New article on pilgrimages at CatholicMom

You all know I’ve gone on a pilgrimage to a St. Anne shrine every year for the past five years, as a way of saying thank you to St. Anne for her intercession. When my family and I first started doing so, we were still in the time of our parenthood where going on trips was one of the worst things I could think of doing! Remembering those first couple trips, and seeing how much better it’s gotten, inspired my July article for CatholicMom.com: Pilgrimages for Parents of Young Children. I’d love to hear what other tips you would add!

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My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

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Thoughts on Lisieux (et al.)?

If you’re looking for a great Prime Day deal, look no further than my book of Marian names! It’s currently on sale, and there’s a $5.00 off promotion running as well! 

(You guys had SO MANY great thoughts and ideas for Kathleen’s TV character!! I loved reading them all, both here on the blog and on Facebook and Instagram! You often fill in holes in my knowledge and make connections I didn’t see. I hope to post the name Kathleen chooses soon!)

Abby from Appellation Mountain posted on Facebook a list of names trending on her site last week, which included Lisieux — a name I would only expect to see among Sancta Nomina readers! (As in St. Therese of Lisieux.) One of her readers asked how it’s pronounced, and since I’ve heard it said a couple different ways by Americans for whom English is their native language, I thought I’d do a poll on Twitter to see if one pronunciation was used by a clear majority. I first asked my mom (who took years of French) and checked out Forvo to try to replicate in writing what the actual French pronunciation is, then I added in other pronunciations I’ve heard, and posted the poll to Twitter.

lisieux

Do you see how many votes I got? Eighty five (85). Eighty five! That’s like, four times as many as I usually get for my name polls! I received several comments too, who knew this would be such a hotbed of controversy??

In hindsight, I realized I should have phrased my question differently — I wasn’t looking for the correct French pronunciation of the town, though I can see that it could come across that way. I was looking for how *you* say it — I know not everyone says it the French way, and I wanted to gather data for how the average American Catholic Joe/Jane says it (apologies to my non-American readers! I’m always happy to get your input, even if it’s not entirely relevant for American parents). I also realized it would be helpful to add the context: “Lisieux as a given first name for an American baby girl.”

Those who know and use the authentic French pronunciation were well represented both by the poll results (receiving 33% of the votes, only one percentage point behind the leader of lih-SOO, with 34%) and especially in the comments. I do appreciate how frustrating it can be for those who *know* how to say a name to hear it said “wrong” — Sean said as “SEEN” is one example for me. But even then, I’ve written about how, when it comes to proper names, no one has the market on the “correct” pronunciation.

One comment surprised me — it suggested that bestowing the name Lisieux in honor of St. Therese without using the pronunciation she would recognize is disrespectful. I disagree, and the three names that came to mind immediately as names American Catholic parents use that they generally say differently from the way their saints would have said them were Avila, Jacinta, and Kateri. I’d never seen it suggested that the American English way of saying those names is disrespectful, so I’m not sure why Lisieux would be any different. Regardless, I always think that parents’ goal of naming their baby after a beloved saint is the opposite of disrespectful. I’m trying to think of examples where I think the execution of such a lovely desire might border on disrespectful, but I can’t think of any.

I’d be interested in your input! Both on what pronunciation you would use, if you were an American Catholic parent for whom English is your first language and you wanted to name your daughter Lisieux, and whether you think using a pronunciation different than how the saint would have said it (for Lisieux or any name) is disrespectful.


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

[Baby] name consultation: A TV character needs a name!

You guys! I got the most fun email a few weeks ago, from Kathleen Jones — a screenwriter and actress who is currently writing “the first Catholic scripted comedy”! She’s got this so-professional writing web site with all kinds of amazing credentials — in fact, the first TV show she wrote for is called Wholly Broken and is currently on DirecTV on a faith-and-family channel called UpTV! (She’s also on Instagram!)

And she wants my help!! 😲🤩😎 Kathleen writes,

[I’m] currently writing a Catholic TV pilot: a Parks and Rec style comedy about a failing Catholic parish and the laypeople that try to bring it back to life … My hope for my show is that it will get picked up by a network like Hulu or Netflix — a faithful show on a secular network.

I’m writing because I would love a name consultation for my main character’s name! Her name needs to go well together with the others, not be similar to another character on any other TV show, not accidentally be the name of a real person, and be Catholic. I’ve had such trouble finding the right name. Her name, currently, is Olivia. But I just don’t find that funny! It’s too many syllables, and there’s a few characters on TV named Olivia. I’ve considered Marina, which is secretly  Marian but not obviously religious sounding. But I need help!

