(SNR) - Over the last several weeks, the Southern Nebraska Register asked readers who named children to honor Pope John Paul II - or readers who were named for the pope - to share their stories for this issue anticipating the pontiff’s canonization. The reader who suggested the piece said it would be “a fitting tribute to the influence which he has exerted in our culture and our diocese.” The Register thanks all the families who participated.
Editor's Note: Limited extra copies of the paper, with the photos, are available from the Register office.
Caroline Faustina Ringer, 9 months old
Wayne and Mary Ringer, St. Mary Parish, Denton
“We were trying to get pregnant with our seventh child, but were having trouble. I had three miscarriages in a row and I didn’t think God would give us another child. We prayed to John Paul II for his intercession. God finally answered our prayers so we were going to name our baby John Paul. On July 6, three weeks early, we had a baby girl.
“We had to get a little creative so we named her Caroline Faustina. With John Paul’s emphasis on the dignity of all human life, it was fitting that Caroline was born with Down syndrome. She is our special gift. Thank you, Pope Saint John Paul II.”
Evan John Paul Wagner, 10
Paula and Corey Wagner, St. Wenceslaus Parish, Wahoo
“I was pregnant with our seventh child in 2003, and although he was due in early November, it was planned that labor would be induced Oct. 16. When discussing this with Dr. Paul Hayes, he mentioned that Oct. 16, 2003 was the 25th anniversary of the selection of John Paul II as Pope. Although all of our children’s first names start with ‘E’, it was obvious that his middle name should be John Paul.”
John Paul Berg, 19
Stephen and Diana Berg, St. Cecilia Parish, Hastings
“Our first child, John Paul was born Sept.14 1994. He was named after John the Apostle and Paul the Apostle. He was also named after Stephen’s father John, and Diana’s father, Paul. He was also named after Pope John Paul II, who his parents have a great love and affection for.”
John Paul Sandstrom, 27, Sacred Heart Parish, Emporia, Kan.
Jeff and Jane Olmsted Sandstrom, St. Gregory Parish, Marysville, Kan.
(Jane was raised at St. Joseph Parish in Barneston)
Jane writes: “In November 1986, we went to visit my brother, Bishop Thomas Olmsted*. He was working at the Vatican and out of the Lincoln Diocese. We got to meet Pope John Paul II and we said, ‘if we have a boy let’s name him after the Holy Father,’ and the good Lord blessed us with a boy 5 months later. John Paul is the fifth of six children.”
*Bishop Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, is a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln
John Paul Broer, 8
Konrad and Lisa Broer, St. Michael Parish, Lincoln
“Our little boy was born about seven weeks after John Paul II passed away. We had been struggling to choose a name for our second baby-on-the-way. When John Paul II died, we both felt that it would be a very good name for our baby, but we both hesitated for a few weeks before confiding to each other that we both liked the name. And once we discovered this, it was set: our second boy would be named John Paul Broer.
“He is the sweetest boy you could hope for as a parent, and we are very blessed.”
John Paul Butler, 9
Ian and Lisa Butler, St. Teresa Parish, Lincoln
“John Paul is actually the fifth John Paul Butler in the Butler family, so the name obviously precedes Pope St. John Paul. However, his mom and dad have a strong devotion to John Paul II and even had their marriage blessed by him. So John Paul was named for John Paul II as well as his uncle, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on!”
John Paul Ellerbee, 6
Bill and Diane Ellerbee, St. Mary Parish, Denton
“Our family has lived in five different states in the past 23 years. Shortly after moving to Frankfort, Ill., we discovered we were expecting our fifth child, due in May 2007. As a family we have truly embraced Pope John Paul II’s famous quote, ‘Be Not Afraid.’ Relocating is a challenging adjustment for a family. Our faith has always been our strength.
“It was only fitting that we chose John Paul for the name of our child, as he was born on May 14, only four days before Pope John Paul II’s birthday.”
David Jozef-Karol Easley, 35, St. Joseph Parish, Lincoln
Joseph John-Paul Easley, 30, Cathedral of the Risen Christ Parish, Lincoln
George and the late Joanne Easley, Cathedral of the Risen Christ Parish, Lincoln
George Easley recalled: “In October 1979, Joanne Easley stuffed all her children, 10 at the time, into a station wagon to drive from Lincoln to Des Moines when John Paul II visited there. On a cold, rainy day, Joanne and her family worked their way as close as possible to hear the message of John Paul II.
“Joanne Nowicki Easley was 100% Polish and very proud of her heritage. She was fiercely supportive of Pope John Paul the Great. She named her 11th and 12th children after her beloved Polish Pope, the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years.”
Joe added: “They always reminded us of the fact we were named after him, always reminding us to follow in his ways!”
John-Paul Karol Hrnchir, 7
Robert Henry and Patricia O Hrnchir, St. Cecilia Parish, Hastings
“Like so many parents our age – in our 40’s – we consider Pope John Paul II our spiritual father during our formative years. Our first son was named after my father, Robert Joseph Hrnchir, so it seemed only natural to name our second son after our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. My wife’s grandfather was Robert Carol Smith and my wife’s mother’s name is also Carol. Since Pope John Paul II’s name was Karol before being elected pope, we wanted to go all out and name our son John-Paul Karol Hrnchir.
“He has big shoes to fill, but our son, now 7 years old, is already making plans to be Pope John Paul III.”
Emil John Paul Svec, 15
(He goes by John Paul. Emil is a fifth-generation family name)
Emil John and Deb Svec, St. Mary Parish, David City
“John and I both work at Aquinas School in David City. When we announced that we were expecting our third child and that the baby was due May 18, Father Leo Seiker, who was teaching at the school at that time, told us that if the baby was a boy we simply had to name him John Paul since he was due on Pope John Paul II’s birthday. We decided this was a wonderful idea and even though he decided to come a little early— May 11, 1998—he was still John Paul!
