History of Covenant Health
Covenant Health’s foundation began with the vision of St. Marguerite d’Youville, who came to be known as the Mother of Universal Charity for her works of charity in l8th century Montreal. She founded the Sisters of Charity of Montreal in 1737.
The “Grey Nuns” were brave women who followed in St. Marguerite d’Youville’s footsteps by caring for the poor and disenfranchised. The Sisters were first called from Montreal to the United States in 1855 to care for the people of Toledo, Ohio, which was then known as the “Black Swamp.” They traveled by stagecoach to answer the call to serve. They also traveled to other parts of the United States to help those in need.
In the early 1980s, the Grey Nuns U.S. Provincial Leadership, Sr. June Ketterer and her Council, realized a need to create awareness about the Grey Nuns’ health care institutions in the United States and how to ensure their mission would continue into the future. The concept of forming a health care system emerged and in 1983, the Grey Nuns Health System was established to ensure the continuation of the Mission and philosophy within the Grey Nuns’ sponsored institutions.
With the increasing interest of other religious congregations in joining the Grey Nuns Health System, in 1986, the Grey Nuns Health System name changed to Covenant Health Systems. This new name represents, “God’s promise to us and our promise to the people we serve and also our willingness to relate to a broad spectrum of health care organizations, while re-emphasizing our commitment to the poor and those in need.” In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) Covenant was understood to have two important characteristics: EMET and HESED, meaning fidelity and loving kindness, which expresses our commitment to each other and those whom we serve. The Covenant tag line: “Our Name is Our Promise” raises two questions for us: What do we promise when we say Covenant, and to whom do make a promise.
In 1995, the office of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICSAL) Vatican City, Rome granted a decree to the Covenant Board to become a Public Juridic Person (PJP) and to assume sponsorship and responsibility of Covenant, with several responsibilities (powers) remaining with the Grey Nuns. Being a Public Juridic Person authorizes Covenant to provide ministry in the name of the Church.
In 2007, Rome authorized the Grey Nuns to hand over these remaining Powers to the Covenant Board of Governors, thus the Covenant Board of Directors today is both the Civil Board and a self –perpetuating Public Juridic Person (Sponsor) according to Canon Law, the law of the Church. This was the first time in Church History that this right was extended to a Catholic Healthcare System. The Civil Law name is Covenant Health, Inc.; the Canon law name is Covenant Health Systems.
Today, Covenant Health serves as sponsor, governance organization and manager of multiple health and elder care related organizations throughout New England. While we were founded by the Grey Nuns, today we are honored to continue to represent them along with 16 other religious congregations and dioceses in our healing ministry:
- Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception
- Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary
- USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus
- Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Sorrowful Mother
- Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
- Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary-Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec
- Sisters of Charity-Halifax
- Sister of Charity of Montreal, “Grey Nuns”
- Sisters of Charity of St. Hyacinthe
- Sisters of Mercy –Northeast Community
- Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
- Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, Felician Sisters of North America
- Sister of Holy Cross
- Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston