A Publication of WTVP

The OSF Choir offers a creative connection to the Sisters’ Ministry.

There are companies throughout the area that offer a harmonious work environment in more ways than one. The Caterpillar Chorus is probably the most well-known outlet for the musically inclined. But OSF Saint Francis Medical Center—and OSF HealthCare as a whole—offers the same opportunity, with a special connection to the Sisters’ Ministry.

John Evancho, chief compliance officer for OSF HealthCare, is also director of the OSF Choir. When he joined the OSF family in 2005 as part of OSF HealthPlans, John started a choir there. There was a choir serving special events at OSF Saint Francis as well. After John joined the OSF Ministry office staff in 2008 (when HealthPlans was bought by Humana), the two choirs became one.

For someone who spends most of his time making sure OSF is compliant with state and federal requirements—working to embed statutes and regulations within the organization’s clinical and administrative fabric—the choir is a nice outlet for Evancho’s creative side. “It is one of the few opportunities for all employees throughout the Ministry to come together,” he says. “We have doctors, nurses, clinical educators, accountants, IT employees… all areas represented—people you might not always get the chance to work with. Plus, we have a great deal of fun!”

The number of choir participants averages between 20 and 24, and sometimes depends on the nature of the event. The group performs at special masses and prayer services at OSF Saint Francis, the annual Feast of Saint Francis, Hospital and Nurses Week activities, blessing and dedication events at new OSF facilities, special performances at the Motherhouse in East Peoria, and even during a Peoria Chiefs game on OSF Night at the ballpark.

“The Sisters are very supportive—they enjoy and appreciate the music,” explains Evancho. “We generally perform traditional hymns in four-part harmony without musical accompaniment. We expect to perform a cappella, but are blessed when we have musical accompaniment, such as the organ in the OSF Chapel.”

Because of the varied backgrounds and work shifts for participants, rehearsals are scheduled at various times in the weeks leading up to a performance, and Evancho says the group is always recruiting. “Especially tenors!” he adds with a laugh. “Anyone who is interested is welcome across all parts of OSF—all of our sister hospitals, Home Care, the medical groups, all of the service lines. That’s one of the reasons we structure rehearsals like we do: to accommodate everyone.”

The choir averages six performances a year. “There are a couple of hymns, like the Prayer of Saint Francis, we do during each performance. We sing ‘Help Us to Be Like Them,’ a song introduced by Sam Sprecher, a supply chain site director and past choir director, which connects us to the Saints and our pioneering Sisters. We also do at least one audience participation number. During the Blessing and Dedication at OSF Saint Luke’s in Kewanee, we sang ‘Kumbaya,’ and I was just amazed at how the crowd joined in—it was beautiful!”

Evancho has made music a part of his life from his earliest days growing up in western Pennsylvania, playing multiple instruments as well as singing. He recalls his first performance with the OSF Choir, during the Blessing and Dedication of OSF Holy Family Medical Center in Monmouth, as one he will always treasure. “Performing at the opening of a new OSF facility is part of our effort to welcome them to the mission of OSF. It’s a way to extend our Ministry.” iBi

Shelli Dankoff is senior media relations specialist at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.