“You begin your clinical experience in a very Benedictine way,” said Fr. Anselm, O.S.B. on Friday night, Jan. 25 as he blessed the hands of 94 sophomore nursing students preparing for their first clinical experience in the coming weeks. The annual Blessing of the Hands ceremony in the Abbey Church is a meaningful step for students on their journey to becoming nurses.
Each member of the nursing class of 2015, sporting his or her new navy scrubs, approached nursing faculty where they were given their blessing while Fr. Anselm reminded students that God will guide them today and every day throughout their careers as nurses.
In his address to both students, faculty, and visiting parents and friends, Fr. Anselm reminded the group of the first words of the Rule of Saint Benedict.
“Listen to your heart,” he said, “St. Benedict said to be open, be receptive, and whenever you begin a good work, you must first begin with prayer.”
Students had mixed emotions about the start of their clinical experience, which begins the first week of February. Breanna Harper '15 described the experience as “both nervous and exciting,” she said, “working with real people will definitely take some getting used to.”
Matthew Zacchilli '15 admitted, “dealing with medicine is going to be a little scary, but I am definitely more excited than nervous.”
Brittany Taylor '15 said that the blessing made her “really nervous and excited because the blessing means that clinicals are getting closer,” but that she is totally okay with her uniform. “I love my scrubs, I want to wear them every day!” She said with enthusiasm.
The Blessing of Hands was followed by a reception in the lower church, full of families congratulating their sons and daughters and students wishing each other good luck with the start of their clinicals.
Anselmian Compassion in Action
Following the Blessing of the Hands ceremony on Friday, a sophomore student was distressed to learn that her parents, who flew in from California, had unfortunately missed the ceremony by an hour. In hearing the student's sad news, the nursing department faculty immediately returned to the upper church to reenact the ceremony for the student and her family including senior nursing student Lauren Boyce who re-read her speech.
"The faculty prayed over the student and, although quick, the moment was real and very moving," said nursing professor Caryn Sheehan.
"At that time, I was bursting with pride to know that I work with such kind and thoughtful nurses. Many people talk about caring and serving Christ, but these nurses (and one nurse-to-soon-be) actually acted with their hearts. I think that they really made a difference [tonight] and should be recognized," said Sheehan.