HOW COOL IS THIS!!

Of course I was all I’m here for you sister! and she sent me THE SCRIPT and I feel like I’m the name consultant to the stars now, no big deal.

🤩🤩🤩

Some details:

There are a few names I’m set on already.

Set names:
Molly: her older sister, very devout, with five kids
Dale: her love interest (think Jim from Office, but dorkier)
Mario: Molly’s husband (handsome, Mexican, Marine)

Conditions:
– Not a main character name in another television comedy or famous drama (no Leslie, Ann, Pam, Rachel, Monica, etc).
– Not very Catholic, but reminiscent.
– Sounds good with Molly and Dale.
– But doesn’t sound like or rhyme with Molly and Dale (not an M name or a D name).
– A new letter name, so that nobody else in the show has a name that starts with the same letter.
– Simple and easy to pronounce, or unique and easy to pronounce (like Felicity, but not that because of the show Felicity).
– Her last name is Benny. Can’t be the real name of a person alive (Google and Facebook to be sure!), or else I could get sued by that person. A fairly common name is best, or one that is unique enough that nobody else has it (like Leslie Knope, perfect! Easy to remember, simple, but no other Leslie Knopes exist).
– My dream is that the name is a callback to a particular saint who can be a patron saint for the show, and it’ll be a secret for only the creative team and diehard fans (hopefully we have some!).

Molly and Olivia (Olivia to be changed) were raised loosely Catholic in a family that didn’t really practice. Molly is a fierce revert. Olivia is a hippie, fallen-away Catholic who gets roped into being a parish secretary by Molly.”

This was definitely a different kind of challenge for me! Naming a fictional character is such a different thing! As you all know, when I’m offering ideas for a real baby, I take into account the parents’ taste in names, as evidenced by the names they’ve already chosen for their older kids, if they have older kids, as well as the names that are on their list of names they’re considering. So I tried to get into Molly and [Olivia]’s parents’ heads, based exclusively on Molly’s name (sweet, possibly Irish leanings) and [Olivia]’s age (names that were popular 26 years ago, 1993-ish), and the fact that the parents weren’t super into the faith.

But then, on top of that, the name has to fit the character as she is now, as an adult, with her specific personality and characteristics and how she fits into the story arc. Also, I think it can’t feel to audiences like an outdated name — even if the name is legitimately someone [Olivia]’s age would have. And I had to keep in mind: “not very Catholic, but reminiscent”; “sounds good with Molly and Dale”; “new letter”; “simple and easy to pronounce, or unique and easy to pronounce”; “not the name of a person alive”; sounds reasonable with the last name Benny (which I love, by the way — I assume Kathleen chose it because of its connection to “blessed”? Very clever!), and a name with a patron saint. Such a fun and interesting challenge!

I found the most difficult part to be “not the name of a person alive” — that is amazingly hard to work with! But then Kathleen explained that a more common name — where the first + last is almost generic — is fine.

I began as I always do, by I looking up Molly, Olivia, and Dale in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it offers, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I thought doing so for those three names would give me a good starting point. I looked in my own book of Marian names for any ideas that would be impeccably Marian but also not-so-obvious (Olivia actually fits that criteria!). I looked up Molly’s popularity in her birth year (1984, which, incidentally, is the same year my own sister Molly was born!) and then looked up names with a similar popularity in [Olivia]’s birth year (1993). I searched my own mental files for names that *felt* right (with my very subjective pov), based on what Kathleen said she was looking for and the vibe I myself got from her script.

Based on all that, here are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions!

(1) Tess(a)
Tess Benny is my number one suggestion for Kathleen! I love how Tess is sort of spare and no-nonsense but also with a bit of a free-spirited feel, which I thought might fit [Olivia]’s personality well; I love that it’s a great name for a sister to Molly; I also loved that it could be either a nickname for or a variant of Teresa, as in Mother Teresa, which fits in perfectly with the character’s trip to India. Tessa would also be great.

