Did you all see the amazing thing BabyNames.com did? I saw it on CNN.com! Here’s a screenshot:
“Each one of these names was somebody’s baby.” I love that. I’ve written before about how knowing a person’s name pulls them out of the masses into clear focus. Motherhood has really helped deepen the impact for me of remembering that all other people were other mothers’ babies, and of course we are all — every single one of us — beloved children of God.
Here are some other names to remember and to whom to pray for intercession, as shared in this post from Avera Maria Santo:
“My dear brothers and sisters, we really need you now… 💔💔💔
To my dear friends,
My fellow African Americans now in Heaven with Jesus,
Pray for all of us who remain,
Pray for us who remain in the midst of those who may hate us,
Pray for us that we may love as you did, even in the midst of great hatred.
Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange,
Fr. Augustus Tolton,
And my dear friend Thea Bowman,
Please, pray for us!
Venerable Pierre Toussaint was born into slavery; “He is credited by many with being the father of Catholic Charities in New York. Pierre was instrumental in raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage and began the city’s first school for black children. He also helped to provide funds for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a religious community of black nuns founded in Baltimore and played a vital role in providing resources to erect Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Lower Manhattan. During a Yellow Fever epidemic when many of the city’s political leaders fled the city in search of healthier rural climates, Pierre Toussaint cared for the sick and the dying. He was a successful entrepreneur, who did not hesitate to share the fruits of his labor with others.”
Servant of God Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange came to America in the 18th century as a refugee from Haiti; “Despite discouragement, racism and a lack of funds, Mother Lange continued to educate children and meet the total needs of the Black Catholic community.”
Venerable Henriette DeLille was the daughter of biracial couple; she founded the order of the Sisters of the Holy Family “for the purpose of nursing the sick, caring for the poor, and instructing the ignorant … [she] devoted herself untiringly for many years, without reserve, to the religious instruction of the people of New Orleans, principally of slaves … The last line of her obituary reads, ‘… for the love of Jesus Christ she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.'”
Servant of God Julia Greeley was born into slavery; she was known as “Denver’s Angel of Charity” and “a one-person St. Vincent de Paul Society” for the help she gave to poor families in her neighborhood, and “The Jesuits who ran the parish considered her the most enthusiastic promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus they had ever seen.”
Venerable Augustus Tolton was born into slavery; he “became the first Black American priest in the United States of America … He gave service by helping the poor and sick, feeding the hungry and winning souls for God. His endless, tireless and devoted work led many to the Faith … [he was] lovingly known as ‘Good Father Gus.'”
Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman was “exposed to the richness of her African-American culture and spirituality” at an early age; she was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and “became a highly acclaimed evangelizer, teacher, writer, and singer sharing the joy of the Gospel and her rich cultural heritage throughout the nation … She explained what it meant to be African-American and Catholic. She enlightened the bishops on African-American history and spirituality. Sister Thea urged the bishops to continue to evangelize the African-American community, to promote inclusivity and full participation of African-Americans within Church leadership, and to understand the necessity and value of Catholic schools in the African-American community.”
Back to the naming community, Abby at Appellation Mountain, in her usual thoughtful way, has stated a commitment to highlighting more non-Western names. She also shared the article What’s up with black names, anyway? from Salon. Pam at Nameberry shared a few other namey articles, including:
A brief history of black names, from Perlie to Latasha from The Conversation
A depressing study of how people respond to stereotypically black and white names from Vox (see also this article I shared a while ago about the experiences of a white man named Jamaal)
Are Black Names ‘Weird,’ or Are You Just Racist? at the Daily Beast
And this fascinating piece by Laura Wattenberg: Implicit Bias in Names: An Unintentional Case Study.
I keep thinking about that old saying, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” So many of us are full of grief and anger; many of our brothers and sisters are terrified, either for themselves or their children (or both). I previously shared this Prayer for Racial Justice, and this 19-day novena (currently ongoing — it ends this Friday, which is both the feast of the Sacred Heart and Juneteenth) as an act of reparation to God for the sin of racism in all of its forms — they are powerful prayers. Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Michael the Archangel, and the holy men and women mentioned here: please pray for us.
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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!
3 thoughts on “Beloved children of God”
[…] Julia Greeley (I shared more about her earlier this week) Bl. Solanus Casey (I just posted about his family’s names yesterday) Bl. Karl, Emperor of […]
Thanks for sharing the stories of these saintly lives!
Regarding black names, it’s so sad that people might be shying away from choosing names associated with the black community for fear of discrimination.
I mean, Sigrid is just as unusual as some of the names mentioned in the articles above, but since it’s Scandinavian, it doesn’t get any negative reactions… Charmaine and Charlene are so similar to Charlotte, yet because they are associated with black people, they are not taken as seriously on a resume…
Black names enlarge our naming horizons, and that’s great because it gets us names like Zendaya and the *amazing* Condoleezza. I’d love to see them more used in the future!
[…] Several articles about Black names and naming […]