Simpson University Nursing Students Receive Blessing, White Heart

For Immediate Release


REDDING, Calif. - Simpson University’s School of Nursing honored more than 60 first- and third-semester students with a Blessing of the Hands ceremony April 11 in the prayer chapel on campus.

Sister Brenda O’Keeffe, vice president of Mission Integration and Spiritual Care Services at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, offered the opening prayer and an invitation to commitment.

Simpson nursing faculty then put oil on the hands of each student in a symbolic gesture of the hands-on work of nurses.

“Oil is a symbol of healing,” said O’Keeffe, affirming her hope “that everything we do with our hands would be touched with care and compassion.”

“Our hands always need to be tender … and a blessing to all we encounter,” she said. “We see ourselves being the eyes, hands and ears of Jesus.”

Each student then received a small white heart the size of the inner palm. Since 1999, the white heart has been recognized as an international symbol for nursing, noted nursing professor Paul Herman. White was selected because it contains all colors—demonstrating acceptance—and has a worldwide association with hygiene, comfort and caring.

The white heart is meant to characterize the caring, knowledge and humanity that infuse the work and spirit of nursing,” Herman said.

Jan Dinkel, dean of the School of Nursing, noted that the nursing profession has many rituals, including the Blessing of the Hands and a Dedication to Nursing, where students receive a Nurse’s Bible.

The School of Nursing will hold a pinning ceremony at 6 p.m. April 24 for its second class of four-year bachelor of science in nursing graduates. Twenty-seven students will be honored.

More than 90 nursing students are enrolled at Simpson University this semester. A Science and Nursing Building is under construction, scheduled for occupancy this fall.

Photos by Matt Murnan

Top: First- and third-semester nursing students from Simpson University gather after a Blessing of the Hands ceremony on April 11 (standing, far left: Jan Dinkel, dean of the School of Nursing; far right, Sr. Brenda O’Keeffe of Mercy Medical Center in Redding).

Top Left: Sr. Brenda O’Keeffe of Mercy Medical Center, left, puts oil on the hands of nursing student Genevieve Hartman.

Middle Right: The white heart has been the universal symbol of nursing since 1999.

Bottom Left: Nursing professor Linda Henrich gives a white heart to student Francine Carmazzi (nursing professor Paul Herman in back).


Simpson University is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults in the north state. Simpson’s newest programs include bachelor's degrees in Spanish and nursing, and master’s degrees in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Learn about our new Science & Nursing Building at For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit


Contact: SU Public Relations