Beloved children of God

Did you all see the amazing thing BabyNames.com did? I saw it on CNN.com! Here’s a screenshot:

babynamesdotcom-06.15.2020

“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.

Pierre Toussaint,
Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange,
Henriette DeLille,
Julia Greeley,
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!

Requiescat in pace

So many have been hit hard by the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, and our family is no exception. My husband and boys know him best from basketball, but I know him best from being his exact age (we were born on the same day in the same year) and being starry eyed over what a beautiful couple he and Brandy made when they attended her prom together when they (and I) were high school seniors. Such a funny memory!

Since the tragic news broke, I discovered that Kobe and his family are Catholic, which I hadn’t known. Beautiful stories are being told of his Mass attendance and reliance on his faith, including the fact that he attended Mass the morning of his death. What a gift, and such a consolation for his loved ones.

One article reported:

Mr. Mauser [husband of Christina, who died in the crash] said that he had cuddled in bed with his children as they grieved, and that his older daughter had been comforted by what she saw on television.

“We watched ‘SportsCenter’ for two seconds and everything was about how much everybody was mourning and hurting, and she said it was nice to know that everybody was hurting along with us,” he said. “And I know that sounds odd, but it still kind of helps.”

This is one of the best uses of the media (social and otherwise) — it’s such a lovely thing when our country feels like a community that cares about each other.

Eternal rest grant unto all the deceased, O Lord — Kobe and Gianna; John and Keri and daughter Alyssa; Sarah and daughter Payton; coach Christina; and pilot Ara — and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Prayers also for their families — spouses and children left behind — I can’t even imagine.

March for Life 2020 (and a little about the names of Jane Roe)

Today’s the March for Life in Washington, D.C.! My oldest boy is there with a group from school, and I know many of you and/or your children are there as well. Thank you for fighting the good fight!

Because this is a Catholic name blog, I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective a few times*; today I thought I’d take a brief look at the names — real and pseudonymous — of the woman named in that 1973 Supreme Court decision**.

Jane Roe was a pseudonym for the plaintiff in the case, used to keep her identity anonymous. This article explained that John Doe and Jane Doe are used when a person’s identity is unknown, while Roe and Poe are used for those whose identity is known but who wish to remain anonymous. The woman known as Jane Roe continued to be known as Jane Roe for the rest of her life, though she revealed her real name after the case was decided: Norma McCorvey.

I spent a few minutes this morning reading articles about her with, at first, a sort of detached onomastic perspective — I was interested in finding anything that discussed her names. As has happened every time I’ve ever looked her up, though, I was moved by how much she experienced and endured from her earliest days. Even though there are questions about what was truth and what was fiction, not knowing what and especially who could be trusted seems a constant characteristic in her life. As does a definite vulnerability; I found this namey quote particularly sad and telling: “Norma McCorvey had little more to her name than a pseudonym. But it was the most famous pseudonym in American legal history: Jane Roe.” And when she became pro-life, she said before a Senate subcommittee in 1998, “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.”

What a lady, and what a life, for better and for worse. May she, and all deceased victims of abortion, rest in peace.

* Things I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective:
I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names
Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus (CatholicMom) (and my blog post sharing it, which includes further thoughts)
March for Life: Comfort and confidence in the Holy Name of Jesus
The name of Mother Teresa (includes a link to her amazing address at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast)
Book reviews, radio appearance, naming aborted babies

** Roe v. Wade (1973) “determined that a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion involved the question of whether the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The justices answered this question by asserting that the 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from “depriv[ing] any person of … liberty … without due process of law,” protected a fundamental right to privacy. Further, after considerable discussion of the law’s historical lack of recognition of rights of a fetus, the justices concluded “the word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.” The right of a woman to choose to have an abortion fell within this fundamental right to privacy, and was protected by the Constitution.”


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!

Links, updates, and consultation info

I’ve got a bunch of things to share today, so I’m putting them all in one post!

First up, I’ll be going on “maternity leave” from consultations starting June 1. That will give me a chance to finish up all those currently in the queue and any new ones before things get real around here, baby-wise (i.e., doubling down on getting things ready + my own slowing down as the time approaches). But I won’t be off the blog — posts take less time than consultations, so I should still be able to post regularly (though perhaps less frequently? It’s almost summer y’all! My boys and I have plans!). I’ll also still be on Instagram and Twitter (especially IG). I’m not sure when I’ll be back to consultations — I’ll have to play it by ear, based on how things are going post-baby. A very unofficial, tentative date might be sometime around Christmas, but again, I’ll just have to see. I’ll be emailing those of you who purchased the Black Friday deal and haven’t yet redeemed it — which is totally fine! It doesn’t expire! But if you aren’t ready by June 1, I won’t be able to do it until I return from my baby hiatus.

