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Rachel Martinez wrote:

Dear Sir,

I am hoping you can help us with an answer.

We have a young son that we baptized at three months old. Last year, his Godparents send us a letter stating they did not wish to remain in contact with us. We have no idea what brought this about.

Now, I would like to have my sister be his Godmother.

  • Do I need to re-baptize my son?

I wrote to my childhood priest but did not receive a response.

I would be so thankful to you for any advice.

God's love to you,


  { Do I need to re-baptize my son if his Godparents have lost interest and I have a new Godparent? }

Mike replied:

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for the question.

Even though your son's Godparents do not wish to remain in contact, for whatever reason, they still took on the promise to:

  • regularly pray for your son, and
  • oversee his spiritual well being.

They will be accountable for this on their judgment day.

Once a Godparent, always a Godparent.

Baptism, like Confirmation and Holy Orders, are sacraments that can only be performed once on the recipient. All three of these sacraments place a special character on the recipient's soul.

In Baptism, it makes your son:

  • a new creation in Jesus' Divine Mystical Body
  • a son of God, the Father, and
  • a New Adam.

Once that is done, there is no need to do it again.

I have a niece, Katie, who is in a similar situation as you. Her Godfather just didn't care anymore and to my knowledge never keeps in touch with Kate.

Although I am not Katie's Godfather, I nevertheless:

  • pray regularly for her... as well as all my brother's kids and
  • strive to be myself without being overly religious or pushy.

Although I am the Godfather for only one of my brother's four kids, I strive to be a Spiritual Godfather for all four of them. I recommend your sister take on a similar role.

Thanks again for the question and for visiting our site.

Hope this helps,


Rachel replied:

Dear Mike.

Thank you for your response and taking the time to write.

I have had this matter on my mind and wanted to put it to rest. I plan to write to his former godparents and tell them that I intend to use my sister. How someone can do that to a child is really beyond me.

You are really doing a wonderful service by having this web site.

Thank you very much,

Rachel Martinez

Mike replied:

Hi Rachel,

I don't deny that you are in a difficult situation. I talked with a Monsignor-friend of mine and he confirmed that there is no process to change Godparents.

In your letter, I would find out why they do not wish to remain in contact with the family first, then address the issue of the responsibilities of being a Godparent, but on a conditional basis:

That you don't write to blast the heck out of them. As I stated earlier, they still have the obligation to pray on a regular basis for your son, whether you ever see these prayers or not.

Suggestions for your letter:

  • Maybe you can suggest that they send your son a Novena of Masses card on a regular basis like on his birthday and on Easter Sunday.

    It would cost them no more then $5 to $10/card.

  • Tell them that because they no longer have an interest of remaining in contact with the family, you plan to have your sister assist them as the spiritual godparent for your son so she can set a virtuous, holy example by which your son can see and live by.

You want to keep as good a relationship with them as you can.

Hope this helps,


Richard replied:

Hi, Mike —

Your advice for Mrs. Martinez was just right.

It would be very good for Mrs. Martinez' sister to act as a mentor for the boy in spiritual matters, making up for the absence of the godparents. God bless her! I'm assuming that the sister is a practicing Catholic and willing to take on the responsibilities.

It would be good to let the family's current pastor know about this. He's probably had to help families in similar situations before, and may be able to offer some advice.

This would be an informal relationship so there wouldn't be any change in church records. If the family wants to speak of the boy's aunt as his godmother, there's no harm done.

Godparents cannot be changed officially, because they are the historical witnesses to the baptism, and because they have a permanent spiritual relationship with the baptized.

Eventually, when the boy prepares for Confirmation, he may decide to select his aunt as his Confirmation sponsor. That would certainly be fitting.

For now, sending a letter to the original godparents about this change probably isn't necessary or even advisable. I suspect they would take it as a rejection, and it might confuse them about whether they remain the boy's godparents.

I hope this helps to make things easier for Mrs. Martinez.

Yours in Christ,

— RC

Fr. Jonathan sent me the following updated answer:

Hi, Mike —

There was a ruling by Rome that Rachel may find helpful.

In 1984, the Congregation for Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments Issued a ruling [Prot. No. 1031/84, October 20, 1984] stating,

“If a sponsor dies or the parents are angry with the sponsor, the parents may request that the names of substitute godparents be added to the baptismal records. It is evident that it is impossible to replace a sponsor, who was physically present at the time of baptism for the presentation of the candidate or was present through a proxy. However, another person can be named to fulfill the duties of the sponsor. This may be done by the diocesan bishop, if he judges it opportune.”

Others have interpreted based on this that:

“It seems reasonable that this could also be done by the pastor. However, the names of the sponsors at the baptism must not be removed from the baptismal register.”

I would argue, based on this reference that they might actually be able to do what they asked; namely, add to the record for the peace of their family.

Fr. Jonathan

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