Baby name consultation: Middle name for Molly

Kate and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and third girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

McKenna Veronica (“Her name is the one most rife with meaning. McKenna is my MIL’s maiden name and my husband always wanted to name his daughter McKenna. Veronica is my confirmation name, my nana’s confirmation name and my nana’s mother’s middle name. Plus, I love St. Veronica. We call her Kenna/Kens/Kenny, her grandpa calls her McV.”)

Emily Grace (“We both liked Emily. And Grace is a nod to my husband’s uncle who passed away the year she was born. His first name started with “G”, plus she was born at time when our family needed (and received) some graces. She is most often called Emmy or Emmy Grace.”)

Benjamin Patrick (“We both liked Benjamin, and McKenna, who has speech delays, could say “Ben” perfectly. Patrick is my husband’s first name, and it’s also my Godfather’s middle name. Ben and my Godfather share a birthday, and, as it turns out, were born at the exact same time of day. My husband and I had a deal that if Ben was born on my Godfather’s birthday he’d be Benjamin Patrick (Pat wasn’t too keen on using his own name in any of the naming process), if he was born any other day he would’ve been Benjamin Daniel. He is most often called Ben or Benny, sometimes I call him Benji.”)

I love these names! I also would absolutely use McKenna as a first name if it was my MIL’s maiden name! McKenna Veronica is a stunning combination, and the nicknames they have for her (McV!) are super cute. Emily Grace and Benjamin Patrick are just wonderful.

Kate writes,

[We] have decided on the name, Molly, but we are stumped for a middle name. … [regarding] Molly, we have both always liked it, Pat was flipping through a name book this time around and saw it on the list we had jotted down for when we were expecting Emily. We both have Irish roots (my nana was mostly Irish and would have LOVED to know that one of her grandkids traded in the Polish family surname for a nice Irish name), and I like the “M” letter/sound connection she will share with her sisters.

As for middle names, I’ve been throwing around Anne and Amelia as middle name ideas.

I like Anne because I have an Aunt Ann(e) on either side of my family (one of whom is a favorite aunt), and I like the connection between the Blessed Mother and her mother – St. Anne being her mother and Molly being an Irish form of Mary (if I’m not mistaken). I’m not entirely sold because it’s also the middle name of one of our nieces, and while I think there’s less stigma about “stealing” a middle name, I’m not sure I want to stick with it. I also feel like the name as a whole is missing a little something.

Amelia is my great grandmother’s name, and also the middle name of a very dear cousin from that same side of the family, who is also my Aunt Ann’s daughter. Pat did not like Amelia when I suggested it, but sometimes he needs time to let a name soak in. The other problem is that I have taken to sometimes calling Emily “Emilia” as sort of a weird nickname, so it might make it not work. Still, I think Amelia is a front runner for me as it’s a nice way to honor that side of my family and my cousin – unfortunately my cousin’s first name would not go with Molly at all.

I’ve been stumped for other ideas though, it seems that every time I try and research it, the same list of middle names comes up and they all feel a little flat to me. I find that I feel like with a simpler name like “Molly” the middle name should be a little “bigger” or “heavier” – especially because sometimes I think there’s a stigma about Molly being a little girl’s name.

We don’t really have any real naming trends, I think we tend to go for the more classic, middle of the road (popularity-wise) names. We are kind of bummed that “McKenna” has turned out to be so popular and trendy, as for us it was a meaningful rather than trendy name. Although, honestly, I think McKenna is as “weird” as I would get!

What else? Molly’s due date is my Godmother’s birthday (she is married to my Godfather and has joked about me having Molly at the same time of day that she was born). Her name is Mary Ellen (and she is VERY Irish, so she is thrilled with the name Molly – plus, again with the Molly/Mary connection). Molly’s also due near Pat’s grandmother’s birthday. Her name is Barbara Sandra … Maybe there’s a “B” or “S” name I haven’t thought of as a way to honor her.

