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María Casal, first director of the School of Nursing, dies
Died in Switzerland, aged 94 years
16 | 10 | 2023
María Casal Wismer was born in Guillena (Seville) in 1929, of Swiss parents. She was the first director of the then School of Nursing. She began her medical studies at the University of Seville programs of study being the only woman in her class. In 1954 she moved to Barcelona where she continued with her degree program at the University of Barcelona. There she collaborated in the laboratory of Physiology with Professor Juan Jimenez Vargas, first Dean of the School of Medicine, who proposed her to start in Pamplona the programs of study of Nursing. This would begin at the same time as the School of Medicine. This partnership that Casal developed together with Dr. Jiménez Vargas, according to her autobiography "Una canción de juventud", meant for her to enter the field of Physiology and Nursing Schools. At that time in Spain there were very few of these centers, which, in reality, were schools for Health Technical Assistants. Casal received his doctorate in Physiology and later specialized in Gynecology in France.
At the age of twenty-five, Casal was the first director of the School until 1959, training very directly the first promotions. The first of these had 24 enrolments, most of them girls from Pamplona. She faced this challenge "with a lot of faith and thinking, as I always do in these cases: If the Founder of the University has said it, we have to do it and that's it; because if he has said it, it comes out," she confessed in an interview she gave to Nuestro Tiempo in 2001. She did not achieve this milestone alone, for as she herself recalled, she had at her side María Victoria Tabernero, Sagrario Aguinaga and María Jesús Domingo, who formed the School's first management team. During this period she also collaborated with the start-up of the Clinic. In an interview on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the School de Enfermería, Casal also wanted to highlight the illusion of the beginnings: "we had that capacity for optimism that the ancient conquerors boasted. And it is still there today: there is no sign of discouragement.
Years later, Casal moved to Rome, where she taught at high school Romano di Santa Maria (Castelgandolfo, Italy). In 1964 she moved to Switzerland, where she directed the opening and operation of the first women's center of Opus Dei in Zurich. A year later she moved there permanently, so her life became part of the beginnings of Opus Dei's work with women in Switzerland.
In the interview with Nuestro Tiempo, Casal defined herself as a woman who likes young people very much: "Even now, at 72 years of age, I still have contact with young people and I get along very well with them. Asked how she would like to be remembered, she replied: "With affection. I would love to be remembered as the teacher who, having more or less knowledge, tried to teach them everything she could; the one who defended them, when necessary and, above all, as a person who loved them very much."
"From the School de Enfermería we greatly regret the death of María Casal", said Ana Choperena, dean of the School, who in turn wanted to show "deep appreciation for her commendable work as one of the pioneers of the School and of the programs of study of Nursing at national and international level. As we celebrate our 70th anniversary, I can affirm that with her work and dedication she established the foundations of what we are today".
The University joins the grief of her family and asks for a prayer for her soul.