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Caldwell, N.J., Jan.25, 2018 – Future nurses at Caldwell University reflected on the sacredness and importance of their hands at the Blessing of Hands Jan. 24.

The annual tradition was held in the Motherhouse on campus for junior nursing students who are beginning their second semester of clinicals when they will work in hospitals. Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien explained how the ceremony focuses on nursing students who will use their hands to heal the sick and suffering and “to bring forth the mission of Caldwell University and the Sisters of Saint Dominic in our world.”

In her opening remarks, Dr. Brenda Petersen, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, said it was important that the students always remember the healing nature of their hands. She said that “with each patient you encounter, as you wash your hands to prepare for the care you will render, may you always be blessed. As a nurse, your hands will heal others.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Barbara Chesler shared how the university’s core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence will be with students as their hands interact with their patients, families and colleagues. “Your hands will bring healing to patients, for God’s hands work through your hands.”

The Nursing Department faculty members blessed the students’ hands.

Nursing Professor Dr. Kathleen Kelley offered the closing comments and prayer.  The blessing, she explained “celebrates the symbolism of hands as extensions of ourselves, appendages with which we can show love, and compassion, and [which we can] use to embrace those around us.”  She invited the nurses and nursing students to stand and look at their hands as she said:

“These are the hands of an advocate for the vulnerable, a soother of pain, a lifeline for the lonely or forgotten, a haven for the scared.  These are strong hands, empowered by the passion of our profession.  These are the hands that will cradle a newborn, steady the aged, calm the frightened and heal the troubled.And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrung out with exhaustion, wrinkled with age or frustrated from juggling too many tasks at once, will never be too preoccupied or too busy to reach out to our patients with unspoken tenderness that nurses can convey with just a touch.”

Junior Sarah Torres of Montville, New Jersey, appreciated how her teachers worked to make the ceremony exceptional for them. “It is a special connection to them and makes us feel closer to the nursing community and to God.”

The ceremony made junior Danielle Schiavone of Monroe Township, New Jersey, realize how fortunate she is to be able to help those in need the way a nurse does. “I’m now realizing how special it is that I have the capability of doing that.”

It was an empowering ceremony for the students as they take the next step in their fieldwork. ”It made me confident that I can go forward,” said Torres.