“Changed My Name”

“Changed My Name”

In the canon of Negro spirituals, one of the most powerful is called Changed My Name; here’s the first verse: “I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name./ I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name./ I told Jesus it would be all right; I told Jesus it would be all right;/ I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name.”

What will happen when we change our name? The verses of this spiritual say, “Jesus told me I would have to live humble if he changed my name (vs. 2); Jesus told me that the world would be against me if I changed my name” (vs. 3); and finally, verse 4: “I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name.”

The song is an incredible testimony of the responsibility and absolute conversion that comes with a commitment to changing one’s name. It signifies a life shift, a changing in perspective of one’s worldview, a process in accord with the heart of our Christian tradition, as evidenced with the naming rites implicit in both baptism and confirmation.

This theology bears relevance to the change in our corporate name from St. Anthony Messenger Press to Franciscan Media—a change that was announced on November 16. It is an effort to embrace in a stronger and more elemental way the foundation of who we are as a publishing company, formed and shaped by the practice and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.

We have not thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak; St. Anthony of Padua will still be present as the namesake of our magazine, St. Anthony Messenger, as well as in one of our trade imprints, St. Anthony Messenger Press Books (the other being Servant Books). What we have done, as a corporation—a wonderful word, actually, essentially meaning a group of people bound together in a common purpose—is change our name to better reflect who we are. To wit,

    • Franciscan means something characterized by the life, teachings, and values of St. Francis…Our previous name was not making our company’s connection to that Franciscan tradition as clear as it could be.
    • St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century Catholic saint and founder of the Franciscan religious order, is most known today for his care for the earth and all creation—quite ahead of his time in this regard—and as a protector of animals, one who espoused simplicity and a love for the poor, and a devoted follower of Jesus with a deep and abiding faith in God. 
    • These values make St. Francis very relevant today regarding issues of the environment and protection of the planet; social and economic justice in the face of our changed economy; and simplicity in the face of aggressive consumerism—also when the need for inspiration, hope, and something to believe in fills our lives.

With this name change, then, we seek to more closely align ourselves, both in our publishing efforts and in the minds of the public, with the life and work of St. Francis. It’s a change in how we see ourselves and our commitment to what we as a Catholic Christian publishing house can bring to the world.

Look for more about our name change and its implications for our publishing mission in the weeks and months to come.

Photo: M.C. Kendzia


About the Author

Mary Carol Kendzia is a product development director for Franciscan Media Books. She lives in Rhode Island, where she occasionally dips her toes into the Atlantic and reflects on the mysteries of life, among other things.