January 26, 2015
Communications and Marketing
On Friday, Jan. 23, the Abbey Church was the site of a special rite of passage for 87 sophomore-nursing students who had their hands blessed in preparation for their first clinical rotation. The annual Blessing of the Hands ceremony is a significant step as the students take their classroom knowledge into the field caring for those most in need.
Abbot Matthew Leavy presided over the ceremony, which was attended by friends, family members, faculty, and alumni.
"We offer a unique kind of education to our nursing students," said Abbot Matthew. "We are committed to healing the whole person, body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, we deliberately emphasize the spiritual component by ritualizing it in this ceremony."
During the blessing, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was the subject of a poignant reading: "Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours," read Abbot Matthew. "Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours."
Each member of the nursing class of 2017, wearing his or her new navy scrubs, approached nursing professors for their blessing.
"God bless the healing work of your hands." (Excerpt from a Prayer of Blessing)
"The ceremony roots us in our Catholic and Benedictine tradition," said nursing instructor and college alumna Ann Fournier '99, who was one of the nursing professors who participated in the ceremony. "Further, it allows us to focus, even if for just a prayerful moment, on the work of our hands and how privileged we are to be entrusted with the care of our patients."
Sophomore Emily Hayes described the ceremony as a bonding experience for the student-nurses, while offering a reminder that her career is "doing God's work of caring for people in need."
Senior nursing major Abigail Crane gave the student reflection. The ceremony was followed by a reception in the lower church, with friends and families celebrating alongside students, and offering well-wishes in advance of clinical experiences beginning.
The first ceremony took place in 2010 with 79 nursing students in the lower church. The Student Nurses Association wanted to echo the tradition of blessings in the Catholic Faith and offer a ceremony that would gather students together for a blessing before starting clinical practice. Read more about college history on the 125 website.
"By the grace of your Holy Spirit, bless these student nurses who begin their clinical experience. May they practice the art of healing wisely; serve the sick with care, and be compassionate to all...Grant that, comforted by the hands of these your servants, your children may be both healed and restored in spirit and body and comforted in the months of distress and death." (Excerpt from a Prayer of Blessing)
Story by Dominique Del Prete ‘15