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This weekend, I was fortunate enough to participate in my niece’s Confirmation, as her sponsor.  She’s also my God daughter, so we go way back.  In all seriousness though, I was honored that she chose me for this immense role.  It’s more than just a little intimidating, “presenting” a candidate for Confirmation to the bishop.  Standing there, beside her, with my hand on her shoulder, literally leading her towards the representative of the Church, saying to everyone by my actions that I know she is ready for this step.  Humbling doesn’t begin to describe it.

Humbling as it was though, this wasn’t my first time.   You see, I’m a bit of a sponsor whore.  (Some people are media whores.  I settle for getting overly involved in the Sacraments.)  Oh yeah, I was an R. C. I. A. junkie in college.  In case you don’t know what that means, when someone in college chooses to convert or to come back to their faith, they don’t always have someone close to them who they know is a practicing Catholic and who can therefore sponsor them. Most colleges solve this problem by recruiting volunteers from the student body to serve as God parents and sponsors.  I signed up freshman year, and it was then that I met a woman who became one of my absolute best friends in the world.  By chance, the person I was originally assigned to left and her sponsor had to drop out as well.  We were reassigned and the rest is history.  The next year, I sponsored another young woman, with whom I have, sad to say, fallen out of touch.  If you’re out there, Georgina, drop me a line!  She was a wonderful person too!  And so different from my first candidate.  I still pray for her everyday.  My third year, well, let’s just say it didn’t end well.  I take my responsibilities as sponsor seriously (it is, after all my soul on the line) and when I chose to not recommend the young lady I was assigned to, it was made clear I was no longer welcome in the program.  It was a [very] sad day for me, but I’m still glad I made the decision I made.

So that’s what? Two from college, and my most recent niece, and then add in two other nieces, and I’ve got five, count ’em: five!  That’s right.  I’ve sponsored five young women in their Confirmation.  With each one, the task is just as great, and the responsibility weighs just as heavily.  One might think I’d be used to it by now, but no.  You see, each one of these young women has entrusted to me a sacred duty, to help guide them on their way to heaven.  It can make life difficult (for all of us) at times, when the situation warrants me saying something that is not necessarily what anyone wants to hear.  But, I’ve had to listen to my own sponsor before when I’ve needed reminders of how I’m supposed to behave, and I’m grateful she is there to help me.  With each one, I’m more humbled than before that yet another person has seen in me something I don’t see myself that has caused them to ask me to participate in their lives in a very real way.  Humbled is the only word for it (unless you think dumbfounded works; there’s that too).

As I sat in the church next to my 10 year old niece on Saturday, I thought about the awesome task ahead of me.  For the rest of my life, I am responsible for living as if she is watching me.  I have to make my life of faith a model for her to follow.  I have to live, to paraphrase Canon Law, an exemplary Catholic lifestyle.  Will I succeed?  Undoubtedly not.  Will I continue to try?  To the best of my ability.  When I die, I want to be able to say, with no regret, that “I [did] not lose any of what He gave me” (John 6:39).  Won’t you pray for me, and for all sponsors and God parents, that we may prove equal to our tasks?  Thanks so much.

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