Sibling Project: Fulton

Longtime readers might remember that I’d started what I call the Sancta Nomina Sibling Project a few years ago. It was an attempt to supplement the info in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) with Catholic-specific data, and to also provide info on names that don’t have their own entries in the BNW. So far I’ve taken the information you’ve shared and combined it with my own thoughts/ideas/experiences for the names Kateri, John Paul, and T(h)eresa (all listed on this page), and it looks like I started working on a profile for Therese as well (I’ll try to finish that up soon). In light of the loss of the BNW tools on its now-defunct web site, I’m feeling inspired to start it up again. After finishing the Therese profile, I’d like to focus on Fulton, which does not have its own entry in the BNW.

According to the Social Security Administration database, Fulton was a top 1000 name for a few years early in the 20th century before dropping out of the top 1000 altogether.

Digging deeper in the most recent years, these are the number of babies given the name Fulton from 2000 through 2020:

  • 2020: 69
  • 2019: 65
  • 2018: 34
  • 2017: 53
  • 2016: 42
  • 2015: 35
  • 2014: 55
  • 2013: 28
  • 2012: 30
  • 2011: 24
  • 2010: 14
  • 2009: 14
  • 2008: 11
  • 2007: 9
  • 2006: 12
  • 2005: 19
  • 2004: 13
  • 2003: 15
  • 2002: 9
  • 2001: 10
  • 2000: 18

(To go back further, go here — I used the National Data.)

It’s notable that Bishop Fulton Sheen was declared Venerable in 2012; it would be interesting to see if the numbers changed in light of his death in 1979. Also, from his first broadcast on the radio in 1926 through the many years he was on TV and until his death, his popularity in America only increased — I would imagine the name did as well (though still staying out of the top 1000, which I find strange given that it was in the top 1000 before he was ever known — does anyone know why?). I plan to look at those numbers when pulling together the info from your comments in my final “entry” on the Sibling Project page.

Fulton is a Catholic surnamey name (which, in my mind, always also includes place names, because of their usage in Saints’ names as a sort of surname: e.g., St. Catherine of Siena). However, I’ve seen parents choose Fulton who don’t otherwise seem into surnamey names, which I assume is due to the fact that, for many people, their primary familiarity with the name is only as a first name (albeit an unusual/unique one). Furthermore, Fulton wasn’t even Ven. Fulton Sheen’s given name — rather, his given name was Peter John, but he went by his mother’s maiden name, Fulton. Further further, not only is it a surname but it’s an Irish one as well. So there are a few reasons that parents might like Fulton:

  • it’s an obviously Catholic name
  • it’s an unusual/unique first name (per it’s most famous bearer)
  • it’s actually a nickname (of sorts) (by this I mean, in the case of Ven. Fulton Sheen, it wasn’t his given name) (side note: there are actually a bunch of other famous holy people who we know almost exclusively by names other than their given names — I wrote an article with several examples not too long ago for CatholicMom)
  • it’s a surname
  • it’s Irish

In light of these, if you have given your son the name Fulton or plan to/thought about/have it on your list of serious considerations, which of the reasons listed above fit your reasons? More than one or none at all are totally fine — and if your reason isn’t listed above, please share what your reason(s) is/are?

And I’m eager to hear anything else you know about the name Fulton! Specifically, if you know someone named Fulton (your own child or someone else’s), what are his brothers’ and sisters’ names? What names (boy names and girl names) do you consider to be stylistically similar to Fulton (from a Catholic perspective)? Also, I did a post on nicknames for Fulton over five years ago — I’m sure at this point there are more! Please share the nicknames you’ve heard, or those you think could work!

I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian 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 and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!


Sibling Project: Therese

I’ve still got St. Therese on my mind, three days after her feast day! 🌹

In July I asked for feedback regarding T(h)eresa for my Sibling Project, and at the time I wasn’t 100% sure whether I would do an entry for Therese or not. Ultimately I decided that I think Therese is different enough in style/feel that it needs its own entry, so here’s its post — we’ll see if I’m right!

