Mass, programs welcome Urbana and Danville medical centers into OSF ‘family’
Intense overnight preparation led to a morning of celebratory prayer as Catholic medical centers in Urbana and Danville were welcomed into the OSF HealthCare family on Feb. 1.
“Throughout the history of religious orders in the church, one order has completed its mission and another carries it forward. This is the setting in which we find ourselves today,” said Msgr. Mark Merdian, the Diocese of Peoria’s episcopal vicar for health care.
Msgr. Merdian was principal celebrant and homilist for a Celebration Mass at St. Mary Church in Champaign that honored all religious communities involved in the two medical centers’ long histories.
Hours earlier, the former Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana had officially been renamed OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center. The new name honors the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, long involved in the leadership and operation of the medical center, which for much of its history was known as Mercy Hospital.
Also on Feb. 1, the former Presence United Samaritans Hospital in Danville was renamed OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center. The new name honors the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who founded the medical center as St. Elizabeth Hospital in 1882.
Representatives of those religious communities were joined at the Celebration Mass by members of The Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis — which owns and operates OSF HealthCare — as well as the Sisters of Mercy. Also taking part were members of the OSF HealthCare and medical center leadership teams and representatives of the Champaign-Urbana and Danville communities.
“This truly is a day to celebrate and to give thanks to God for calling our families and organizations together in the service of human life,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, chairperson of the board for OSF HealthCare, during welcoming programs that took place at both medical centers later that afternoon.
“The legacy and tradition of the consecrated religious who selflessly gave their all to heal and comfort in Christ’s name is and has been an inspiration for countless generations, both Catholic and non-Catholic,” said Msgr. Merdian at the morning Mass. He expressed the gratitude of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, for the smooth transition accomplished during the last five months, calling in “a gift of God.”
“This method of transition is what the Church envisions for the continuation of Catholic health care ministry,” said Msgr. Merdian, “so that Christ’s love, compassion and healing are continued in the world.”
Prior to the presentation of the gifts, framed photos of three historic figures from the religious communities were brought forward and placed on easels in the sanctuary for the remainder of the Mass. The images included:
- Mother Anastasia Bischler, the first superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart who led their community in America for 32 years. Her portrait was presented by Sister Karen Marie Lanigan, OSF.
- Mother St. Louis Blais of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary who served as administrator of Mercy Hospital in Urbana from 1926 until 1950. Her portrait was carried by Sister Karen Carlson, SSCM, who also led the Responsorial Psalm.
- Mother M. Frances Krasse, foundress of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Her image was presented by Sister Judith Ann, who also read petitions during the Prayer of the Faithful.
“SAME ENDURING GRACE, HOPE”
In opening remarks before the Mass, Sister Terry Maltby, a Sister of Mercy and vice chair of Presence Health Ministries, acknowledged that for her community the day’s celebration was “bittersweet.”
She called to mind how, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to disciples walking on the road to Emmaus and was recognized in the breaking of the bread.
“We mark this new phase of the journey of the health ministry in these communities, this new moment, by gathering together to share the bread and wine of the Eucharist,” said Sister Terry. “To celebrate the community of Christ that is beyond all boundaries of any particular time or place. The communities that support us as we continue the healing ministry with new names and new relationships, but with the same enduring grace and hope in the Spirit we have been promised.”
Msgr. Merdian echoed similar sentiments in his homily.
“We are not a church of competitors,” he told the assembly. “We are a church that sees a need and responds.”
Concelebrating the Mass were Father Robert Rayson, vicar of the Champaign Vicariate; Father Fredi Gomez Torres, pastor of St. Mary Parish; Father Deusdedit Byomuhangi, chaplain of OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville; Father Matthew Hoelscher, and Father Keith Walder.
Music was provided by the OSF Choir, directed by John Evancho.
Offertory gifts were brought forward by OSF HealthCare leaders Sister Diane Marie McGrew, OSF, treasurer, and Bob Sehring, chief executive officer.