Joint Statement from the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
May 20, 2021 2:31 PM
The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis announced today that they have reached a definitive agreement with the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois in which the diocese will form a new entity that will assume ownership and responsibility in a trust, effective January 2022, for the operations, care, and maintenance of the St. Francis Convent property at 4849 LaVerna Road in Springfield. The Hospital Sister's community will continue to live on the property indefinitely, through a long-term lease agreement with the newly formed entity.
In addition, the diocese will form a new institute for religious life and intellectual and spiritual formation for teachers of the Catholic faith, parish teams, priests, and lay faithful within and beyond the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Formation services will be offered through a combination of the institute’s own staff and partnerships with leading Catholic educational and religious institutes from around the country.
“This historic moment for the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis follows years of careful discernment, planning, and evaluation of many possible approaches to secure a long-term future for this property,” said Sister Maureen O’Connor, OSF, provincial superior of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. “This agreement with the Diocese of Springfield allows us to continue to live on the grounds that have been our home for the past century, while transferring responsibility for its care to an institute that can make productive use of the buildings and grounds for the good of the Church and building up the Catholic faith for generations to come.”
The St. Francis Convent property includes the former Chiara Center, several residential buildings, office space, as well as sacred, consecrated worship spaces. The main residential buildings serve as the Provincial Motherhouse for the Hospital Sisters, while other residential buildings house members of other religious communities. The former Chiara Center is a retreat and conference facility, built around St. Francis of Assisi Church. The agreement is subject to ecclesiastical approval.
The long-term lease agreement will cover essential facilities costs, while the operations of the institute will be funded through a combination of existing educational endowment funds, benefactor support, and income from services provided.
“The healing presence of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis has been a great blessing to the people of this diocese and the many other communities where the sisters have served over the years,” said Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. “The formation of this institute allows us to celebrate and honor the sisters’ legacy of service while securing a long-term future for the facilities of St. Francis Convent in service of the Church.”
Additional information about the newly formed institute will be forthcoming as the institute and its partnerships are established.