New names for Brothers of two religious orders, and a question about religious name changes

Good morning! Happy Friday!!

I read on Facebook and Instagram yesterday the announcement by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph of the upcoming Simple Profession of six Brothers on the feast of the Assumption. They listed them by name, and asked for prayers for them:

Br. Samuel Macarias
Br. Robert John Henry
Br. Leo Rocco Maria
Br. William Pius Mary
Br. Peter Micah Mary
Br. Daniel Raphael Mary

Of course, you know I’m so interested in their names — it seems clear that there are is least some partial taking-on of new names, but the middle name(s) seem the most obvious examples — are the first names new too? You know I love seeing Mary and Maria in there!

On the same topic, just the other day one of you readers, Mary, who has often sent me interesting name tidbits over the years, sent me a link to a podcast episode by the Servants of Christ Jesus (a community of priests and brothers “committed to advancing the new evangelization through the praise, reverence and service of God, our Lord … inspired to live the Gospel through the evangelical poverty of St. Francis of Assisi and the apostolic formation of St. Ignatius Loyola”) on the topic of religious name changes! In their community, each priest or brother is given a new name, which is composed of the name of an apostle and the last name of an Ignatian saint. The men listed on their web site have these names:

Fr. John Ignatius
Fr. Paul Kostka
Fr. James Claver
Br. Thomas Gonzaga
Br. Peter Xavier
Br. Andrew Brébeuf

The podcast was a discussion between the host and Br. Thomas Gonzaga and Br. Peter Xavier on religious name changes in general, and specifically in their community, and specifically to each of them individually. I listened to it this morning, and wrote down several things:

  • Br. Peter Xavier says ZAY-vyer, not k-SAY-vyer (ex-ZAY-vyer, ig-ZAY-vyer)
  • Religious name changes are “one of those curious aspects of Catholic religious life”
  • In Catholicism, there is “always a physical sign that symbolizes an interior reality”
  • Name changes are a way of “leaving behind the old man and putting on the new man,” as St. Paul says in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4
  • They have a small community, so it hasn’t yet been a problem that there are only thirteen apostles’ names to choose from (the original twelve, minus Judas, plus Matthias and Paul); they thought if they run out of apostles’ names they’ll go to other New Testament names, then Old Testament names, but not sure what happens after this. Naming in this way is their tradition, but they’re not bound by it, and their Superior will ultimately decide
  • When it comes time for them to receive their new name, their Superior proposes a name option that he thinks would be fitting, then he asks the man to bring it to prayer to discern it. “There’s always a discernment process after the offer” of a name
  • Each of the Brothers told the stories behind their new names — so interesting, and so personal! They both felt that Jesus showed them both at least part of their new names, if not the entire thing, before they were proposed
  • They both felt that, though they’re given the opportunity to discern the new name, they both had a sense of “trusting and obedience to the Superior’s will”
  • The new name provides them the constant opportunity to “willfully recall that Jesus has renamed me”
  • Fast food places are the hardest places to give their religious names!
  • Their legal names are still their baptismal names, which makes things like traveling and visiting the doctor somewhat complicated
  • There is a lot of emotion surrounding their new names on the part of family and friends, and especially parents. One said he feels “so loved” when he sees his family and friends stretch themselves to remember to use his religious name. To him, it’s a sign that they want to respect what Jesus has done in their lives, it’s a way of showing respect and honor for the Lord. Taking on a new name is not a way of trying to distance themselves from their family, but a way of trying to get closer to Jesus. “I want to identify myself with what Jesus has declared”; “Detachment is never easy, especially when it’s such a good in your life”
  • A new name provides the “grace of greater intimacy with Jesus”
  • Some communities allow the candidates to submit name options, but they both like the process in their community of accepting a name given to them by their Superior. Since Jesus gave them their new names, they feel Jesus’ love in their new names
  • “There’s so much hidden in a name”

These are just the things that jumped out at me — there’s lots more for you to discover, and I know you’d love to hear about each of their particular name story! You can find the podcast on their site, or on iTunes.

Finally, one of you tagged me in a tweet from Fr. Thomas Petri, OP (OP means “Order of Preachers,” which is the Dominicans), in which he said,

A friend’s daughter just had her 1st baby (my friend is now a grandfather). The baby is named Quinn Louis after St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand. I have to admit that Quinn for Aquinas is very creative and now I’m wondering whether that could be used as a religious name.”

