Birth announcement: McDonald John!

Grace and I had an email conversation about middle names a while ago, and she’s let me know her little guy has been born and been given the handsome and meaningful name … McDonald John!

Grace writes,

I wanted to finally report back on what we ended up naming our baby!

Our son was born October 1 and we named him McDonald John Mawhorter. We’re calling him Mac. John was the name of my father’s only brother who passed away suddenly and fairly young a few years ago. After I got your email we talked mostly about John and one other idea and just really couldn’t settle on one or the other but after spending time with my dad one day and talking about his brother a lot I came home and was just overwhelmed with tears thinking about how much it would mean to my dad to have a grandson named after his brother so we settled on John. As I predicted, my dad was super touched and that means so much to me.”

McDonald is a family name for Grace — I love when family surnames work as first names! And I love love love love the nickname Mac, one of my favorites! And I love how meaningful the middle name is for Grace’s dad. Honor names can just be so amazing!

Congratulations to Grace and her hubby, and happy birthday Baby Mac!!


McDonald John


Baby name consultation: Whether and how to use an honor name for baby boy

Theresa and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Mary Kathryn (“named after both grandmothers“)
John David (“named after St. John the Baptist and his Godfather is David, my husband’s brother“)
Lucy Marie (“named after St. Lucy“)
Joseph Stephen (“we liked Joseph and it was a J name to follow John, his middle name is after my brother Stephen and also his godfather“)

Beautiful names! Classic, solid, saintly.

Theresa writes,

I have had 3 miscarriages, 2 of them before our 4th child and then one just last year … NOW again we got a happy surprise and I conceived in Aug! I say surprise but I know its God’s plan and will, we are due May 4, it’s a boy! I never found out the gender before but with this one I just felt like I wanted to know to plan on names and at least get some clothes up from the basement sitting in boxes!

*** here is one more weird twist on this: My oldest brother died this past July at age 46. I conceived about one month after his death, and my due date is one week after his birthday! God took my brother away but also gave us new life! I am brought to tears just saying that.

So now we are stuck! Do I name this boy after my brother who died, Jeffrey Paul (my dad’s name is Paul) or would that be too weird for my parents and siblings to see a little Jeff run around, or use Jeff as his middle name? Or do we stick to another boy’s J name, like Jacob, Jason, Joshua, or do we choose a Saint name around when he is born May 4? My father-in-law’s name is Ronald Michael, and my grandfathers names were Anton or Andrew.

Anything you can do to help us or shed some light, advice at all would be so helpful!

I was so inspired by Theresa’s story! I love how the timing of this baby coincided so amazingly with the passing of her brother — what a light this little one is in such a dark time for her family!

I can see why naming this baby after Theresa’s brother is an appealing idea. I don’t know if it would be too weird or too difficult for her parents and siblings to have a new little Jeff in the family — every family’s different, and probably the only way to know whether it would be too painful or not is to ask them. But I cautioned Theresa to only ask the question if she’s ready to adjust her actions based on their answer, you know? If she asks the question and they respond enthusiastically and happily that they would love that, then she’ll probably feel required to do so, even if she wasn’t totally sure she wanted to use Jeffrey as the first name. If she really loves Jeffrey and it’s meaningful to her to use it but her family responds negatively, it might be hard for her to switch to something else, where if she didn’t ask them and just did it, they would probably eventually come around (I mean, they’d have to — they couldn’t just not call him by his name forever!). But I could see how Theresa might not want to put them in that position.

If Theresa and her hubs decided to use Jeffrey as a first name but were still worried about how it would be received, they could consider using a different nickname than Jeff. Jay is the first one that comes to mind as a fairly natural one as it’s Jeffrey’s initial spelled out. Or J.P., if they did Jeffrey Paul. Or even if they didn’t want to call him that all the time, it might be nice to give family members the option.

I do like the idea of using Jeffrey as a middle name — it’s the natural spot for honor names that maybe aren’t quite right for first-name use, and it would allow her to use her brother’s name without the issue of whether or not it would be too painful for her family to use/hear on a daily basis. I like the idea of Paul Jeffrey a lot, especially if Paul was her brother’s middle name.