“Our whole family knows what a humble and holy man that John Paul was named after. Our world is a better place for having been blessed by the leadership and example of Pope John Paul II.”
Karol Ann Redinger, 9
Brian and Kelleen Redinger, Sacred Heart Parish, Kenesaw
“Throughout the pregnancy, we were certain to have our own John Paul in our home. With ‘her’ birth, it was an easy shift to the girl version of John Paul’s name ‘Karol.’
“Karol honors the name well and delights in all things holy. She exhibits great kindness and patience with smaller children. She also is fond of her name and the fact that it is soon to be shared with a great saint!
“John Paul the Great, pray for us.”
John Paul Richard Kain, 17
Fritz and Tama Kain, St. Patrick Parish, McCook
“Pope John Paul II held the papal office when I was expecting our fifth child. While both my husband and I had a great respect and love for our Holy Father, we never put thought into naming our baby after him. One day my husband suggested a name for our baby – ‘Tom Paul.’ While I love the name ‘Thomas,’ I didn’t like the ring of ‘Tom Paul.’ It was too cutesy, and I liked bold names. After voicing my disapproval to my husband, he said, ‘Well, then how about “John Paul”?’ Immediately my heart warmed as I thought of our Holy Father, and a smile spread across my face. It was perfect! How could anything be bolder?
“To be fair, I reminded Fritz, a recent convert, that that was the Holy Father’s name. His response – ‘What could be better?!’
“On January 20, 1997, our fifth son, John Paul Richard Kain was born. Like JPII, some of John Paul’s friends call him ‘JP,’ and some of his coaches call him ‘Pope’; however, in our home he is always ‘John Paul’ or ‘Big John.’ He’s our biggest boy, 6’4”, and wears a size 15 shoe, but then, he does have big footsteps in which to follow!”
McGivney John Paul Swanson, 10
Tony and Cathy Swanson, St. Cecilia Parish, Hastings
“Our son is named McGivney John Paul after the founder of the Knights of Columbus and our late pope. We have a policy of giving our children names of either personal or spiritual significance and these names hold both those things for us. I work for the Knights of Columbus and Pope John Paul the Great was the pope for most of my and my wife’s lives. We also met at the first World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 which had and continues to have a profound impact on our lives. When we named our son we said he was named after two future saints. Pope John Paul II has beat Fr. McGivney to the honor of the altar, but we are hopeful that Fr. McGivney will join him there sometime in our lifetimes as he has been declared venerable by the Church and his cause for sainthood is ongoing.”
John Paul St. Hilaire, 18, Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan.
Terrence and Christina St. Hilaire, Assumption Parish, Dwight
“In December 1994 I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and shipped off for boot camp in San Diego, leaving behind my wife, who was pregnant with our second child. I completed boot camp in March and my wife joined me in San Diego for two weeks of leave and to wait for me to complete another month of Marine Combat Training. The baby was due to be born in late May, sometime after I was done with training and we were all settled at my first duty station. He - or God - had a different plan in mind, however, and our second son came three weeks early while I was still in training. Amazingly, my company officers let me go for the birth, but I was too late, as the baby was born 15 minutes after my wife got to the hospital. We hadn’t even discussed a name for the baby, hence his birth certificate listed him as “Baby Boy” St. Hilaire. It wasn’t until a week later when we were at my new duty station that we were able to sit down together to decide on a name for our new son. Nothing felt right until I recalled our trip to Rome nine months earlier and an inspiration hit me, ‘Of course, his name is John Paul!’
“Seven years later, John Paul was kissed by his namesake after Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. And on May 1, 2011, Pope John Paul the Great was beatified on John Paul’s 16th birthday!
John Paul Marie Jansen, 11
Jim and Kim Jansen, St. John the Apostle Parish, Lincoln
“We chose to name our son John Paul as a tribute to Jim’s father and great-grandfather, as well as to Pope John Paul II. One or both of us were privileged to see JPII in person at the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver and several times in Rome. As FOCUS missionaries, we are constantly inspired by his devotion to Mary, Divine Mercy and the New Evangelization. In our family we call him ‘Papa’ - the Italian word for ‘father.’ Papa John Paul, pray for us!
“In the photograph... JP proudly displays a Lego popemobile that he made himself, in honor of his first Communion coinciding with JPII’s beatification May 1, 2011.”
Simon John Paul Minchow, 10
Todd and Laura (Nemec) Minchow, St. Teresa Parish, Lincoln
“Simon John Paul was born on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul ll’s pontificate, Oct. 16, 2003. As the world came together to celebrate 25 amazing years of service, of our wonderful and loving Holy Father, we were blessed with our fifth child. We always admired and loved Pope John Paul ll and were inspired by his life and love for the youth. Moved by the hope he had for the youth and the future of the world and in honor of his special day, we named our son after our shepherd and great Catholic leader, Pope John Paul ll.”
John Paul Wilson, 13
Roy and Mary Wilson, St. Teresa Parish, Lincoln
“‘For this child we have prayed.’ (1 Samuel 1:27)
“After years and years of praying for a child, our prayers were finally answered! We were blessed with a baby boy Oct. 19, 2000! After our pilgrimage to Rome during May of that jubilee year and having been at a Mass celebrating Pope John Paul II’s 80th birthday at St. Peter’s Square, there was no other name for our son than John Paul! Then when John Paul was 2 years old, there was no other All Saints Day costume for him other than being dressed up like Pope John Paul II!”