Importance of hands in healing recognised at ceremony

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 18-4-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



The importance of hands in healthcare was recognised during The University of Notre Dame Australia’s annual Blessing of Hands ceremony held at the Fremantle Campus on Wednesday, 4 April 2012.

Students and staff from the Schools of Medicine, Health Sciences, Nursing, Physiotherapy and Arts & Sciences joined Campus Chaplain, Fr John Sebastian, in blessing the hands of those about to commence their first practicum placement for the year.

Hosted by the School of Medicine, the ceremony embraced a past tradition of anointing the hands of kings, priests and prophets with oils. The blessing, a symbol of healing and strength, identified community members who were selected as agents of God.

“With their hands, students will be nurturing lives, holding people who are in pain, bring justice into the world and create a future filled with joy and hope,” Fr John Sebastian said.

Jennifer Stratton, Group Director Mission at St John of God Healthcare and this year’s keynote speaker, said a person’s hands were just as important as the mind, heart, eyes and language in the healing process.

“When a person is in pain or sorrow, touch can be the silent language that says everything and travels deeper than words can,” Ms Stratton said.

“Hands are most important in attending to the physical needs of our patients, but also vital when it comes to their emotional and psychological needs.

“We need to use our hands carefully and gently to communicate to patients ‘you are a person of worth and I will care for you’, and not to let our acts of caregiving become rote or our hearts to become indifferent.”

Dean of the School of Medicine, Professor Gavin Frost, said the ceremony related strongly to the practical nature of a career in the medical field where hands were used to diagnose and heal patients.

The Blessing of Hands ceremony has marked the commencement of practicum for thousands of students studying at Notre Dame for the past 10 years.

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