I do love Quinn Louis for St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand! While I’m sure the question was meant lightheartedly, being the crazy Catholic name lady I am, I’d be interested to know if Quinn for Aquinas would be considered okay for a religious name change. My sense is no? That’s it’s a bit too informal/not etymologically related/not obvious enough? Do any of you know?

Have a great day and weekend!


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!

What’s in a (Catholic) name? {An interview with Sancta Nomina by Jenny Uebbing}

This interview with Jenny Uebbing (longtime friend of Sancta Nomina) appeared on her blog Mama Needs Coffee on March 10, 2017. She’s not maintaining her blog anymore, so the link to the original post no longer works, and I really loved all the information I pulled together for it — I found it helpful for my own self, and I think a lot of you might as well! — so I moved it here!

What’s in a (Catholic) name? {An interview with Sancta Nomina}

Questions from Jenny: What is the significance of using a saint’s name? Why does the Church care about names, period? What’s in a (Catholic) name? Why is the Church concerned with what names we give our children, and why should we think with the mind of the Church when naming? What is the history behind the Church desiring saint’s names for baptism (obviously that had to start somewhere, since canonized saints were a later theological development).

Kate: The Church is concerned with the names we give our children because names are important! I recently read something our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (or Papa Benny, as I like to think of him) wrote about the Patriarch Jacob wrestling with God in the book of Genesis, and the subsequent bestowing of his new name (Israel), and BXVI explained that “in the biblical mentality the name contains the most profound reality of the individual, it reveals the person’s secret and destiny. Knowing one’s name therefore means knowing the truth about the other person.”

That’s heavy stuff! And we certainly see names given a lot of attention in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, from God allowing Adam to name all the animals, to name changes that signified a change in identity and mission (Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul — we see this even today with Confirmation names, religious names, and papal names), to God Himself choosing certain babies’ names (John the Baptist, Jesus). Some of the most moving verses in the Bible, to me, are from Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:9-11): “God greatly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”—every time I read them I feel a swell of emotion, they’re so full of the awesomeness and power of God.

Outside of the Bible — and certainly taking example from it — the Church has had a lot to say about names! According to The Catholic Encyclopedia “the assumption of a new name for some devotional reason was fairly common among [early] Christians” and was usually associated with baptism, especially from the fourth century and later. Examples of new names included those of apostles, martyrs, and even peers who had helped effect one’s conversion to the faith. And St. John Chrysostom advised parents in the fourth century:

So let the name of the saints enter our homes through the naming of our children, to train not only the child but the father, when he reflects that he is the father of John or Elijah or James; for, if the name be given with forethought to pay honor to those that have departed, and we grasp at our kinship with the righteous rather than with our forebears, this too will greatly help us and our children. Do not because it is a small thing regard it as small; its purpose is to succor us.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia offers several more references to the practice of Christian names being bestowed at baptism throughout history, including pronouncements by the Church (local and universal), and in the old Code of Canon Law, which was in effect from 1917 until 1983, parents were *required* to give their child a “Christian name” (which didn’t necessarily have to be a saint’s name — virtue names, for examples, were fine) or the priest would bestow a saint’s name upon the baby at baptism.

It wasn’t until the new Code of Canon Law took effect in 1983 that the wording was changed to say: “Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given” (Canon 855), which, as you can see, allows for a lot of names that might not have been okay before (see my CatholicMom article on names that are foreign to Christian sensibility). Basically, these days most names are just fine, and I feel like the change of wording in Canon Law is further evidence of the wisdom and foresight of the Church because modern parents love individuality and creativity in naming! According to name expert Laura Wattenberg, “it took a list of six names to cover half of the population of children born in England in 1800 (U.S. Social Security Administration records don’t begin until 1880). By 1950 in the United States, that number was up to 79. Today, it takes 546 names to cover half of the population of U.S. babies born.” To parents naming babies in this environment then, the names that are traditionally thought of when “saints’ names” are considered — John, Mary, Joseph, Anne — often feel restrictive and uninspired. Couple that with how many people seem to leap at any chance to dismiss the Church’s teachings as outdated or out of touch, and you can see how the new Canon on names came at a perfect time — now you can be a 21st-century namer AND a good Catholic!

