Now called Presence Covenant Medical Center
Main office: 1400 W. Park St., Urbana, IL 61801
Various by location
(217) 337-2000
Contact information
Provena Health
Payment Method
all payment methods accepted
Wheelchair accessibility
fully accessible

Presence Covenant Medical Center is the second largest hospital in Champaign County and one of the largest employers in the County. 

History of Presence

Presence Covenant Medical Center's original sponsor is the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, a religious congregation founded in 1860 by Father Francis Delaplace. Father Delaplace was deeply moved by the plight of the orphaned and homeless children in Paris, France. He requested the assistance of a young woman, Marie Moisan, and together they searched for a way to respond to the needs of the children. Eventually, they found a home where the children could be gathered together, and, in doing so, they began an orphanage. They sought the assistance of other women to aid them in this ministry.

Before long, Marie Moisan and her associates requested a simple rule of life from Father Delaplace and also requested to pronounce religious vows. Thus, the congregation of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary began. Marie Moisan, founder of the congregation, became Mother Marie of the Blessed Sacrament.In the years which followed, the ministries of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary were greatly expanded.

In the 1870s, during the Franco-Prussian War, the Sisters were initiated into health care as they helped to care for the wounded in and around the city of Paris.In the years that followed, the congregation remained sensitive to the great needs of the Church in France. This sensitivity was deepened to include the needs of the Church in the United States when, in 1889, the sisters responded to a request to serve at St. Viator's College, Bourbonnais, Illinois.  The sisters went on to teach at a parish school in Beaverville, Illinois, in 1895. In that same year, three women from that community requested to enter the congregation, thus beginning an American novitiate.

In 1897 the Emergency Hospital in Kankakee was opened, with the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary responding to an invitation to take an active role in the operations of the hospital. Eventually, this hospital was renamed St. Mary's Hospital.In 1919, Father Flynn at St. Mary's Parish in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, requested the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary to assume responsibility for a new Catholic hospital in that community. At this time there were no sisters available to meet this request. Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross were available, so the hospital was named Mercy Hospital. When these sisters found it necessary to withdraw from Mercy Hospital, seven Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, led by Mother St. Louis Blais, were ready to leave St. Mary's Hospital to begin a new ministry at Mercy Hospital.

The health care ministry of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary continued through the years of the depression and the Second World War. The two hospitals grew in size as did the number of sisters available to serve in health care. Thanks to ever forward-looking leadership, changes in the governance structure of the hospital boards occurred in the mid-1960's when board membership opened to include members of the civic communities served by the hospitals.

In 1981, the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary purchased Briarcliff Manor in Bourbonnais and renamed it Our Lady of Victory Nursing Home. In 1982, the three facilities sponsored by the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary united to form ServantCor, a health care system headquartered in Kankakee, Illinois. And in 1989, Mercy Hospital merged with Burnham City Hospital in Champaign to form Covenant Medical Center.

In December of 1997, the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas created Provena Health, and a new era of growth began.

Sponsorship - a term which represents the relationship of a religious congregation to its incorporated ministries - is a deeply valued ministry for the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary. It is is implemented through the sharing of the congregation's values - faith, self-giving, family love - with all persons with whom the sisters work. Sponsorship is likewise implemented through the presence and the influence of the sisters within these incorporated ministries, specifically through a focus on pastoral care, governance and leadership development.

Source: "Our History: Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary: A Brief History"

This organization participated in a UIUC study on community technology use. For more on that see Study of UC2B Anchor Institutions' Technology Use