Birth announcement: Michael Augustine!

I did a private consultation for Abby and her husband earlier in the spring, and Abby’s let me know their little guy has arrived and been given the amazing name … Michael Augustine!

Abby writes,

We welcomed Michael Augustine on 5/28. Your consultation gave us the push we needed to go ahead and give him the name we felt most connected to even if Michael is more common than we wanted. We were seeing St. Michael everywhere and hearing Augustine quotes in homilies and it just felt like the Lord was saying this is his name. We loved your idea of using Milo as a nickname, since my husband wasn’t sold on it as a first name it was nice to have the option of Milo, Michael, or Mikey. However, so far he really seems to be a Michael, that’s what everyone has been calling him and it really does suit him. His 2 year old brother is calling him Mikey occasionally and we are ok with that, and maybe as he grows a nickname will stick. Because our kids wouldn’t be able to visit us in the hospital due to Covid-19 restrictions we told them his name ahead of time which we’ve never done before and they were so excited. It really was special for them to feel like they played a part in naming their baby brother. We are just hoping we haven’t sent a precedent that they get a vote if we are blessed with more children! Thank you for you help.”

I’m thrilled that Abby and her hubby ended up choosing the name they really wanted, despite its popularity! And for any of you in a similar situation, I always love the idea of an unexpected nickname for a more common name if popularity issues are a problem (and vice versa: a more familiar nickname for a more uncommon name can be easier on an everyday basis). I also love hearing that this little guy has been showing himself to be a Michael, sometimes we can plan for nicknames and sometimes we can’t!

It was also so interesting to read about how they shared the baby’s names with their older kids before he was born because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and how they’re hoping they haven’t set a precedent that will cause issues in the future! I like their approach this time.

Congratulations to Abby and her husband and big sibs Henry James, Lillian Teresa, and Noah Benjamin, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

Michael Augustine with his big brother ❤️


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!

The pandemic can’t keep me from St. Anne!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that my family and I are away for the week. The last week away that we did was three years ago, when we shared a beach house with my parents and siblings and their kids (there were twenty two of us) — Luke wasn’t even on the way yet, and my next boy up was three, and there were lots of family members to help out. Being away for a week on our own hasn’t been attempted at all since my nearly-sixteen-year-old was the same age Luke is now (22 months) and we cut our week short because he wasn’t sleeping and then threw up and I was eight months pregnant with our second and DONE WITH VACATIONS AND TRIPS AWAY.

Since then, other than going away with my extended family for a week (which we’ve only done twice), we haven’t gone away for longer than four days, and even then it was only when most of the kids were old enough to sleep well and enjoy themselves.

I was laughing remembering all this because Luke is at that same age when my oldest caused us to cut our vacation short and oh boy, I am so totally remembering why I insisted we go home early and why our vacations since then have been nearly nonexistent. What a terror! (The cutest ever and we all love him more than life itself but still: a terror.)

I was also laughing that my plans for this year’s St. Anne’s pilgrimage had to be adjusted because of Luke. That kid.

If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you’ll know that, not long after I started the blog, I was wondering about a patron saint for it and I felt like St. Anne was waving from heaven asking for the job (or, more likely, letting me know she’d already taken it). She’s been our patroness since almost the very beginning, and I’ve often felt her care for all of us as we enjoy naming our own babies or looking forward to when we can, and helping to name those of others, poking around the nooks and crannies of our faith for the perfect monikers that will help both the babies and their parents keep their eyes on heaven.

I’ve been so grateful to St. Anne that as my first blogiversary approached (June 27, 2015) and I was trying to figure out how to properly celebrate it, the idea of thanking St. Anne for her intercession for our little community and all the blessings that I personally have received through Sancta Nomina by taking a pilgrimage with my family to one of her shrines seemed the perfect idea — difficult enough for it to feel like a real gift of thanks, and so appropriate for a Catholic blogger.

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Screenshot of the post about my family’s very first St. Anne pilgrimage. Hilarious to read about how hard traveling was for us back then — and how hard it currently is again!

It was such a success (despite all odds), that we made it an annual tradition — an annual blogiversary pilgrimage to a St. Anne shrine to offer thanks and to pray for you all. That first year we went to the shrine in Isle La Motte, VT; the second year we went to Sturbridge, MA; the third year to Scranton, PA; the fourth to Waterbury, CT; and the FIFTH — last year — was appropriately celebrated in a big way: in Ireland!