I love how you phrased your question: “Why should we think with the mind of the Church when naming?” We’ve just discussed the Church’s history of understanding how important names are, and I also really like this explanation given by Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., at the Canon Law Made Easy blog:

This is not merely a question of personal taste … if a priest is to baptize a child, there must be a well founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith … If the parents wanted to give a bizarre, unchristian name to their child, it would be altogether natural for the parents’ pastor to question their intentions! Are they serious about rearing their child as a Catholic? Or do they regard the whole baptismal ceremony as an empty tradition or even a joke? It is the pastor’s duty to find out.”

And I love how St. John Chrysostom pointed out that the purpose of giving one’s children the names of saints is to help us, and that by doing so we allow the name of the saints to enter our homes and strengthen our relationship with those holy men and women, and encourage our reliance on their example and intercession. That’s how I think of all the names that I consider to fall within the sphere of Catholic names (saint/biblical/virtue names, and names of prayers, Marian titles/adjectives and apparition sites and other holy places; other ideas here) — they all allow our faith to enter our homes and families and stay top of mind and heart.

Jenny: What uniquely Catholic naming trends have you observed in the years you’ve been following/studying? Any crazy things stand out to you (either crazy awesome or crazy awful?) Any commentary on the insanely wonderful JPII situation in my preschool, for example? ([I]n my pre-k’s Catholic Montessori class, we have John Paul (ours), Giovanni Paulo, JP, Juan Pablo, and JohnPaul.)

Kate: I really love seeing the variety of tastes among devout Catholic families! Among the families I’ve connected with through my blog and name consultations, I’ve seen children with really classic, traditional names, and children with totally outside-the-box names, and everything in between. I’ve gotten loads of ideas and inspiration from the names of the babies I’ve encountered — beautiful names connected to both little-known and well-known saints and other holy people (Servants of God, Venerables, Blesseds), and creative twists like double first names (Anne-Catherine) and names that recall prayers through their sound (Sylvie Regina, Agnes Daisy). Marian names are some of my very favorites, and there are so many! I’m also a big nicknamer, so I think it’s really fun to see a serious, sophisticated formal name with a playful nickname (like Romy for Rosemary or Bash for Sebastian).

I like to spotlight families on my blog who have done something different and eye-opening with naming their babies, in order to show others the wide array of Catholic naming possibilities — names like Vianney, Clairvaux, Kapaun, Lourdes, Bosco, and Tiber and combos like Indigo Madonna and Hyacinth Clemency Veil. Each one of those names has impeccable, uber Catholic ties to holy people, places, or ideas while still being unexpected. I also love encountering real-life babies with hardcore old-school Catholicky Catholic names like Perpetua, Philomena, Gerard, Augustine, and Clement, as well as sibling sets with a mix of names — traditional and modern, unusual and familiar — like brothers Michael, Benedict, Kolbe, and Casper.

I really really love the “insanely wonderful JPII situation” in your son’s class! I definitely see a lot of love being given to our St. John Paul the Great through names — your son and his classmates demonstrate perfectly the various ways to use his papal name, and I know both boys and girls named after him using his pre-papal name, Karol (Polish for Charles), as inspiration: Karol, Carol, Charles, Charlotte, Caroline, Karoline. I’ve even seen some Loleks, after his childhood nickname! I’ve also had several conversations with parents who want to use the name John Paul but aren’t sure how to handle it: is it a double first name, and therefore they should choose a middle name? Is it a first name and a middle name? Should they spell it John Paul or John-Paul or Johnpaul? I spotlighted one family who solved the issue of a middle name for John Paul in a really interesting way, and I really love that families are willing to wrestle with it for the ultimate goal of giving their boys such an amazing and beloved patron saint.

Another name that’s been really hot with Catholic families is Zelie, both with and without the accent on the first ‘e’ and in all its forms, including Azelie, Zellie, Zaylee, and Zaley, and also used in combos like Zelie-Louise, thus really reinforcing the connection to the Martin saints, Zélie (born Marie-Azélie) and Louis. (I wrote more about the whole phenomenon here.)

Jenny: What advice do you give parents when they’re naming a new baby? Any do’s or don’ts you care to share?

