As students throughout the Diocese of Burlington prepare for confirmation, they often write letters to Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne, telling him how they are preparing to receive this particular Sacrament of Initiation into the Catholic Church.

One of the details they share in their letters is who they have chosen to be their confirmation sponsor and why.

Some students find their grandparents to be shining examples of the faith.

“My sponsor is my grandfather. He is a very hard-working man who I look up to very much. He attends Mass every weekend and every Holy Day of Obligation. He plans his weekend around going to Mass. Church is a priority for him and I hope that when I am his age it will be the same.”

“My sponsor is my grandmother. She is very Catholic and has always been in my life. I hope to be like her when I become an adult. Everything about her is inspiring to me and I knew it would mean a lot to the both of us if she would be my sponsor.”

“I have chosen my grandmother [as my sponsor]. She is someone I look up to in many ways and she will always guide me in the direction of God. I trust her guidance as well as the Church.”

Other students selected their siblings to accompany them along their faith journeys in this special way.

“For my sponsor I chose my sister because she is 22 and she is still strong in her faith and I admire her for it. She is someone who is going to continue to guide me through my faith.”

Other family members or family friends can also provide guidance on how to live as a member of the Catholic Church.

“I have chosen my aunt to be my sponsor. I admire her newly strengthened relationship with the Church.”

“For my confirmation sponsor, I chose my aunt. She has never missed a week of church. When she goes to church she eats the Body of Christ from the priest because she believes that is the closest we can get to God on Earth.”

“I have chosen a wonderful family friend as my confirmation sponsor. He had an uncle that was a priest. He travels all over the world and has celebrated Mass in every country and state that he has visited. He will be a wonderful role model and will continue to help me to grow my faith.”

Choosing a godparent as a confirmation sponsor continues their role of passing along the faith that began at the student’s baptism.

“I chose my godmother to be my sponsor because I know that she carries out the faith and Word of Jesus really well. I think she will be a very good spiritual guide for me.”

Young or old, man or woman, family or friend, every single one of us has the potential to inspire and encourage others to participate more fully in their faith community and connect more deeply with their faith. Young people, like those preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation who wrote these letters, crave authentic witnesses of what it means to strive to live lives of holiness. Compassion, presence, strength, persistence, courage and a commitment to attending Mass are things that they notice and that model discipleship in their eyes.

All of us who want to strengthen the Church should intentionally consider our words and actions so the messages they send reflect what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ. Young disciples are in our midst.

—Originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.