Celebrity guest: Pauline, who started reading as a daughter and continues as a mama!

On Thanksgiving 2015, I posted such a fun consultation — a pseudo consultation, really, because it was commissioned by the eldest daughter of the parents in question, who wrote,

I don’t see my parents having more but they always joke that they would have absolutely no more name ideas if God were to send us a #10. If you want a project, even though there truly is no baby coming (that I know of!) I thought it might be fun to see some name suggestions that you might come up with!

There haven’t been any more babies for her parents, BUT that daughter is now a mama herself! And she still reads the blog! And I was so excited to talk names with her! Scroll down to read all about Pauline and her beautiful family!

Kate: Tell me about yourself! Hubby’s name (if he doesn’t mind), are you home with your kids and/or do you work? Anything you want us to know?

Pauline: My husband’s name is Ian and we met at Benedictine College. We have been married for 3 years. Ian works in surgical technologies and he is Army National Guard. I am home with our boys full-time, so life is a hot mess but I couldn’t imagine it any other way 🙂

Kate: What are your boys’ names (first and middle) and how did you and your husband choose them?

Pauline: Our boys are Rowan Michael (2) and Fulton Patrick (5 months). We joke that we are lucky we had two boys first because those were the two baby names we were sold on from the start — after this we are in trouble!

Rowan Michael is after St. Rowan of Lorrha, who is known as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland and studied under St. Finian. We didn’t know any of this until researching the name and we loved what we learned! Michael is after St. Michael, Ian Michael and Rowan’s grandpa Mike.

Fulton was actually a name my parents almost used but they thought it might be confusing because they already had a Fintan! Ian and I babysat the sweetest kids when we were just dating and one of them was named Fulton. We have talked about it ever since! Ven. Fulton Sheen has always been a favorite of ours and we liked the unique Irish style of the name. Patrick is after St. Patrick and my dad, Patrick.

Ian and I cherish the opportunity to find out our babies’ genders at their anatomy scans during pregnancy. We named both boys soon after we found out and prayed throughout the pregnancies for the intercession of their Patron Saints. I have difficult pregnancies so this really helped me to have hope and to bond with our little ones long before they were born. I love the identity and personhood a name gives.

Kate: I know your parents were really influenced by their French and Irish heritage in choosing their children’s names — did you or your husband have a theme in mind?

Pauline: We are drawn to the idea of Irish names for boys and French names for girls, just like my family. I think Ian and I both like less traditional/more unique Catholic names. I love that it is becoming more common to get creative with Catholic baby naming!

Kate: Since both of your little ones are boys, do you mind sharing the names you guys discussed for girls? Or, if you don’t want to get specific, maybe just broadly: is your taste in girl names similar or different than your taste in boy names?

Pauline: It’s so fun to talk about French girl names! Rowan would have been Caroline if he was a girl, but we probably won’t be using that name. We had a discussion when I was pregnant with Fulton about whether or not we wanted to give our daughters “normal” French names (names that would pass as “normal” here in the States like Caroline, Genevieve, Sophie) or if we wanted to use more uniquely French names (like my sisters’ names — Florie, Domitille, etc.). Ian really liked the latter and sold me on it so even though we still love Caroline, we are going to use names that are much less popular here. We have two that we love. We will see what God has in store for our family and if we ever get to use our girl names!

I am honored that anyone might even want to read our crazy baby naming thoughts. Isn’t it funny that we put so much thought into it all?! 

Sancta Nomina was so special for me to find years ago because I couldn’t believe someone else was as interested in names as I was! So thank you for your amazing work on the blog and thank you for thinking of our family!

Isn’t this all just so wonderful?? I absolutely loved reading Pauline’s answers to my questions, and then going back and reading my previous post about Pauline’s parents and her siblings (I’ve actually referred to it many times when doing consultations, as there are some really great French names for girls in it!). This is an extended family with great taste in names! I also love that her parents are Patrick and Beatrice and she and her husband are Ian and Pauline — Irish + French, both. So cool to see that reflected in their children’s names!