We both really like the name Lucy, but know too many Lucy’s in our friend’s circles. Pat also really likes the name Riley, but that’s the name of a friend’s (male) dog, so I couldn’t do it. :-)”

This was fun to work on! I chuckled when I saw Anne on their list—my sister is Molly Anne, and I’ve always thought that combo sounds so natural and lovely together. Kate is absolutely right that Molly is a Mary variant—it started as a nickname for Mary—and Molly Anne is a beautiful Marian+St. Anne combo with a nice Irish feel. I’m interested that she’s worried about using her niece’s middle name—I’ve never heard this perspective! Certainly I’ve heard horror stories about “stealing” a first name (though I vehemently disagree that anyone can own a name!), but I’ve never known anyone to be upset about sharing middle names, especially as middle names are most often used to honor family members, and multiple family members might want to honor a beloved grandparent, for example. My grandfather had an unusual first name (it was his mother’s maiden name), and there are loads of boys in the family that have it as part of their names (first or middle), including one of my sons, my uncle, two of my cousins, and my brother. All of them have different first names, so it works, and it’s so fun and family-ish to see so many with the same middle name, honoring the same beloved man.

However, feeling like “the name as a whole is missing a little something” is a totally different issue! From that perspective, I wonder if using a longer Ann name might help? Molly Annabelle, Molly Annabeth, Molly Anastasia, and Molly Anneliese are all ideas that might fit the bill. Or, putting Ann(e) on the end, maybe Molly Julianne or Molly Susanne (or Susanna(h))?

Amelia is a lovely name, and with such nice family connections! I can see how Kate might not like having one daughter sometimes called Emilia and one with the middle name Amelia, but families do that kind of thing all the time. I posted a birth announcement recently for a little Claire Marie-Therese whose big sister is Julianne Clare. The mom did have a hard time with it for a while, but came to think it was pretty cool (especially after finding out her husband’s family had a bit of a tradition doing that kind of thing). If Kate and her hubs can’t get past it though, I wonder what they might think of Adelia? My cousin has a little Adelia — she says it to rhyme with Amelia, and calls her Delia for short (which would also be a cute middle for Molly).

I love that Molly’s due date is Mary Ellen’s birthday, with the Mary-Molly connection, so wonderful! As for Barbara Sandra, Sandra is, in origin, a nickname for Alexandra and the Italian variant Alessandra, both of which would be gorgeous as middles for Molly. I would just advise finding out ahead of time if Barbara Sandra be honored by that, or if she would feel like it’s too different from her name — different people have different feelings about things like that.

I wonder if, given how they like the name Lucy, they might be interested in something like Molly Lucille? Or, combining with Anne, Molly Lucianne? Or are they too L heavy? And they would probably knock Lucy out for the future, which would be a bummer—it’s a great name, and Kate and her hubs might find that they don’t care so much about all the Lucys in their circle.

Riley’s a sweet name, and I actually know a Molly Reilly (first+middle), but given that Kate’s already sensitive to some people’s opinions about Molly being a little girl name, it might be too singsongy for them.

In which case, I think going for something longer, with gravitas, is a good idea. I think all the ideas I’ve suggested already can fit into this, and these are some others:

(1) Katherine
Maybe it’s because Katherine’s my name, but I’ve always loved Katherine (or Catherine) as a middle name for a shorter first name. A Molly Katherine could also go by Molly Kate sometimes, which is adorable, and such a nice nod to Kate herself.

(2) Elizabeth
Molly Elizabeth has a really classic feel to it, I love it! There’s also the nice Mary+St. Elizabeth connection, which calls to mind The Visitation.

(3) Caroline or Karoline
Molly C/Karoline has a lovely rhythm to it as well. Caroline has long been one of my favorite names, and I’ve seen Karoline used with some frequently recently for St. John Paul II, as his pre-papal name was Karol. (Caroline can also honor him, as Karol is the Polish for Charles, and Caroline is a female variant of Charles.)

