Nursing students continue tradition of candlelight ceremony


The Franciscan University nursing class of 2017, dressed in traditional white dresses and white caps, had its Candlelight Ceremony in order to dedicate future nurses to God’s service.

This ceremony has been occurring for 100 years, said Dr. Carolyn Miller, chair of the nursing department.

Its purpose is “to acknowledge the hard work you have done and to inspire you to persevere through the challenges still ahead and to dedicate you to the healing ministry of nursing,” said Miller.

The night upholds the tradition of “capping” students to honor the achievement of completing their training, she said.

The cap and starched white uniform are taken from the nun’s habit, and the cap dates back to medieval times, in which the caps represented the “religious order that fostered education of nurses,” said Miller.

The tradition is maintained at Franciscan “in order to recognize our commitment to care of the sick and injured and to offer this whole business of nursing to the Lord,” said Miller.

Naomi Sebastian, junior, is blessed by Fr. Sen Sheridan, TOR, during the Nursing Dedication. (Photo by Elizabeth Feudo)

Junior nursing major Joanna Dawyot said, “I am so glad that Franciscan still keeps the tradition going. It gives us as nursing students (the opportunity to) dedicate our future, in the presence of our Lord, to our patients and to promise to ourselves that we will do everything in our ability as (nurses) to change their lives.”

Mari Seaberg, junior nursing major, said, “The nursing dedication made me realize that as a nurse I am part of a profession that is larger than myself. It was so special to dedicate my career to the Lord, to commit myself to be his hands to heal his hurting world.”

Each student processed into Christ the King Chapel through the Doors of Mercy, carrying a candle “represent(ing) the image of Florence Nightingale … making solitary rounds at night among the wounded in hospitals during the Crimean War,” said Miller.

The candles also connect the students to St. Catherine of Siena, who cared for the sick during plagues of Europe while carrying a lamp, said Miller.

The event traditionally hosts a guest speaker who is connected with the university or clinical, said Miller.

Miller also said that speakers from the past have included alumni of Franciscan University and staff from the hospitals where the nurses intern.

This year, the school sponsored Ginna Dombrowski, a registered nurse who works for AIM Women’s Center. Dombrowski spoke on “being the presence of Christ to your patients.”

Junior nursing student Chiara Ogle said, “It lifts my spirits when I reflect on my role as a nurse, it is not just a job; it is a ministry, a vocation, a call to serve. I put my life into nursing, in being the hands of Jesus and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.”

Dawyot said, “With (Dombrowski’s) speech and the ceremony itself, I was just able to be reassured in why it is that I wanted to be a nurse. Nursing is a vocation that people are called to in order to care for people in stages of their lives.”

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