(2) Kate/Cate
Not only am I Katherine/Kate, sister of Molly, but Katie is a style match for Molly per the BNW. Kate Benny sounds great, I think, though Kate is an extremely popular name for fictional screen characters, so that probably crosses it off right there. However, I was feeling like [Olivia], being that she’s going through a transition time in her life, and with her general personality being free-spirited, is the kind of person that might really like a name with options. Katherine/Catherine provides several possibilities, depending on the person’s mood and personality: Kate, Katie, Kathy, Kat (which has a little big of an edgier vibe that might fit [Olivia]’s personality well), and I’ve even seen Cass used as a nickname for Catherine, which could be great. Cass Benny. Kat Benny. Another option is Kath — I knew a girl who went by Kath, and there aren’t any Kath Bennys that I can see. The nice thing about using a Katherine/Kate name is there are loads of patron saint options, like St. Catherine of Siena, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Katherine of Alexandria, St. Katharine Drexel, and even St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Here’s a fuller list.

(3) Dana
Okay, I know this is a D name, and I was totally on board with no D names because of Dale, but Dana was a name I saw when I was perusing the lists of popular names in 1984 and 1993 and I noticed it immediately because of the Irish singer Dana (nee Rosemary Scallon), who sang that beautiful song Totus Tuus for World Youth Day and I think is fairly well known in Catholic circles. She says her name like DAN-na (not DAY-na), and if Kathleen’s looking for a subtle nod to the faith, Dana could be perfect. So I had to at least mention it!

(4) Quinn
Quinn is another name I noticed in the SSA lists, which struck another note I’d thought of in regards to [Olivia] — I thought she seemed like a character who might be comfortable with an offbeat name, as I mentioned above in regards to Kath, Kat, and Cass, and the androgyny and less common idea of a surname as given name is the kind of offbeat idea that might be great. Ven. Edel Quinn is fairly popular among my readers, and I’ve known a couple little girls named in her honor with both Edel and Quinn.

(5) Casey
Speaking of surnamey names, Casey is another great one, for our new Bl. Solanus Casey. Another idea — though it moves away from Bl. Solanus Casey, so maybe loses its Solanus connection, but retains its Irish sound — is to have her go by the initials K.C. It could be fun to come up with what the initials stand for — it could even be something like Katherine Casey, thus getting in that Solanus connection.

(6) Bridget, Bridie/Bridey, Brede
Bridget’s Irish and saintly, but also used by those who don’t have a strong connection to the faith or to St. Bridget/Brigid, and makes a natural sister to Molly, I think. Bridget Jones comes to mind, but [Olivia] could go by the awesome nickname Bridie/Bridey. The former spelling I think is more common for this traditional nickname for Bridget, but the latter is the spelling used in Brideshead Revisited, which could be another very subtle nod to the faith, as BR is a great work of Catholic fiction. Along the same lines, I’m currently reading In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden, which is about a woman’s entrance into the fictional Benedictine (Benny!) convent, Brede Abbey, and I think anyone who’s familiar with the book would automatically think of it when hearing/seeing “Brede.” The fact that Molly’s and [Olivia]’s parents weren’t “religious” isn’t necessarily a problem — Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer is named after Rumer Godden, for example, so Molly’s and [Olivia]’s parents could have just been fans of the author in naming their daughter Brede. Regarding the B first name with a B last name, some people don’t care for alliteration, but I myself love it, and I find it to be particularly appealing and memorable for a fictional character. Also, Kathleen had said that something she doesn’t like about Olivia Benny is that it isn’t “funny” — an alliterative name might satisfy that. (I should also note that normally I’d stay away from a name ending in the “ee” sound if the last name ends in the “ee” sound, but since she already has Molly Benny, I figured that wasn’t an issue here.)

(7) Clare
Clare is a great name to consider because it’s St. Clare, yes, but also Co. Clare in Ireland, so again — a natural sister to Molly, in my opinion. Though perhaps Clare is a bit tame for [Olivia]?

(8) Lucy
Moving away a bit from the Irish influence, Molly also has a sweet feel to it that a name like Lucy fits in with well. Lucy is a saint’s name as well, of course. I could see [Olivia] preferring a nickname like “Luce” or maybe even better, the spelling Luz, which has a contrary feel (given that Luz is Spanish and [Olivia] isn’t Hispanic). Or Lux, which also means light and has that edgy “X.”

(9) Cara
Cara’s another name that I spent some time thinking might be perfect — it’s appropriate popularity-wise for the time she was born; it means “beloved” in Italian, so Cara Benny would be “beloved and blessed,” which is lovely; and there was this amazing comment left on my blog recently: “Kara isn’t a saint name, but “Cara” means “face” in Spanish. St Therese’s full title is “St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face”, so a child named Cara/Kara could claim her as a patron. Cara also means “way” in Indonesian, which is especially pertinent if you’re a fan of Josemaría Escrivá.”