In fact, if Paul was Theresa’s brother’s middle name, my very favorite idea for her is either Michael Paul or Paul Ronald/Michael, after the two grandfathers, like Mary Kathryn is for both grandmothers (I thought Michael was more Theresa and her hubs’ style than Ronald, hence my thought of Michael Paul if they were going to do the first name for her father-in-law. If they put a name for Theresa’s father-in-law in the middle, I think both Paul Ronald and Paul Michael are fine). How cool to be able to work in both grandfathers and Theresa’s brother in one name!

If Paul wasn’t Theresa’s brother’s middle name, I still love the idea of naming after both grandfathers with her little guy’s name, since both grandmothers were honored with her oldest. If Theresa still wanted to work in her brother, she could consider two middles: Michael Paul Jeffrey, or Paul Michael Jeffrey, or Paul Ronald Jeffrey, etc. I wrote about double middle names here:

Another way to honor Theresa’s brother without using his exact name is to give her son the same initials. If Jeffrey Paul is her brother’s full name, then maybe something like Jacob Peter, Jason Pierce, or Joshua Patrick would do the trick — any time she’d tell her son’s name story, Theresa could say that they started with J.P. initials for her brother (or whatever his initials were) and went from there, so her brother would be an integral part of her son’s name story. Some people love this approach, and others think it’s too much of a stretch; if it helps, I always think intention is the most important part of baby naming (I wrote about that here:

Theresa mentioned her grandfathers’ names Anton and Andrew — of those two, I feel like Andrew fits the style of her other kiddos’ names pretty well.

If Theresa and her hubs decide not to give their son Theresa’s brother’s first name, nor one of the grandfathers’ or great-grandfathers’ names, the other ideas Theresa mentioned were using another J name or using the name of a saint born around her baby’s due date. Regarding using another J name, I would only do so if they had a J name they really love. We already discussed Jeffrey, which of course would qualify, but unless they love Jacob, Jason, or Joshua (or James, which seems a better match for their family to me than Jacob, Jason, or Joshua), I don’t think there’s any need to consider a J name just because their other boys have J names. In fact, if they only had two children — John and Joseph — I might recommend against another J name, because it would really seem to lock them into a theme. Since Theresa and her hubs have four children, two of whom don’t have J names, and the two J’s aren’t even next to each other in the lineup, it’s far less of an issue — I think they could choose to use a J name or to use a different initial with no problem whatsoever either way. All this just to say again, I wouldn’t choose a J name just because their other boys have J names. But if they want to, they should go right ahead.

I looked up the saints/blesseds with feast days around May 4 (which, incidentally, is Star Wars day! Haha! “May the 4th be with you” and all that! If he was actually born on the 4th, I would be really tempted to suggest they use Luke! What a fun nod to Star Wars day AND an amazing Saint’s name! And I consider Luke to be a Marian name too, since his gospel is the most Marian, as it contains the Annunciation and Magnificat! But then, Luke is probably too similar to Lucy anyway, oh well). Anyway, back to the Church calendar, I actually thought it was a better idea to find names that really fit their taste/style, and then see if there are any saints with feast days around their due date with those names — they likely won’t have to choose between using a family name/name they like and choosing a saint’s name whose feast is near the baby’s birthday — there are so many saints and blesseds that I’m sure they can find a match!

To find names that I thought Theresa and her hubs might like, I started by looking up the names they’ve used for their older children and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, these are names that were pretty big style matches for this family:

(1) Thomas
Theresa’s kiddos’ names are as classic and saintly as they come, and Thomas fits right in with that! He’s a natural brother to Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph — as soon as I saw what a big match Thomas is for their style, I knew it would make my final list of suggestions!

(2) Charles
I was interested to see that the Charles family of names showed up as style matches for almost all the names they’ve chosen so far and those they like as well! Of those (Charles and Carl), I thought Charles fits their style best, and its nickname Charlie was actually a match for Lucy!

(3) Edward, Robert, William
I’m including these three together because Thomas and Charles were really the big winners in terms of style matches for Theresa and her hubs, but Edward, Robert, and William also did fairly well for them, and they all have feast days within a week (before or after) of Theresa’s due date.

