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Photo: Margaret M. Russell, Catholic Free Press
Bishop Robert McManus hands Marie Romagnano, RN, her St. Luke Award.
Marie Romagnano, RN, a trauma and catastrophic injury nurse who has brought the message of Divine Mercy into the lives of healthcare professionals around the world, was honored Oct. 16, by Church officials .
"Marie Romagnano has given many years of service as a critical care nurse, providing exceptional care to patients with life-threatening and often complex medical problems," said Raymond L. Delisle, vice chancellor of operations and director of communications for the Diocese of Worcester (Mass.), in his introduction to the 11th annual White Mass award ceremony.
"A resident of Charlton (Mass.) and a parishioner of St. Joseph Basilica in Webster (Mass.), she founded the Nurses for Divine Mercy in 2001, an apostolate affiliated with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Clearly, Marie, you struck a chord in the hearts of many people who see mercy and compassion as part of their healing ministry as there are more than 3,000 medical professionals worldwide who have joined what is now Nurses and Doctors for Divine Mercy.
"With great energy, enthusiasm, and faith, Marie has brought the message of the Divine Mercy of Christ to a wide audience and has organized and led annual conferences and retreats to help spread the message along with authoring a book on the topic with two Marian fathers.
"Bishop," said Mr. Delisle, "it is our joy to present to you Marie Romagnano as someone who understands that to be a minister of healing is to be truly Christ-like to our brothers and sisters in need."
Bishop Robert McManus presented Marie with a plaque.
'It's Very Exciting'
"I was totally shocked," said Marie, afterwards. "It really means a lot to me. It's recognition not only by the Magisterium of the Church, but by my peers in the healthcare field. When I started this program, I didn't do it to win an award; I did it because of my love of God and desire to serve His people, particularly those in greatest need of His mercy — those who are sick and dying.
"I'm thrilled the Church is recognizing our organization as being a very valuable entity in helping healthcare professionals learn how to do a spiritual assessment and how to render spiritual care to the dying," said Marie. "It's very exciting.
"Bishop McManus has been fully supportive of our program," said Marie. "He makes it a point to open our annual conference with Holy Mass, and he also gave a very important speech to our group of Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy. I feel very blessed to have Bishop McManus involved in our apostolate. In 2009, he will open with Holy Mass our 5th Annual Divine Mercy Conference for Medical Professionals: 'Medicine, Bioethics and Spirituality.' The conference will be April 28-29 at Holy Cross College, Worcester, with Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, as our keynote speaker."
Through her book, retreats, and an annual healthcare conference, Marie, who received her spiritual training from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, teaches how healthcare professionals can be the spiritual link to Christ at the bedside of patients.
'Spiritual Link to Christ'
Her book, Nursing with the Hands of Jesus: A Guide to Nurses for Divine Mercy, written with Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, and Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, is an 88-page call to action.
"As a Healthcare Professional for Divine Mercy," said Marie, who received her spiritual training from the Marians, "you are always aware that you are the spiritual link to Christ, you are His merciful presence at the bedside of the patient. By prayer and by using our hands and our hearts, the Nurses for Divine Mercy bring God's grace of healing and consolation to their patients."
The group's spiritual model is St. Faustina, whose revelations, recorded in her Diary in the 1930s, have sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement. Saint Faustina obtained the powerful grace of mercy for her "spiritual patients" in their final moments of life by praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that Jesus gave to her.
"Jesus attached certain promises to these prayers," said Marie, "and when He promises something, I know I'm sure going to listen and put the prayers into action."
For patients or their families who are open to spiritual care, nurses and doctors can offer copies of the image of The Divine Mercy and prayercards with the Chaplet. "By using The Divine Mercy devotion," said Marie, "it gives patients and their family members a tremendous amount of hope in the promises of Jesus."
The White Mass ceremony was held at the Chapel of Our Lady of Providence, St. Vincent Hospital, in Worcester.
Other recipients of the annual awards in honor of St. Luke were: Dr. James Walsh, a physician at St. Vincent Hospital who founded a hospital in Korea and is active voice for respect for life in Central Massachusetts; Marie Burkhart, a home health aide in Southbridge and a member of Notre Dame Parish in Southbridge; Ellen Aubuchon, a pastoral care minister at HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster and active member of the North County chapter of Compassionate Friends; Claire McManus, a volunteer at the Our Lady of Providence Free Clinic at Our Lady of Fatima/St. Bernard Parish, Worcester; and John Smithhisler, president and CEO of St. Vincent Hospital, who chairs the healthcare subcommittee for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and has assisted churches and non profit organizations with enrolling the uninsured with the new state health insurance programs.
The awards were presented on behalf of the Diocese of Worcester, the Saint Luke Society and The Guild of Our Lady of Providence.
'What Else Can We Do?'
"This award," said Marie, "causes me to take a step back and say, 'OK, what else can we do? How can we improve our organization even more? How does the Lord want us to be more involved, and what more can we do to help others?'"
Stay tuned. In the meantime, the 5th Annual Divine Mercy Conference for Medical Professionals will be held April 28-29, 2009 at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Mass, sponsored by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Click here for more information and to register.