The Saint Anselm Crier

Nursing students receive the Blessing of the Hands

Samantha Jette, Copy Editor

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Sophomore Nursing students prepared to embark on their clinical experiences with the annual Blessing of the Hands ceremony on January 26. During the ceremony, which took place in the Abbey Church, 83 nursing students were able to receive the blessing from their Nursing professors. The enduring tradition is meant to provide encouragement for Christian nurses, and remind them of the healing capabilities that their hands hold.

Saint Anselm College has one of the most selective nursing programs in all of New England. The program aims to send its graduates into the fast-paced world of Nursing with the proper skills to effectively care for their patients. One of the steps implemented in the Nursing program is the clinical assignment, which typically begins during the second semester of the sophomore year.

Nursing students perform a clinical rotation in each of their required courses. In their clinical experiences, students have hands-on experience working in a hospital or medical setting in the surrounding community. The Blessing of the Hands ceremony is a special way to send off the students into the medical world.

To begin the ceremony, the Nursing students processed into the church, where family and friends eagerly waited to witness the ritual. Alphabetically, each student was called by name to the front of the church to receive their blessing. After the student nurses had been blessed, an offer was extended for any audience members presently in a medical field to get their hands blessed as well.

Along with the blessing itself, the ceremony included remarks from Executive Director of the Nursing department, Maureen O’Reilly, and President of the Student Nurses’ Association, Amanda Flaherty, ‘18, as well as a prayer.

Father Stephen Lawson, O.S.B. presided over the ceremony, along with Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B. Fr. Stephen emphasized the importance of the ceremony, remarking  “The blessing serves as the beginning of a close relationship between the Nursing professors and students. The ceremony also reminds the students of the importance that human touch can play in the nurse-patient relationship.”

Because Fr. Stephen had only recently become ordained, the 2018 ceremony was his first. He noted that the event was a particularly moving experience.

Additionally, Fr. Stephen recalled, “I was impressed with the number of family and friends who came up to have their hands blessed. For me, it was a visible sign of the number of people who are involved in the healthcare field.” He noted, “Also, when grandparents and parents came up, it reminded the students that their families are a critical part of their nursing careers.”  

The Abbey Church was packed with relatives and fellow students, all there to encourage the future nurses. Clearly, the ceremony was received well by the audience members, even those not in the medical field. Sophomore

Accounting major, Caroline Morison attended the event to support one of her friends, as well as the entire Nursing community. Morison stated, “I thought [the ritual] was a very nice way of sending sophomore Nursing students into clinical…It was a thoughtful gesture that anyone in the audience who was a member of the healthcare community was able to get their hands blessed as well.”

The Nursing students themselves were also quite pleased with the event. When asked why she believed the ceremony was personally significant, sophomore Nursing student, Cathryn Heavey, said, “The blessing of the hands marks the beginning of my journey as a nurse.” She added, “This symbolic and moving ceremony serves as a reminder for Saint Anselm nurses to care for others by following and living out Catholic and Benedictine values.”  

The Saint Anselm College community wishes the best of luck to its Nursing students as they continue their education during their clinical placements.


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Nursing students receive the Blessing of the Hands