(4) Rebecca
I have no idea where the idea for Rebecca came from—it just flew into my head while I was writing this, and I’m digging it! Molly Rebecca is really pretty!

(5) Victoria
I also really like the idea of Molly Victoria. Victoria is so elegant and regal sounding, and flows so nicely with Molly. I love its connection to Our Lady of Victory, and Molly Victoria makes it doubly meaningful.

(6) Seraphina
This one is a little more out there, but Seraphina’s a gorgeous, feminine name, and it also can point to Our Lady in her title Queen of Angels, so Molly Seraphina has that double Marian oomph. This could also serve as a nod to Barbara Sandra, because of being an S name.

(7) Bernadette
Speaking of using initials to honor Barbara Sandra, Molly Bernadette is gorgeous and saintly and Marian AND a B name! For Barbara!

(8) Roisin, Rosheen, Rosaleen
If they wanted to make Molly’s name super Irish, they could do like this family and name her Molly Róisín (Roisin is Irish for “little rose”). Róisín can be spelled without the accents, and is pronounced like Rosheen, which is a spelling they could use instead, if they liked the idea. It also made me think of Rosaleen, which has such a pretty Irish feel without the spelling issues of Róisín/Roisin.

Finally, just for all of you readers in case it’s helpful, I normally would have suggested perhaps finding another family surname that could work in the middle, especially since they already used one for McKenna, but Kate said the other family names are too hard to work with pronunciation/spelling-wise.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What middle name would you pair with Molly?

Stories of St. Gerard, Sr. Anselm, Sr. Theotokos

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I was so moved by Mass today, and I wanted to share with you something Father said. Our parish is a Redemptorist parish, and one of their priests has come to do a mission at our church this week; this morning he said Mass and introduced himself and told us about his work and his experiences. What I particularly wanted to post is that he has a great amount of confidence in St. Gerard’s intercession for anyone hoping to have a baby. He mentioned how there were several times recently at other missions he’d done where he prayed with a couple who had been struggling to have a baby for St. Gerard’s intercession, and then asked them to email him when they’d conceived — and of course he received the emails not long after!

He also told the story of his own mother, who really wanted a son after having had two girls (and he’s Lebanese, so he said that played a role too — both his parents really wanted a boy!). So he said his mom did a 9 month novena to St. Gerard while she was pregnant and was blessed with not one boy, but two — he’s a twin — he and his brother are Thomas Gerard and Charles Gerard! I loved that story so much!

Unrelatedly, but still something I think you’ll all appreciate, he said he was stationed in Lebanon for a while, and knew Sr. Anselm while there — she’s one of the Missionaries of Charity sisters who were shot by ISIS last year this month. Funny enough, I’d looked up that very story yesterday, as I’d had the great privilege of attending the celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) and the opening of the IVE monastery in Auriesville, NY (location of the Shrine of the North American Martyrs and Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, martyrdom of St. Isaac Jogues, and birth of St. Kateri), and a whole bunch of the Order’s sisters were there (Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara [SSVM]; we met one who introduced herself as Sr. Theotokos, which I love so much; I googled her, and her full name is Sr. Maria Theotokos, love love!), and I was thinking that they reminded me of the sisters who had been killed last year, so I’d looked them up to see if they were the same Order (I hadn’t remembered that they were Mother Teresa’s Order). Such a weird coincidence that I’d just looked them up yesterday and they were mentioned today!

My husband and I are going to attend as much of the mission as we can, and I’ll keep all of you and your intentions in my prayers during this week. St. Gerard and the martyred sisters, pray for us!

Spotlight on: Matthias

A reader asked for a spotlight on Matthias, one of my favorite favorite names! Specifically, she wrote,

Biblically, I have only seen it as Matthias, but when I ask my family members who are not as familiar with the biblical spelling, they think it is spelled Mathias. When I read the name, I pronounce it as ma-THIGH-as, whereas, in Germany, for example, where the name seems to be more popular than in the US, it is pronounced Ma-TEE-us. It has the same meaning as Matthew (gift from God), but the spelling of Matthew is far more prevalent than the use of Mathew, although there are some of those. Matthias, on the other hand, is much more uncommon than Matthew, so it seems as if there is more room for variance and not an assumed way to spell it.”

