My Religious Name as a Novice

Sister Natalie Sayde Salameh

As a postulant, I would go by the name - Natalie. With deep gratitude to God, I entered the Novitiate of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light on Cana Sunday, February 7. I received the religious habit, a white veil (not grey), which is the traditional veil color worn by a novice, and a new religious name, Sr. Natalie Sayde. The novitiate usually lasts for two years where the novice begins to learn more about the rule of the community and vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, which she will profess when the novitiate concludes.

So my first name doesn’t change, but its traditional in the Maronite Servants that when a candidate enters her novitiate, she (along with the Mother Superior and of course the Holy Spirit) chooses a second name in honor of the Blessed Mother of God. With the approval of Mother Marla Marie, I chose the name “Sayde”.

The name “Sayde” in Arabic literally means “Lady” in English. But the name “Sayde” has become a familiar word used among Lebanese speaking people to refer to “Our Lady of Lebanon” in Harissa, Lebanon – “Saydet Luban” (Arabic). So they would say [I’m paraphrasing], “we’re going up to visit the Sayde”.

When I entered religious life as a postulant on February 2nd, 2014, Mother Marla Marie placed around my neck the medal of Our Lady of Lebanon, and I wore it every day for the last two years. The Sayde was my constant companion; everyday as I would place the medal around my neck I would give her my vocation, my cares, my joys, my concerns. I handed over everything to the Sayde, trusting and knowing that she was smiling at me and telling me “your mother never leaves you.”

As postulant, I also got into the habit of praying a special prayer everyday to the Holy Spirit before I would begin my Adoration Hour. 

Heavenly Father, through the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, Our Lady of the Church and my Lady, to send upon us your Holy Spirit to illumine our minds with the light and splendor of your truth and inflame our hearts with the fire of divine charity. I ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus. Amen.

There are no accidents, all prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that the Holy Spirit was sending me a big message when I started praying to Our Lady of Lebanon (the Sayde) everyday. So I was delighted when both myself and Mother Marla Marie decided that the name “Sayde” would be the religious name for me.

In our religious, we celebrate each sister’s name day instead of birthdays. Each sister has a feast day, and mine will be the first Sunday of May each year, which is the feast of Our Lady of Lebanon.

Please continue to pray for me as I journey in my novitiate.