Kate: Hm, interesting questions! So many things that I believed in the past to be naming “rules” have shown themselves, through real-life examples, to not be so hard and fast and to be really changeable on a family-by-family basis. I really love hearing the song in a parent’s voice when he or she tells me the story of their child’s name, and sometimes the name they’re telling me about goes against all the “advice” I might feel like giving! I do have my personal preferences though, based on my own experiences — I like hearing feedback on our name ideas from friends and family, to be sure we aren’t missing some huge negative association of which we’re unaware. I think floating names in online discussion boards or running them by a name blogger (ahem) can be a good way to get feedback if going the friends and family route is going to cause rifts in relationships. At the same time, I think it’s important to feel free to dismiss others’ negative reactions if they’re based on pure opinion — we’re all allowed to like and dislike names, and in the end the parents alone have the gift and responsibility of naming their baby.

Pope Francis touched on this in Amoris Laetitia, saying: “For God allows parents to choose the name by which he himself will call their child for all eternity” (no. 166). The Catechism reminds us that “God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it” (2158). There’s reassurance in those statements (“For God allows the parents to choose the name”) and also responsibility (“for all eternity”; “Everyone’s name is sacred”; “The name is the icon of the person”). Keeping all that in mind, as well as approaching the naming process with maturity and prayer, will surely help lead parents in the right direction when choosing their children’s names.

Jenny: And really, anything else you want to answer that comes to mind.

Kate: I really like to remember that God meets us where we are — for example, a name chosen without regard to the faith might end up being the name of a saint that one comes to have a devotion to later on (I wrote here about how sometimes patron saints find us — sometimes through names!). Name norms also vary depending on cultural considerations and points in history, which is important to remember. Also, regarding the strife I see in families and online discussions surrounding a baby’s name, a good rule of thumb for all concerned is to be kind and reasonable.

Jenny: Also, please share your social media locations and where my readers can read you, whether it’s on your blog or any recurring features you run.

Kate: My blog is http://sanctanomina.net, where I post several times a week on whatever namey thing’s on my mind — questions from readers, name spotlights, birth announcements, random thoughts. I also do name consultations (info here), and post one every Monday for reader feedback, which are a lot of fun.

You can find me @SanctaNomina on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest [eta: also Instagram!]. I also write a monthly column for CatholicMom.com (they can all be found here) and have had several pieces on Nameberry’s Berry Juice blog (all found here).

I have a couple of exciting things coming up: I’ll be on the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast [no longer online], airing March 21 — we’ll be discussing name ideas for Heather’s baby-on-the-way! Also, I contributed to The Catholic Hipster Handbook, compiled by Tommy Tighe (*the* Catholic Hipster) and published by Ave Maria Press, which will be available for pre-order this spring and released in the fall (2017). Here’s a little blurb about it: “Coming this Fall from Ave Maria Press, The Catholic Hipster Handbook is going to rock your world. This book is going to cover everything about the Catholic Hipster life and features contributions from an amazing lineup including Jeannie Gaffigan, Lisa Hendey, Arleen Spenceley, Anna Mitchell, Sarah Vabulas, and many more!” I’m thrilled to be included in an actual published book, and with such amazing people!

All in all, I’m humbled and honored at all that God’s allowed me to do with my funny little interest in names! Reading back over my answers, I see that I wrote, “I really love” quite a few times — I was going to try to change up the wording but it just expresses so exactly how I feel about the gift of my blog and my readers that I decided to keep it in.

# # #


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!

Catholic baby naming strategy: Consider the birth names of Saints (CatholicMom)

(I started this last night fully intending to post before I went to bed … and here we are, the next morning! So today is not the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. But it is the feast of the Humility of Mary — how beautiful!)

Happy feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!! 🤎💙🤎

My July CatholicMom column posted yesterday! In it, I discuss a strategy we all here have often considered when naming our babies: taking a look at the birth names of Venerables/Blesseds/Saints who might otherwise be known by their religious or papal names (which might not work for us, for whatever reason). E.g., Karol/Carl/Charles/Caroline/Karoline in honor of St. John Paul, after his birth name Karol. I’d love it if any of you who have used this strategy would post your child(ren)’s name(s) in the comments!

Happy Friday!

catholicmom_screen_shot-07.17.2020


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!

