Diocesan News

Nursing students lauded in ‘Blessing of Hands’ at St. Cecilia

Hastings parish hosts event for Creighton University College of Nursing

By John Huthmacher,
Hastings Tribune

HASTINGS - A class of 14 nursing students from Creighton University College of Nursing were challenged to serve God by caring for others during the annual “Blessing of the Hands” ceremony at St. Cecilia Church in Hastings Sept. 9.

About 75 people turned out to offer support, encouragement, and prayers for the students during the 30-minute ceremony, which included songs, scripture readings, messages from Creighton staff and St. Cecilia’s parish health ministry, and an anointing of the hands with holy oil by Father Joseph Walsh, pastor of St. Cecilia.

During the opening prayer, Father Walsh likened the role of nurses to that of the 12 apostles of Jesus, recognizing both as instruments of healing to the sick.

“The disciples prayed for people and laid hands on them,” Father Walsh said. “In this celebration, we trust to your care those who minister the profession of nursing, asking that you’ll enable them to see those who suffer and carry out their work of healing and mercy that comes from you.”

Susan Ferrone of St. Cecilia Parish Health Ministry thanked students for choosing the nursing profession, assuring them of the community’s unyielding support going forward. She reminded them that numerous sources, including nurses from Nebraska faith community networks, Creighton alums, parishioners and  faith congregations across the community, have pledged to pray for them throughout the coming year as they move forward into their chosen health care related professions.

“There are many others not here who are praying for you and for us who are with us in spirit,” Ferrone said. “We want you to know that we care for you, that we value the role you play in the healing process of others. Please know you are loved, cherished, and valued.”

Cindy Constanzo, intern dean at Creighton University College of Nursing, stressed the importance of human touch in the nursing profession. The role one’s hands may play in the healing process is irreplaceable, she said.

“Hands communicate so much,” Constanzo said. “Their shape, their size, their texture their grip, their touch, provide insight to our cultures, our work, our hobbies, and our passion.

“Our hands connect us to God in prayer, signifying our spiritual dimension. The care we as nurses and students provide with our hands connect us to the heart of our patients and their families. The hands ultimately demonstrate our connections to each other in heart and in spirit.”

Following the ceremony, Father Walsh reiterated the importance of acknowledging the spiritual dimension of nursing in the health care profession today. It was their desire to serve God that ultimately drove the Jesuit order — aided by financial backing of John Creighton — to establish Creighton University in 1878.

“It means a lot to highlight the spiritual side of health care, which is sometimes forgotten in the craziness of our time,” Walsh said. “What I hope the students will take from the ceremony is that God loves them and will use them to nurture and heal and sustain the people they’ll help.”

Student Jennifer Berns, 26, who is not Catholic, said she appreciated coming together as a community to celebrate the nursing profession.

“I just feel it is important for us to take part with God in the healing process,” she said.

Alexis Young, 21, celebrated the occasion afterward with her husband, mother, and grandmother during the reception immediately following the ceremony in the parish hall.

“It’s special to have the support of the community, parish, and different health care members and to know all the support we have out there and how much we are appreciated for what we’re going to do,” the St. Cecilia parishioner said.

Joel Sheehy, 25, a recent graduate of University of Nebraska Omaha with an undergraduate degree in biotechnology and chemistry, said it was nice to be back in his former hometown to continue his journey in medicine. A former high school student at St. Cecilia, his tentative plan is pursuing work in the critical care field upon graduation.

“Knowing that people care and are thinking about us is a big help,” he said. “Having the community involved in a program like this is very important.”

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