Supporting Vocations


20 Years of Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy, Prompted by 9/11

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By Marie F. Romagnano, MSN, RN, CCM
Assistant Clinical Professor
School of Nursing
College of Our Lady of the Elms

Looking back across 20 years to Sept. 11, 2001, it is difficult to recall the loss of life on this day, and the inspiration to pray for those dying in catastrophic events. Realizing that day that there was no hope of rescue for many, I, Marie Romagnano, MSN, RN, trauma nurse and catastrophic injury nurse case manager, wanted to mobilize a team of nurses to help and travel to New York to work front line with the firefighters and EMTs. Coordinating with the Red Cross, it became apparent that there were few survivors, so prayer was the answer. I turned to the Diary of St. Faustina and listened to the powerful words of Jesus:

Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1777)

In working with some of the nurses, I found that they had never heard of the Divine Mercy message and devotion or the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the sick and dying. This is when the inspiration came to found an organization that would focus on the spiritual care of the patient, incorporating the Divine Mercy message and devotion and the Sacraments of the church ... hence, in cooperation with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, the birth of Nurses For Divine Mercy, and subsequently Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy when other healthcare professionals wanted to be a part of our organization.

Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, personally assisted with the publication of Nursing With the Hands of Jesus: A Guide to Nurses for Divine Mercy. Father Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, was the editor. The book received academic credit from the Rhode Island Nurses Association for 10 contact hours, and has become a textbook for The Spiritual Care of the Patient class at Our Lady of the Elms College, School of Nursing.

The Marian Fathers recognized the tremendous importance of the practical application of the Divine Mercy message and devotion for the sick, injured, and dying, and subsequently assisted in creating the flagship annual Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy Conference: Medicine, Bioethics and Spirituality that is now in its 17th year and receives academic credit from UMass Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

This training program has highlighted the importance of teaching healthcare professionals how to spiritually care for the sick, injured, and dying, and have a meaningful interaction with these patients and families, especially when no priestly pastoral care is available. Father Seraphim advised, "We become the merciful presence of Christ at the bedside when we are united with Jesus in our hearts and bring that compassion and tenderness to our patients."

Dean Kathleen Scoble, EdD, MEd, MA, RN, from the College of Our Lady of The Elms, School of Nursing, assisted Marie in developing a college level class called "Spiritual Care of the Patient" that's in its second year, taught by Marie.

I am grateful to God for pursuing this ministry with the ongoing mission within the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

One thought I would like to leave with those who have suffered and lost loved ones from 9/11 so suddenly and without the assistance of a priest comes from the Diary, 1698:

The soul, illumined by a ray of God's powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things.

Jesus, I trust in You!

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