I’ve gotten some emails in response to my giveaway! Woo! No one’s yet gotten the full list, so there’s still a chance for the rest of you! But the ones I’ve gotten are pretty good, so the competition is tough! It ends Saturday at midnight (Eastern).

I also have the final official links for my segment on Mater Dei Radio: this is for when it aired on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary, and this is for when it aired on Morning Drive. So much fun!

Almost three years ago I posted about Rachel Campos-Duffy and her congressman husband Sean’s seventh baby, and then totally missed that they’ve since had an eighth! Two years ago this month they welcomed Patrick Miguel — love love love his name!

Finally, back in November I posted a consultation for Amy at Our Family Fiat, and she recently relaunched her site and one of her first posts up is about the naming of her baby! Definitely go check out her third little lady’s beautiful name!! (Her first name is in my book! Woo!)

Okay! That’s all I have for this Tuesday! I hope you’re all having a great week!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Catholic royals

LOOK at these goooooorgeous (!!!!!!) names from Bree over at The Beauty of Names:

Maria Josepha, of Saxony, Dauphine of France, also known as Marie Josèphe, was born Maria Josepha Karolina Eleonore Franziska Xaveria to Augustus III of Poland and Maria Josepha of Austria. She married Louis, Dauphin of France, who was born Louis Ferdinand.
Their children were:

Marie Zéphyrine, “Marie Zéphyrine of France“, “Madame Royale”, or “la Petite Madame” (Died at age 5)

Louis Joseph Xavier, “Louis, Duke of Burgundy” (Died at age 9)

Xavier Marie Joseph, “Xavier, Duke of Aquitaine” (Died at 6 months)

Louis-Auguste, “Louis-Auguste, Duke of Berry“, later “Louis XVI of France

Louis Stanislas Xavier, “Louis, Count of Provence“, later “Louis XVIII of France

Charles Philippe, “Charles, Count of Artois“, later “Charles X

Marie Adélaïde Clotilde Xavière, “Marie Clotilde of France“, “Gros-Madame”, or “Madame Clotilde”

Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène, “Princess Élisabeth of France“, or “Madame Élisabeth”

I’m in love! They’re so beautiful! And so very very Catholic! THREE Xaviers! And one Xavière! And the first name-middle name(s) combinations! I think I would be completely content if someone told me I had to name my children using only these names.

I looked up Maria Josepha/Marie Josèphe on Wikipedia, and loved this: “Politically reserved, she exerted herself only once, in 1762, in vain, for the preservation of the Society of Jesus in France. The Society had been dissolved by order of the Parlement of Paris, inspired by Jansenist magistrates, against the will of the King.”

What do you think of these names? Any that jump out at you as particularly appealing? Or are they too over-the-top for your taste?

Celebrity guest: Danielle Bean (DanielleBean.com)

I’ve mentioned Danielle Bean before (here and here) — she’s the publisher and editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest (yes, that Catholic Digest), co-host of the Catholic women’s talk show The Gist, author of a bunch of books including, most recently, Momnipotent, a book and parish study “that help women find peace, balance, and joy in their roles as mothers.” She’s also a speaker and writing coach. She’s basically doing it all.

Like last week’s celebrity guest (Rachel Balducci), Danielle’s blog was a highlight of my day when my older boys were small, when motherhood was still new, when I so appreciated chatting with other moms who had more kids than I did and were funny and smart and real about the highs and lows and the eternal meaning of it all … even if that “chatting” took the form of me somewhat obsessively reading their blogs, anxiously awaiting for new posts, taking to heart potty training tips and night-sleeping tips, and referring to them in conversation with my in-real-life friends and family (this internet age is so weird, isn’t it?). (I also secretly wanted Danielle’s house, which was built by her husband [!] and always looked amazing — cozy and sweet — in any pictures she posted. Also, her annual Oktoberfest, with so much amazing food [recipes are still on her blog!].)

Danielle’s youngest (of eight) was born just a month or so after my second, and I was right there with her through her posts on morning sickness (I remember a particularly poignant one on goldfish crackers and chocolate milk — there was nothing in the world that she wanted more, and once she had them … nothing she could possibly want less, and likely could never even look at them again. Oh the things you remember!) and waiting-for-baby and I could NOT wait to see what name she and her husband would choose because — they have great taste!

Danielle’s not blogging too much these days, but she loves names like I do, and she graciously agreed to fill me in on her kids’ first and middle names, and how each were chosen (be sure to notice #2 — perfect for Irish week!):

(1) Kateri Anne [which they say KAY-tuh-ree]

Kateri Tekakwitha was my confirmation saint many years ago, before she was even a saint. I loved her from the day I read a biography of her as a young girl (published by Pauline Books, I won the book as a prize in a poetry contest they rain in My Friend magazine). Kateri is strong and connected with nature and her stories of personal sacrifice really inspired me as a young woman.

