The Heart And Soul Of Godparenting

When Carla Miller, 23, walked into her aunt and uncle’s house in 2011 and saw her infant cousin for the first time, she began to cry. She and the rest of her family members had prayed for the child during his gestation, arriving as he did unexpected to an older mother. Here he was, healthy, and Miller could not help but weep.

Miller’s aunt, Lenet Pacheco, said she knew from that moment that her niece was the perfect candidate to be little Eliseo’s godmother.

“We wanted someone that Eliseo could rely on to give him love and guidance whenever he needed it,” Pacheco told HuffPost by email. Miller “radiates this love and goodness that we notice every time we see her.”

Several weeks later, Miller returned to the house for what she thought would be a casual dinner, she told HuffPost over the phone. Halfway through the meal, her uncle brought out a bottle of champagne and Pacheco produced the invitations they had prepared for Eliseo’s baptism. As her eyes skimmed the page, Miller got to the bottom and was shocked to see her name listed as godmother.

“It was kind of like walking into a surprise party because we were getting together to celebrate that I was going to be a godmother to my cousin,” she said.

Carla Miller with her godson, Eliseo.

Miller was raised in what she describes as “Mexican-Catholic culture,” where godparents play a prominent role in family life. Everyone in her family has a godparent, often selected from aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins. Some of the adults have multiple godchildren, like Miller’s mother does, and some, like Miller, became godparents at a young age. Miller was just 20, a junior in college, when her aunt and uncle made the request.

Godparents are chosen by the baby’s biological parents before the baptism ceremony, during which the honorary couple holds the child and “presents” him or her to the congregation, Miller explained.

Once the child reaches about second grade, he or she is invited to choose a confirmation sponsor, who will guide them through the next sacrament. This person often acts as a second godparent, especially if the two develop a strong bond.

For her confirmation, the then 7-year-old Miller chose Pacheco to be her sponsor and presented the honor to her with a surprise party much like the one her aunt threw for her in 2011. Their relationship blossomed over the years and continues to deepen as the two have become comadres, or co-mothers.

“With my aunt, my comadre now, I always felt really like I had this link with her,” Miller said. “We’re so excited to be comadres [now]. … We have a second level there.”

Over the three years since she…

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