As with Theresa, I actually don’t think Therese’s entry in the Baby Name Wizard is that far off:

Girls: Marianne, Louise, Bernadette, Nadine, Helene, Patrice

Boys: Gerard, Roland, Laurence, Claude, Armand, Jerome

I fully agree with the French feel and/or saintliness of Marianne, Louise, Bernadette, Gerard, and Jerome. But I do think the entry could use some tweaking, as I think I’m correct in saying that most of the families I see that have a Theresa variant use Therese, and not a lot of families use names like Nadine, Patrice, Claude, and Roland. The SSA data shows that overall Therese is “a bit downbeat” as Laura put it in the BNW — it’s fallen hard from its most recent peak at No. 252 in 1959 (it had a higher peak at No. 220 in 1927 before falling and rising again. I’m going out on a not-very-shaky limb and say that its 1927 peak was entirely due to our sweet St. Therese, who was beatified in 1923 and canonized in 1925).


But it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1984!

So tell me about all the little Thereses you know! (“Little”=15 years old or younger.) How do they pronounce their name? Do they go by a nickname? What are their siblings’ names?

And beyond real-life examples, what names (for girls and boys) do you think are style matches for Therese?

The name of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s being canonized tomorrow!!! 🎉🎉🎉 In honor of her, here’s a link to one of my favorite things of all time — her address at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in which she said, in front of then-President Clinton and his First Lady — who, as we all know, is currently running for the same office — that abortion is wrong wrong wrong. Such a lot of courage in such a tiny lady. ❤ (Updated to add: Her bit starts at the 48 minute mark.) (Also, I heard them say “ter-AY-sah” more than once!)

In honor of her big day, I knew I had to get the T(h)eresa entry added to the Sibling Project page, and I just finished it — I’ll be interested to hear what you all think of my conclusions! And if you know any bloggers with a Theresa or a Teresa, please let me know so I can link to them!

Happy day to all of Mother Teresa’s namesakes!!

Sibling Project: T(h)eresa

I’m really really enjoying working on the Sibling Project, and I hope you’re all finding it interesting and/or helpful! We’ve done Kateri and John Paul so far, and today’s post is thanks to Laura’s suggestion of Theresa, which she explains so well:

The [Baby Name Wizard] books suggestions tend to miss the Catholic rationale behind some of my favorite names. I was always horrified by the sibling suggestions for Theresa which I think is such a great name. I think a family using Theresa now is more likely to be a Catholic family rather than one that likes the names from mid-century.”

I actually think there’s an added problem as well — in the BNW, there’s only an entry for Teresa, with Theresa listed as an alternate spelling (which it is, of course, but I *think* people pick one spelling over the other for reasons that are related to favorite saints as well as stylistic preference and sometimes cultural/language considerations, which makes a difference).

The following names are listed as style matches for Teresa:

Girls: Cynthia, Pamela, Suzanne, Deborah, Colleen, Anita, Nina, Kathryn

Boys: Allen, Douglas, Russell, Mark, Paul, Stephen, Gregory, Philip

Just like Laura said, there’s a lot of mid-century going on there. I don’t disagree with Kathryn, Mark, Paul, Stephen, Gregory, and Philip because of the saintliness, but I do think T(h)eresa’s style/feel from our perspective is more well rounded.

What do you all think? Do you see a difference between Teresa and Theresa? Which do you prefer and why? Do you know any T(h)eresas (especially little ones, like younger than … 15?), and if so, what are their siblings’ names? Do they go by a nickname? Do you know why their parents chose the spelling they did? Do you hear different pronunciations (ter-EE-sah vs. ter-AY-sah, for example)?

I’m not totally sure how I’ll handle this entry on the SibPro page, being that it’s really for two names that I think might have different feels — maybe two different entries? We’ll see how it goes … if I have to post an addendum or follow-up questions next week I will. (I considered adding Therese in here too, but I don’t think the entry in the Baby Name Wizard is that far off, so I may not do an entry for it.)