Thank you so much to Pauline for introducing us to her family and talking names! I’m sure you’ll love to follow her: here’s her web site and her Instagram.

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Pauline with her husband Ian and their sons Rowan and Fulton ❤


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!

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!

Birth announcement: Thérèse Lourdes!

I got the most beautiful email from Renata a few months ago, while she was still pregnant and didn’t know if the baby was a boy or a girl, in which she shared the following (which she’s given me permission to share):

I never desired to marry or to have children. I had a falling out with the Church in my teenage years, right as I was starting a chapter of my life where I’d need Christ the most: immigration. A long, lost decade went by and it was filled with trials, depression, and purposelessness. But they were all in God’s plan. Eventually, I found myself moving countries a second time. I came to the U.S. for graduate school. After graduation, I stayed to work here for a year. At this time, I experienced a life-changing spiritual rebirth (by the way, Renata means “Reborn” in Latin) and received a great gift: I met my husband. He is an excellent man. He proposed within the year. And this is how I came to marriage and an ardent desire to have children. Looking at my husband, I desired to “have more of him in the world.”

God blessed us with a pregnancy soon after our marriage. Almost immediately, we picked a name for a boy: Matthew Sumner. Matthew would be in honor of St. Matthew, whose Gospel drew me back into God’s fold. In fact, God called me and gave me a mission by Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” This verse was a prominent part of our marriage ceremony. Sumner would be in honor of a relative on my husband’s side of the family, while for me it was meaningful that it the baby be a harvest hand for the Lord: As God summoned Matthew, may Matthew also summon others. We were stuck and nearly devoid of ideas for girl names. We had many options and they were all quite different. Deep down, I wanted a name that meant light, in honor of Matthew 5:14. Liora, Eleonora, Lucia, all these we considered. Somehow none stuck. Eventually, my mother-in-law gave me a book of Saints’ names. We also researched all the women in the Bible together. One weekend, we came across Phoebe and I was taken. Phoebe would be perfect. It means “radiant.” Phoebe was also a harvest hand, perhaps the first deaconess of the Church. And Phoebe is also a celestial body and bird. It is as anchored in the heavens as it is on creation. For the middle name, we settled on Werther, also a family name on my husband’s other side of the family. A strong matriarch bore it as her maiden name. It means “leader of a worthy army.” And so we came to “Radiant leader of a worthy army.” Mind you, we went to the maternity ward not knowing the baby’s gender and still with four different name possibilities for a girl. Even after discovering Phoebe Werther, we just weren’t sure. After a long labor, I delivered a girl. As soon as we laid eyes on her, we knew we’d met Phoebe Werther. When the nurse asked: “What is her name?,” we looked at each other and said in chorus: “Phoebe.” It was the most overwhelming moment of my life. After signing the birth certificate, though, I broke down in tears, feeling remorse that I had not honored my South American heritage and family in any way. And lo-and-behold, the Lord had thought of that too. At that moment, a new nurse entered our room. She was Brazilian. She started speaking to me in Portuguese and congratulated me on the birth of our baby girl. Before she left, she added: “What a nice gift, that you would have a healthy baby girl on Brazilian Independence Day.” Then I truly broke down, and thanked the Lord for being so thoughtful and careful.

Three years and two weeks later I was back in that same ward, delivering another baby with the same midwife. This baby was a couple of days late though, and leading up to labor, I was anxious that once again we had no name settled on for a girl. I had called a conference with my husband and mother-in-law two days before. We agreed that we would not leave the living room until we had at least a first name decided. After much discussion and numerous options, we settled on Tessa. Again, I prayed we could give the Lord more harvest hands. Though Teresa was the name that I kept on coming back to, Tessa was the name we all liked. I had misgivings about it being a nickname, but it did fit in with our other names. We like the two-syllable, two-syllable ending in “er,” and one-syllable last name sing-song we have going. The next day, I went into labor. This time, a baby boy emerged. He looked nothing like his sister, who has dark hair and eyes. He looked angelic, just like his father. He had blonde hair and the longest eyelashes fanning over his blue eyes. Once again, immediately, as we took him into our arms, we knew this was our long-awaited Matthew Sumner. Though we were very much decided on the name, we didn’t know if he’d go by Matthew or by Sumner. I love the name Sumner, and dislike the shortened versions of Matthew such as Matt or Mattie. We just couldn’t agree, though. There were no indications that one name would prevail over the other. Later that evening my mother-in-law came into the room to visit. She was elated and said: “Did you see?! He was born at 5:14PM!” My husband and I looked at each other in awe and we knew this would be Matthew for sure. Three months later, my sister-in-law also gave birth to a boy and also chose Sumner for his middle name. The Lord got two pairs of harvest hands!