Names of some of Bl. Solanus’ confreres

I posted recently about the names of Bl. Solanus’ siblings, as included in the biography of him I was reading; today I want to share some of the names of his fellow priests and brothers. We don’t hear about religious name changes for men as much as we do for women, so I’m always excited to discover priests and brothers who have taken (or been given) new names! These are some that were included in Bl. Solanus’ life story (last names included if they were in the book):

Fr. Cajetan (this is up there with Joachim as one of my favorite unusual Catholic names)
Fr. Benno Aichinger (I believe this is related to Bernard; there are a couple saints by this name)
Fr. Innocent Ferstler (I think this is such a sweet name for a man; also a papal name)
Fr. Marion Roessler (I know this is not that unusual for men — it’s John Wayne’s given name)
Bishop Frederick Xavier Katz (an F.X. that isn’t what I’d assume!)
Fr. Bonaventure Frey (one of Bl. Solanus’ brothers had Bonaventure as a middle name)
Fr. Damasus Wickland (Damasus is related to Damian, and was the name of a pope!)

I don’t know for sure if they were all religious names — it’s possible some of them were given names — but their weightiness made them seem more likely to be religious names.

I’m also fascinated by Bishop Frederick Xavier Katz! I’ve long held the belief that separating Francis and Xavier is a more recent innovation, simply based on what I’ve seen of older records and newer naming conventions. My own grandfather’s name was David Xavier, and since his dad was Francis and his brother was Francis, I’d come up with the (totally unsubstantiated) theory that his dad must have been Francis Xavier, and had given his first name to his son Francis, and his middle name to his son David. (We have no records to confirm this — my great-grandfather and great-uncle don’t have their middle names listed in the census records I’ve seen). Bl. Solanus’ dad did something similar: his name was Bernard James, and he named one son James and another Bernard (Fr. Solanus).

And absolutely I’d be 100% certain that anyone with the initials F.X. was Francis Xavier! But then, Bishop Frederick Xavier Katz! Wow! Do any of you have any insights about Xavier being paired with names other than Francis?


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!

a Becket, a Kempis, a Cruce

St. Thomas a Becket, Thomas a Kempis (author of The Imitation of Christ), and St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein) all have that “a” in common — have any of you wondered what it means? I admit I’d only had a vague, noncommittal curiosity until today, when I decided to try to find out.

Basically, it means “of” or “from.” Thomas à Kempis , who is also known in German as Thomas von Kempen and in Dutch as Thomas van Kempen — “von” and “van” meaning “from” in their respective languages — is so called because Kempen was his home town. St. “Teresia Benedicta a Cruce” is simply “Teresa Benedict of the Cross” (isn’t Teresia a pretty variant? Behind the Name says T(h)eresia is a German, Dutch, and Swedish variant, and that Tessan is a Swedish diminutive and Trees a Dutch diminutive).

I’m sure the “a” in “a Becket” means the same thing, though the reason is less clear. Check out this rabbit hole I went down:

  • “Thomas Becket was the son of Norman settlers who lived in the city of London. His father was a merchant who traveled among the circles of French-speaking Norman immigrants. The name ‘Becket’ is likely a nickname, possibly meaning beak or nose, which was given to his father.” (source)
  • “Deeply influenced in childhood by a devout mother who died when he was 21, Thomas entered adult life as a city clerk and accountant in the service of the sheriffs. After three years he was introduced by his father to Archbishop Theobald, a former abbot of Bec, of whose household he became a member.” (source)
  • “Bec Abbey, formally the Abbey of Our Lady of Bec (French: Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec), is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in the Bec valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Bernay. It is located in Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy, France, and was the most influential abbey of the 12th-century Anglo-Norman kingdom.” (source)
  • “Like all abbeys, Bec maintained annals of the house but uniquely its first abbots also received individual biographies, brought together by the monk of Bec, Milo Crispin.” (ibid.)
  • “‘Bec’ is the name of the stream running through the abbey, Old Norse bekkr, in English place or river names Beck.” (ibid.)
  • “Becket” is from “Beckett,” which is from “an English surname that could be derived from various sources, including from Middle English beke meaning ‘beak’ or bekke meaning ‘stream, brook'” (source)

Becket could refer to a nickname of St. Thomas’ father because of his nose! Or it could be a reference to Bec Abbey, which was originally named Abbey of Our Lady of Bec! A famous monk of Bec (a Beccan  monk? A Becket monk?) was named Milo! Which has separate Marian connections! So many fun discoveries! (So many exclamation marks!)

Back to the “a” — tell me what you know! I see that “à” is French — are all the a’s really à’s? So all these have a French origin? But German seems a big factor here too — but then German has “von”? Is it Latin, maybe? And is there some more nuanced meaning I’m missing, since a Kempis means “from a certain place,” a Becket might mean the same or “son of the father with the nickname,” and a Cruce means “of” in the sense of possession? I’d love to spend more time researching but I have a deadline I should be working on!

