Nursing students ‘commit to the profession’ at Gesu

Nursing students have their hands blessed by one of the nursing faculty at the Commitment to the Profession Ceremony Sunday.
Nursing students have their hands blessed by one of the nursing faculty at the Commitment to the Profession Ceremony Sunday.

The College of Nursing reinstated a ceremony with a long history at Marquette Sunday in Gesu Church. Faculty, staff, friends and families witnessed sophomore, junior, senior and direct entry nursing students participate in the Commitment to the Profession Ceremony, which included a blessing of the hands.

The ceremony marks the only event that brings all nursing students together until graduation, said Margaret Faut Callahan, dean of the College of Nursing.

“The purpose of the ceremony is to celebrate what it means to be a professional nurse at Marquette University today,” Callahan said.

A committee formed within the College of Nursing decided that the Commitment Ceremony would play an important role in establishing the connection between nursing students and the college, said Cathy Graffenius, the college’s business affairs coordinator.

“It was to really impact our students as they’re starting their nursing degree,” Graffenius said. “We wanted them to know they have a family here at the college and to emphasize the seriousness of the profession.”

The ceremony was last held 10 years ago, but it’s unclear why it ended. In future years, the Commitment Ceremony will focus only on sophomore nursing students. But this year all nursing students were invited so the current junior and senior nursing students would have the opportunity to profess their commitment to nursing, Graffenius said.

“The ceremony gave an official professional acknowledgment that (the nursing students) are committed to the health of the human family,” said the Rev. Walter Stohrer, chaplain of the College of Nursing. “You can easily find out how devoted nurses are by talking to graduates.”

The first reference in history to a similar ceremony was in 1909, Callahan said. She recently spoke with College of Nursing alumni from the class of 1947 who remembered attending their own Commitment Ceremony. Some said they still had the Florence Nightingale lamps they received.

Stohrer, who has been chaplain of the College of Nursing for more than 20 years, said he remembers when the ceremony was held for sophomores who received a white cap and a message of their mission as Marquette nursing students. Stohrer gave the invocation and closing prayer at Sunday’s ceremony.

Jamie Mochel, president of the Marquette University Student Nursing Association, spoke on the importance of passion within the Marquette nursing program.

“Every time I walk into my nursing classes, my passion grows more and more,” Mochel said. “We are unique from every other nursing school in the country, and what sets us apart is the passion we have from day one.

“I am incredibly proud to tell people I go to Marquette and I am a part of the College of Nursing.”

Each nursing student was invited to receive a blessing of the hands by one of the nursing faculty. The students then received a white carnation and a Florence Nightingale pin in the shape of a lamp. Callahan invited students to wear the pin on their badges or lapels as a daily reminder of their commitment to healing.

“The educators take pride in seeing us succeed,” Mochel said.

Callahan also commended the faculty for supporting nursing students every year.

“The faculty is vested with the responsibility of protecting what it means to be a Marquette nurse,” Callahan said.