As one of several parish couples active in our Godparent Program, Mitch and Niki Messmer know firsthand the impact this ministry can have on the youth of the Blessed Sacrament faith community.
“Married adult couples of the parish sponsor — or ‘godparent’ — a group of freshman high schoolers by gathering Wednesday evenings throughout the school year and stay with them until they are confirmed in the fall of senior year,” Niki says. “This allows a connection to be built between the godparents and high schoolers which is essential since the program covers sensitive topics such as faith, sexuality, and finances.”
The Godparent Program is an opportunity for high school students to grow in their faith in a small group setting, with the guidance of adult mentor couples, or “Godparents.” Starting their freshman year, the students continue with the same group until they begin Confirmation preparation, halfway through their junior year.
The groups meet weekly, on Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at the church. Most groups consist of 10 to 12 same-age peers, along with the adult mentors. The small groups cover a variety of topics over the two and a half years that they meet — from the importance of communication, relationships, and prayer during their freshman year, to Theology of the Body, Catholic social teaching, and leadership their sophomore year, to financial responsibility and stewardship their junior year. Occasionally, the groups also participate in social or service-oriented activities together.
The small group setting allows young people to learn about their faith, as well as hear about the journeys and experiences of others who are also committed to the same beliefs.
The Messmers became involved in the program in 2019 when their younger son, Mason, was a high school freshman. Deb Wetzel, the Religious Education Director at Blessed Sacrament, contacted Niki and asked if they would be willing to become catechists for the program.
“My response was that I was really uncomfortable taking on that role, so I wasn’t really interested — but if she couldn’t find anyone else to volunteer, to call me back,” Niki says. “And guess what? She called me back. Mitch and I are not uncomfortable in our relationship with God, it’s that we are not teachers and felt uncomfortable with being in such an important position, which is helping impressionable youth make or strengthen their relationship with God, understand their faith through Jesus’ teachings, and apply Catholic principles to daily life.”
After discussing and praying about it, Niki and Mitch decided the service would help them grow and it would help Mason see them taking an active role in his journey towards Confirmation. The Messmers officially ended their Godparent group before Christmas 2021, but let the students know they would be available in the future if they need help, assistance, or guidance.
“I felt our role as Godparents was to help connect the high schoolers to God by taking the program lessons and making them applicable to daily life,” Niki says. “I also felt our role was to be additional adult resources for the kids to go to for help, guidance, or just another set of ears to hear about their struggles or successes.”
“While our Godparent role responsibilities were to go through the lesson plans, we also tried to impress upon the kids to talk to their families about the topics we discussed in our weekly classes,” Mitch adds. “It’s important for parents and other adults in the kids’ lives to enforce Jesus’ teachings.”
Being involved in the program helped Niki and Mitch to grow alongside the students they were ministering to.
“We have grown close to God through participating in the Godparent program simply by learning with our high schoolers,” Niki says. “Some of the lessons we went through that were related to the Bible and Jesus’ teaching were not topics Mitch and I recall discussing when we went through religious education. This involvement also brought us closer as a family since we had group discussions at home about some of the topics.”
If you would like more information on our Godparent Program, or if you are interested in learning more about becoming a Godparent couple, please contact Director of Religious Education Debra Wetzel at 308-395-8521.