Australian Medical Association WA President joins Notre Dame students for annual 'Blessing of the Hands'

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 10-4-2006

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle

Publication Place



The University of Notre Dame Australia held its annual ‘Blessing of the Hands’ ceremony this week – originally a way of celebrating being a nurse within the auspices of a Catholic University, but now a tradition that encompasses the schools of counselling, health and physical education, medicine and physiotherapy.

The Chaplain of the Fremantle Campus, Fr Greg Watson OMI conducted the ceremony which involves the hands of students and staff being anointed with oil as a symbol of healing, wellness and strength. In the past the hands of kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oils as a symbol of those who were set aside as agents of God.

Lecturer from the School of Philosophy and Theology, Angela McCarthy said, “Everyone who attends is called forward to have their hands anointed to represent their part in the healing of others and also for strengthening of themselves to do the work that is required. As a means of inspiration, we also invite a guest speaker to enliven other aspects of our professional lives.”

This year’s guest speaker was President of the AMA WA, Dr Paul Skerritt, who spoke about the importance of hands when working as a health professional.

He told a story about an orthopaedic surgeon who used his head to stop the doors of an elevator closing for fear of harming his hands and therefore being unable to operate. However, he also used examples such as Jesus washing the feet of the disciples to illustrate the connection between the hands and the head - physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“For those of you who won’t be working so much with your hands remember those very important connections with the head. Our heads regulate our hands in a number of different ways, and have all sorts of connections with our emotional life and spiritual life that guide what we do,” he said.