OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center in Kewanee celebrates 100 years of service

The present OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center, located at the corner of South Street and Midland Road on the southwest edge of Kewanee, opened in 2008, but traces its roots back 100 years. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

KEWANEE — One hundred years of health care service to the region, a century of trust, and a future filled with faith, hope and dreams were prayerfully celebrated April 17 as OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center observed its centennial.

Jackie Kernan, president of OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center in Kewanee, looks on as Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, speaks at the conclusion of the Centennial Mass in the medical center lobby on April 17. Sister Judith Ann is chairperson of the board of OSF HealthCare and major superior of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“What an unbelievable legacy has been left to this community that now is a part of our OSF family and has greatly enriched us,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, chairperson of the board for OSF HealthCare, in remarks at the conclusion of a Centennial Mass celebrated in the medical center’s lobby.

The celebration took place 100 years after the first patient was admitted at the original location of what was then known as Kewanee Public Hospital. The name was changed to Kewanee Hospital in 1989, the present facility on the southwest edge of town opened in 2008, and the medical center was renamed OSF Saint Luke in 2014 when it became part of OSF HealthCare.

“Health care is changing,” said Jackie Kernan, president of OSF Saint Luke, citing rapid innovations and technological advances. “But together as a family we can meet those challenges and anticipate future needs of our community, combining the highest quality of care with love and compassion.”

Father Johndamaseni Zilimu, pastor of Saint John Paul II Parish in Kewanee and chaplain of OSF Saint Luke, celebrated the Centennial Mass. In his homily, he lauded the patience and love demonstrated by staff throughout the medical center’s history, and called for all to continue to follow Jesus’  example of generous, humble service.

“Let us continue praying for doctors and nurses and all involved  in this ministry so that they may continue serving us with humble, generous hearts that are covered by love,” said Father Zilimu.

Sister Judith Ann, who is also major superior of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, later added that “the God who brought us to this point in history is with us right now, here, touching lives for good through all of us.”

Assisting at the Mass was Deacon Marty Van Meltebeck, pastoral care manager. Medical center personnel took part in the liturgy as readers and gift bearers.

DREAMS, CELEBRATION CONTINUE

“These are exciting times,” said Kernan, “but it takes more than just medicine to care for a life. It takes courage, faith, patience, determination, and a dream.” She thanked the Kewanee community for a “century of trust,” and the privilege “to follow our mission to serve each person with the greatest care and love in a community that celebrates the gift of life.”

Father Johndamaseni Zilimu, pastor of Saint John Paul II Parish in Kewanee and chaplain of OSF Saint Luke Medical Center, was celebrant and homilist at the centennial Mass. Assisting is Deacon Marty Van Meltebeck, pastoral care manager at the medical center. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Picking up on Kernan’s theme, two young singers then performed a moving rendition of “A Million Dreams” from the film “The Greatest Showman.”  The singers were Kylie Welgat, a senior at Kewanee High School and a member of the choir at Saint John Paul II Parish, and Chloe Mae Finch, 9, of rural Cambridge. Chloe was born at 26 weeks gestation and transported by Life Flight to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, where she spent 88 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before coming home.

News clippings and items from throughout the medical center’s history were on display at a reception that followed the Mass. The 100th anniversary observance continues with a community celebration from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 4, at Visitation Catholic School in Kewanee. Open to the public, it will include activities for children and the OSF HealthCare King Care-A-Van.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Centennial Mass and reception have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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