Two things

Abby at Appellation Mountain did the awesomest post last week on one of my favorite super duper Catholicky Catholic names: Cajetan! She attributes hearing the nickname Jet to me, which is so flattering because it’s so cool — I totally wish I’d thought of it! But the only ones I’d come up with were something like CJ for Cajetan Joseph, or perhaps Caj (though I did suggest the possibility of Jet for Juliet(te) and Jetta for Jacinta). Anyway, be sure to check out her post because it’s all about the saintly Cajetans! (And I’d love to know if any of you know any little Cajetans, and what they go by!)

Also, I’ve updated the Sibling Project tab to include the new John Paul info from this post. I hope you think I’ve represented all your thoughts/input well! If you have any new info to add, please add it to the comments in the original post. Thanks again!

Sibling Project: John Paul

You might have noticed that I started a new tab at the top of the page called “Sibling Project,” in which I explained what the project is and added Kateri as the first entry (I thank you all so much for your feedback on Kateri! I loved reading all your comments!). I can easily add new info, so if you haven’t yet shared the sibs’ names of the Kateris you know, just let me know!

Next up: John Paul, which doesn’t have its own entry in the Baby Name Wizard. One of the things that came out of the Kateri post that I loved was the difference between names you all thought were most like it in style, and names of real-life siblings of real-like Kateris. I LOVE seeing that Kateri fits in just as well with Anthony as with Ambrose, and with Tara as with Therese.

Here too, I’d love to know what names you think are most like John Paul in style, and what the siblings’ names are of John Pauls you know in real life. Also, how do the John Pauls you know spell their names? John Paul, John-Paul, JohnPaul, Johnpaul, or … ? And any nicknames they go by as well. Just to clarify, this only pertains to boys with the first name John Paul, not to boys with the first name John and the middle name Paul (though if their given name is John Paul and no other middle, and they go by the double John Paul, that counts). Thank you!!



Sibling Project: Kateri

You all know how I feel about the Baby Name Wizard book — basically that it’s a brilliant compilation and analysis of U.S. naming trends that tends to be uncannily accurate and presented in a way that’s insanely helpful. (You can read my full review of it here.) I lean on it heavily in all my consultations and in many name conversations, and I enjoy relaxing with it as straight reading material (and I always learn something new each time I flip through it).

But the deeper I get in Catholic naming, the more holes I see in the BNW data, and I get it — we’re a small subset of American parents and we follow naming rules that are often different from the majority — but I’d still love something that was basically an addendum to the BNW with a specifically Catholicky Catholic focus. Hence my idea for the Sancta Nomina Sibling Project: a database of the names that are similar to each other in terms of style/feel/popularity from an American Catholic perspective (so sorry to my foreign readers! I love you all, and I love all the info you share!).

For right now, this fancy-sounding database will just be here on the blog as a series of occasional posts seeking your feedback on one name at a time. I’m not a statistics guru like BNW author Laura Wattenberg, but I think just having this info handy in a sort of unofficial way will be really helpful to me and to many of you.

Today’s name is Kateri, because it’s the name whose entry drives me the battiest in the BNW — from our perspective, the names listed as similar are completely off base:

Girls: Shadi, Halona, Winema, Mahala, Chenoa, Nayeli
Boys: Sakrai, Chayton, Kohana, Wayra, Seattle, Enapay

I come across Kateri a lot through the blog, and not a one of the ones that I know have siblings with any of these names, or any Native American names in general.

So what I’d love to know from you is, if you know any little Kateris, could you share (using alt characters for privacy if you prefer) her siblings’ first names? Also, please include the pronunciation that each Kateri you know uses, and any nicknames that she goes by (that are related to Kateri, like Kate, not schnookums names like Honey Pie or others completely unrelated to Kateri). Thanks!