What’s In A Name?

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I was received into the Catholic Church during Easter of 2010 (a story for another time). Although I was an atheist the 6 years prior, RCIA was a relatively smooth process, except for one thing.

Picking a confirmation name.

Admittedly, in my spiritually immature Catholic-candidate state, I did far too much researching and not enough praying. After years of atheism, everything about Catholicism seemed to magically and logically fall into place. I accepted that Jesus Christ had indeed died on the cross for us and risen again. It only took a little researching of books and blogs to believe in the fullness of the Eucharist, the grace of confession, the communion of saints, and the papal authority. I had what I suspect was one of the best RCIA classes out there – an orthodox priest and a canon lawyer in-the-making gave us an in-depth exploration of the tenants and history of the Faith, complete with weekly reading assignments from the Bible and Catechism.

But when it came to a confirmation name, did I struggle! I took it a little too seriously, but it was the one permanent thing that I couldn’t change later on, which felt like a lot of pressure. So, I agonized over the decision right up until I had to submit my choice. Although I may not have gone about this in the best manner, the saints I was debating over really personify me in terms of their patronage – I hope to some day live up to their virtues too.

St. Angela Merici: St. Angela Merici is the founder of the Ursuline order, which focuses on the educating young women and tending to the sick and needy. I’m currently pursuing my doctorate in computer science right now in the hopes of teaching at a small school some day that is passionate about education. Not to mention that there aren’t many women in the field (I was the only one in my graduating class of 33), so the education of women speaks to me, as I would like to see more of us. Because I hope to be a lifelong learner and teacher, I ended up choosing Angela Merici as my confirmation name.

St. Veronica: St. Veronica came at the suggestion of my boyfriend, who was also my wonderful confirmation sponsor. She’s the patron saint of photographers. Although I’ve always loved taking candid shots (as evidenced by the few thousand photos I amassed during college alone), I’ve recently started working on more artistic photography. One fun thing that photographers sometimes do is pick a category (say, padlocks, or maybe street signs) and push themselves to take many pictures of those. It’s a way to always have a subject to search out when you’re stuck in a rut. My topic of choice is religious buildings.

St. Helena: The patron saint of converts, not to mention a convert and mother herself who traveled a fair amount. I’m a wanderer by either nature or nurture. My parents were both Army officers, so I moved frequently growing up, and having gone from college straight to grad school, I still do. I don’t regret it in the least, although I’ve developed an insatiable desire to visit places.

St. Paul: I never seriously considered St. Paul for a confirmation name, but I did spend a fair amount of time looking for the patron saint of letter writers. I may be a computer scientist, but I’m still stuck in the past on a few things, one of which is amassing elegant cards to send to friends and family for birthdays, holidays, or when I just feel like it. I love to write, but I have a special place in heart for old-fashioned cards. In the absence of a patron saint of letter writers, I’ve appointed St. Paul as such.

In a way, these four also illuminate my reasoning for my blog, Here is the Church. Religion in general has fascinated me from a very young age, regardless of what religion I currently was a part of. Everything from the different threads of thought to how these beliefs permeate our lives and societies, usually in ways we don’t even realize. With that in mind, the idea of starting a project where I travel to religious buildings that pique my interest, photograph them, and then teach the history behind them seemed like a way to incorporate many of my hobbies in one place. Until recently, communities used to be formed around one’s religious congregation, and it’s fascinating to see the traditions that shaped that community, as well as how that community was intertwined with the history of the area.

Even though my day job is as a computer science grad student, I actually wanted to be a writer almost all my life until I took computer science classes in high school. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to write again here, particularly about the Catholic faith. Conversion is a life long process, and with God’s grace, I may one day complete it. During my time at VirtuousPla.net, I hope to further refine my faith through my writing and your thoughts. And if I make a misstep, I look forward to your charitable comments to guide me back.

The featured image comes from my Flickr photostream. Please check there for copyright.

Allie Terrell

Allie Terrell

Allie Terrell is a 2010 convert to Catholicism after dabbling in a few different trains of religious thought. She graduated from Rose-Hulman in 2009 with a degree in computer science, and is now pursuing her doctorate in the hopes of teaching some day. When she can spare a few hours, Allie likes to visit religious sites and work on her photography. She blogs about her journeys at Here Is The Church.

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3 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”

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    Though we don’t have the tradition of confirmation names / saints here, I did spend quite a lot of time trying to find one. It was so overwhelming! I’ve never been interested in saints, but when I started reading about them, they all seemed so wonderful and amazing. It was very hard to narrow it down and a few weeks before my confirmation I ended up with this list: Saint Anne, Saint Anne Line, Saint Hedwig, Saint Joseph, Saint Margaret Clitherow and Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. In the end, saint Joseph ‘picked me’.

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