May 12, 2023


Marie Nolan, dean of the Conway School of Nursing, told 81 graduating nursing students at The Catholic University of America their greatest strength is seeing the “person of Jesus” in every patient at the nursing pinning ceremony May 11. 

The pinning ceremony, which took place in the Crypt Chapel in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, traditionally symbolizes the knowledge, skill, and dedication that each graduate has demonstrated to transition from student to professional nurse. 

Recalling the Gospel of Matthew, Nolan said the graduates can look for encouragement when facing difficult challenges by remembering Jesus’ words: “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

“Whether you are managing the illnesses of hospitalized patients, protecting the health and wellness of community members, or being fully present to someone at the end of life, you are carrying out the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” said Nolan.

David Want, assistant clinical professor of nursing, said the pins are credible and visible proof of the nursing graduates’ accomplishments and represent the “rich history, traditions, and accomplishments of a long line of CUA nurse graduates and faculty since 1935.”

“During this pinning ceremony we acknowledge the extensive effort it took for you to reach this point,” said Want. “We celebrate your accomplishments by welcoming you into the special group of The Catholic University of America nursing alumni who received their own nursing pin in a similar ceremony.”


Father Aquinas Guilbeau, University chaplain, blessed the pins before Nolan distributed them to the students. The pin is inscribed with the University’s name and shield. 

All nurses present recited the modern Nightingale Pledge, named for the 1860s Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale and a commitment to live out the ethical, scientific, and legal standards of the nursing profession. Father Guilbeau concluded the ceremony with a prayer written by the nursing school faculty for the 2023 graduating class.

During his remarks, University President Dr. Peter Kilpatrick said a life dedicated to the caring and healing of the sick is “truly one of the most important works of mercy.”

“These are the kinds of nurses who will not only be helpers, but who will be healers,” said President Kilpatrick. “They are living the Gospel, having real compassion for their brothers and sisters. In short, they are Catholic University nurses.”