Indeed! It’s just as she said: according to Behind the Name there are two traditional spellings with the “th” (Matthias and Mathias), though Matthias is the one used in the  English Bible (not sure about other translations?), and it seems that both spellings have usage in a bunch of languages as listed on Behind the Name, with Matthias having broader usage:

Matthias: Greek, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, French, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Mathias:  French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronunciation-wise, it seems that Mathias is only pronounced ma-TEE-as (and there’s also the variant Mat(t)ias, which makes that pronunciation more obvious), while Matthias can be either ma-THIGH-as or ma-TEE-as. I looked both Matthias and Mathias up on SSA and was interested by the results:

matthias

mathias

Matthias is slightly more popular BUT 2003 is the first year it made it into the top 1000, while Mathias has been on and off since 1900. Also, I found this very telling:

matias

Over the same time period, Matias — which of course has that ma-TEE-as pronunciation — has been like 100 spots more popular than either Matthias or Mathias, so just from these charts Americans might be more familiar with the ma-TEE-as pronunciation and/or might be baffled by having an “h” in the name, never mind two “t”s. (The spelling Mattias has never been in the top 1000.)

So it’s definitely one of those names that requires some decisions, and then firm consistency when sharing the name with others.

I think it’s a name that’s totally worth it though. I mean, it’s a Matthew variant, so it has the same great meaning (“gift of God”), and it can take the same friendly, accessible nicknames (Matt, Matty), but names that are a twist on the familiar are some of my favorites, and Matthias totally fits that. Never mind that I always think of Matthias as a Catholicky Catholic name because he was chosen by Peter and “the brothers” to replace Judas in, dare I call it, the first Church Council??  😉

During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said … ‘Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.’

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.’ Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:15,21-26)

(I also need to point out, because it can be confusing, that the Apostle Matthew, also known as Levi, who was one of the original twelve, is not the same person as Matthias. I’m guessing that we use Matthew and Matthias (and also Levi for Matthew) to distinguish between the two, because they’re both more recent variants of the original Hebrew Mattiyahu via the Greek variant Matthaios.)

Anyway, I’ve always loved Matthias’ story, and I’ve always loved his name. Not only are Matt and Matty possible nicknames, but I’ve seen Mitt/Mitty for Matthew, which can work for Matthias as well, and the Dutch nickname Thijs and its variant Ties I find so appealing — Matt Lauer has a son named Thijs, pronounced TICE. Love it! (But that would probably interfere with getting everyone on board with the ma-THIGH-as pronunciation, huh?)

What do you all think of Matthias? Which pronunciation do you prefer? Do you like the spelling Matthias or Mathias better? Do you know anyone named Mat(t)hias? Does he like his name? Does he go by a nickname? All of which is my way of saying the same thing as the reader who requested the spotlight: “I would be interested in hearing your opinions on it and the opinions of your readers.”

This Saint’s got some pretty cool names (and a cool title!)

One of you darling readers emailed me yesterday with this fabulous bit:

Today is the feast of Bl. Clemens August von Galen, “The Lion of Munster”. He might already be on your radar, but just in case, I thought I’d share it.

I’m thinking that there are lots of great naming possibilities here… Especially Galen. Sounds modern (short, long a sound, ends in a n) … If anyone is looking for a “fresh” Catholic name, this could be it. And imagine how fun it would be for a little boy to have a patron called “the lion of Munster”!!

First of all: Clemens. And August. And Galen! What amazing names this guy has! And to be called “The Lion of Munster”! Of course I had to look him up, and of course I loved what I found:

Born to one of the oldest German noble families. Ordained on 28 May 1904 at Münster, Germany. Chosen bishop of Münster on 5 September 1933. Fiercely anti-Communist, and an outspoken opponent of the Stalinist regime. A strong nationalist who loved his homeland, his was known for his opposition to the Nazis, their programs and policies. He was a key opponent in the fight to end the Nazi program of “euthanasia“, the murder of the old, the crippled, the ill. Created Cardinal–Priest of San Bernardo alle Terme on 18 February 1946.”