I admit my impending sixth blogiversary — last Saturday, June 27, 2020 — was not on my mind at all this past spring because of the all the pandemic stuff, nor was a St. Anne pilgrimage. But when we were planning this week away to my parents’ lake cabin, and I realized that my blogiversary was the day before we left, I thought I’d look to see if there might be a St. Anne church close by-ish that maybe we could drive to one day while we’re here. Because of social distancing and reduced space in our local churches, I wasn’t expecting there to be a Mass we could attend or anything like that — my hopes were very modest, I just wanted to visit a St. Anne church, even just the outside. Simply an effort to thank her.

Are you at all surprised that I discovered a St. Ann (that spelling) church less than an hour from our lake? And that it had a 6pm Mass on Wednesday evenings? And that, while I was sure the 6pm Mass wasn’t currently happening, since churches have only just barely begun opening in my diocese for Sunday Masses, when I inquired I discovered that, indeed, the Wednesday evening Masses have resumed? Of course you’re not surprised, and I wasn’t either. That St. Ann(e).

My plan was for us all to go — part of the gift and the gratitude, in my mind, is to offer something back, a suffering, to be used as God sees fit, through the hands of His grandmother. As much as I’d like it to be different, traveling to go to Mass with the kids qualifies as the kind of suffering I have in mind. (You can read more about my tips and tricks for taking pilgrimages with little ones in this piece I wrote for CatholicMom last year (they just redesigned the site and it’s hard to find the archived articles, so please excuse the state of this link).)

But I ended up having to drive home with Luke that morning to bring him to a doctor’s appointment, and he screamed in the car the whole way back (an hour), and I didn’t feel like I could subject him or the rest of us to a repeat of that again that evening. So my oldest and I went instead and it turned out to be perfect, exactly what I’d hoped for.

This church of St. Ann is in a town called Fort Ann, named after Queen Anne of England (the Wiki entry notes that it’s unknown why the original spelling of Fort Anne was later changed to Fort Ann). It was so cool to see “Ann” used in the names of various businesses and on street signs — and not just “Fort Ann” but “St. Ann” too!

The church itself is a sweet, small country church. It wasn’t overflowing with St. Ann(e) statues and windows, as so many of the other shrines I’ve visited, but what it had was beautiful.

 

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Beautiful entrance
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St. Anne with Our Lady; St. Joseph; a bigger statue of Our Lady. If there weren’t roped-off sections, I would have tried to light a candle for my intentions
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I know for sure the picture on the right is St. Anne with Mary — does anyone know the one on the left? It looks like it could be an older lady — is that St. Anne?
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This parish has a great devotion to the Divine Mercy — you can see the image here on the right of the altar, and on the front door in the picture above, and they said the Divine Mercy chaplet after Mass. I love the stained glass windows of Our Lady on the left and St. Ann on the right. Also, the quote above Jesus from the Magnificat: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 💙

The Mass was beautiful as well — Father started with the Angelus, then said Mass, then led us in the chaplet of Divine Mercy. My son and I said the rosary together on the way home. Perfect.

There were eleven people there besides us, which nearly brought the church to full capacity. It was lovely and peaceful, and I offered the pilgrimage in thanksgiving for this wonderful community and for all the blessings that have come through Sancta Nomina, including the ministry of naming and my book and the unending intercession of St. Anne for all of us. I also offered it for:

  • All of you and your intentions; for your children, both living and deceased; for those of you who long to be parents but aren’t yet; for those of you who have children but long for more; for those of you who have children and are struggling to stay afloat
  • For the intentions our Holy Father asked us to pray for earlier in the spring: the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted by it, and eternal salvation for those the Lord has called to Himself
  • For our country and our church

In addition to St. Anne, I want to thank you all for a wonderful six years! It’s been such an unexpected and wonderful gift! Thank you for teaching me more about the names of our faith and sharing your families with me. ❤️❤️❤️


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: Elanor Josephine!

I just published a post in honor of St. Rita that I don’t want you to miss — today’s her feast day! She’s been a powerful intercessor for me and others I know, and writing about her is my little way of fulfilling my promises made in the novena to her I often say.

I did a private consultation for Keri and her husband a few months ago, and I’m delighted to share that their baby girl has been born and given the gorgeous name … Elanor Josephine!

Keri writes,

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know our little one arrived a few weeks ago (on big brother Gabe’s birthday). We named her Elanor Josephine.