I’m totally loving the “a” construction — I could see “a Cruce” being an amazing name in honor of both St. Edith and Jesus. And of course Katheryn has set an amazing example with giving her son the amazing first name “à Kempis.” I mean. So brilliant. And such a really cool addition to Kolbe, Avila, Siena, and other saintly surnames/place names.

What other saints have an “a” construction in their names? I guess we could do this with any “of” saint, right? St. Catherine a Siena? St. Teresa a Avila? St. Bernard a Clairvaux? Or am I misunderstanding how this works?

I look forward to reading your comments! Happy Thursday!


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!

Irish family names from a certain era

I’ve been reading a biography of Bl. Solanus Casey to my older boys, and loved some of the namey things I discovered — I know you will too!

Father:
Bernard James (Barney) (born 1840, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan); sister Ellen and brother Terrence

Mother:
Ellen Elizabeth (née Murphy) (born 1844, Camlough, Co. Armagh); mother Brigid (née Shields), sister Mary Ann and brothers Patrick, Owen, and Maurice

Barney and Ellen came to this country, separately, around the time of the potato famine (in fact, Ellen’s father died during it), which was from 1845-1850. They met here.

Children (Fr. Solanus and siblings) (middle names weren’t included in the book — I found them via a google search):

1. Ellen Bridget (referred to as Ellie at least once in the book)
2. James Michael (Jim)
3. Mary Ann (died at age 12 of “black diphtheria”*)
4. Maurice Emmett (would become Fr. Maurice Joachim! Sometimes called “Fr. Maurice J” ❤ )
5. John Terrance/Terrence
6. Bernard Francis (Barney, referred to as Barney Jr. in the book, born 1870) (would become Fr. Francis Solanus Casey, OFM Cap. [Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin — the OFMs are the Franciscans; the Capuchins are a branch of Franciscans], after St. Francis Solano)
7. Patrick Henry (Pat)
8. Thomas Joseph (Tom)
9. Martha Elizabeth (died at age 3 of black diphtheria, just a few days after Mary Ann) 10. Augustine Peter (Gus)
11. Leo McHale
12. Edward Francis (Ed, would become Msgr. Edward Casey)
13. Owen Bonaventure
14. Margaret Theresa Cecilia
15. Grace Agatha
16. Mary Genevieve (Genevieve)

These are pretty amazing names (you know how heart eyes I was over discovering Maurice’s religious name was Fr. Maurice Joachim! Augustine Peter and Owen Bonaventure particularly jumped out at me as somewhat surprising, given what I know of Irish naming at that time), but one of the things I was amazed by was how much overlap there was with both sides of my Irish ancestry (my paternal grandmother’s line and my maternal grandfather’s line). Check this out:

My paternal grandmother’s line (came here from Ireland mid-nineteenth century, specific place unknown but we think they sailed from Waterford):

James and Mary–> Patrick and Anne–> Patrick Francis and Mary Cecelia (nee Ward)–> Leo Ward and Mary Agnes (nee Sweeny) (her mother was Bridget Casey! Same last name as Bl. Solanus!) –> Mary Loretta (my grandmother, born 1920)

My maternal grandfather’s line (he and his siblings were all born in Ireland — Cobh [then called Queenstown], Co. Cork):

Francis (Frank) and Anne (Annie) (nee Lawless)–>
1. Francis (Frank)
2. Mary (my mom always refers to her as Aunt Mae)
3. Ellen (my mom always refers to her as Aunt Eileen)
4. William (Will)
5. John
6. Michael
7. David Xavier (my grandfather, born 1904 and worked his way to American on a ship in 1920)
8. Maurice (said mo-REECE, though I know MO-ris [like Morris] is a common Irish pronunciation, and the way I said it when I read Bl. Solanus’ brother’s name, because I think it sounds better with Joachim)

All three families (Bl. Solanus’ family, and my grandparents’ two families) can be roughly placed in the same time period (latter half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century), and all three were Irish (Fr. Solanus’ parents were both from Ireland; my paternal grandmother’s family came here from Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century; my maternal grandfather and his siblings were all born in Ireland, and came over here after WWI). Names in common include:

Ellen
James
Mary
Patrick
Francis
Maurice
Patrick
Leo
Anne
John
Brigid/Bridget

I know they’re not crazy-out-there names, but I was kind of amazed by how much overlap there was! Especially with names like Maurice and Leo — I don’t think they’re names that people typically think of as having a lot of usage in Irish families? But if these three families are decent representatives of the naming patterns at that time (especially since they were from all over Ireland and not concentrated in one area), Maurice and Leo aren’t unusual at all!