We carry names forward, so with this third pregnancy, we arrived set with Tessa for a girl and no definite name for a boy. In the two years that have gone by, I have formally returned to the Catholic church. Notably, I have discovered and fallen in love with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. When I was confirmed last Spring, I chose Thérèse for my name. And just then it dawned on me: Thérèse, like Phoebe and Matthew are complex names when written on paper, but have just two syllables. Thérèse and Phoebe end in “e” and are of Greek origin. Teresa means harvest. I’d come full circle. It was so perfect. For a middle name, we decided to honor my roots and chose Lourdes, after my paternal grandmother (whom sadly I did not meet, but feel a strange closeness to and similarity with) whose full given name was Maria de Lourdes. Thérèse Lourdes has a beautiful ring and is similar to Werther and Sumner, but special with its “es” ending. If the baby is a girl, we’ll still call her Tessa, but her name will be Thérèse Lourdes. For a boy, we had always like Thomas as a runner-up to Matthew. We have returned to this name. Another apostle, Thomas gives us one of the most beautiful Gospel passages on our Lord’s generosity and mercy toward our incredulity and fear. Coincidentally, the homily for my Confirmation Mass was about this very passage. So Thomas it is. I wanted to use Excelsior as a variant of my father’s name, Celso, which means sky or heaven, but we feel it is too pompous! Thomas Excelsior has a lovely meaning, but we haven’t settled on it. It was then that I thought back to my journey as a wife and mother and my ardent desire of having more of my husband’s character in the world. We have settled on Thomas Christopher, which not only nods to my husband but also to our Lord as it means “Christ bearer.” It was a cherry on top that it ends in “er” like Werther and Sumner.”

I was so taken with this beautiful story!! Not only is it a story of faith, conversion, and motherhood, but of love for a husband as well — I was so moved by Renata’s characterization of her husband as “an excellent man” and that she “desired to ‘have more of him in the world.'” What a compliment! ❤

I was so very happy to receive an email from Renata earlier this month sharing the wonderful news that her baby had arrived! She gave birth to a sweet baby girl, and indeed, gave her the beautiful, meaningful name … Thérèse Lourdes (nn Tessa)!

She wrote,

I trust this note finds you and yours well, despite the surreal new rhythms we’re all adapting to. To brighten up these somber times, we write with joyful news from our household.

Thérèse Lourdes (Tessa) was born on Sunday, March 22. Tessa is blonde and blue-eyed like her middle brother Matthew and alert-out-of-the-gate like her eldest sister Phoebe. We’re doing well and already falling into our new routines as a family of five.”

I absolutely love the name Thérèse Lourdes and the meaning it has for Renata, and the nickname Tessa is one of my favorites!

Congratulations to Renata and her husband and big siblings Phoebe and Matthew, and happy birthday Baby Tessa!!

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Thérèse Lourdes (Tessa) 👣


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!

Name Story: Eden, Abrie, Bradley, Blaise, and Valen

Happy Easter to you all!! I hope you all had a wonderful, holy, happy Easter, as much as possible in this time. He is risen!! He is truly risen!! What a blessing to celebrate the greatest hope during this time of suffering.

A reader emailed me recently to share about the names of her kiddos, which I just love — I’m always excited to read about the names you chose and why! She graciously said I could share them with you — she and her hubby have an outside-the-box way of thinking about names that I thought you might be inspired by! Mama writes,

[S]ince you love names so much I figured I would share with you the names of my 5 children ages 7 and under! Most of their names are not so “out there” but a couple of them take even our Catholic friends and family by surprise!