We took your advice and used Tolkein’s spelling — I have always loved that the story didn’t end after the ring was destroyed — that the hobbits had to go back to Hobbiton and still had to deal with the after effects of the ring’s influence — I like the symbolism that life goes on, even amidst the battles we must fight, but there is always hope. She was also named after Eleanor Donnelly — a Catholic American Poet from the Civil War era who I discovered when I realized that Elanor was a strong contender — this was a gift! She was highly revered during her time, and I feel that she needs to be reintroduced to our generation — her poems written during the Civil War are haunting but infused with hope as well. Her poems for children are simple, but pack so much in them that I discover something new each time I read them. Her books are free online.

[Hubby] wasn’t thrilled with Josephine at first, but with your prompting and after the coronavirus pandemic began, he warmed up fast — While Maisie Ward is unquestionably one of her namesakes,* we felt that having St. Joseph as her patron, especially during this time of unpredictability, was a fitting tribute to the great saint who guided his own family during times of uncertainty. It’s also a family name on my side: my grandmother’s middle name and my great grandmother’s name — I have the rosary both women were given for their Confirmation, so it seems fitting to have one daughter as their namesake for whom to gift the heirloom.

We thought when we brought her home she would go by Posie, but the kids overruled us and Ellie is her nickname, except for our feisty 5 year old who insists on Posie.”

I’m so excited that one of my suggestions — the Tolkien spelling Elanor — was helpful to Keri and her hubby! I absolutely love the combination Elanor Josephine, and how meaningful it is to her parents, and how it gives a little nod to “this time of unpredictability” in a pretty perfect way. And I’m thrilled to be introduced to Eleanor Donnelly! I know a lot of you will likely be, too!

* Keri really wanted to nod to Maisie Ward, wife of Frank Sheed — they were members of the Catholic Evidence League in London and created Sheed and Ward, a publishing house that specialized in Catholic authors. Among their friends (who they also published) were GK Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Marigold Hunt, Daphne McCloud, and Caryll Houselander who were all part of the winding down of the English Catholic Literary Revival. Maisie’s given name was Mary Josephine, hence the mention of her in regard to this baby’s middle name.

Congratulations to Keri and her husband and big siblings (all the heart eyes over these beautiful names!!):

Isabel Eden (Izzy)
Gabriel Crispin (Gabe)
Elijah Bryce (Eli)
Lydia Quinn (Quinn)
Aurelia Triss (Raya)
Madeline Grace and Mary Grace (in heaven)

and happy birthday Baby Elanor!!

Kids Portrait

Elanor Josephine with her big siblings ❤


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: Noah Anthony!

I posted a consultation for Breanna and her husband back in December, and Breanna’s let me know their baby has arrived — a little man given the handsome name … Noah Anthony!

Breanna writes,

For this little boy we decided on Noah Anthony! Noah was not originally on our radar but it did fit the bill of a biblical name and a person that Jesus would have interacted with like Joseph and Mary Magdalene. I like that it’s not likely to have a shortened nickname (I don’t like when people call Joseph “Jo” or “Joey.” ) And finally, I felt Noah was so fitting during this world wide pandemic Noah had to trust in God during an unbelievable time. Right now, we are all being asked to trust in God to help us through this pandemic that none of us expected when we started 2020.

Our Noah’s middle name “Anthony” is daddy’s first name. Although daddy already shared his middle name with our son Joseph, he’s such a good daddy that I think he deserved two namesakes!

I love the significance of the name Noah during this pandemic! How perfect! And I love that Breanna said, regarding her husband’s names being shared by both of his sons, “he’s such a good daddy that I think he deserved two namesakes” — what a wonderful thing to say!

Congratulations to Breanna and her husband and big sibs Magdalyn and Joseph, and happy birthday Baby Noah!!

Noah Anthony with his big sister and brother ❤


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!

 

Naming in the time of coronavirus

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I forgot to share here the latest piece I wrote for Nameberry, from a few weeks ago: Babies Named Corona Are No Joke. It was fascinating to research the various disaster-inspired names that were bestowed on babies in the last century, and, as noted, we’re already seeing the coronavirus pandemic inspiring baby names.

If I were naming a baby born during the pandemic or whose existence was inspired by it (whether because of the Stay at Home orders, or because of reordered priorities in light of this encounter with widescale grief and death, etc.), I think I’d like to nod to the difficulties in some way, though I think I’d probably be inclined to stick more to Saints I might have asked for intercession, and/or (God forbid) the name(s) of any loved one(s) that might have been badly affected or tragically lost, or the names of associated heroes (family/friend heroes or public heroes). What about you? If you’re expecting a baby during this time, or think you might in the near future, are you considering including some connection to the coronavirus in the baby’s name? If so, how do you think you would do so? On the flip side, are any of you abhorred by this idea?


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!