So I looked up all the feast days from April 27 to May 11 — one week before Theresa’s due date to one week after — on, which doesn’t have all the saints in its database but seems to be pretty darn close! It lists for each day the feasts of that day, both those that appear on the calendar and those that are minor feasts that don’t appear on the calendar. I thought these might of interest to Theresa:

April 27
Bl. Jacov Varingez (Jacov is a variant of Jacob, and James and Jacob are the same name [James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew], so this Blessed could be a patron for a Jacob or a James)

April 30
Bl. William Southerne

May 3
St. James the Lesser (this is the feast on the calendar for this day!)
Bl. Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz (Edoardo is a variant of Edward)
Bl. Tommaso Acerbis (Tommaso is a variant of Thomas)

May 4
Bl. Luca da Toro (I just listed this here for fun — an actual holy Luke with a feast on Star Wars day!)
Bl. Michal Giedroyc (Michal is a variant of Michael)
Bl. Paolini Bigazzini (Paolini is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Cologne (not too much known about him. Paulinus is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Senigallia (not much known about him either)
St. Robert Lawrence

May 5
Conversion of St. Augustine (I’m including this because it’s an amazing feast day! It seems like the kind of thing Theresa would like to know about. Augustine would make a great first or middle name)

May 6
Bl. Anthony Middleton (Theresa’s grandfather’s name, Anton, is a variant of Anthony)
Bl. Edward Jones
St. James of Numidia (for a James or a Jacob)
Bl. William Tandi

May 8
Apparition of Michael the Archangel (what an amazing feast day! It would be so neat to name a little boy born on this day Michael!)

May 9
Bl. Thomas Pickering

May 10
Feast of the Ascension (what an amazing feast day to be born on! It’s celebrated forty days after Easter, which, in 2018, falls on May 10. The apostles [minus Judas] witnessed the Ascension (Acts 1:6-9), so Thomas and James would be good names for a baby boy born on this day)
Bl. Antonio of Norcia (not much is known about him. Antonio is an Anthony variant, like Theresa’s Grandpa Anton)
Bl. William of Pontoise (; not much is known about him)

May 11
Bl. Diego of Saldaña (Diego is a Spanish form of James/Jacob)
Bl. James Walworth

Of course, even if Theresa and her hubs choose a name that corresponds to one of these feast days, they don’t have to feel bound to that Saint or Blessed if they don’t want to! There are so many great saints with these names! But if they like the idea of choosing a patron based on a birthday, there are some great ideas here I think. (Also, I didn’t include all the feasts on all the days — just the ones with names I thought they’d like — to check them all out, here’s the link for May 4, and then just go forward and back from there.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest and/or advice would you give Theresa and her husband in naming the little brother of Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph?

T(h)erese/a in honor of Patricia?

This is really kind of weird, but sort of recently I came across at least two different places online where I saw Theresa or Teresa or Therese (I can’t remember which) listed as an honor name for Patricia (I know that it’s at least two, because if I saw it just once I would have assumed it was just some weird thing … but two means more than one person consider it to be so, which I find baffling). One of them might even have been someone saying they couldn’t use Theresa for a daughter because there’s already a Patricia in the family. But in the last couple of weeks I have googled and googled various terms trying to find the posts (I think one was at the Baby Name Wizard, and I don’t remember where the other one was — maybe Swistle?) because I wanted to post about it here, and I canNOT find any mention of it anywhere! So you’ll all just have to humor me for a moment and assume my memory is correct — have any of you heard of this? T(h)erese/a for Patricia?

I’ve thought a lot about it because my first reaction was wha??? so I really tried to see how it could be, and then I realized it’s not that far off, for these reasons:

— Tricia/Trish and Theresa have really similar sounds

— I have a friend with a sister named Patricia and he’s always said it pah-TREE-shah (big emphasis on the TREE) whereas I have only known it to be pah-TRIH-sha, short i. But, if pah-TREE-shah is more common than I realize, then TREE-shah and teh-REE-sah are really very similar

— My mom always calls her Theresa friend TREESE — rhymes with Reese — like a contraction of Theresa and drop the a. Or like how some people say Therese (teh-REZ and teh-REESE are both acceptable). TREESE and Trish (especially in a pah-TREE-shah scenario) are also very similar.

So I guess I can see how this happens, but I’m wondering how prevalent this idea is (if it even exists and I didn’t totally imagine it). Have any of you heard of Theresa or Therese or Teresa as an honor name for Patricia, or even considered a variant?

Updated to add: I did find this obituary for a Patricia who apparently went by Teresa …