(2) Eamon Michael

Eamon is the Irish form of Edmund and St. Edmund is a favorite of my husband’s. I was hugely pregnant with Eamon when we were watching the Secret of Roan Inish. One of the characters was named Eamon and we were inspired to look it up. When we found out it was a form of Edmund, we were convinced that was the name for us. We like that it is unusual, but it’s actually quite common in Ireland.

(3) Ambrose Augustine

Well you can read the column I wrote years ago, he tells me he still loves his name. I laugh all the time, though, because I get phone calls about his doctor’s appointments and whatnot and they always call him my daughter. You know, Amber Rose.

(4) Juliette Marie

My mom is French Canadian. I studied French for a total of 9 years in school. I like this name because it’s beautiful and a recognition of our French heritage. Marie is my mom’s first name. I wish I had a great saint story to go with it, but we kind [of] stumbled on the saint connection after the fact. People tease her about waiting for her “Romeo,” but she loves her name and it suits her. She is a poised and graceful young lady.

(5) Stephen Matthias

We both just love this traditional name and the fact that it was the name of the first Christian martyr. Stephen was St. Stephen for All Saints day a few years ago and he loved carrying a bloody rock around with him at the party and describing his death in gory detail. Stephen’s middle name is Matthias. We loved how Stephen Matthias went together so smoothly and only discovered after we settled on it that the sound of it is so “right” because the saints names are listed that way in the Eucharistic prayer. To this day, Stephen gets a grin on his face when the priest says “Stephen, Matthias” from the altar.

(6) Gabrielle Therese

Again, with [a] French girl name. This one happens to be my maternal grandmother’s first name (Grandmaman to me). She is 93 today [Feb. 24]. She always disliked her name, though, and went by “Gaby” instead. When our Gabrielle was born, we said it such a beautiful name we would not shorten it, but of course we do. She is Gabby to all her siblings and friends, but I still make a point of calling her Gabrielle regularly. It’s just so pretty. And do not get me started about St. Therese …

(7) Raphael Joseph

We pronounce this name (ray-FEE-uhl) but usually call him Rafe or Rafey. He likes both. When we were discussing names, I suggested Raphael and [my husband] Dan accepted it after concluding that “Rafe” was definitely a name you could call out to someone playing basketball. Today, Rafe is a skilled player and we call him name lots. His middle name was going to be Thomas, but he was born on the feast of St. Joseph after I spent an entire pregnancy saying that was the day he would be born, so you know. We HAD to change it. 🙂

(8) Daniel John Jr.

It only took my poor husband five sons before he got to have a junior! 😛 When I was pregnant with Danny (we usually call him that) we could not agree on names, so finally we just said if it was a boy, Dan would name him and if it was a girl, I would name her. At that point, Dan said “Ok then, I want a junior.” He had said he wanted to use his name for a son in the past but I always rejected the idea as ridiculous. I mean, he is Daniel, I am Danielle, did we really need another Dan in the mix? But I agreed. Then the day Danny was born, my husband was REALLY sick (coxsackie virus). So sick he was in terrible pain and I suggested he leave the delivery room and get a hotel room to rest for a while while labor progressed. I promised to call him when it got close. We should have known better, but whatever. Danny was born before Dan could get there, by about 20 minutes. I had already named him Daniel John, Jr. and signed the paperwork! Dan could not believe it. He was so thrilled. He actually thought I would not have gone through with it because I had been so opposed. Today, Danny is so proud to share a name with his dad, and he is our littlest so it’s extra sweet.

Aren’t those amazing stories? I love how each first name and middle name flow together so well. I love reading about the name discussions/disagreements between Danielle and her husband, and how they eventually resolved things into amazing first-middle combos for their kids. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did! Thank you Danielle for a great start to the week! ❤

Celebrity guest: Rachel Balducci (Testosterhome)

There were a few bloggers who really helped me through my early motherhood — mamas who were more experienced at living a faith-filled motherhood than I was, and every day I eagerly awaited my computer time so I could catch up with my “friends.” I’m so excited to spotlight one of them today!

Rachel Balducci, of the brilliantly named Testosterhome, showed me what an all-boy house looked like — she’d had her first four boys before I realized I’d have so many boys, and I waited breathlessly with the rest of the blogosphere when she was giving birth to her fifth — would it be another boy?? It was! Then my whole summer was overshadowed with sadness at the suffering of her #5 boy, Henry, and the stress the whole family was under when he broke his leg when he was younger than two, I think, and had to wear a spica cast for what seemed like for.EV.er. And then a few years later we all waited breathlessly again as Rachel was having her sixth baby, and when her last little one was a girl (a girl!) I could hear all of the Catholic internets sighing with surprise and joy and wonder.

