What began as a training facility for rural health care workers in the 1970s has now turned into a Catholic nursing school with hundreds of graduates. This year, during the Aug. 14 graduation ceremony held in Nairobi for St. Luke’s Registered Community Health Nursing School, Bishop Joseph Mbatia of Nyahururu told the 54 new nurses that they have been trained for a very distinct reason. “The Church and indeed the Kenyan society was training you for their own purpose,” Bishop Mbatia said, according to an Aug. 17 report by the Catholic News Agency for Africa. “St. Luke’s ... was training you to perpetuate Gospel and human values.” Bishop Mbatia is the Vice Chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya -- a project that started in 1957 under the umbrella of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. It has now grown to make up 30 percent of all healthcare facilities in Kenya. “In the contemporary times, the culture of death has prevailed over the culture of life,” he told the graduates. “A country that does not defend, protect and promote life is heading to doom.” He challenged the new nurses to be the “loving face and healing touch of Jesus” for their patients. St. Luke’s Nursing School in North Kinagop in Nyandaru County was founded in 1977 to train local health care workers, and saw its first graduating class of five student nurses in 1991. Students of the nursing program undergo three and a half years of study and training before receiving a degree in nursing. The nursing school has grown so much that more than 500 students graduated in the past decade alone.