Benedictine celebrates canonization with week of special activities

by Moira Cullings
moira.cullings@theleaven.org

ATCHISON — The Benedictine College campus here was buzzing the 11 days leading up to Mother Teresa’s canonization.

“Everybody’s grown up learning about Mother Teresa and everybody knows about this, so we’re all excited,” said Alysa Guzman, a junior at Benedictine.

The school celebrated the now-saint with cake on her birthday, a showing of the Mother Teresa movie “The Letters,” a watch party on her canonization day and several other special activities.

One of these was the dedication of a new St. Teresa statue, which was unveiled on Sept. 2 outside the Mother Teresa Center for Nursing and Health Education.

On the 100th anniversary of St. Teresa’s birth, the school dedicated the remodeled building to the saint.

Now, the statue serves as an even greater reminder of the saint’s life and example, which is particularly meaningful for the college’s nursing students.

“I think her canonization means a lot to the nursing program, especially because we get a lot of her influence in our classes and the way our professors teach about how we should act as Catholic nurses,” said Anna Hagenkord, a senior at Benedictine.

“And she’s a great example of healing in a Catholic way,” she said.

Both Hagenkord and Guzman are in the college’s nursing program and look to St. Teresa as a role model.

They got the chance to put the saint’s precepts into practice this past summer, when Hagenkord landed a position as a clinical nurse extern at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and Guzman worked as a certified nurse assistant at North Kansas City Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

“There were a couple times this summer where I would pray [for]Mother Teresa[‘s intercession] walking to a patient’s room,” said Hagenkord.

“Or if I was frustrated with a situation, I’d ask for her grace because things get hard in the hospital. To treat everybody with the dignity and respect that she did — it’s an awesome example,” she said.

Both Guzman and Hagenkord have discovered that the work they will do as nurses might be daunting, but they have a wonderful example of charity and sacrifice in St. Teresa.

“I honestly think she loved it,” said Guzman. “She loved [the people she helped] and she loved her job, so it wasn’t a chore going to work.

“This summer, if I didn’t want to get up, I’d think, ‘Mother Teresa was working in 120-degree weather and taking care of people.’”

“She worked with different people but the same type of people we work with,” Guzman added.

Hagenkord agreed.

“She worked with lepers and people that weren’t necessarily attractive and treated them with the same love and respect everybody should be treated with,” she said. “That’s a great example that we have as nurses because with every patient and every person that you speak to, you should meet them where they are and treat them with the love and respect she showed.”

Both women believe that nursing is their vocation, and that, in many ways, it’s similar to St. Teresa’s calling to serve.

“Before I even wanted to be a nurse, I knew I wanted to help people,” said Hagenkord. “So I think I kind of always knew that, in some way, this was my calling.”

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