(10) Amanda, Amy
Both Amanda and Amy fit in with the kind of popularity Molly had in 1984 and 1993, and both mean “lovable” or “beloved” — like with Cara Benny “translating” to “beloved and blessed,” both Amanda and Amy could do so as well. I like the nickname Mandy … though is that too cutesy for [Olivia]? I could see “Ames” being a nickname for Amy that would suit [Olivia].

(11) Elizabeth
Another of my sisters is Elizabeth, so in real life it’s a good match for a sister of a Molly, but I also like Elizabeth for a character that’s trying to figure out who she is because it has SO MANY nicknames! Betsy, Libby, Liz/Lizzie, Libbett, Ellie, Beth, Lily, and a bunch of others. I especially like Libby, for its possible “liberty” and “liberal” nods, which seem consistent with [Olivia]’s personality, and Beth, for the alliteration. Beth Benny. Though maybe Beth is too vanilla? Both Libby and Beth seem like good matches for Molly’s sister.

(12) Bethany
Speaking of Beth, I know Kathleen said Olivia seemed too long, but I’m kind of digging Bethany! It had a peak of popularity around when Molly would have been born (no. 93) and was no. 115 when [Olivia] would have been born, so it fits popularity-wise and doesn’t need religious parents to make sense of it. That said, it was the home of Martha and Mary, which is kind of cool for Molly and [Olivia] being such different sisters. And Behind the Name describes it as “used primarily by Catholics in honour [sic] of Mary of Bethany” — how cool! Bethany Benny is awesome.

(13) Greer
I love the name Greer. It’s Scottish, which can fit with Molly, and it derives from Gregory, so there’s a great connection to a great patron saint, but only the most diehard name nerds (or readers of my blog!) will know that!

(14) Natalie
I love Natalie because it’s appropriate in terms of its popularity arc, and with a direct connection to the faith that is, at the same time, not so obvious to those not tuned into such things. The nickname Nat makes me think of a traveler/wanderer/free-spirited type, and also has that androgynous feel that I think might suit [Olivia].

(15) Hannah
My last idea is Hannah. It’s a form of Anne, so St. Anne (patroness of my blog!) can be patron, though I’m sure no one would make that connection; I considered Anna but Hannah seemed to suit [Olivia] better for some gut-level reason. At first I thought the similarity of Hannah Benny to Benihana was problematic, but then I thought maybe it could provide that “funny” element that you said was missing from Olivia Benny.

And those are all my ideas! Whew! I really tried to cover all the bases and give Kathleen lots of options. What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for a twenty-something “hippie, fallen-away Catholic” whose sister’s name is Molly?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Ireland part 4: Thaddeus

Part 1: Edel

Part 2: Radek

Part 3: Anne

A funny little thing I do when looking through books of Saints’ names or Catholic names is to see if there’s a listing for Thaddeus — it’s one of my benchmarks to see how extensive the book is. If Thaddeus isn’t included as its own entry, I don’t usually think the book has much new to offer, that’s how rare it is for me to find Thaddeus listed as its own entry in a Catholic name book. It’s always included in the entry for Jude, which I find so frustrating — that doesn’t help someone rifling through the T section for interesting T saint names, for example, nor does it let parents know that Thaddeus can be used on its own without Jude attached (some parents need that reassurance — or even to be shown that it’s an option at all!).

(I also consider Thaddeus to be a sort of compromise benchmark — my true ideal is a name book that also includes names like Kolbe, Becket, and Campion as their own entries, but I’ve never come across that — those names are always only mentioned in the entries for Maximilian, Thomas [sometimes], and Edmund).

Anyway, I’d learned about Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty several years ago — an Irish Dominican priest who was martyred for saying Mass during the time that priests were banned in Ireland (this says he was beatified in 1992, though the previous link from 2013 says they’re still praying for his beatification) — and I developed a devotion to him because of (1) his amazing courage and faith, (2) Irish, (3) Dominican, and (4) his name (I know, it’s always about names with me :p ). I also loved learning that he’s also known as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty — I discovered that Tadhg (pronounced like the first syllable of tiger) is used as the Irish version of both Thaddeus and Timothy. (It also has a history of being used as a derogatory term for Irish Catholics … which makes me love it even more. I know one Tadhg in real life, he’s my age and his mom is from Ireland.)