Eden Koryn: “The Garden of Eden was the ultimate paradise and gift. We got Koryn from Corinthians and for some reason we decided to go all millennial on it and change the spelling from Corin to Koryn. Nevertheless I do still love the ring to her name … Her patron is St Therese of Liseux … and the beautiful Little Flower has adopted her as if she was named just for her.”

Abrie JoAnne (pronounced AY-BREE): “Abrie is a completely secular pick … my husband wanted Avery and it was so common at the time that I solidly said no way. So he pulled Abrie out of his thoughts somewhere … I couldn’t turn him down. He was so set on it. We began to become more traditional during her pregnancy though and I had decided to give her the middle name after my late paternal grandmother. And even though we don’t do nicknames in our family, we knew from day one we would call her Abrie Jo. I started to get worried that we were going to name yet another child with no saint name, until our priest said that JoAnne was absolutely a form of Joan for St Joan of Arc. So we were happy to keep the name we chose and oh my is that girl our little Joan D’arc! It’s perfectly her.”

Bradley Joseph: “His name is fairly cut and dry. We had this name set on the shelf from baby number one. And since he was the first boy, it got to come down off the shelf. Bradley is my husbands devout late grandfather. His mother’s father. And Joseph is my husband’s first name, and his fathers middle name, and his grandfather’s first name and his great grandfather’s middle name and so on for many generations. St Joseph is dear to our family and maybe the tradition will be passed on!”

Blaise Anthony: “When I first told family that we were naming him Blaise, they scrunched their face and said they didn’t like it. Some even said “that’s not a saint name”! But of course Feb 3rd is the marvelous feast and blessing of the throats with St Blaise!

My husband got to go on a pilgrimage to Quito, Ecuador for Our Lady of Good Success during this pregnancy. At the time we didn’t know what I was having but I sent him with a list of names to pray about in front of the miraculous statue of Our Lady Of Good Success. I had no idea when the feast of St Blaise was, but the name was on the list because I was partial to the saint for having suffered with a thyroid disorder my entire life. The feast of Our Lady of Good Success is on Feb 2nd, so my husband was still there in Ecuador on Feb 3rd, so therefore he realized his name is Blaise. We were going to use my father’s family middle name which is Matthias.

I was due on June 2nd 2017 and my patron saint has been from the very start St Anthony of Padua. I knew his feast was 11 days past my due date. So I “joked” with [St. Anthony] all pregnancy that if he wanted me to name this baby after him that he could show me in some other way than to make me go 11 days past my due date for his feast. St Anthony is quite funny though and there I was at 2:32 AM on June 13th the Tuesday of St Anthony’s feast day having my son. So Blaise Anthony he is!”

Valen Mariana: “My due date was January 27th, 2019. Since I have a history of going over we were thinking February baby. Because of my husbands pilgrimage to Quito to Our Lady of Good Success 2 years prior, he has had a devotion to this title of Mary. So he told me all pregnancy that she would be born on her feast day on February 2nd. I didn’t believe him.

So we said that if she was born in February at all that we would name her after St Valentine. It’s pronounced just like Valentine, without the “tine”. Even though the name is derived to be masculine, we loved it shorthanded for a girl to Valen. We got lots of eye brow raises for this one. But we were to name her Valen Rosemarie. My husband told me he would be starting his OLGS novena with the intercession of the visionary from this apparition who is not yet beatified. Her name is Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. He finished his novena at 10 pm on February 1st, and I was past my due date. I went to bed shortly after, but woke up to labor and had our Valen Mariana on the feast of Our Lady of Good Success through the intercession of Mother Mariana on Feb 2nd at 3:29 AM.

We later realized that the original place of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success was not in Quito, Ecuador but was in Valencia, Spain! Which then melted my heart even more to this title as Valen is now indeed a nod for the original home of this amazing story of Our Lady and her miraculous statue.”

