Life

Confirmation names – the possibilities aren't endless

What's in a name? As young Catholics prepare to make their Confirmation, choosing a cool name is high on the agenda of many. But beware, writes Leona O'Neill, recalling some sacramental disasters of her own – you'll be stuck with for life

A friend of Leona’s chose Blaise as his Confirmation name because it sounded like a superhero who could shoot flames out of the palms of his hands

BIBLICAL names like Melchizedek because they sound like footballers, Blaise because it sounds like a superhero who can shoot flames out of the palms, or Jesus, Joseph or Messi. Welcome to the whacky world of Confirmation names. 

My son Caolan makes his Confirmation in February. He brought home a note this week to say he has to pick his Confirmation name and the deadline for this monumental decision is tomorrow morning.

It's obviously a choice not to be taken lightly. This is a name he'll carry with him for life, so it obviously has to be epic. The child is steering towards either Messi or Jesus.

I asked a few friends of their experience with Confirmation names and what came back with was the weird and the wonderful and the notion that 10-year-olds back in the day were advanced in their religious history.

A friend chose the name Melchizedek – the King of Salem and priest of El Elyon mentioned in the Book of Genesis – because it sounded like a footballer. His mum wouldn't allow it so he picked Paul instead.

Irish News Columnist Tom Kelly picked Cornelius for his, and journalist Malachi O'Doherty chose Nicholas after Santa, who he says was a big influence on his 10-year-old self.

Another friend chose Blaise as his Confirmation name, not because it was a saint's name, but because it sounded like a superhero who could shoot flames out of the palms of his hands and laser beams out of his eyes. Another chose Schoalastica, because it is probably the coolest name in the entire world, nay the universe.

We don't know what we are going to go for at the moment. It'll most probably go to the wire between Jesus, Joseph and Messi.

To be honest, I have a bit of a phobia about childhood religious ceremonies. This intense fear was born after my mum got the time of my First Communion ceremony wrong and I walked into the church in all my finery as everyone else was walking out after having enjoyed the first reception of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

I remember standing there in my puffball white dress – that incidentally had been shipped especially from relatives in America and was worn by every female member of our family for 25 years during such an occasion – my white gloves and my white umbrella with the tassles on it, crying, as my mother pleaded with the priest to give her some manner of suitable solution to the obvious problem that we had – through no fault of our own, except my mum's – all found ourselves in.

I remember looking at my freshly Holy Communioned young classmates filing past looking all religious and feeling more than a tad like Damian from The Omen. This feeling was intensified when the priest shook his head enthusiastically and said there was nothing else he could do for me, that there was a funeral coming in next.

I remember us going home and my dad ringing my aunt – an authority on all things religious who had a photographic memory when it came to Mass times throughout the city – and pleading with her to cast her mind to any recollection of any First Communion Masses in the vicinity that afternoon, as my mother hugged a cup of tea in a darkened room. I was a nerdy, well-read child and knew from my studying of medical encyclopaedias that this in fact was treatment for shock.

By the time we found a First Communion Mass my eyes were red sore from crying, thinking I had, in the space of three hours, gone from a little girl in a pretty white dress to the spawn of Beelzebub himself as I wasn't sufficiently communionized at the appropriate time.

Rest assured, it was all sorted, and I made my First Holy Communion in Derry's Cathedral that afternoon. If you were in attendance you might remember me as the girl with the big puffy bloodshot eyes, gorgeous American puffy dress, constantly checking her skin for the number of the beast while waiting in the 400-strong queue to meet the bishop.

The second experience that scarred me for life was standing for three-and-a-half hours in a packed Church hotter than the sun at my oldest son's Confirmation two years ago with a grumpy three-year-old who wasn't big on overly long religious celebrations, an experience that will be no doubt replicated in just a matter of weeks.

But I'll not let that spoil my boy's special day. I truly want Caolan Liam Blaise Melchizedek Jesus O'Neill to have a most memorable day for all the right reasons.

Life

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