Homily of Archbishop Martin, at Blessing of Hands Service, Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin

22 Mar 2013

Homily of Archbishop Martin, at Blessing of Hands Service, Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin

When I heard the name that the new Pope had chosen after his election, I immediately saw that in that name that a programme was being announced.  Saint Francis of Assisi was the one who set out to change the realities of his day – and especially the realities of the Church of his day – not with lengthy lectures or tomes or strategies but with a witness of simplicity of life, humility and poverty.

To many of his time, Francis was just a naïve idealist who should be left alone to cause as little harm as possible, while the powerful and the established could get on with their way of life and their use and misuse of power.

But it would be very misleading to think that Francis’s was the sort of image of simplicity which could be woven by a spin doctor or that it is the simplicity of one who is weak.  This simplicity of Saint Francis – which Pope Francis wishes to adopt – reflects something much deeper which makes it simplicity with strength   Saint Francis showed that idealism and integrity can bring change.  He showed that words can be elegant and inspiring, but they may not speak to hearts and reform requires first of all change of heart.

There are words and gestures like simplicity which contain more than the dictionary definition and nursing is also one of these.  Nursing is a work of caring and compassion, but it is also a manifestation of care and compassion which is carried out with the highest level of professionalism, placing the progress of science at the service of those in need. Nursing is a marriage between scientific professionalism and caring.  You can’t have one without the other.

Pope Francis some days later spoke of how God entrusted to humankind the mission of protecting his gifts and allowing them to flourish in every changing generation.

“It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about… It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness”.

Nursing is a sort of icon of how we marry scientific progress and human caring which reaches out to each person in their totality as a human person, as a human person who belongs to a family and a community.

I congratulate today’s graduates who have combined your university studies with your practical work here in a children’s hospital.  Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital is a hospital with an ethos of great professionalism and the highest standards of care and we have every right to be proud of that tradition.  I wish to publicly express my appreciation and that of the Hospital Board for the manner in which the staff shows extraordinary dedication day after day in an economic situation which limits their capacity to attain what is possible.

We all look forward to the day when here in Ireland we will enjoy having a modern purpose-built state-of-the-art children’s hospital, inserted into a broad national programme of care for children’s health.  The children of Ireland and their parents deserve nothing less.  This hospital is committed to working in the years to come with the other children’s hospital to ensure the success of that project and its preparation.

However, when we speak of a modern purpose-built state-of-the-art children’s hospital, we are not talking just about bricks and mortar or wonderful super-modern equipment.  We are also speaking about nurses; we are talking about nurses with the highest quality professional training and the highest level of personal commitment and care.   There seems to be a contradiction in a situation in which at the same moment in which we work and invest in the buildings and in the equipment and the model of care, so many of those who are the one’s who will turn a building and an institution into a centre of excellence in care are finding themselves having to leave the country.

Today as we congratulate you graduates on what you have achieved I ask you, despite the many challenges and uncertainties you will face regarding your future, that you remember Saint Francis, the one who never lost his idealism and through his path of simplicity and integrity changed the lives of so many people and changed structures for the good.


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