Date of Award

Spring 1964

Document Type




First Advisor

Sister Mary Jerome


Today, nursing has placed a great deal of emphasis on the care of the whole patient, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Although the student nurse possesses sufficient theoretical knowledge about the spiritual care of the patient, she does not have sufficient clinical experience to adequately meet his religious needs. Often the nurse find it embarrassing and awkward to talk to the patient about his spiritual welfare. Sister Mary Berenice Beck states: It is true that the priest is the official dispenser of the chief benefits of the Church and the Catholic physician carries a greater responsibility than the nurse for certain aspects of the spiritual welfare of the patient, but it is equally true that the nurse is often in a more strategic position than either the priest or the physician to help the patient, either by preparing the way for the priest, or, in his absence for whatever reason, by sharing with the patient out of her own abudance.

In the early part of the century, the spiritual care of the sick was believed to be the duty of the sisters and the priests, but today the number of priests and sisters is decreasing. Now we find that the religious welfare of the sick is the concern of all who care for the patient; now we are beginning to realize the importance of the lay apostlate, and especially the lay apostlate nurse. A greater degree of spiritual care can and should be given by the lay nurse because she is the one who spends a considerable amount of time with the patient.