St. Francis de Sales Writing Contest: First Place Winner

I had the great blessing of instituting a writing contest at my alma mater this spring, the middle/high school where my dreams of being a writer were encouraged and supported by wonderful teachers, and which provided a great springboard for my studies of writing, literature, and language in college and grad school, all of which led to me actually being able to call myself a professional writer. I’m so pleased to be able to encourage the current student writers in the way that I was! ❤

I named the contest for St. Francis de Sales because he’s the patron of authors, the Catholic Press, and writers in general, and he’s one of the saints I’ve chosen as patron of my own writing — I’m constantly asking for his help and intercession, that my writing serves God in the way it’s supposed to. For sure, this blog and all that has come out of it has been an answer to that prayer!

This is the first of what I hope will be many years of this contest, which will focus on the intersection of faith and writing through the topic chosen. For this, its inaugural year, the topic was: What Confirmation name did you or will you choose, and why? You might remember I’d written an article for CatholicMom.com last year providing guidelines on choosing a Confirmation name, which included a quote from my bishop, Bishop Scharfenberger, and the students were directed to read it before writing their essays.

Setting a high bar for a writing contest includes having good judges, and I was so thrilled to have secured Ms. Kate Blain, editor of my diocese’s newspaper The Evangelist; Mr. Giovanni Virgiglio, Superintendent of Schools for the Albany Diocese; and Fr. James Ebert, current pastor of Mater Christi parish in Albany and former chaplain of my alma mater, as well as a 1999 graduate. The contest was open to tenth and eleventh graders, and they should all be proud to know that the judges commented to me on what thoughtful teens they are, and what a hard choice it was.

Two winners were chosen, with the first-place winner receiving $100 and publication of his essay on CatholicMom.com; the second-place winner’s essay will also be published on CatholicMom.com. Ms. Blain at The Evangelist has also expressed interest in publishing the essays! All in all, the contest turned out just as I’d hoped — a true encouragement of faith and writing.

I’m so pleased to present the first-place essay, which posted today on CatholicMom!

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Birth announcement: Zelie Gianna!

I posted a consultation for Rachel and her husband back in April, and Rachel’s let me know her little green bean has arrived — a little GIRL named … Zelie Gianna!

Rachel writes,

I wrote you a few months ago for a baby name consultation, on June 5th we welcomed our little girl, and we named her Zelie Gianna. Her brother, Albie is loving his new sister!

In the end, I felt like I had been praying for these 2 saintly mommas in heaven so much during my pregnancy (and continue to even more now!), when we found out the baby was a girl after she was born, it just seemed like we couldn’t name her anything else!

Zelie Gianna! What a great name!! And I love it with big brother Albert Francis (Albie) — what a great, saintly pair!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Zelie!!

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Zelie Gianna

Birth announcement: Abraham James!

I’m working on today’s consultation post — I should have it up later this morning — but first, I’m so excited to share that Grace at Camp Patton has had her baby!! A handsome little BOY who has been given the fantastic name … Abraham James!

As with Phoebe and with Bosco, I’ve again been surprised with the new Patton baby’s name — and I love being surprised!! Abraham has that nice long length that Sebastian and Theodore have, and his nickname Abe is SO DARLING! Abe Patton. That is such a fun and friendly and perfect name for a little guy. (I’m also kind of tickled that I was *sort of* swirling in the right spot with my suggestions of Isaac and Nathaniel. 😊)

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big sibs Julia, Bash, Theo, Phoebe, and Bosco, and happy birthday Baby Abe!! Be sure to check out his sweet face on Grace’s blog or her Instagram!

Birth announcement: Anessa Corinne!

You may remember that back in February I posted a mini consultation for a couple who wondered if the name Anessa was okay to use — it was for Josh and Mari, who I’d had the privilege of doing a regular consultation the month before, as well as a private consultation for their previous baby (birth announcement here). I’m delighted to announce that they’ve let me know their little girl has arrived, and has been given the gorgeous name … Anessa Corinne!

Josh writes,

Kate, just wanted to let you know that we welcomed Anessa Corinne yesterday — 7 lbs 14 oz and mom and baby are doing great! Thanks for your help with the name consultation!