BUT this post isn’t about Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty! It’s actually about ANOTHER Bl. Thaddeus I learned about on my recent trip to Ireland for my sister’s wedding: Bl. Thaddeus (Tadhg) McCarthy! So fun to learn about yet another Irish Thaddeus, who is also known as Tadhg!

I first saw info about him at North Cathedral (Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne) — you guys, there’s a bone of his in there that’s HUGE — it must be a leg bone, it’s so long! And I only just this morning discovered that there are relics of his in St. Colman’s Cathedral, which is where my sister’s actual wedding was! His story is kind of crazy: he was named bishop twice (by the Pope) of two different places (Ross, and Cork & Cloyne), but couldn’t assume his post either time because of politics regarding the previous bishops (one of whom refused to step down, the other had been chosen by the people rather than the Pope). He was also excommunicated! It was later revoked and he was cleared of all charges. Poor guy! He is known as the White Martyr of Munster, which “commemorates the mental and physical anguish he suffered while trying to do the Church’s work.”

Check Instagram later today for the photos I took! I hope your July has started off well!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Irish first + strong and saintly middle for baby boy

Moira and her husband are expecting their fifth baby on earth — their second boy!

She writes,

We have four kids on earth, two babies in heaven, and a little boy on the way. We’ve always been surprised about our babies gender until this time. I was getting the mama prick that we should find out in order to manage expectations.”

“In order to manage expectations” — well said!

Our oldest daughter is Anna Philomena. We both love the name Anna, and Philomena is my confirmation name.

Our next baby is one of the heaven babies. It was a very early miscarriage, so we decided to name the baby Marion John. John is a family name on both sides, and when you say the whole name quickly together it sounds like Mary and John. Also in honor of Mary.

Our second daughter is Carol Elizabeth. Carol is the name of her great grandmother, my maternal grandmother. It’s also in honor of John Paul the great. And Elizabeth is my middle name.

Our next child is our first boy, and his name is Brendan Athanasius. Brendan sounds strong and Irish, and I LOVE the sound of Irish boy names combined with our last name. We really love strong names, especially strong saint names. His first name has the family connection to my mother whose name is Brenna. And we both really enjoyed studying Saint Athanasius’ writings on the infant Jesus in college.

Our next baby is another heaven baby. I had a very strong feeling that it was a girl, I have no idea if I’m correct, but we did get to see her tiny little body. We buried her next to my uncle who died at only a day old. Her name is Beatrice Rose.

Our last child is a girl, and her name is Natalie Thérèse. I have always loved the name Natalie, I think it sounds really beautiful. Thérèse has the family connection to my husband’s mother who goes by Therese (pronounced Ter-eeece).

We considered the name Killian if Natalie were a boy. We thought about Killian Daniel. I was a little nervous though that it sounded like killing.

We literally have no boy names we currently agree on. 🙈 Boy names have been hard for us. We really like to choose a whole combination, a first and middle name all together.

My husband‘s full name is Michael Patrick Stephen. My full name is Moira Elizabeth Margaret Philomena.

Michael and Daniel are both family names and we would consider them for middle names. We would also consider Joseph as a middle name. I don’t really care for Patrick. I do like Cyprian (I think I like the -AN endings) but if I remember right, I think Mike didn’t love that one. Often it helps when I can suggest a whole combination, and that’s been harder with boy names. I do kind of like long and strong middle names (most of my kids middles names fall into this). Also we are both open to Edmund … with the right middle name.

We don’t usually use nicknames that correspond to the child’s name. Our oldest was called Squeaky, our second is usually Carol-E. Our son is Mr. Buddy. And Natalie is simply Natalie.”

First off, I love Moira’s older kiddos’ names — it’s so fun to be surprised by names! Philomena and Athanasius as middles are delightful surprises, as is Carol as a first name! Wow! I also loved how she and her hubby worked in family names in a creative way — Brendan for her mom Brenna, Thérèse for her mother-in-law. Marion John and Beatrice Rose are so perfect for their little ones with Jesus — and I love the “Mary and John” sound-alike. Beautiful job, all around!

I love the name Killian, and Killian Daniel is a very handsome combo! However, Moira’s not the first parent who has written to me considering the name Killian but worrying that it sounds too much like “killing.” Also, there’s usually the issue of — what nickname would a Killian go by? They’ve circumvented that by not using nicknames related to their children’s given names, but for other parents “Kill” or similar is problematic, of course. In general though, I think Killian’s a fine name, and I think it will be obvious to most (all?) people that his name isn’t “Killing.” It’s also no. 286 according to the Social Security Administration, so there are a lot of parents who felt it was fine to use.

