The duties and responsibilities of a Confirmation sponsor are not just for the occasion itself, but for life. It should not be undertaken lightly and the role should be fully understood before it is accepted.
Rules for Being a Confirmation Sponsor:
There are some rules surrounding Confirmation. Catholics are not allowed to be sponsors for Confirmation candidates of other Christian religions and vice versa. Candidates for Confirmation also choose their sponsors themselves. Parents cannot be Confirmation sponsors, but baptismal sponsors, or godparents, are thought to be good choices, if their is an ongoing relationship. Sponsors have to be at least 17 years of age and need to be practicing church members themselves. They must also have been Confirmed in order to sponsor another at Confirmation.
The Importance of Being a Confirmation Sponsor:
If asked to be a Confirmation sponsor, take some time to think about it before accepting. You are not just agreeing to take a role at the Confirmation ceremony itself, you are agreeing to a lifetime commitment. You need to be sure that you'll be a good role model for the candidate, not just now, but in the future. You are required to maintain a relationship with the candidate once they are Confirmed and be there to offer spiritual guidance when it is needed.
Prior to the Confirmation Ceremony:
Before the Confirmation ceremony itself, you will be required to attend various religious events. As well as a sponsor orientation meeting (and depending on your religious denomination) you may be expected to attend ceremonies like the day of reflection, mass, certain other rites as well as Confirmation ceremony rehearsals. Make a note of any dates when you will be needed early on and ensure that you keep them free. You should set aside time to pray for, and with, the Confirmation candidate before and after Confirmation, as well as during the ceremony itself. Also talk with the candidate about what confirmation means and it's importance. Try to answer questions they might have as fully as you can. If you don't know all the answers, find out and get back to them. Confirmation is a serious commitment and they should enter into it fully informed.
During the Confirmation Ceremony:
The role of a Confirmation sponsor during the ceremony is easy. You simply place your hand on the shoulder of your candidate and inform the bishop (or whichever religious person is running the ceremony) of their name. The main role you provide is of a supportive presence.
Gifts for the Confirmation Candidate:
You should give the candidate a gift to celebrate their Confirmation. Things like a Bible or rosary (if the candidate is Catholic) are traditional, but something chosen especially for your candidate, and with personal significance, is even better.
The duties and responsibilities of a Confirmation sponsor continue after the Confirmation ceremony. You should carry on praying for, and mentoring, your confirmed candidate. Invite them to religious occasions and establish as close a bond as you can with them. Even if you live far away, modern technology makes keeping in touch relatively simple. You should maintain a worthwhile correspondence, at least, so that the Confirmed candidate knows that they can seek your spiritual guidance whenever necessary.