Anessa Corinne is such an amazing combo! Anessa is a variant of Agnes, and Corinne can have that beautiful connection to cor (Latin for “heart”) that we’ve talked about before (like Cora). It’s also in keeping with the A.C. theme they’ve established for their girls!

Anessa joins her amazingly named big sibs:

Ariana Camille
Audrey Caroline
Caleb Daniel (Daniel is Josh’s middle name)
Amelia Clare (“Millie”)
Anne-Catherine Gianna (“Gianna” or “Gigi”)
Charles Michael (“Charlie”)

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Anessa!!

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Anessa Corinne

Birth announcement: Violet Grace!

Laura, from the consultation I posted a couple of weeks ago, has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a little GIRL given the gorgeous, meaningful name … Violet Grace!

Laura writes,

Our baby arrived (a GIRL!!!) and we used your suggestion of Violet Grace. 💜 It seems so right having our bouquet of flower girls, and I’m very grateful for your guidance and suggestions. Bookmarking all of your great names for the future, just in case! Thank you for naming Violet.”

I just love that all of Laura’s girls have flower names — I love thinking of them as a bouquet! And such a great way to keep their little Lily looped in with her sibs. 💜💜💜💜💜

Congratulations to Laura and her husband and big siblings Thomas Blaise “Blaise,”
Augustine “Gus,” Rose “Rosie,” and Lily, and happy birthday Baby Violet!!

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Violet Grace

 

Birth announcement: Fiona Therese!

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Fiona Therese!

She writes,

You did a consult for me a few mos ago. Our children are Cecilia Rose, Ian Michael, Anneliese (pronounced the German way) Claire, Aidan John, Eva Marie, Francis Martin. We didn’t know the sex of the baby … We narrowed it down to Josiah Patrick for a boy. Aaaaand: we welcomed a baby sister, Fiona Therese. Fiona is a cute name I have liked, but had forgotten til you reminded me! Celtic but spellable and pronounce-able. Therese for the Little Flower, which also allows us to use flower or rose nicknames. (Rosemary was top in the running for a long time.)

Such an amazing sibling set!! I love all the names, and Fiona Therese is such a fabulous addition to the family!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Fiona!! 🎉🌹

Baby name consultation: Honoring St. Josemaria with boy no. 2’s name, etc.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

Megan and her husband are expecting their second baby — and second boy! This little man joins big brother:

Henry Allan

Such a solid, handsome name!

Megan writes,

Just as a little background on how we named Henry — There were a few things that ‘confirmed’ that Henry Allan is what we felt God wanted his name to be.  Craig and I were both strongly formed in our faith from Newman Centers so he is partly named after Blessed John Henry Newman.  We also heard a story about St. Henry Heath and his martyrdom.  We felt he was a fitting saint for our time in our culture.  We also learned that Henry is a family name in both mine and Craig’s ancestry.  Allan is both Craig’s middle name and his Dad’s middle name.  It is also my Dad’s first name, although he spells it Alan.  We wanted to honor both our Dads in that way, as well as to honor Craig.

Here is a list of names we are considering for our second child:
Benedict
Joseph
Stephen
Peter
William
George
Gabriel
Conrad
Francis
Fulton
Simon

Here is a list of names that we like but not quite right:
Philip

Here is a list of names we can’t or won’t use:
Michael — like but won’t use because friends’ son’s name
James — like but won’t use because nephew’s name
Maximillian — like but won’t use because friends’ son’s name
Jack — like but won’t use because nephew’s name

Here are some Saints we love:
Mary
St. Josemaria Escriva — one of our favorites, but we are not sure how to work with this name
St. Joseph
St. John Paul II

Great list of names, and great saints to honor! When I first read Megan’s email, my mind immediately started clicking over St. Josemaria and how to work with that, so I’ll start with that. Josemaria is a combination of Jose and Maria, which of course are Joseph and Mary in Spanish—and they have Joseph and Mary on the list of saints they love! So my first—and heartiest—suggestion would be for Megan and her hubs to name their little guy Joseph (they have Joseph in the list of names they like anyway!), which covers St. Joseph and could cover St. Josemaria as well, but especially if they make the middle name something to do with Mary. Possibilities include:

  • Joseph Mario or Joseph Mariano—neither Mario nor Mariano are etymologically related to Mary, but they’ve both been used for a long time as a male form of Mary.
  • Joseph Miles—most of you have likely seen the many many many (!) times I’ve tried to push Miles on expectant parents, but I love so much that it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means, literally, “servant of the Virgin Mary.”
  • Joseph Mercer—one of my name books (Oxford Dictionary of First Names by Hanks, Hardcastle, and Hodges) says that Mercer (a last name derived from the Old French for “trader”—mercier) “may sometimes also have been chosen as a kind of male equivalent of mercy,” which would be really cool because it could be a nod to Our Lady of Mercy—in keeping with trying to come up with a combo that mirrors Josemaria—and it can also be a nod to the Divine Mercy pope, JP2, which would work in all their favorite saints!
  • Joseph Marion—they could totally channel John Wayne—who was born Marion Robert Morrison—by using Marion as a middle name!
  • Joseph Maria—this would be the most explicit way to honor St. Josemaria in English. Mary/Marie/Maria as a middle name for boys used to be a traditional practice, especially in Europe, but I’ve seen hardcore Catholic parents do so recently too. I’ve love for that tradition to come back!
  • Joseph Marriot(t) or Joseph Murray—both Marriot(t) and Murray have ties to Our Lady: Marriot(t) is an English surname derived from an old diminutive of Mary (Mary-ot), and Murray comes from the Irish Mac Giolla Mhuire (son of the servant of Mary), which is anglicized as Kilmurray, Kilmary, Kilmurry, and MacElmurry. Murray is the “Mary” part and has become a surname in its own right.

Those are my ideas for how Megan and her hubby can incorporate their favorite saints into their son’s name, and Joseph was actually listed as a style match for Henry in the Baby Name Wizard book (which, as you all know, I almost always use in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), so I think it’s a really great option for them.

So they have a really great list and great ideas, and I think the Joseph M. option is amazing and perfect, but of course I can always come up with more! 😀 Based on my research in the BNW using the names on their list and Henry’s name, these are my other ideas:

(1) Edmund/Edmond or Edward
Edward’s actually a style match for Henry, Joseph, William, and George; Edmund for Benedict; and Edmond for Conrad—all great, saintly names! St. Edmund Campion’s awesome, as is St. Edward the Confessor. They all remind me a bit of Benedict, because I’ve seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, and Ned is also a traditional nickname for the Ed- names. I know a little Eddie too, which is really cute, and Ted is also a traditional nickname for Edward.

(2) Theodore
Speaking of Ted (and Ned and Ed), Theodore—which can be nicked Ted—was another good match for their style. It has that sort of Brit feel that I get from Henry, and Ted(dy)’s super cute; Theo’s another great option. Theodore also has the awesome meaning “gift of God.”

(3) Thomas
Thomas was a style match for Joseph, Stephen, Peter, William, Michael, and James! While Tommy’s a cute nickname, most of the little Thomases I know go by the full Thomas. Lots of good patrons to choose from too! St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas More are two favorites of my family.

(4) Charles
Charles is another traditional, gentlemanly name like the ones on their list, with an added bit of sparkle: It’s the English version of John Paul II’s birth name (Karol). I’ve known of many little ones named Charles in honor of JP2, so this could be a way Megan and her hubs can nod to him without using John Paul itself (since John Paul wasn’t on their list, I assume they don’t care for it). As a slight tangent, I find Benedict on their list to be somewhat difficult to pair a middle name with, because there are so many initials that are potentially problematic, but BC is a fine pairing, so I really love the combo Benedict Charles. Two awesome popes in one!

(5) Oliver
My last idea for Megan and her hubs is Oliver, a match for Henry, Simon, and Peter. I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and it can also be a nod to Our Lady of Olives (I love Marian names for boys!). Henry and Oliver are a darling set of brothers!

And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Henry’s little brother?


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