Another thing I loved seeing was how the family names got passed down (grandparents and aunts and uncles showed up in the names of the grandchildren and nieces and nephews) and *how* they got passed down (both first and middle names were made use of, and maiden names were given to sons).

What are your reactions to reading this? Are you are fascinated by this overlap as I am, or do you think I’m making a lot of not much?

I have more info to share (this book is a treasure trove of beautiful names of our faith!), but it will have to wait for another post!

* The description of “black diphtheria” was eerily similar to what I’ve heard of the respiratory symptoms of Covid-19:

“A highly contagious disease seen often in this era, diphtheria was common in the United States and Western Europe. The upper respiratory system was typically affected, with a thick membrane forming up and down the air passages. Victims — usually children — ran high fevers, had sore throats, and sometimes died when the deadly membrane literally shut down their ability to breathe.”


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!

2019 Name Data Delay, and the Best Mother’s Day Gift

You guys! The release of the new (2019) name data from the Social Security Administration, which namiacs look forward to all year, and which is always released the Friday before Mother’s Day, is being postponed indefinitely! The SSA site says:

Out of respect and honor for all people and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement of the 2019 most popular baby names is being rescheduled to a to-be-determined date. The agency sends its gratitude and heartfelt thanks to everybody fighting the pandemic and providing vital services throughout the country during these difficult times.”

I’m so surprised! I might have thought this would fall more along the lines of, “Give people a welcome, lighthearted distraction to keep their spirits up.” Also, I figured it would just be a matter of running a program and posting the results? That is, not too much manpower or time required by the people at SSA? Pam at Nameberry gave a little more insight in her latest post (as well as the history of this “Baby Name Christmas,” as she calls it, which I didn’t know — very interesting!). When I know more, I’ll let you know!

In the meantime, maybe you’d like to take a look at my past posts about the annual SSA data — I’m never great at spotting trends or analyzing data, but I include in my posts links to the people that *are* great at that:

2018 data

2017 data

2016 data

2015 data

Also, with Mother’s Day this weekend, I just wanted to remind you all about my book! 💃💃💃 It’s a book of baby names and it’s a book of and for Our Lady — sounds like a perfect Mother’s Day gift to me! 😊 Amazon is saying that Prime delivery won’t get it to you until Tuesday if ordered today, but if your family/friend are like mine, just write up a little card letting the mom you’re giving it to know that it’s on its way and you’ll be good!

BABY (1)

Have a great Thursday! 🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙


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!

Sorrowful Mystery Names

This week is the perfect week to check out my post on names for the Sorrowful Mysteries — I so often find that the names of our faith provide a wonderful meditation on holy things. As with the Joyful and Luminous Mysteries posts, be sure to check out the comments as well.

I’m signing off until next week, when I’ll have some birth announcements to post and other namey things! I hope you all have a very holy Holy Week and a wonderful Easter!


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!

Fun Friday Question (on Monday!): Did Mom name the girls and Dad the boys?

I meant to post this last Friday and forgot, and I’ll be off the blog this coming Friday in observance of Good Friday, and I don’t have a consultation to post today, so Fun Friday Question on a Monday it is!

In last week’s consultation, we read about how Mom would be choosing the baby’s name if they have a girl, while Dad would be choosing if they have a boy. I’ve known of other families who have done this, and I’ve always been intrigued by it. So my question is a simple one: Did you do this in your family? Did your parents? Do you know of others who have done so? Is it usually a fairly peaceful process in your experience/observance, or do you know of situations where the parent who didn’t get to choose really hates the name the other parent chose? Do you have any examples of extreme style mismatches in a family because of this practice? (You know I love a well-matched bunch of sibling names, but I actually also really love to see siblings with an eclectic bunch of names!)

I hope your Holy Week has started well!


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

Names for the Luminous Mysteries

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’re all doing well!

I posted names for the Joyful Mysteries last week; here’s a link to my post on names for the Luminous Mysteries. I’m working on a name spotlight that I hope to have up tomorrow too! Stay tuned! TGIF!


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!