Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Abdou is a Catholic?

When I was a Thurston, a traditional catholic church made sense. When I was married before - and was a Parker - a traditional roman catholic church made sense.


When one of the O'Reilly's or the Rodriguez's or the Rizzo's ask for my full name... their eyes raise at Abdou... in the catholic church.

See - Abdou is an Arabic name. Which is my husband's last name. In America, we typically take the last name of our husband. Not a big deal. In the rest of the world (parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America, etc.) - the women do not take the name of their husband. So, in the beginning, my husband was confused. He said, "Nicole, it just doesn't sound right."

I will admit, I debated whether to become an Abdou. I had a few reservations -

1. It was a second marriage. When I first started working at AHA, my last name was Parker. Then I divorced just a few months after I started working there, and immediately went back to my maiden name. Then - about a year later, I was remarried. I just thought (professionally) it might be too confusing in a city where I was still trying to establish myself.

2. Abdou. It is Arabic. Would it cause problems for me when I send my resume out? Would people immediately judge the applicant, without seeing who I am? Meaning - did they think Arab? Did they think Muslim? Would I be discriminated against? I must admit, when I show up to meet people for a meeting, they are often surprised to see a fair skinned, blue eyed southern girl.

In the end, I wanted to take my husband's name. Maybe it is the traditionalist in me. But since we did not have a formal christian wedding, I needed to feel like I was married. That symbol of a union. It works for me. I proudly carry his name.

BUT - another item has popped up. The convergence of cultures. Yes, he follows the tradition of Islam and Yes, I follow the tradition of Catholicism... but our world's are colliding. I have more and more Egyptian friends, while he is gathering a few typical American friends. I would say I have 3 (traditional American) friends in Birmingham - the rest are from other countries. (Or are 1st generation American.) English, Cuban, Mexican, Lebanese, East Indian, Egyptian, Korean, African (Congo), Venezuela, etc.

When I started making friends at my church, I felt out of place. A circle I once would have melted into, suddenly felt like it did not fit. I have been toying with finding another place of worship... and I think I found a place to mix both traditions!

As I was browsing the Parishes in the Diocese of Birmingham - I saw two that really stood out - St. Elias (Maronite Rite) and St. George the Great Martyr (Melkite Rite.) Both are from the Mediterranean traditions but follow under the same Pope. (Translation - we are all catholic.)

As soon as I looked at the website for St. Elias, my eyebrows raised - I saw someone with the last name Saad. (One of the 5 names my husband has. Yes - I said 5.) Then I kept looking - more and more arabic names - BUT CATHOLIC - NOT MUSLIM. This may be a place I can relate. The Maronite is mainly a Lebanese population (very similar to Egyptian.) I plan to check it out. Not to mention - they host the Lebanese Food & Cultural Festival this month!

Then as I was checking out the Melkite Rite Parish - these are the people that throw the Middle Eastern Festival each year. (Their congregation is mainly Greek & Lebanese.) Another possibility!

I know it seems a little bizarre for me to transfer to a different sect of the catholic church, but my life has DRASTICALLY changed (culturally speaking.) I embrace my husband's culture - but my core belief system is very different. I thought I might do a little research, visit a few different mass schedules and see what happens.

Now I ask you - how have you compromised to fit into your adult life with your significant other? If you are single, how far would you go to fuse your lives?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was talking to a classmate about how people are discriminated against because of their name, especially when applying for jobs. This one girl's boyfriend has a Spanish name, but people always assume he's Mexican and are shocked when they see him because he doesn't look Hispanic at all!

Such is life I guess. People make assumptions and it make an ass out of them all.


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