I love him already. ❤ There’s more great stuff at that link, including homilies against the Nazis and euthanasia, if you want to read more.

What do you all think? Would you consider Clemens/Clement or August in his honor? And I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on Galen — like the reader said in her email, “If anyone is looking for a ‘fresh’ Catholic name, this could be it.”

Also, “the Lion of Munster”! 🦁😍

 

 

Prayers needed please!

The community one of our readers lives in was rocked by a horrible shooting tragedy yesterday, and she wrote to ask you all to for pray for all of them — she said, “It is a small community here and everyone has a connection to someone related to this incident or to the first responders.” She also asked for prayers for the attack in London yesterday, and I ask a special prayer for the protection of my brother and his colleagues who arrived in London yesterday and, according to my sister-in-law, had gone through the area where it happened just before the attack.

For the souls of all those who died in these incidents, and for their grieving families, and for all the injured and all those otherwise affected by these tragedies, and for safety for both communities going forward, we pray. St. Anne, pray for us!

Go Forth podcast with *me* is now available! Give a listen!

You guys! In yesterday’s consultation post I told you that the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast with ME as a guest would air today and … ta da! It’s up! Ahhh!! Episode 60 — Kate Towne: What’s in a {Catholic} Name?

I’m listening to it right now and I’m loving how Heather and Becky edited it — I don’t sound half bad! 😀 Do please excuse the fact that I was sucking on a mint during the whole thing (I was trying so hard to not sound like I had a dry mouth and instead I sounded like I was swallowing and smacking the whole time, gah!).

Also, I had a chance to mention each one of my siblings’ names except one, which is hilariously awful because I had texted them all ahead of time to ask if they would mind if I shared their names and the one who texted back first and most enthusiastically is the only one whose name didn’t come up in the the podcast conversation! So I’m delighted to share here that her name is Stephanie, named for our dad Stephen, and she’s always gone by the name Stevie. In her text she even said, “You can refer to me as the one and only Stevie Wonder.” 😎😎😎

Whew! Now that that’s sorted, be sure to head on over and listen, and if you haven’t yet offered your name suggestions to Heather, be sure to do so!

Baby name consultation: Heather from the Go Forth podcast! (Continue long+short or not?)

Happy first day of spring! Woo!! 💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷

I shared in my interview with Jenny Uebbing that I was excited at my upcoming appearance on the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast — it’s going to air tomorrow! I’ll post the link here once I have it, and in the meantime, one of the things we discussed was name ideas for Heather’s third baby — a little girl! I’m delighted to post here the consultation I did for her in anticipation of the podcast being aired, so you all can read about her name situation and weigh in with your own ideas, which she’s excited to read!

This baby girl will join big sibs:

Elizabeth Ann (“after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton-Elizabeth and Ann are also both family names“)
Maximilian Leo (“after Saint Maximilian Kolbe-Leo is a family name“)

I love both of those names so much! So much faith significance in each one, and all those family names too!

Heather writes,

We refer to them as “Lizzie” and “Max.” What I am not sure of with this baby is if we would like to stick with the longer/older sounding name with a shorter more fun nickname. My husband isn’t as married to this idea, and feels that if we do it a third time we would feel like we had to keep it up with any other babies we have down the road.”

I do really love the balance of the long first name with the short middle name, and great nicknames are my jam. ☺

Names that Heather and her husband have considered include:

Clare (“my husband’s favorite currently-he is Irish and grew up on Clare street“)
Catherine (“maybe my favorite although we do have some friends in our parish with a Catherine. If we chose this, I would like to call her “Cate”“)
Edith (“maybe call her “Edie pronounced ee-dee?” Not sure if we could have Edith and Elizabeth or if those sound too similar?“)
Frances (“call her Francie or Frannie“)
Lydia
Maura
Rose
Zelie
Clara

Additionally,

We both love St. Therese, but I do not love that for a first name. I also really love Catherine of Siena which is why I like Catherine.

Because our oldest daughter’s name honors my mother-in-law, as they share the middle name of Ann, we would like to find some way to honor my mother with this baby girl’s name, if possible. My mother and I share the middle name of Kay, so that is one solid possibility for a middle name for this baby.”

I loved working on this! Elizabeth Ann and Maximilian Leo are fantastic combos—I find the long first+short middle pattern really pleasing, and though I know what Heather’s husband means about feeling tied to it permanently if they name their third baby in the same way, it’s actually a pretty easy trend to continue. So I came up with some ideas that follow the trend, and those that don’t.

First I want to comment on the names on their list of those they’re considering:

Clare: I love Clare for them! It’s short, thus breaking them out of their established pattern, but it’s great with both Elizabeth and Maximilian. And the significance for Heather’s hubs is so great!

Catherine: I have a lot to say about Catherine below!

Edith: Love it! St. Edith Stein is a personal favorite, and Edie is one of THE cutest nicknames! But yes, they’ll have to consider Elizabeth and Edith … both starting with the same first letter, both ending with the same two letters. What do you all think? Deal breaker or not?

Frances: Francie and Frannie are both so darling! I love that they’re considering Frances, I’d love to see more little girls with this name.

Lydia, Maura, Rose, Zelie: All beautiful! Heather didn’t have any comment about them, so I’m assuming they’re not as “in the running” as the others, but maybe I’m wrong? I like them each for different reasons.

Clara: My inclination would be to cross Clara off the list, since Clare has personal meaning for Heather’s husband—using Clara would seem to me to lose a great opportunity.

Okay, moving along, I’d like to discuss honoring Heather’s mom. Using her middle name, Kay, is one great idea; I also I wondered what they’d think about giving the baby Heather’s mom’s initials? (Her mom’s first name is Marcia, so her initials are M.K.) This is a tactic that some families use, and the honoree feels really honored by it; others think it feels too far from the honoree’s name and therefore don’t feel as honored, so Heather and her hubs would have to decide how her mom would feel. But doing the initial thing opens up a lot of possibilities, and my favorites, based on the results of my research in the Baby Name Wizard book (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), are:

Mary Katherine: They already have Catherine on their list, and while the Katherine spelling does seem to take it one step away from St. Catherine of Siena, Catherine and Katherine are the same name (the former is the French spelling, also used in English; the latter is the English spelling and closest to the Greek katharos [“pure”], with which the name—in both spellings—has long been associated), and Katherine can certainly honor St. Catherine of Siena (whose name was actually the Italian Catarina; Catherine is a Frenchicization/Anglicization of it). It would involve a bit of a discussion each time they told someone that Katherine was as much for St. Catherine of Siena as for Heather’s mom, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker at all. A simple, “We love St. Catherine of Siena and my mom’s middle name Kay so we went with the Katherine spelling” should suffice.

Another really nice thing about using Katherine is that Kay is considered a short form of Katherine. Certainly Kay has its own life as a standalone name, but my understanding is that it started as a diminutive/nickname/variant of Katherine. So using Katherine is not only using Heather’s mom’s middle initial, but also, in a way, her name (again, Heather would have to be sure she felt honored by this choice, if her goal was to honor her mom). And I love that Mary has the same first three letters as Marcia. So Mary Katherine really is quite close to Marcia Kay! I love Mary Katherine as a sister to Elizabeth and Maximilian as well, and there are a lot of nickname options: Mary and Mary Kate are natural ones, but they can also do just Kate, as they’d planned on if they went with Catherine as a first name. This is especially fun with Heather’s husband being Irish, because it’s not uncommon (at least in the old days) for Irish girls to be named Mary ___ and go by the double name, or just the middle. Most of my dad’s first female cousins—all from two sides of a large family who embraces their Irishness—are Mary ___, and almost all of them go by their middle names. (Read more about the Irish Marys in my latest CatholicMom article: Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.)

So they could definitely do Kate, and with her given name being Mary Katherine, that would make it a little different from the little Catherine they know. And I think Mary Katherine works really well with their thought of not doing a long+short combo this time, because Mary Katherine feels like a double name—which gives it the longer feel of Elizabeth and Maximilian—but unless they intend for it to be a double name, it’s actually a short+long—a really nice way to move away from their current pattern without seeming totally different. (I should note that even if they used Mary Catherine, knowing that Katherine is related to Kay and Catherine is the same name as Katherine, I still really like it for them.)

Maura Karoline: Heather and her hubs already have Maura on their list (I love this beautiful Irish Mary name!), and Karoline is a name I’ve seen used with some frequency among Catholic families as a way of honoring St. John Paul II, as his birth name was Karol. Overall, it’s a smashing combo that brings in Irishness and faith along with Heather’s mom’s initials.

Molly Katherine/Karoline: (Obviously Katherine and Karoline can be interchanged in the combos above as well—Mary Karoline and Maura Katherine are both gorgeous.) Molly is a name I thought of for this family right away for two reasons: Heather’s husband’s Irish, and I have two sisters named Elizabeth and Molly. To me, then, Elizabeth, Maximilian, and Molly go together really well!

I know some people who don’t care for Molly as a given name, as it feels too nicknamey to them—and though it has become a standalone name, it did indeed originate as a nickname for Mary—which can work in their favor here as well. A Mary K/Catherine or Mary Karoline could absolutely go by Molly—I know several people named Mary who go by Molly. And I even know a Maura who goes by Molly! I love this option for them, however it ends up happening. (I also wanted to mention that I know a Molly Therese, which is another combo that’s gorgeous, and Heather said she loves St. Therese …)

Okay! Those are my ideas for honoring Heather’s mom with initials, but I have several other ideas for them as well, which can be grouped into two categories: Long first names to go with the middle name Kay (and how amazing that they have a meaningful, three-letter middle to use, just like Ann and Leo?!), and short to middling names to break out of their pattern. All of the ideas are the results of my research into names that seem consistent with their style, as demonstrated by Elizabeth and Maximilian, as well as my own mental files.

Long first names
(1) Bernadette
Zelie and Therese had me thinking of other French names they might like, and Bernadette came right to mind. St. Bernadette is wonderful, and there are some really cute nickname possibilities: Berni, Benny, Netty, Etta/Etty, and Detta. Bernadette Kay has a lovely rhythm to it.

(2) Rosemary or Rosemarie
This is only partially a new idea, since they have Rose on their list already. I have a friend from Ireland named Rosemarie, and I love that that’s the French spelling—seems to put it in a similar category as Zelie, Therese, and Bernadette to me. Rosemary is also a wonderful variant, and maybe the one most people would be familiar with. Rosemary Kay and Rosemarie Kay are both great, and Rosie, Romy, and even Rory are really sweet nicknames.

(3) Margaret
Like Mary, Margaret starts with the same first three letters of Heather’s mom’s first name, so Margaret could also be a nice option for M.K. initials. And they certainly could do the longer Margaret with a long middle name, like Katherine or Karoline or whatever, but I really like the balance of Margaret Kay. Maggie is a great nickname and has a similar feel to me as Molly, and Maisie and Daisy are both traditional nickname for Margaret, which could be really fun. Margaret and Elizabeth are also two of the three “timeless English trio” names, according to the BNW (the other is Katherine!), so they definitely go together as sisters.

(4) Josephine
Josephine is a style match for Elizabeth and Catherine according to the BNW, and can have either St. Joseph (yesterday was his feast day!) or St. Josephine Bakhita as patron—both great saints! Josie is a great nickname, and I’ve also seen Joy, Sophie, and Posy/Posey used (as well as this list from Appellation Mountain).

