Dear Catholic Exchange:
Can you answer this question for me please? I was asked this question yesterday and did not know the answer. I hope you can tell me.
Why do nuns change their name when they become nuns and priests do not?
Dear Friend in Christ,
A name change indicates a new life. Some nuns change their names, others do not, depending on which religious orders they enter. The more traditional and/or contemplative orders have women take on a new religious name and wear a new habit, indicating a new life in Christ. The more modern orders tend not to wear habits and not take on new names.
Priests are somewhat the same, although there are fewer orders where we see a priest take on a new name. Also, priests who enter orders are called religious priests, while most of the priests we see are diocesan or "secular" priests. Secular priests rarely if ever change their names while only some religious priests change their names.