Entering a religious community in Sept... fretting over choosing a religious name


I’m entering a habit wearing, name changing traditional type of religious community in September. Traditional in the sense that they are staunchly faithful to the Magisterium, not in the sense of being against Novus Ordo Masses or anything. They’re just very Catholic. And very Marian.

Name changing doesnt happen until the Noviciate begins, so I have like two years to choose, but I am just terrified of taking on a new name! This community goes all the way with name changing, once a sister makes her final vows she has her name legally changed to her religious name. They do not take on titles (like “of jesus” or “of the cross”). I’ve had an ugly soccer mom type name my whole life and im afraid of being stuck with something hideous. Though, i consider Agnes to be a gross name but I’d be deeply honoured to be named after a martyr. So the beauty of the saints life would outshine any ugly name but im still afraid.

So… If you have any tips or words of wisdom of some sort, I’d be very grateful.

I can suggest up to three names and the superior will choose one or pick something different if she wants to.

So as i think about names the one that CONSTANTLY pops into my mind, even though I dont even like it all that much, is Gabriel Marie. And when that enterd my mind I literally roll my eyes because the religious community is sooo marian and the name Gabriel Marie makese think of the Annunciation, and it is a name that I’m surprised isnt already used by someone in the community because of that connection. It’s so Marian!!

What do you think?


I think first, thank you!! I don’t know if you are familiar with Imagine Sisters, but they have brought so much visibility to the lives and gifts of Sisters. I am in the South, where there is no such thing as passing a nun on the street, so that is such a wonderful thing to hear. (I suppose meaning many people might not even see that as a real possibility because it isn’t immediately visible in their lives) Nuns are so awesome!

About the name, spend time in prayer. Think about the saints that have challenged or inspired you the most. :slight_smile:


I completely agree with UbiCaritas. Thank you for your vocation!

I am an adult convert, and was faced with a much less intimidating choice, since the only time anyone heard my “Saint name” was during the Confirmation rite at the Easter Vigil back in 2005. (I ended up choosing Thomas Aquinas, because I already felt called to become a catechist.) What I was advised to do, and what we advise our RCIA candidates and Catechumens to do, is exactly what UbiCaritas said. Pray, pray, pray. Read some descriptions of the lives of the saints. EWTN and Catholic Online (catholic.org) both have tons of biographical materials on the saints, as does the Catholic Encyclopedia (available online at www.newadvent.org). I’m sure several will jump out at you for one reason or another. Of course, in the end you don’t make the final choice, so it’s really up to the Holy Spirit guiding you and the superior, but in the process you’ll learn a lot about some really wonderful people who were just like us! I sure did.

Thank you again for your vocation, and God bless you and your soon-to-be-Sisters.

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.” --G.K. Chesterton


Check with the order. It may have changed, but traditionally, some have assigned names. You might even inquire regarding having one assigned. Just a thought.


I did ask. Their practice is that a postulant suggests three names and the superior chooses one or might mix and match with your choices or will choose something entirely different. I like your idea of asking if they could choose one for me.

Do you think it’s possible to ask them to choose a name for me but give them clues as to what kinds of saints have had a huge impact on my spiritual life? For example, the desert mothers and fathers have had a big impact and I will always have enormous appreciation and respect for anyone sainted for having anything to do with standing up for Catholicism instead of becoming protestants! Not trying to diss protestants here but being raised one and then converting… I just wish more of the body of Christ knew where the fullness of the truth is found!!!

Ya hermits and martyrs all the way!!


This sounds like a good idea. It is something meaningful to you, especially if there are specific saints in these groups that had an impact on your decision to convert.


Sister Gabriel Marie is, uh well if it may be God’s Will then go for it. Wouldn’t be my first choice though. Just let them pick they’re the experienced ones.


Given that it’s your superior (and the Holy Spirit of course) who ultimately decides on your name, I think that you may be worrying unnecessarily about this. Of course i appreciate that you’re the one who will have to live with the name but, at the same time, some decisions are best left to God’s guidance rather than human impulses. IMHO you should just leave yourself and the decision open to God rather than trying to make it yourself.

Incidentally, a Dominican I know who took a new name once jokingly described the process as involving a “a moment of terror as you wonder what name you’re going to be stuck with”! :eek:


Hi! I will be entering the novitiate of the OCDS (Secular Discalced Carmelites) in May. We choose/are given a religious name when we enter the novitiate, so I had to choose mine at Christmas. Like you I had to submit 3 choices, but we were allowed to use the “of the…” phrase, but the entire name had to be no more than 5 words (including “of the…”). I stressed over it, because the first choice of my heart was John Paul II. He was the Pope when I converted in 2004. There has always been this intense connection there. When I first decided to start RCIA, I saw him on TV and saw in him something I had never seen in even the most godly Prot. pastors I had been blessed to know. I knew I wanted what he had, and I knew I would only find “it” in the Catholic Church - even though I didn’t know what “it” was.
When it came time to submit my choices, I nearly didn’t submit it. It was way too lofty to link my name with that of someone who is spoken of in the same sentences as Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine as one of the three greatest theologians of the Western Church. Eventually I took roughly 10 different choices for names, put them in a hat and drew 3 names 5 different times. I figured the Holy Spirit would guide my choice. The only name that came out of the hat all 5 times was John Paul II. That went down as my first choice, the other two being Our Lady of Grace and Kris of the Blessed Sacrament. The other serious contender was Kris of the Immaculate Conception, but I just couldn’t say it with a straight face;)! In the end, both our Spiritual Advisor and the Council decided my name. In May my religious name will be Kristina (Kris) of John Paul II.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit guides you to draw your choices out of a hat. And yes, all the strips of paper were exactly the same, so I couldn’t cheat.
God bless you, soon to be Sister. He will give you the right name.


My understanding is you also cannot have the same name as another sister/nun presently living in the same convent. Example: no matter how badly you wish to be called “Sr Mary Margaret”, if there is another sister already with that name you will not be getting it, too.


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