Aren’t these great stories?! And such cool names! I love the layers of meaning that are included in each name, and the really original ways these parents have had of choosing names that fit with their taste and also have solid faith connections. I had particular goosebumps over Valen’s story — being named for a February Saint, only to find out that the truncated version they chose is exactly shared with the original location of the miraculous Marian statue of the title of Our Lady they have a particular devotion to, and that baby Valen was born on the actual feast of that title of Our Lady — amazing! It’s stories like those that always make clear to me how aware God is of our every hope, desire, and individual characteristic. ❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Name story: Leland, Elliot, Fulton, Selwyn

Happy third day of Christmas!!

A reader emailed me recently to share her boys’ names — I love when you guys do that!! (Check out my Name Stories tag for more!) I know you’ll love reading about this beautiful family! Emily writes,

I thought you would get a kick out of our name rules!

Our first we named Leland, we wanted something classic but not common. It was a name of a trustee at my husband’s school and an editor of a Bible we purchased.

Number 2 we named Elliot just because we liked it, a slight nod to T.S. Eliot. We thought it went well with Leland.

We found out number 3 was another boy, and I enjoy several Catholic blogs despite not being Catholic myself, and I fell in love with the name Fulton. What a perfect fit for our boys’ names!

I was wrapping the big brother presents prior to his birth and used dot stickers and noticed the first 2 had 6 letters . . . and so did Fulton! And they all had an L as the 3rd letter! Other things include being last names, sort of British, and generally pretentious 🙂

Boy #4 would arrive in 2018, so we had to find a name that would fit our “rules”! While reading a short story by L.M. Montgomery I came across the name Selwyn, and at first I thought it was too much, but then it really grew on me and now here we are with 4 boys who fit the rules!

… [H]ere are their full names. The first 3 middle names are family names, the 4th middle name we wanted a Bible name with a good meaning and of course flow.

Leland Daniel (God will judge the meadowlands)

Elliot David (God is the Lord, Beloved)

Fulton Ray (Either, Sunshine on the bird enclosure, Or, King of the fields of the village)

Selwyn Jude (Friend of the manor, Praise God)

One more story — when I looked up Selwyn on one baby name website, it said “you may also like: Leland”!!!

I loved reading about these boys’ names! What a cool theme this family has going! And they’ve chosen really fun, unexpected names — “classic but not common” is a perfect description of them! I’ve never come across anyone in real life with the names Leland and Selwyn (though we love Monk and his boss is Leland Stottlemeyer) — it’s not often I’m surprised by names, and I’m always excited when it happens! Have any of you seen Leland or Selwyn in real life? I love Elliot and Fulton as their brothers, what a great set! Thank you to this mama for sharing these great names!


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!

Update: No nickname? Not happening.

*Update to my post of the other day regarding my sister’s nickname woes*

My sister said it’s fine to include the particulars, as I told her a bunch of you were curious about what nickname she has and how it could be butchered so badly: She’s always gone by Betsey (that spelling appears quite a bit in my dad’s genealogy), but at work she got Becky, Betty, and Beth instead of Betsey all the time! She also reminded me of adults calling her Liz when she was small, even though she’s never gone by Liz, which people at work are also now calling her, in addition to the nickname of her last name. Whether Betsey or Elizabeth, the poor girl just can’t win!


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!

Sancta Nomina

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because…

View original post 337 more words

No nickname? Not happening.

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because of the chosen nickname, which is used quite a bit in our family tree. But something that’s driven her crazy as an adult is that her nickname is constantly misheard by others at work, causing her to constantly correct her coworkers and other people she interacts with in a professional setting (with varying degrees of success), so she decided to go by the full Elizabeth in her professional life, and she just started a new job, so it was the perfect time to make the change.

Since starting her job, she’s been firm and consistent about introducing herself as Elizabeth, never once letting on that she goes by a nickname. However, more than one person has said that Elizabeth is “too long” and doesn’t she go by a nickname? She tells them no, every time — that her name is Elizabeth, no nickname.

