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Photo: Margaret M. Russell, Catholic Free Press

Bishop Robert McManus hands Marie Romagnano, RN, her St. Luke Award.

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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.

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angelo - Nov 2, 2008

I am very happy that a nurse is being honored by the church for such an apostolic work. I hope, this kind of spirituality will also flourish here in the Philippines. Last September, Fr. Mariusz Jarzabek, MIC gave me lots of copies of the book "Nursing with the Hands of Jesus: A Guide to Nurses for Divine Mercy" (I am not sure if the books were actually sent by Fr.Seraphim, because when I met him here in Manila I asked him how can I obtain a copy of it). I gave them to some Head Nurses and Deans and Clinical Instructors of Nursing Colleges here in Manila. There are many Filipino nurses nowadays and I think it would be better if we would be equipped with the Divine Mercy spirituality.

Mary - Nov 3, 2008

Reading the story on Marie R N it is good but the marians shall be an honor especially Fr Seraphine and Fr Kaz to spread the word of Jesus I Trust In You, the New Diary is very good and is eaier to understamd my prayers are for All the marians and nurses God bless you all

Bryan Thatcher MD, EADM - Nov 5, 2008

Special congratulation and prayers to Marie! This is awesome! Bryan

mary sumalinog - Nov 8, 2008

I really admired you Ma'am for your big heart.I hope many nurses would do the same thing you did,May they be able to follow your footstep,I have a friend who is a nurse here in Davao City, who also doing spiritual works of mercy.May the grace of the Lord be with you always.

Kathy - Mar 9, 2009

I would like to know how can I find or start a group in south Florida.
As a nurse I had the advantage of being trained in a Catholic Hospital in NY many years ago. I also had the experience of making a difference with a patient who was in a coma for 3 months. But I talked to him daily. Knowing he was on the brink between heaven and earth. I prayed while caring for him and spoke with the family. They told me he was waiting for the Bishop to come back from Rome. This 90 yr old worked by bringing old magazines to hospitals and nursing homes. One day while caring for this man I mentioned to him that he was somewhere between and encouraged him to decide where he wanted to be, because the bishop was not due back for two weeks and in his state he might not still be here when the bishop did come back. The next morning when I got to work all the staff were asking me "What did I do with this man because he was awake and talking " In the coma he heard every word I said" He recovered fully walked out of the hospital 2 weeks later. We saw him 6 months later when he was admited for siatica.
Recently I was in the hospital near death and no one called the priest . There was no pastoral care in either hospital. Though I cant work any more I would like to get involved with pastoral care on a volunteer basis.

Brendan William Justis ( soon To Be RN) - Apr 20, 2009

HI Marie and everyone, Im a student nurse with one semester to GO (Thank you Jesus) I fell in Love with the Divine Mercy Message about 3 years ago... This message of Mercy from Jesus can save so many souls, what a grace this is for the world, and now to make a book to incorperate this into nursing/health feild is amazing!!!!!!! Just to smile at someone in the Hospital can have long ever lasting rippling effects to a needy soul.Just the thought of Nurses and Dr's spreading the message of Divine mercy coul;d save hundreds,thousands and hopefully millions of souls could be saved.. Thank you all for your work and true devotion to helping the sick and the dying :) Pray often as we are in a great position to save many souls if not you than who?