong or ninang is a serious responsibility. It is a lifelong obligation to the child you are sponsoring and to the Mother Church. This is why some people are hesitant to accept an invitation to serve as godparents to a child.

Here are some of the things Filipino Catholic parents should keep in mind when selecting their child’s ninong and ninang.

ROLES OF A GODPARENT

  • Guide the religious education and spiritual formation of the person to be baptized towards the Roman Catholic faith
  • Represent the Roman Catholic Church

NOT ROLES OF A GODPARENT

  • Contribute to the “handaan” (party) after the baptism
  • Give gifts (baptism, Christmas, birthday, or anytime)
  • Give financial help
  • Give jobs or other favors when the child grows up

QUALIFICATIONS FOR A GODPARENT

  • Chosen by the person to be baptized or by the parents
  • Must have the intention of being a godparent
  • Roman Catholic in good standing
  • At least sixteen (16) years old
  • NOT the child’s mother or father

RESPONSIBILITIES OF A GODPARENT ON THE DAY OF THE BAPTISM

  • Wear church-appropriate clothes
  • Attend the pre-baptism seminar for godparents
  • Participate in the rites as needed
  • Pay the donation fee

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is there a maximum number of godparents?

No. However, the Canon Law discourages the practice of having too many sponsors.

Can a Protestant be a Roman Catholic child’s godparent?

Technically, no. The godparent must be able to fully attest to the beliefs of the Church. A Protestant or an Orthodox, even though they may be holy, cannot.

Can a Roman Catholic be a Protestant’s godparent?

Similar to the above, a Roman Catholic cannot represent the community of a Protestant or Orthodox church.

For a more exhaustive discussion on the topic of godparents in Roman Catholic baptism, please read this article.

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