July 1, 2018
The Proud Legacy Continues…

The National Association of Catholic Nurses, U.S.A. (NACN-USA) has a proud history that predates the International Catholic Committee for Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants (CICIAMS). In 1909 foresighted nurses founded a guild for Catholic nurses and nursing students in Boston. By 1933 the National Federation of Catholic Nurses was established. In the early 1930’s, a few existing groups of Catholic nurses from the USA, along with nursing groups from elsewhere in the world, assembled in Lourdes, France, and founded CICIAMS. Following the development of CICIAMS, the National Council of Catholic Nurses of the United States was formed. The organization was very active early on, but later in 1970, it was disbanded. Yet, several local/regional councils remained active, and some of their members continued to participate in the meetings held internationally by CICIAMS. Between 1993 and 1994, the National Catholic Nurses Association, U.S.A. (NACN-USA) was newly formed under the auspices of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, with the permission and spiritual advisement of the bishop at that time, Bishop Joseph L. Impeach. In October, 1994, the Association became a full voting member of CICIAMS, thus all NACN-USA members are also part of CICIAMS through the Association.

In October 1996 NACN-USA was approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for inclusion in the “Official Catholic Directory” under the Joliet Diocese. NACN-USA is registered as a non-profit 501c3 organization. This is a proud legacy demonstrating the power of perseverance, but more accurately the power of the Holy Spirit calling NACN-USA to be a force for life at this current time when the very vocation of the healing professions is being distorted as an agent of death. In recent years, under the wonderful leadership of our past presidents, most recently Diana Ruzicka, and with the diligent efforts of board and committee members, NACN-USA has been a powerful force of cultural influence reinforcing the true Hippocratic tradition, “Primum non nocere [first, do no harm].” To this end NACN-USA has been proactive and is called upon by several professional and legal advocacy organizations to join in public commentary to impact health care policy reflective of this dictum.

Year after year, it has been demonstrated that nurses enjoy the public perception as being the most trusted of professionals. NACN-USA, as the only national association of Catholic nurses, can especially claim this trust, as several other professional associations erroneously embrace death-dealing procedures as health care. Nothing is going to erode public trust greater than a claim to be a life-enhancing profession while willing to embrace the culture of death as a standard of care. NACN-USA’s legacy is the very opposite of this. Through the wisdom and energy of NACN-USA’s past presidents, and again, most recently during Diana Ruzicka’s term, NACN-USA’s legacy is a legacy of promoting and sustaining life for the good of the healing professions and those they serve.

On this date, as the transition to a new president occurs, there is an enhanced realization of this proud legacy. With that realization is the obligation to assure that all the wonderful accomplishments of NACN-USA are not only sustained but cultivated, especially as the attacks on life, promoted as health care, escalate. A great way to prepare to cultivate NACN-USA’s accomplishments, and to promote life sustaining health care, is fostered by opportunities to gather together such as at the August 2-3, 2018 San Antonio conference: Responding to Healthcare Challenges Influencing Catholic Nursing Practice. The title, itself, reflects the opportunities of attendees to mutually develop strategies to respond to these challenges.

And as we build upon NACN-USA’s accomplishments, the greatest need is in the mentoring of the next generation of nurses, who have been indoctrinated to erroneously believe that if something is legal it is ethical, and to advocate for life in the delivery of health care constitutes negligence and a violation of a standard of care. There is no more scholarly, competent, and caring group of nurses and associate members than NACN-USA’s board and committee members, supported by the equally dedicated membership. NACN-USA is ready for this challenge. From our roots of over 109 years since the founding of the Boston Guild for Catholic Nurses, the transition occurs, and the proud legacy continues: where NURSING, MINISTRY and CATHOLIC MISSION meet.

Marie T. Hilliard, MS, MA, JCL, PhD, RN
President, National Association of Catholic Nurses-USA

“Unity in Charity


Pray the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and the end to war.”
Our Lady of Fatima, June 13, 1917