Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing


Loyola nursing community makes pilgrimage to Lourdes

Loyola nursing community makes pilgrimage to Lourdes

(Right) Group photo of students in Lourdes. (Left) Dr. Solari-Twadell and alumni Anne Guion (2012), Rachel Filer (2011), Anna Domanchek (2013), Anna Motola (2014), and Julia Newman (2014) from the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing return to Lourdes.

Service immersion program focuses on spiritual aspect of nursing

MAYWOOD, Ill. (June 9, 2014) – Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (MNSON) students, alumni and staff recently traveled to Lourdes, France, to care for the sick who visit the healing baths. This is the sixth year members of the Loyola community have participated in this international service immersion program.

In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl in Lourdes, France. The vision encouraged her to drink of the fountain. With no fountain in sight, the young girl dug at a spot designated by the apparition, and a spring began to flow.

This spring remains today and is believed to possess remarkable healing powers. As many as 5 million people make the pilgrimage to Lourdes every year to experience the therapeutic effect of the water.

“The Lourdes program focuses on spiritual care,” said P. Ann Solari-Twadell, RN, PhD, MPA, FAAN, associate professor, MNSON. “Caring for the sick in the baths gives our nursing students valuable experience that can’t necessarily be taught in a classroom. The students work with the other volunteers and pilgrims allowed them to witness the faith of others.”

Ten students, five alumni, one student leader, a campus ministry representative and a faculty member traveled to Lourdes. Loyola participants assisted the sick in the religious rituals of Lourdes and met with Dr. Solari-Twadell to reflect on their service. A portion of the group also visited the home of St. Ignatius Loyola in Spain following their time in Lourdes.

“While in Lourdes, we learned a great deal about serving others, both sick and well,” said Kara Podjasek, recent Loyola nursing graduate. “Serving in Lourdes has strongly influenced my nursing practice. This experience has made me a more well-rounded nurse cognoscente of my patient’s spiritual, physical and emotional needs.”