Blessing of OSF Saint Clare Medical Center a ‘momentous’ day in Princeton

Following blessing and dedication ceremonies July 1 at OSF HealthCare Saint Clare Medical Center in Princeton, workers install new signage at the facility formerly known as Perry Memorial Hospital. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

PRINCETON — With gratitude for a century of service to the region and confidence as a new era begins, the former Perry Memorial Hospital here was blessed and dedicated as OSF HealthCare Saint Clare Medical Center on July 1.

The ceremonies culminated almost three years of discussions and planning as OSF Saint Clare became the 15th hospital in the OSF system. Peoria-based OSF HealthCare is owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka blesses a crucifix at the main entrance to OSF HealthCare Saint Clare Medical Center in Princeton during ceremonies on July 1. Looking on is Jackie Kernan, medical center president. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“I know God is smiling on all of us today and blessing us as we walk now together into the future, united in our commitment to serve people with the greatest care and love — just as God loves and cares for each of us,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF.

The major superior of the religious community and chairperson of the boards for OSF HealthCare, Sister Judith Ann was one of several speakers offering reflections during the morning program. Among them was Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka, who later walked through the 25-bed facility and its emergency department blessing it with holy water.

“This is a momentous day in the life of the community and in the life of the family of OSF,” said Bishop Tylka.

Acknowledging OSF Saint Clare’s transition from a municipally-owned medical center to being a part of the OSF system, Bishop Tylka noted that “so much of life is about handing on, giving to others what we have received.”

A statue of St. Clare in the medical center’s emergency and outpatient lobby is a gift from The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“We are so grateful for the 100 years of Perry Memorial,” said Bishop Tylka, adding that God’s care has been shown to the community because of the work of its staff past and present. “We will bring the best of the past into the present so that we have a wonderful gift to hand on in the future.”

SHARED VALUES, CARE FOR COMMUNITY

Guiding Bishop Tylka through the halls of OSF Saint Clare was Jackie Kernan, president of the medical center — one of Bureau County’s largest employers. Among their stops was the emergency and outpatient lobby, where a hand-carved, wooden statue of St. Clare of Assisi has been placed. The statue is a gift from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, whose hospital in Alton joined OSF HealthCare in 2014.

The medical center’s chapel will be blessed later this month.

“I love the name Saint Clare,” said Roxanna Crosser, CEO of OSF HealthCare’s western region. She was among the OSF officials working with the city and the Perry Memorial Hospital board during the transfer of ownership discussion and planning. Crosser lauded the trust and care for the community shown throughout the process.

St. Clare was a follower of St. Francis who provided support and care for him in his later years. She co-founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious community.

“She referred to herself as a ‘little plant,’ but she was a strong oak,” said Crosser.

Other speakers at the dedication included:

  • Bob Sehring, chief executive officer of OSF HealthCare, who noted “great synergy” between OSF and the Princeton/Perry communities. “We thrive in communities with a tradition of values that we share,” said Sehring. “And certainly as we think of Princeton, we know we share many of those same traditions — faith, family, and helping each other.”
  • Joel Quiram, mayor of Princeton, who laid out the reasons for the integration, including a financial crisis in rural health care. He called Perry Memorial “one of the great assets that made Princeton what it is today.” While the change of names could be seen as “bittersweet,” he welcomed the integration with OSF “with open arms” because it ensures a bright new era for the medical center and the community. “Let the future begin,” he said.
  • Linda Gustafson, board chair of Perry Memorial Hospital, who called the integration a “most positive, monumental endeavor,” adding “we have found a partner in OSF that reflects the goals and values that have been fundamental to our hospital for the past 100 years.”

Several of Princeton’s clergy were present including Msgr. James Kruse, pastor of St. Louis Parish, who proclaimed a passage from the Gospel of Matthew. Kernan, who also serves as president of OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center in Kewanee, read from Psalm 145.

Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF

Sister Judith Ann explained that OSF HealthCare refers to its employees as “mission partners” because of the sacred nature of their work in the service of human life. She pledged to the mission partners at OSF Saint Clare, many of which were in attendance at the blessing ceremonies, that the Sisters pray for them and those throughout the system every morning when they gather in chapel.

With the addition of OSF Saint Clare, OSF HealthCare now employs nearly 24,000 mission partners at more than 150 locations throughout Illinois and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Providing musical entertainment during the program was the OSF Choir under the direction of John Evancho. Guests then enjoyed lunch beneath the tent, while OSF Saint Clare mission partners were treated to barbecue at the medical center’s main entrance.

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

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