That said, some names that are similar but avoid the “killing” issue that might appeal to Moira and her hubs include:

  • Kian: This is said like Ian with a K in front of it, and I always think of it as the perfect solution to any issue with Killian because it’s just Killian without the “ill” in the middle! For that reason, I’ve also thought Kian could make a good nickname for Killian, for those parents looking for a nickname. Kian is no. 446 according to the SSA — a top 500 name, but not super common either. Like with Killian/Cillian, Kian is a variant of Cian, and there is a St. Cian. There’s actually also a Bl. Thomas Kian, though he wasn’t Irish or Celtic. My cousin actually recently named her son Kian, I really love it.
  • Kieran: I had thought Kieran was a bit more mainstream than Killian and Kian, but I discovered it’s actually less popular than both, at no. 497. There are two Sts. Kieran.
  • Kiernan: Kiernan is the least popular of all these, not even being in the top 1000. One of the Sts. Kieran is also known as Kiernan, though they’re not related names as far as I know. This gives an interesting bit about St. Kiernan.

She also mentioned Edmund as a name that they both like, with the right middle name. I love how Edmund Daniel and Edmund Joseph sound! I wondered if they also might like to consider the Irish variant of Edmund: Eamon. It’s said like AY-men, and has the sound of the -AN ending, though the spelling is different. Like with Edmund, I quite like Eamon Daniel and Eamon Joseph.

I thought I’d also suggest a few middle name ideas along the lines of Philomena and Athanasius — “long and strong” names, as Moira put it, and I’d add “super saintly” to their description. Some that are similar in style include:

Aloysius
Augustine
Balthazar
Bartholomew
Dominic
Emmanuel
Ignatius
Leander
Leopold
Matthias
Maximilian
Nicodemus
Sebastian
Stanislaus
Thaddeus
Zechariah

Right off the bat, Edmund Aloysius strikes me as a pretty amazing combo. Also Kian Emmanuel, Kiernan Aloysius, Kieran Dominic, and Eamon Ignatius all have really nice flows in my opinion.

Okay! On to my new suggestions for this family! You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Since my book of Marian names was published, I also look through that as well for names that I think fit the parents’ taste. I admit I also latched a bit onto the fact that Moira likes Irish boy names that end in -an, so my list of suggestions is heavy on both Irish names and names that end in -an (or at least the -an sound), and most of them fit both of those criteria:

(1) Declan
This is one of the first names that came to mind when I saw that they’d considered Killian and that Moira likes -an endings. Declan is a saint’s name, and is at no. 101 on the SSA list. Middle names I might pair with it include Declan Daniel (I love alliteration, though I know not everyone does), Declan Michael, Declan Joseph, Declan Matthias.

(2) Colman
Colman is another Irish saint, and in fact my sister got married in Ireland at the beginning of June in St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, Co. Cork — it was the church my grandfather had been baptized in and had been an altar boy in before leaving for America, so Colman is near and dear to my heart. And it fits the kinds of names Moira likes! Colman Daniel, Colman Dominic, Colman Augustine, Colman Ignatius are all quite nice.

(3) Roman or Ronan
At first I was thinking Ronan for this family, since it’s an Irish boy name ending in -an, but then I saw Roman as a style match for Cyprian, and I liked that a lot for them too! So I thought I’d include them both here. I think they give off very different feels — Roman feels ancient and strong to me, while Ronan is lighter and obviously Celtic, maybe a bit wild — I like them both. Daniel, Joseph, Emmanuel, Leander, Leopold, Stanislaus, and Thaddeus all seem to go well with either one, I think. I also like Ronan Michael and Ronan Matthias, though Roman Michael/Matthias might feel too M heavy? Or maybe not? There are several Sts. Roman, and I also like that it can refer to being a Roman Catholic. There are also a few Sts. Ronan.

(4) Colin
Colin is such a great, Irish name. It’s got the -an ending sound, though not the spelling, which could also be nice in the sense that it doesn’t box them into feeling like they have to choose a name ending in -an for possible future boys, and it also gives them Marion, Brendan, and Colin — three ending spellings that give the same sound without the same spelling. It’s not a big deal at all, of course, just one of those things my namey sense enjoys. Colin Augustine is a really nice companion to Brendan Athanasius. I also like Colin Daniel, Colin Michael, Colin Joseph, Colin Matthias, Colin Sebastian. Colin is a form of Nicholas, which is where its saintliness comes from.

