Joseph Butler, OFM
1838 – 1911
Fr. Joseph Butler, OFM, the eighth president of St. Bonaventure College, was born in Clombey, Ireland, on Aug. 13, 1838. He came to New York to engage in business and eventually joined the Franciscan brothers of Brooklyn, teaching as a brother for 11 years.
He joined the Allegany friars in 1874, and was received into the novitiate May 7, 1876. He professed temporary vows May 10, 1877, and made his profession of solemn vows May 16, 1880. Fr. Joseph was ordained a priest at St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, N.Y., June 15, 1880.
Fr. Joe, “The Grand Old Man of Allegany,” lived and worked at St. Bonaventure for 37 years and was the epitome of Franciscan presence among students and alumni. Elected vice-president shortly after his ordination, he became president of the college and rector of the seminary in 1887.
He governed St. Bonaventure’s with wisdom, kindness and vision for 24 years. He also served as the custos for the Allegany Custody and became the first provincial vicar of Holy Name Province in 1901.
Fr. Joe died in New York City on July 25, 1911. He was 72 years old, a professed friar for 34 years and a priest for 31 years. A statue of “Fr. Joe” on the campus of St. Bonaventure University reminds all of the greatness of this simple friar.