Year in review: 2016 (more of the wonderful same)

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!! 🎉🎆🎉🎆🎉🎆

I saw this interesting tidbit on Twitter today:


I loved that! And it reminded me of this mama, who’d considered Sylvester for her baby … I’m not great at predicting trends, but with lots of old names coming back, I’m saying it now: maybe Sylvester’s next!

What a year it’s been! I myself am glad that 2016 is over … it’s been a rough one for me and mine and lots of people I know — maybe a lot of you as well! Here in my house, our whole year was marked by the sickness and death of my mother-in-law and the aftereffects of dealing with her wishes and her house … I’ll be glad for me, our kids, and especially my husband to move on from it all in 2017! And of course, THE ELECTION! No matter which way you voted, I think we’re all still recovering! I hope our little corner of the internet has been the bright spot for all of you that it has been for me. ❤

It was fun to look back over the year and see what notable things happened here on the blog. I’m still amazed at how many people love to read and chat about the names of our faith like I do! As of today, since I started the blog in June 2014 (but really since January 2015 with Simcha’s consultation post):

Can you believe it?? What a year!! As always, I remain so grateful for all of you — your interest, enthusiasm, and kindness to me and each other. ❤ ❤ ❤

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and a very blessed and holy New Year! (And be sure to check out Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint’s Name Generator for a patron saint for 2017! I got St. Margaret of Antioch — check out my IG post to read more about her!)


Update on Charlotte!

Thank you all for praying for Charlotte! She just sent me an update:

Hi Kate, just wanted to give you an update – surgery went well and I’m home now and okay, just dealing with some pain. He was able to remove over 95% of the endometriosis so that’s really great and encouraging – should mean no/significantly less pain in the future. It was a bit more extensive, it was in the intestines and other areas so I’ve got some stitches internally. One of the first things I asked when I woke up was if he thinks I will be able to have children and he gave an enthusiastic and immediate “yes” (though of course nothing is guaranteed and we won’t know until I am actively trying). This was wonderful news because I was more concerned about fertility maybe even than pain. Just wanted to say thank you so much for the prayers, and your readers for their prayers as well!! They’ve carried me through!! I’m looking at a bit of a painful recovery, but I’m so hopeful that many/most of my chronic issues are resolved now. Thank you so much!!! And please tell all I said thank you!!

Isn’t this wonderful news?! I’m so happy for Charlotte!! Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she recovers! ❤ ❤ ❤

Prayers please!

Our reader Charlotte @ To Harriet Louise emailed me with a serious prayer intention:

I’m having an extensive surgery on Friday for endometriosis. It’s stage 4 endo, severe enough that I’ve been hospitalized for it, it’s affected other organs, it’s on/in my intestines (causing GI issues on top of all the pain!!), etc. I had to go to five surgeons before finding one who felt he could successfully do the operation without harming me because it’s so high risk. I’m very nervous for it, mostly because I’m 25 and single and I hope to have a family and a lot of kids one day. The doc isn’t going to remove any reproductive organs unless it’s specifically to save my life at that moment. But still… with endometriosis they just don’t fully know what they’re dealing with until they’re in there.

As nervous as I am, this surgery can’t come soon enough, and I’m so glad that this is how I’m starting the new year. I’ve been out of work for nearly two years because of all of the surgeries and hospitalizations (on top of the endo, I’ve had liver issues that have lead to quite a few hospital stays – they actually think the endometriosis might be affecting my liver – it’s rare, but not unheard of) so things have been extremely tough for me. I’m hoping the surgery is a new start. I so badly need and WANT to get back to work and just life in general – going out, doing things with friends, etc. When I had to stop working (work required travelling over 2 hours per day, and at the time I needed twice weekly blood draws, so I had to leave work), I needed to move in with my family in a different state, so since then I’ve been sort of isolated and unable to go make friends and just, ugh, it’s been rough. So this surgery, as scary as it is, is really a blessing. The surgeon is one of the best, and the technique he’s using is more difficult than common techniques, but generally more successful, too. I’m hoping for a safe surgery and less pain moving forward, as well as a good recovery (I don’t want to say an “easy recovery” because we’ve discussed it already and, well… it won’t be easy. But that’s okay.). Anyway, sorry for the essay!!! And I know I’ve asked for prayers a few times!!! Argh, sorry!!! I feel like your blog has offered a Catholic community I wouldn’t have otherwise!!!! I’d so appreciate it, though (and it’s okay if you use my name). Thank you!!

I’ve told people before what great prayer warriors you all are, and I know some of you have suffered from similar issues — please jump on this for Charlotte!! St. Anne and Mother Mary, please intercede for her!! 🙏🙏🙏

“Silence,” Catholic Japan, and names

Have any of you seen Martin Scorsese’s new movie Silence yet? It’s been on my husband’s radar for years, as Daniel Day-Lewis, one of his favorite actors, was originally supposed to star in it, so he’s excited it’s finally here (even though the final casting doesn’t include Day-Lewis). I loved reading that the two leads, Andrew Garfield ([Spiderman!] “raised in a secular Jewish household”) and Adam Driver ([Kylo Ren!] “raised in a Baptist family”), went on a silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat house  as reported in the Aleteia article “‘Silence’ actors made silent retreat to prepare for Scorsese film: To better play their roles as Jesuit missionaries, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver went on a 7-day retreat in North Wales.” Well known Fr. James Martin, SJ, was even commissioned to help them prepare for their roles. I’ve never read the book it’s based on (Silence by Japanese Catholic author Shūsaku Endō) and I don’t know if the story’s ultimately faith-strengthening or not, but I love that it’s a story of Jesuit missionaries by a Catholic author. Fingers crossed that it does good work!

I’ve long been interested in the Japanese Catholic Church — this bit from New Advent is amazing and so moving:

There is not in the whole history of the Church a single people who can offer to the admiration of the Christian world annals as glorious, and a martyrology as lengthy, as those of the people of Japan.”

Indeed there are huge lists of Venerables, Blesseds, and Saints who were born in Japan and died in Japan, and I’ve always been interested by the fact that every single one of them has a familiar saint’s name for a first name — I know there are Japanese Catholics with Japanese names (Silence‘s author being one; I did actually look to see if he also had a Christian name but didn’t find one), so I’ve wondered how the idea of “Christian names” fits into the naming traditions of Japanese Catholics.

I did some research and found this helpful article about Japanese naming practices in general, and it seems that names are chosen strictly for meaning, which is different than our familiar practice of often naming *for* someone (the traditional understanding of “Christian name” — i.e., the name of a Saint), but isn’t necessarily different in the sense of using virtue names nor in avoiding names that are foreign to Christian sensibility. You know?

I found this on Quora:

Here in Japan there is no tradition of giving a middle name, so it is common for parents to name the child a normal Japanese name, and then the child is given a Saint’s name at baptism. The baptismal name is generally only used at the parish for official things, and not in every day life – though a lot of my friends use their baptismal name in their email addresses. 🙂

Occasionally the parents will give a Saint or Christian based name as a given name, but not as a rule. There aren’t that many Saints names that go well with Japanese, but there is a little girl at our parish named Kurara (the Japanese for Clara/Claire). Some parents choose given names such as Ai (love), Megumi (grace), Nozomi (hope), etc.”

I feel like the idea of not being named after someone is also reflected in the names of the Catholic churches in Japan — I follow @catholicjapan on Instagram,* and the featured churches all have names like Chuchi Catholic Church, Tsuwano Catholic Church, and Aokata Catholic Church, which I think are geographic names. All of them have patron saints that aren’t part of the churches’ names (St. John Goto, St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, and the Holy Family, respectively), which is so different from our churches here. (Be sure to check out the web site I linked to for the saints’ names in the previous sentence — it’s the site of the Daughters of St. Paul in Japan, and there’s a listing on the site of all the beautiful Sisters and their names — you can click on each one for their stories!)

Do any of you know anything more? I love finding out different naming traditions in different cultures, especially as they relate to our faith!

*I also follow @ruriruri, which focuses on images of Our Lady in Japan, and which I believe is maintained by the same person as @catholicjapan — I find the pictures so inspiring, definitely worth a follow!

Namespotting: Diego Klattenhoff

Do you know this actor?

By Thibault (Flickr: The Blacklist — Panel) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I loved him in Homeland (though I haven’t watched it in ages), and I’m currently watching The Blacklist, and he’s great in that as well. So I looked him up to find out more about him, googling “who plays Ressler in Blacklist” since I didn’t know his name, and was so surprised to find out that his name is Diego Klattenhoff.

Diego Klattenhoff!

Diego! And Klattenhoff! I’ve been rolling his name over in my head for days, I’m so intrigued by that combination! I’m dying to know his name story, or some hint as to why he was named Diego (of course you have to know Diego is all St. Juan Diego to me 😂) … Alas, there’s not much to find — I know he’s Canadian (from Nova Scotia), and that Klattenhoff is German, but I can’t find any info on his parents/heritage/religion. Or maybe it’s a pseudonym? Whether real or not, what an awesome name for an actor — so memorable in its unexpectedness!

Do any of you know anything more about him and how/why he was so named?  Do you find that combo as fascinating as I do?

UPDATE: Despite my sort of obsessive googling trying to find out more about Diego’s first name, I totally did not see at all this old article a friend just sent me after reading this post. It explains that Diego’s dad’s from Germany and his mom’s of Irish/Welsh descent — which explains his look and his last name — but as for Diego, it’s just a name his dad liked, maybe after a painter (his dad’s an artist). Mystery solved!

Baby name consultation: No. 6 baby/No. 5 boy with some serious rules!

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday!! I think the joy of heaven must be similar to the joy of children on Christmas morning. 💕💕💕

And happy feast of St. Stephen! A perfect tie-in with one of my ideas for today’s family. 😉

Michelle and her husband are expecting their sixth baby and fifth boy in January! This little guy joins:

Henrik Gaetano (“Henrik after the Scandinavian Saint, Gaetano after his great grandfather“)
Philip Llewellyn (“St. Philip the Apostle, Llewellyn after his great grandfather“)
Martin Sven (“St. Martin de Porres, Sven – great grandfather“)
Dennis Robert (“St. Denis, Robert – great grandfather“)
Brigit Catherine (“St. Birgitta of Sweden, St Catherine of Siena“)

We have lost two children and named them according to their days of their delivery so we also have Mary Sophia (after Our Lady of Wisdom and St Thomas Aquinas) and Vincent Marie (St Vincent Ferrer and Our Lady).

Such great names! All classic and saintly, but unexpected too, I love them! And all those Dominican saints! 👌

Michelle writes,

We are out of great grandfathers for middle names but are leaning towards Dominic or Guzman as possibilities (Dominican year of jubilee).

My favorite right now is Victor, for ‘Christus Victor’ but hubby isn’t thrilled. His top runner right now is Walter but I’m not feeling it and his connection is only that he likes the name.

Our rules have been two syllables for the first name, a strong Patron Saint and Catholic story, not top 100 in popularity, no repeat first initials so names that start with H,P,M,D,B are out. We have gravitated toward more Scandinavian/Germanic sounding names, though Dennis doesn’t quite fit with that. There has also been a six letter trend, but hubby is willing to forgo that trend as long as it is two syllables! Deo Gratias!

I’d love to hear your ideas, if you get a chance!

This was so fun to work on! You know I love naming rules — the more the merrier! I love a good name challenge. 😁

First though, a few thoughts about their current ideas: I love Victor. I even wrote an article about it! And I’ve been hearing Walter here and there both secularly (my sister-in-law’s a huge fan!) and religiously (Servant of God Walter Ciszek, amazing story). They both fit Michelle’s criteria, I think either one would be great for her little guy!

As for other ideas, I looked up all the names Michelle and her hubs already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as you all know it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; I then cross-checked my results against the Social Security info for name popularity to be sure they were out of the top 100; and I also used the NameFinder with their ideal parameters (no H, P, M, D, B; 6 letters; 2 syllables). Based on all that, these are my ideas for this family:

(1) Stephen
I noticed how Michelle singled Dennis out a little in terms of not really fitting into the Scandinavian/Germanic-sounding names of her other children (even though his name definitely fits with his sibs in terms of popularity arc), so I tried to give a little extra attention to the names that were particular similar to his. Stephen was one and I love it for them! Stephen Dominic is really handsome! (And today’s St. Stephen’s feast day! Woo!) (Did any of you catch that Stephen’s not six letters though? D’oh! I didn’t realize until way after the fact! But I’m keeping it on here because I love it. ☺ )

(2) Gregor
Gregory was another name that was listed as similar to Dennis, but it has the wrong number of letters and syllables. But Gregor is the German form, and it fits perfectly! Gregor Dominic is great, and I don’t mind Gregor Guzman either.

(3) Edward or Edmund
Edward is a style match for Henry (no entry for Henrik) and Walter, and is a great, handsome name. But I thought maybe Edmund would be more their speed? Edward was No. 158 in 2015, but Edmund hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1997, and the most popular it ever got was No. 130 in 1914. It derives from Old English elements (and St. Edmund Campion was English), but it has use elsewhere—there’s a German-Czech philosopher named Edmund Husserl for example, and Bl. Edmund Bojanowski was Polish — so there’s good evidence that it fits in well with the other kids’ names.

