The ideal sponsor is someone fully immersed in their Catholic faith, and it’s wonderful when you have sponsors like this. In my experience, however, sponsors are sometimes not much more catechized than the catechumens. When that is the case, the sponsor coordinator is really a sponsor to the sponsors.
If you find yourself working with under-catechized sponsors, consider these four points.
The role of the sponsor coordinator
The “sponsor to the sponsors” will need to do some hand holding, follow up, and reassuring. Some things to try include:
- create a regular check in process so the sponsors always feel like you are “right there”
- maybe a weekly e-mail between sessions
- or regular phone calls
Evaluate the sponsors regularly
Ask the fledgling sponsors evaluative questions about their catechumens, such as:
- does your catechumen know what the readings are for this coming Sunday?
- or when you pray with your catechumen, how comfortable his he or she with offering prayer?
Train sponsors for the RCIA rituals
Choose a time about three weeks before the Rite of Acceptance to have a meeting of just the sponsors.
- Give them each a copy of Ron Lewinski’s book, Guide for Sponsors (LTP). (You can give it to them before the meeting, but make sure they all bring it.)
- At your meeting, go over the chapter titled “Stages of the Catechumenate”
- And the one titled “Sponsors Checklist”
Then meet with the sponsors the day before each major rite:
- Rite of Acceptance
- Rite of Sending
At each meeting, lead the sponsors through the rite.
- Start with prayer and a brief explanation of the rite
- Walk through the entire rite with them, step by step. (Sponsors only; no catechumens)
Meet at other times with the sponsors
Then find a couple of other times in the calendar to meet as a group, between the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Sending.
- Check in and see how things are going
- Go through the sponsor checklist again and ask what’s going well and what needs strengthening
What tips do you have for training sponsors? What resources do you use? What successes (or frustrations) have you had?
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