“As a godparent, you will have a special relationship with this Child. Your ongoing presence in this child’s life, your willingness to listen, to offer guidance, and to celebrate special moments in her life will be a wonderful gift. But this child has a gift to give to you as well. Children have a wonderful capacity for joy in their relationship with God. As adults, we can learn a great deal from their simplicity and earnestness, their trust and their love. Being a godparent offers a special opportunity to participate in and be blessed by the child’s life in God. It is an invitation to a lifelong spiritual friendship. ”(The Godparent Book. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1993)
This is a quote that was included in Tom Henn's (CEO of MomsTribute.com) book that he wrote about his mother, Lois. It summed up what he wanted to say but it did more; it gave him a vital clue as to who is mom was in her childhood days. Put into words, he could now understand the huge smile he saw on his mom's face when she talked about her godparents, Nellie and Edwin Conway Sr.
Nellie and Edwin Conway lived just a streetcar ride from her home at Hamlin Avenue, Chicago in the 1930s. It is suggested that the Conways were very openly faithful in their Christian life and shared this love with others including their goddaughter, Lois. Tom, her son, recalls:
“Our mom said she felt her godparents’ presence, and how important a role they played in her life growing up. She would light up when speaking about her godparents as if it was yesterday. It was as if she went back in time.”
When family get-togethers at her godparents' home were photographed it is seen that the happy group included her cousins, Cookie, who was called to the holy orders as a Roman Catholic nun with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Edwin Conway Jr, an ordained Roman Catholic priest. Lois’s godfather was mentioned on the occasion of his son, Edwin's, death in 2004 that Edwin Sr. and his wife, Nellie, were “faithful parishioners at Our Lady of the Angels. They were a wonderful family” he continued, “with Edwin Conway Sr. very involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
Embracing the role of a godparent goes beyond traditional ceremonies and occasional gift-giving. It is about being a steadfast figure in the godchild's life, navigating the tapestry of their experiences alongside them, and providing support during pivotal moments. By acting as mentors, confidants, and role models, godparents help shape the moral and spiritual framework within which the child learns to make decisions and view the world. In this intricate dance of guidance and growth, the godparent's influence subtly intertwines with the child's personal development, leaving an indelible mark on their character and life choices.
In today's society, the role of a godparent remains as relevant as ever, albeit with a modern twist. Contemporary godparents often take on a more secular and supportive role in the child's life. Rather than focusing solely on religious instruction, they become symbols of stability and sources of unconditional love. In the digital age, godparents can maintain a connection with their godchild through various forms of communication, ensuring that distance is not a barrier to a meaningful relationship. Their role in modeling positive behaviors, offering advice, and being present for life's milestones continues to be a cherished and invaluable aspect of family and community life.
For those interested in deepening their understanding of godparenting in the United States, the following resources are highly recommended:
These resources form only a part of the web of support available to godparents. Each offers a unique perspective on godparenting that encompasses the traditional religious responsibilities while also acknowledging the evolving nature of this special role.