(4) Albert
I’m love love loving Albert for Michelle’s little boy, for the amazing Dominican St. Albert the Great! Albert Dominic would be amazing; I like Albert Guzman too; and if they were willing to be “Dominican” rather than St. Dominic specifically, they could do Albert Magnus! Magnus is Latin for “great” AND a Scandinavian name!

(5) Colman
This is neither Germanic nor Scandinavian—it’s the name of an Irish saint (which fits nicely with Brigit)—but I always (weirdly) think of Irishy names as having a similar feel to Scandinavian names (that Viking influence!), so it seems like it would fit for this family! I also took a picture when I was in Ireland of a sign on a wall that said, “Colman Rasmussen”—I took it because my husband is half Norwegian and his mom’s maiden name was Rasmussen—but it seems to reinforce my thought that an Irish name might be close enough to Scandinavian to appeal to Michelle and her hubs. (Yes, I’m a little nutty.)

(6) Gerald or Gerard
These are both Germanic names, and if I had to choose, I might favor Gerard because of St. Gerard Majella, but there are a bunch of holy Geralds as well.

(7) Casper
My last idea is Casper—a name I love and wish it would get more play! I love that it’s the name of one of the Three Wise Men (aka Jasper or Gaspar, depending on where you look—they’re all variants of the same name, with Casper being the Scandinavian form), and since Michelle’s due in January this might be particularly perfect, since the Three Kings’ feast is Jan. 6.

And those are my ideas for Michelle and her hubby! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother of Henrik, Philip, Martin, Dennis, and Brigit?

Birth announcement: Belén Marie-Guadalupe!

I’ve been so eager to post today’s birth announcement! It’s the absolutely perfect one to post right before Christmas! 🎄🎁🎄🎁🎄🎁

Our dear Lindsay from My Child I Love You, who so graciously agreed to be profiled back in August and shared her little ones’ name stories, has had her tenth born baby — a beautiful baby girl who has been given the most beautiful name … Belén Marie-Guadalupe!

(Belén is the Spanish form of “Bethlehem” [which , as my mom was just telling me recently, comes from the Hebrew for “house of bread,” and how perfect is that as the name of the place where Baby Jesus was born?!])

Lindsay writes,

We weren’t even going to name her Belén. We had a completely different girl name, but when we saw her, we knew our original name wasn’t the one, but didn’t know what to name her.

After that first night, I mentioned to John the name Belén. He did some research and discovered its Spanish origins. That sealed the deal with her being born on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe — one of the dearest to my heart ♥♥

So, her name came very easily!!

What is funny about her name is that both John and I were convinced 99% she was a boy she we didn’t really need a baby girl name. God’s provisions always provide even at the very end. We both knew her name almost instantly after a moment of research.”

Is that just such a wonderful story, and an amazingly perfect name for this little girl, given the time of year she was born and the specific feast day?! (And how much are you all dying — like me — to know their previous girl name, as well as their boy name?! 😂 Maybe someday she’ll tell us!)

Congratulations to Lindsay and John and their other kiddos Dominic, Lillie, Rose, Zellie, Vianney, Clairvaux, Damaris, Kapaun, and Lourdes, and happy birthday Baby Belén!!

Belén Marie-Guadalupe

New CatholicMom article up! And some housekeeping

My December column at CatholicMom posted today! Names for an Advent Baby.


I used this post, as well as your comments on that post, to put it together — thank you for your thoughts!

I also decided to use PayPal buttons for consultations after all (I’d previously said I’d use invoices instead) — I just updated my baby name consultations page with that info — might be the perfect last-minute Christmas gift for any expectant parents you know! 😉

Happy four days until Christmas!! 😁🎄🎁

Birth announcement: Patrick Okey!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a little boy given the handsome name … Patrick Okey!

She writes,

Earlier in my pregnancy, you helped with name suggestions. We welcomed our second son, Patrick Okey on November 30 at 11:02 pm weighing 8 lbs. 5 ounces and 21.25 inches. We decided to use Patrick, which is the middle name of both my dad (Michael Patrick) and brother (Brendan Patrick) as well as many generations of men on my father’s side of our family. Okey is a family name on my husband’s side. It’s his middle name he shares with his father and was the first name of his great grandfather.

Thanks for your help! I was surprised how traditional we went but it stood out as the name to compliment big brother Jameson Alexander’s name and is 7 letters like the rest of our family first names.”

I’m such a big fan of unusual middle names paired with more traditional first names! And with Okey being part of the names of so many of the men in this little man’s family, I can’t think of a more perfect fit. I also love brothers Jameson and Patrick together!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Patrick!!


Patrick Okey