Some of her new coworkers have refused to accept this! They told her that they’re not going to call her Elizabeth, but instead are going to call her by a nickname of her last name. They’re definitely doing it in a jovial buddy-buddy kind of way, like teammates would — and her husband has cheerfully told her that nicknames like this mean she’s being accepted and that she should just go with it (“If they call you Bob, you go with it!” he said 😂😂😂) — but she’s just shaking her head over the whole thing. After all the frustration about her actual nickname being butchered all the time, and making the deliberate decision to go by her full name, only to have her new coworkers pooh-pooh that and come up with their own nickname (which, incidentally, is the same nickname her husband always goes by) … what can you do but shake your head??


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 post at Design Mom

One of you dear readers emailed me the link to yesterday’s post on Design Mom, which was so fun! I know you’ll love reading the post itself, as well as the comments — so many fun stories!: What Were You Almost Named As A Baby? (For more fun, similar stories, see my recent post on this same topic!) (Also, I actually posted about Design Mom a few years ago, and just re-read the post — it made me laugh! Also, gorrrgeous names!)


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!

Name story: Oscar Thomas

A few years ago I did a private consultation for a mama pregnant with her sixth baby — a boy she and her husband named Oscar Thomas. (Oscar Thomas! I love it so much!) She recently wrote to tell me more of the story — specifically, how the name they chose for him ended up being so perfect for him in other ways:

You helped us out over three years ago with a name for our sixth child and fourth boy, Oscar Thomas.

Anyway, I have a story to share. Our Oscar began having seizures when he was five months old, and it turns out he has some profound, lifelong disabilities. (He is making good progress and he is an amazing, dear boy; we are in a great place as a family now but getting here was rocky.) But I am telling you this because I feel like Oscar is THE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT name for him, and one we would never have considered without your nudge. It is strong and determined and a little funky, just like him.

St. Oscar Romero was beatified while I was pregnant, but not canonized until after our “storm,” when we had really found our peace with Oscar’s medical issues. We prayed for his intercession on a daily basis and felt like he walked the whole journey with us, while he waited for his own reward. I am so grateful that our little boy has this tremendously powerful friend in heaven, and I am grateful to you by extension for making the introduction. 😉 We didn’t know at the time our Oscar was born how much we were going to need someone like that.

Anyway. You popped up in my Facebook feed today and I felt prompted to let you know that the work you do matters, sometimes maybe more than you know.”

How amazing is that?? What a wonderful story!! I love her description of both the name Oscar and her boy Oscar: “strong and determined and a little funky, just like him.”

There’s more! The mama, Christy, included Oscar’s name story and some more fun details in her amazing blog post entitled What’s in a name? How our kids got their Catholic saint names and why it matters. She said everything I always want to say, and she said it so well! There’s so much I want to quote from her post, but I don’t want to discourage you from going to read it in its entirety. Seriously, you’ll love it.

Thank you to Christy for sharing all this wonderful information!

Celebrity guest: Amy, mom of 11!

Don’t forget to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway I announced at the end of my previous post! You have until midnight (Eastern) on Saturday (May 19) to email me your entry. And if you haven’t listened to my interview on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary on Mater Dei Radio, you still can!

I’ve followed Amy Laddbush on Instagram for a while, and as I told her, I just love seeing the joy that comes through the pictures of life with her six boys (like me) … and five girls! (Not like me! Wow!) Yes, ELEVEN children! And they all have amazing names too! Though I’d picked up some of their names here and there through various posts, it wasn’t until I read this article about her and her family that I was able to see them all. Ever since then I’ve wanted to contact Amy to see if she would mind telling me about the namesof her kiddos so I could share with you all here, and I’m so glad I finally did! I know you’re going to love reading this. 🙂 ❤

laddbush_family
Photo credit: Annie Norton

Our oldest, Ray, is 20. His full name is Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. We had him when we were young. We were both 20 when I was pregnant, and 21 when he was born. I remember I had a baby name book that we looked through. After finding out we were having a boy, I wrote down all of my top boy names in the book. I let Ryan pick out of those choices. Ray is a family name, my great grandfather was named Ray — not Raymond. I let Ryan pick the middle name Tucker. He liked that name a lot, and I thought it was cute. Shourds is my maiden name. Because we were unmarried at the time, at birth, I named him Ray Tucker Laddbush Shourds. After we were married less than a year later, we had his name legally changed to Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. (Confirmation name St. Padre Pio).