So Rachel: Mama of five big-and-little boys and one little girl, long-time blogger, author of How Do You Tuck In a Superhero? And other delightful mysteries of raising boys (also available under its new title, Raising Boys is a Full Contact Sport), newspaper columnist, speaker, and co-host of The Gist, a talk show for women at CatholicTV.

She knows what’s up.

She’s also done an amazing job naming her kiddos, and graciously agreed to give us a glimpse into her and her hubby’s naming thought process! Without further ado:

(1) Well for starters, our first born was going to be August. That was the name we had picked out. I liked the idea of Augustine Asher (both family names) but we live in Augusta and it sounded too much like “Augusta National”! And then our son was born and he had copper hair and looked nothing like what I thought our baby would look like. I really have to see my baby to make sure the name fits. And I sent [her husband] Paul down to the nurses station to borrow the name book. We found Ethan, which we’d discussed earlier. Ethan. We liked the name and loved the meaning. His first name is Paul, like his dad and grandfather and Ethan means “firm” or “enduring.” Also it was unique without being overly so!

(2) Twenty-one months later we gave birth to another boy. And once again I thought about using August (the actual family name). But this son had bright red hair and looked even less like what I imagined. This time I had brought my own baby name book and we looked at every name. And we loved the name Elliott. It’s a modern form of Elijah and means “Jehovah is God.” The big issue with his name was spelling and we labored over how to spell it. We finally settled on two L’s and two T’s, but people almost NEVER spell it the right way. One T is all he usually gets. Oh well, I like this version! His middle name is Stephen, after my dad.

(3) Twenty-one months later and another boy. This time I mostly had the name already picked. I had given up on using August and we went with two family names: Charles Asher. Charles is my grandfather and also a dear uncle of mine and Asher is Paul’s grandmother’s maiden name.

(4) TWENTY ONE MONTHS LATER and ANOTHER BOY. I am not kidding. So this time I used August. Why not. I had run out of all the other names on my list. We used August and then Becket as the middle name because I love Thomas Becket.

(5) We took a five year break from having boy babies and then, when Augie was five and a half we had another boy. We named him Henry Ephrem. Henry is Paul’s great grandfather and Ephrem is my great-grandfather (and my brother’s middle name). My only thoughts on names is really consider the meaning. Henry means “ruler of the house” and the name really works for him. Lawdy. He’s amazing, he’s a tornado.

(6) And then, when we thought we were done (my pregnancy with Henry was really rough, we thought it wouldn’t be prudent to have another baby) we were surprised. And we didn’t find out what we were having…but planned on another boy. And I could not think of any other names for us…except Oliver which unfortunately is my brother’s son so that would have been awkward to use. So…Anyway, then Isabel was born! And that was always on my girls name list (which was never touched) and her middle name is Anne-marie, which is from each of the grandmothers. It’s a lot of name but I had to cram a lot into this one girl!

Aren’t those great names?? I just love the story behind each one — the care, the thought. I love all the family connections. I love how substantial each name combination is. Thank you to Rachel for a great start to the week!! ❤

Reading round-up

When I was first having my babies, Danielle Bean was the mama of Catholic mom bloggers. She hasn’t blogged in ages — she’s now the editor of Catholic Digest, and an author and TV talk show host (!), and her kids aren’t babies anymore — but her writing helped me through those first few rough years of trying to figure out motherhood, and a lot of what she wrote is still fresh in my mind. Like this article, which I was thinking about the other day and decided to see if I could find: What’s In a Name?

Also, this post of mine was inspired by a reader’s naming dilemma on Swistle’s blog — the mom has given an update with the baby’s name, head on over to see what the new baby brother of Haven, Lark, and Tusker is named!

Famous Catholics: Campos-Duffy

Ok, so I don’t know a whole heckuva lot about Rachel Campos-Duffy and her husband Sean. I do know:
— They met on MTV’s Road Rules All Stars in 1998
— Sean’s a congressman (Wisconsin’s seventh district)
— He’s one of eleven children
— They gave their children super duper Catholic names:

Evita Pilar
Xavier Jack
Lucia-Belen
John-Paul
Paloma Pilar
MariaVictoria Margarita

They reportedly recently welcomed baby #7 (a girl!), but I haven’t been able to find out the new baby’s name. Anyone?

Read more:
Rachel Campos-Duffy Expecting Baby No. 7
Wisconsin congressman welcomes baby number 7
Rep. Sean Duffy and Rachael Campos-Duffy welcome seventh child into the world