What’s in a name?

We have heard this all too familiar question that so many have asked: What is in a name? Call a rose a rose, and it is a rose! What if I do not call a rose a rose, can it then not be a rose?

This topic arises from the reminder today for our youths who will be receiving their Sacraments of Initiation in April. It reminded me of how I got my Confirmation name, and not many people know what it is as my Baptism name is used more often, and even before I was baptised. No prizes for those who can get both correct!

My Baptism name was given to me by a nun who is still alive – Sister Patricia. She was one of our teachers in the Convent where I had received both my primary and secondary education. As the convent was run mostly by either Catholic  nuns or teachers, the students who enrolled there were also mostly Catholics. A few of us were non baptised, but the influence was there and like myself, others too eventually embraced the faith. Praise the Lord!

The Irish nuns and the Catholic teachers had an easier time calling the students by their Christian names. The non Catholics with their dialect names proved to make things a little harder for their tongues, and so it was not unusual for almost every student to adopt Christian names. Besides, we who did not have Christian names wanted to belong to the Catholic community and so, we found for ourselves Christian names. For a long time, this was the practice; perhaps it is no longer so as one can now hardly tell if a person is Christian or not by the name the person uses. Things are not the same anymore.

What about my Confirmation name? I had the privilege of being acquainted with a loving and wonderful old  Redemptorist priest. It was a time when the Novena Church had many Australian priests like Fr. Myers. He was a humorous and jovial pastor who would patiently listen to my sharing and so we somehow developed a relationship like that of old friends. I visited him often in the hospital where he would go for his cataract operations and other treatments. Such a kind man was Fr. Myers! He even celebrated his diamond jubilee which I attended, and that spells sixty good years as a religious priest.

Not long after that, he fell ill and was hospitalised. I had then just been baptised and was preparing for my Confirmation in August. In the hospital, I shared with him my joy and then asked if he would like to give me a name for Confirmation. He thought for a while and then pronounced my name out loud. The two names sounded just right and I accepted his proposal. Since then I have an even greater appreciation of this saint who loves music. Yes, you can well guess who she is!

What is in a name? Adam had this challenge thrown to him.

Genesis 2: 19 – 20 reads: “So out of the ground the Lord God formed every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field;

Have fun!


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