(5) Fulton
Ven. Fulton Sheen is well on his way to becoming beatified, and his name is a great one for a Catholic family to consider! Fulton was actually his mother’s maiden name — it’s an Irish surname — and it fits right in with the kind of names Moira likes, being Irish and ending in the -an sound. Fulton Joseph is probably my favorite, so handsome! I also like Fulton Michael, Fulton Dominic, Fulton Emmanuel, Fulton Ignatius, Fulton Leander, and Fulton Matthias.

(6) Quentin
Quentin isn’t Irish (I think it’s French) and is actually more a style match for Anna and Brendan’s middle names Philomena and Athanasius than the rest of the names Moira and her hubs have used, but it is a saint’s name, it has that ending sound Moira likes, and even more fun, it means “fifth,” which is so great for a fifth-born baby! (Fifth-born, not fifth-conceived — I’m not forgetting Marion and Beatrice!) I like Quentin Michael, Quentin Joseph, Quentin Aloysius, Quentin Ignatius, Quentin Leander, Quentin Matthias, and Quentin Sebastian.

(7) Garrett
Obviously Garrett doesn’t have the -an ending, but I was loving that Moira’s first name is represented in Marion (as Moira is a Mary variant), her first middle is Carol’s middle name, and her Confirmation name is Anna’s middle name. Margaret isn’t yet represented, and I know of a family who named a son Garrett because of their devotion to St. Margaret (Garrett from the last five letters of Margaret), which I thought was beyond cool, and Garrett has an Irishy feel and is an awesome brother name to Brendan in my opinion (and Garrett is a style match for Brendan per the BNW!). If they didn’t care for the Margaret connection, or wanted a boy saint, Garrett is derived from Gerard, so any of the Sts. Gerard can suit (St. Gerard Majella is one of my favorites). Garrett Michael, Garrett Augustine, Garrett Bartholomew, Garrett Dominic, Garrett Emmanuel, Garrett Ignatius, Garrett Leander are all lovely.

Those are my “official” suggestions for this family, but I came across a few others that I didn’t think fit their criteria well enough, but that I wanted to include here just in case: Tristan, Sebastian (I have this in my middle name list of ideas too), Julian, Adrian. I mostly wanted to suggest them because they end in -an!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Anna, Carol, Brendan, and Natalie?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

June CatholicMom.com article

My June article for CatholicMom.com posted today — I had fun working on it! One of you had emailed me with a link to an article about the bells, and the planes had been on my mind since my Ireland trip. I’d love to know if any of you know more about this topic!

Planes, Bells, and Holy Naming

catholicmom_screen_shot-06.19.19


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Ireland part 3: Anne

Part 1: Edel

Part 2: Radek

I posted about this on Instagram already (part 1, part 2, part 3), but blogging allows me to be chattier. 😉

You know that St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, and I’ve leaned on her intercession for these past few years for Sancta Nomina — that I do God’s will through it, that marriages and families are blessed by the beautiful names of our faith that we discuss here, and for the completion and acceptance of my book for publication (when I was writing it) and that it will reach those who need it (now that it’s here!) — and also for all of you! I’m always asking her to intercede for you all, and myself as well, and I’ve felt her grandmotherly love many many times.

I started the blog on June 27, 2014, and each year since then at the end of June or beginning of July, my husband and boys and I have taken a mini pilgrimage to a St. Anne Shrine within driving (and my own sanity’s) distance to thank her for her intercession and pray for you all. Year 1 was Isle la Motte, year 2 was Sturbridge, MA, year 3 was Scranton, PA, and last year was Waterbury, CT.

(As a side thought, looking through these old posts, it’s amazing to me to see our progression as a family from one for whom traveling was the worst thing imaginable (year 1) to one for whom it’s getting to be a not-terrible thing to do (currently). Young families, take note! It gets easier!)

