What does community mean to you? At OSF HealthCare, it’s our Community of Caregivers working around the clock to serve with the greatest care and love. It’s the Sisters who guide us all by faith and example. And it’s understanding that we are very much a part of the communities we serve.

The governing body of OSF HealthCare is The Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis. But that relationship is far more than a legal one. Sisters are intimately involved in every aspect of the Ministry, to be sure. More than that, they are a constant source of inspiration and guidance for more than 18,000 Mission Partners.

see-the-popeWho do our Sisters turn to for guidance and inspiration? Pope Francis, for one. That’s why when Pope Francis visited America last fall, several of our Sisters planned a road trip.

Sister Judith Ann, O.S.F., chairperson, OSF Healthcare System Board of Directors, together with Sister Theresa Ann, O.S.F., Sister Teresa Paul, O.S.F., and Sister Rose Therese, O.S.F., drove to Philadelphia to see the pope address the Festival of Families celebration. The Sisters were warmly welcomed everywhere they went – they were hardly able to make a purchase without someone stepping up insisting on covering the bill. The crowds were unbelievably large, but friendly and jubilant.

The highlight, of course, was hearing Pope Francis speak. “His words were warm, humble, simple and so encouraging, as if he were reaching out with his words to encircle and invite us all in – just like a loving Father,” Sister Judith Ann said later.

Altonintegration3Last year was the first of a reunion 137 years in the making. After joining missions in November 2014, The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George came together to share in the governance of OSF HealthCare. The missions of both orders share an origin in France during the mid-1800s. After starting separate communities in Germany, both orders migrated to different areas in the United States and independently started health care facilities. Reunited, the two orders now share the common Mission to serve persons with the greatest care and love in a community that celebrates the Gift of Life.

“The grounding revelation was that God had gone before us. It wasn’t and isn’t about us, but what God has been preparing OSF for… We weren’t doing the new, we were supporting our historical work for the future of OSF and refreshing it with an added level of responsibility and accountability as well as making sure that organizationally we understood that this is about every Mission Partner being called to serve at OSF, not just segments or groups of us,” says Sister Diane Marie, president of OSF HealthCare. “God has a mighty work and we are just trying to be the voice and take down the barriers to His work and His desire for His people. Our Mission is a wonderful gift. It reminds us daily that our work is part of a healing ministry – a calling from God.”

Vegetable-Garden_KimOSF Mission Partners are very much a part of the communities they help serve. In all of our communities, volunteer Mission Partners freely give their time to help the OSF family serve with the greatest care and love. In addition, many paid employees are committed to making their communities better off the clock as well. Many of these volunteer commitments directly affect the health and wellness of our communities. For example, the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment determined Bloomington-Normal residents needed more access to nutritious fruits and vegetables. In direct response, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center made seven garden beds and planted a variety of vegetables. Last year, OSF St. Joseph Mission Partners and community residents grew and donated 395 pounds of organic produce to the local full-service homeless shelter, Home Sweet Home Ministries.

Here are some other stories of Mission Partners volunteering their time and talents to better their communities.