(5) Caroline
I mentioned Karoline above, using that spelling to fit in with Heather’s mom’s initials, but I had Caroline on my list for them for a first name from the beginning. It’s got the length of Elizabeth and Maximilian, and I love the nicknames Carrie and Callie. It might not be great with Kay though—some people love alliterative sounds and others don’t. Caroline Therese is beautiful too.

(6) Cecilia
Cecilia’s a style match for Catherine and Lydia, and it’s super saintly like Elizabeth and Maximilian. Cecilia Kay is really lovely—it has sort of an Old World glamor to it, to me, and Cece is a sweet nickname.

Short to middle first names
(1) Alice
Alice was a big hit for this family according to the BNW! It’s a style match for Edith, Frances, Rose, Clara, and Lydia! It’s a sweet vintage-y name that’s already back in revival mode. There are a bunch of saints to choose for patron — even though most of them are better known by more international variants, they’re all Alice. (One of the variants, Adelaide, would actually make a great addition to the “long first names” list above!)

(2) Cora
Cora is a sweet little truffle of a name, and I’ve been loving it recently, ever since I heard of families using it in honor of both the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus! (Cor=heart in Latin) Cora Kay doesn’t work so well; Cora Therese is beautiful.

(3) Lucy
Like Alice, Lucy was a great style match for them, being similar to Clara, Rose, and Lydia. Lucy is one of the darlingest names I think! And familiarly saintly, like Elizabeth and Maximilian. I’ve also often thought Lucy would be a great nickname for Louisa, if they thought Louisa was more their speed.

(4) Julia
Finally, Julia is a style match for Elizabeth, Catherine, and Lydia, and Juliet (which is technically a nickname for Julia) is a match for Clare. It’s such a sophisticated name, and while Julie/Jules are natural nicknames, I’ve also seen Jilly, which is sweet, and I also like the idea of Junie, if it was paired with an N middle name for example—Julia Noelle or something like that. I did a spotlight on Juliet here, in which I touch on the faith connections for Julia.

I also wanted to give a few minutes to thinking of three-letter names in case Heather and her hubs decide they want to stick with that pattern going forward. For girls, there’s:

Ave/Ava (like Ave Maria! And Ava’s a variant of Eve, which can also be Marian)
Bay (lovely nature name)
Day (I’ve seen this used for Servant of God Dorothy Day)
Eve/Eva (Eve can be Marian because she’s the New Eve)
Fae/Fay (sometimes used as a Faith variant)
Lia/Lea (variants of Leah; can also refer to names ending in -lia, like Julia)
Liv (Scandinavian for “life,” or a variant of Olivia or a nod to St. Oliver or Our Lady of Olives)
Mae/May (a Mary variant)
Mia (a form of Maria in several languages)
Ora (like “ora pro nobis”)
Paz (means “peace” in Spanish; could be for Our Lady of Peace)
Pia (feminine form of Pius/Pio)
Via (like the Via Dolorosa)
Zoe (St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name)

And for boys:

Cam (a river in England)
Eli (for the prophet)
Gus (for St. Augustine)
Ivo (Ivo is a variant of Yves/Ives, as in St. Yves and Burl Ives)
Jay (could refer to James/Jacob/Jason, but I’ve also seen it as a standalone name)
Jon (nice that a variant spelling fits so well into their pattern!)
Pio (for St. Pio, or could refer to any of the Sts. Pius)
Ray (for Raymond, or on its own)
Roy (can mean “king,” which could refer to Jesus)

A good way to continue the pattern without being tied in to number of letters is to use one-syllable middles like Clare, Rose, Maeve, Pierce, Carl, James—a one-syllable middle with a long first is a nice balance.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think about continuing Heather and her hubs’ current pattern of long first name+three-letter middle? What names would you suggest that would go well as a sister for Elizabeth/Lizzie and Maximilian/Max? Can you think of any other three-letter names, in case they want to continue it? Heather would love your ideas, so please jump right in!