Next week marks five years since I started Sancta Nomina (!!!!!), so I’d already had a vague idea of trying to do something a bit bigger pilgrimage-wise this year — the St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine in Canada was one of my ideas, which would have been quite a thing for us (probably too much, really) — when my sister got engaged and she and her fiance were delighted to fulfill my sister’s lifelong dream of getting married in Ireland, in the town where my grandfather was born and raised, in the cathedral where he’d been baptized and had been an altar boy. I initially looked into whether or not we could swing all of us going — me, hubby, and all the boys — and quickly decided this was pretty far past impossible. But I could go (and really should, if possible, as I was a bridesmaid), and where I go the baby goes, and I brought my oldest to help (and he got to be the altar boy at the wedding!), and when making our plans I had the idea of checking to see if there could possibly be a St. Anne church anywhere near where we were staying.

Guys. There are two (TWO) (2!) St. Anne churches near where we were staying!

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. That St. Anne. ❤ ❤ ❤

The Cathedral in Cork City, which is locally known as North Cathedral and is just a little over 3km from our hotel, has as its official name (prepared to be blown away): The Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne.

!!!!!

But wait! Turns out, there’s a SECOND church in Cork dedicated to St. Anne! The Church of Ireland’s (Anglican) Church of St. Anne, Shandon (with its famous bells) is right down the road and within sight of St. Mary and St. Anne’s!

I mean. Could St. Anne (and her holy baby girl) be talking any more directly to me??

St. Mary and St. Anne’s Cathedral is, as it says on its web site, “‘the Mother Church of the Dioceses of Cork and Ross’ and was dedicated in 1808, (building had begun in 1799). It is the fourth church of this parish since, at least, 1306. The construction of the Cathedral was planned and overseen by Bishop Francis Moylan (Bishop of Cork 1787-1815).”

My boys and I were only going to be in Ireland for three full days (half of one of those days was traveling from the airport to the hotel, and we were there for half of a fourth day, that was traveling from the hotel to the airport), and most of our time there was booked with wedding business, but until 3:00 on the day before the wedding we were free to do as we liked, so I planned our pilgrimage to the Cathedral for that day.

Being that I was trying to keep the baby on our home schedule timezone-wise, we slept in until 10:30am or so on that Friday, and set off from the hotel around 11. I figured we had to be back at the hotel by 3 to get ready for the rehearsal, and we were walking to the Cathedral and back (with a stop for lunch with my brothers, sister-in-law, and priest friend, as well as to find Turkish Delight, at the request of one of my boys at home), so we had to be purposeful in our walking to stay on track. I used Google maps on my phone and looked such the tourist, constantly checking my phone to see where to go next.

My goals for my St. Anne pilgrimages are always modest, given that traveling is already such an opportunity to offer up suffering. 😀 Usually I hope to go to Mass at the Shrine, take pictures to show all of you, and get to the gift shop. But for this trip, I scaled back my expectations even more. I would have loved to have gotten to Mass, but it was too early for us, and I saw something about a gift shop on its web site, but didn’t see signs for it while we were there, so I didn’t worry about it. I was just so thrilled when we finally arrived at the Cathedral — I felt like, “We did it! We’re here!” The photos I posted on Instagram two weeks ago were the major ones, but I’m going to post some more tonight.

My boys and I (the baby was sleeping for a good deal of our four-hour walk!) tried to take our time inside the Cathedral, but it wasn’t easy — I was antsy about getting back to the hotel in time, and there were professional cleaners doing something loud on the altar while we were there. I was sorry to see that the interior was quite modern (their web site says, “The Neo- Gothic originals and the later extensions lacked harmony until the 1996 reordering and renovation. The vision of architect Richard Hurley drew the Sanctuary into the body of the Cathedral and brings congregation around three sides of the altar”), as I love a good old European cathedral; I was even sorrier to see that the tabernacle had been removed to a side chapel. Also, the only statue of St. Anne that I could find was the one in the front parking lot, and the one picture I was able to get of it was partially obscured by cars.

But no matter! I made a donation to the restoration fund in honor of all of you (with a prayer that it would be well used), and fairly clicked my heels as we left — I was so pleased to have visited a St. Anne shrine in Ireland in commemoration of Sancta Nomina’s fifth year!

St. Anne’s, Shandon was just down the road, so we walked quickly there on our way back, though I was eyeing our time and took only a minute to take a photo from the road. I love that Anglicans love St. Anne too. ❤

All in all, a memorable St. Anne’s pilgrimage to celebrate five years in this little corner of the internet, and to celebrate five years with you all!

kingsley-stmarystanne-map
Screenshot from Google Maps of the route from our hotel to the Cathedral, and where St. Anne’s, Shandon is in relation to the Cathedral

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!