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Blessing ceremony celebrates the healing work of nursing students’ hands

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Caldwell, N.J., Feb. 7, 2019 –

For nursing student Evelyn Eugene the Blessing of the Hands ceremony was a special way to connect her faith with her work as a future nurse.   Eugene and the other third year Caldwell University nursing students gathered on Feb. 6 at the Motherhouse for the blessing, that a milestone for those embarking on their clinical work in hospitals and health care facilities. “It was the best way to go into practicing in my field,” said Eugene of the ceremony where students were reminded how nurses are God’s instruments and that their hands are sacred in the work of serving the sick and the dying.

Dr. Brenda Petersen, assistant professor and associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, gave the opening remarks to the students, family members, faculty, staff and administration.

Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., vice president of student life, said it was a time to celebrate the work of healers and bless the healing work of their hands.“Each of us brings unique gifts and a unique self to our various tasks. Today we come to celebrate our call and gifts and to remember how much we need one another. No one person has all the gifts. We rely on one another and work together in this community to bring healing to people who come to us.”

The university president, Dr. Nancy Blattner, quoted Isaiah 49:16 saying, “I can never forget you. I have written your name on the palm of my hand.”  The scripture verse, she said, “calls to mind how close each of us is to our Creator because he fashioned us in his image and remembers us by name.  She continued,” Dear nursing students, you are known and remembered by God. You are created in His divine image and carry His Divine Spark.”   She asked them to remember that even when they may encounter patients who are in pain, frustrated, or angry, that the patients are also created in God’s divine image. “Then you will see God in each one of them as you minister to their needs, and you will be bringing the care and healing that is more than physical but also reaches to each person’s inner being.”

Scripture and prayers were read by nursing faculty members, Dr. Donna Naturale, Professor Phygenia Nimoh, Dr. Aneesha Jean, and ProfessorAngelica Delacruz.

Student Michelle Citron, who went up to receive her blessing with her 16-month- old son, said it was special for the students to receive the blessings from their professors. “They are the ones we look up to.”

Student Jasmine Bejar said the blessing was empowering and gave her more confidence as she goes to her clinical site, reaffirming why it is she wants to be a nurse.

Dr. Kathleen Kelley, associate professor and assistant director of the School of Nursing and Public Health, told the audience that the blessings of hands is something done at weddings as well as in nursing, because it “ celebrates the symbolism of hands as extensions of our love and passion to embrace our patients, their families and our community.”