WASHINGTON (RNS)--Jennifer and Michael are the most popular names for Catholics born after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, far outpacing Mary and other biblical names common for older Catholics.
So says a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a research center affiliated with Georgetown University. The findings are a result of a recent random poll of 2,100 self-identified Catholics.
Researchers Paul Perl and Jonathon Wiggins said Jennifer is the most common name for girls, as Michael is for boys -- followed closely by John. Among biblical names, the most common are Sue or Susan from the biblical Susannah for girls, and Joseph and David for boys.
Catholic children named after saints are most often Catherine and Patricia -- including spinoffs such as Cathy and Pat and Patty -- for girls and Robert and Richard for boys -- including Bob and Bobby and Rick. The study found Catholic boys are more likely to have religious names than girls.
In a small way, Jennifer shows the seachange among U.S. Catholics which resulted from Vatican Two, when many long-held traditions were abandoned as Catholics immersed themselves a bit deeper in secular culture. After the council, which ended in 1965, Catholic parents were less likely to name their daughters Mary or Maria -- or titles for Mary like Carmella or Mercedes or Dolores.
The study also found that children are more likely to be given Catholic names if their parents were raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, married another Catholic and attend Mass regularly.