January 26, 2017
Communications and Marketing
Seventy-seven Saint Anselm College sophomore nursing students had their hands blessed on January 20 during the annual Blessing of the Hands Ceremony. Joined by family and friends, the students, wearing their new scrubs, filed into the Abbey Church buzzing with excitement for this ceremony, which symbolizes the beginning of their clinical practice.
Susan Gabert, director of Campus Ministry, greeted the students and their loved ones before introducing Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B., former Chancellor of the College and a current Campus Minister. Opening the ceremony with a prayer, Abbot Matthew urged the students to heal wisely and show compassion to all, themes he continued during the blessing.
Following the prayer, senior Kayla Patten '17 read a passage from Colossians chapter 3, reminding the nursing students to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Lindsey Jones '17, president of the Saint Anselm Student Nurses Association, offered a reflection for her younger peers. She encouraged the sophomores to embrace the many opportunities ahead and to be confident in their abilities. Recalling her first clinical placement, Jones noted that everyone will make mistakes, but that the learning process and this shared experience with classmates will be a lasting memory for all.
Abbot Matthew began the formal ceremony by blessing prayer cards and Saint Raphael medals, which were then given to each student, symbolizing healing through the example of the archangel. In remarks that followed, he assured the students that the emphasis of care and compassion in a Saint Anselm education will help to guide them in the future. "There is something distinctive about the way you practice this medicine, science, and art," he said.
Students were then welcomed to the altar for their blessing as Maureen O'Reilly, executive director of Nursing, read each name aloud.
"Receiving a blessing from a professor who shares my passion for nursing prior to clinical practice gave me a different perspective on the journey that I'm about to begin," said Ceci Mercandante '19. "In that moment, I felt connected to my professor and classmates as other people who understand what it is I want to do with my life. While we all have different motivations in our pursuit of this career, we share an ultimate goal, and that sense of belonging to something bigger than myself and my own understanding was really powerful."
After the sophomore students were blessed, the nursing faculty took turns blessing one another and invited any healthcare professional in the congregation to receive a blessing of their own.
"The ceremony represented a warm welcome into the nursing community," said Cori Swanhart '19. "I feel proud to have come this far and honored to have the opportunity to begin my journey as a nurse at such an extraordinary place like Saint Anselm."
The ceremony was followed by a reception in the lower church, where the students gathered with faculty, family, and friends, all offering well wishes and encouragement for their upcoming experience.
The event was sponsored by the Student Nurses Association, Department of Nursing, and Campus Ministry. The Blessing of the Hands Committee, made up of sophomore nursing students, helped plan the event and selected the music, readings, and prayers.
Story by Maggie Lynch '17