Josie is 17. Her full name is Josie Layne Laddbush. We liked the name Josie from the song “Josie” by Steely Dan. Layne was just something cute we came up with. I don’t know why we spelled it that way! Like Ray, it’s just Josie — not Josephine. (Confirmation name St. Joan of Arc).

After Josie is our daughter, Brady Ann. She is 14. I liked the meaning of Brady because it means “spirited”. She was very active in the womb. She is still a very active young lady. The name suits her, even though it is predominately male. Ann is a middle name/family name on Ryan’s side of the family that we thought sounded cute. (Confirmation name St. Patrick).

Next is Sean Patrick Whetzell, age 12. I liked Sean because it was the Irish form of John. Patrick just had to go with a Sean. Whetzell is my husband’s second middle name (he is Ryan Francis Whetzell Laddbush). We wanted to pass down the Whetzell name which is Ryan’s grandfather’s last name. He has 3 daughters (one being Ryan’s mom), and Ryan was the only grandson in the whole family. This was a nod keeping with the theme of the men/boys having 4 names (2 middle names). Also keeping with somewhat of a theme of having last names as middle and first names! (like Brady).

Next is Evan Matthew, age 10. At this point we decided 2 names was enough. I liked the name Evan, I can’t remember why, and Matthew is my brother’s middle name. I thought it sounded good so we went with it.

After Evan is Bennett Francis, age 9. He was supposed to be Francis Bennett. Francis after Ryan’s middle name and I don’t know where we got Bennett, but we liked it. After he was born, I thought he looked more like a Bennett, so Bennett Francis it is.

Number 7 is Mary Catherine, age 8. Mary is named after Ryan’s grandmother Mary Laddbush and Catherine is his other grandmother Catherine Whetzell. Easy peasy. At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.

Number 8 is Finnian Fritz, age 6. We call him Finn. Ryan came up with Finnian after researching saint names and found a St. Finnian. Fritz is named after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz.

Number 9 is Charlotte Jones, age 5. I don’t know how we got Charlotte, but we loved it. Jones is my grandmother’s maiden name. We thought we would call her Charlie Jones, or CJ, or something cool like that. Somehow she got the nickname Kitty and we’ve been calling her that since she was a baby. We try to call her Charlotte but she likes the name Kitty.

Number 10 is Sloane Stewart (Mary), age 3. I remember being pregnant and watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and hearing the name Sloane. I thought it was a cool name. Stewart is named after Ryan’s grandmother’s maiden name. Her name on her birth certificate is Sloane Stewart. When she got baptized, our associate pastor at the time, Fr. Lewis, asked if he could throw a Mary in there, so we said sure. Her baptismal name is Sloane Stewart Mary.

And finally number 11 is John Paul Nicholas, age 2. When I was pregnant with him, I read the book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves. Saint John Paul became my best friend after that, so I had to honor him by naming my son after him. The December before he was born, there was a tragic car accident involving in my cousin’s best friend’s death. His name was Nicholas Cassidy (Nick). He was only 22. Also at this point we had a family devotion to St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately we have not been able to get pregnant since John Paul. We will be 42 this summer, it’s been a good ride. If we are blessed with another baby, I like the name Karol Józef, named after my good friend, Karol Józef Wojtyła.”

How wonderful is all this?? There’s so much here that I love! I love how Amy and her hubs just chose names they loved, I love what an eclectic bunch of names they used, and how many family names are woven into the first+middle combos. I love that they were like, “At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.” I love that Finn’s middle name is “after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz” (I love those kinds of name stories! I’d love to know how George came to be known as Fritz!) and that Charlotte has always gone by Kitty (and prefers it). I love that Sloane has Mary added on her baptismal certificate. And of course, I love that St. John Paul II is Amy’s “best friend.” ((sighing with happiness))

Thank you to Amy for such a lovely, intimate look at her beautiful children’s names!


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!