Allegany Parish Presents Four Francis Medals at its 20th Bonafest

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure Parish here presented Holy Name’s Francis Medal to four parishioners on the Feast of St. Bonaventure (July 15) at the Mass that began its annual Bonafest. The recipients were:

Lois McLaughlin, who has been volunteering for the parish since 1961, was given the medal, according to the Bonafest booklet “for uncommon contribution to the advancement of the values and ideals of St. Francis of Assisi.” She spends countless hours helping the parish in a variety of ways with a friendly smile and sense of humor, according to the Bonafest booklet. Her biggest commitment is to The Bridge thrift shop, said pastor Richard Husted.
David and Kathleen Volz, who have given many years of tireless dedication to the festival, the church and the parishioners. They have been an integral part of nearly every aspect of Bonafest, including head chairmen and many other roles.
Msgr. Thomas Walsh, an Allegany native who has been helping at Catholic churches in the area since he retired from active ministry in 1996. Father Thomas, who studied at St. Bonaventure University, was made a monsignor by Bishop Curlin of Charlotte, N.C., where he began his ministry. St. Bonaventure parish honored him with a celebration that year.
The Francis Medal was established by the Province in 1998 to recognize and express its deep appreciation to men and women who have advanced the values and ideals of St. Francis and /or have also generously assisted the friars in living and proclaiming the Gospel after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

The image of St. Francis on the medal is based on one of the many glazed terracotta relief images of the saint found among the works of the 15th century Della Robbia family of Italian renaissance sculptor-artists.

Festival Offers Games, Prizes, and Letter from Familiar Friar
The two-day festival, held July 14 and 15 on the church grounds, was the 20th Bonafest held by the parish. Among the activities were a Mass, music, children’s games, clowns, balloons, raffles and other entertainment. Ronald Pecci, the Province’s director of pre-novitiate formation, who lives at Holy Cross Church in the Bronx, N.Y., attended the event and was a raffle winner.

A letter from Bernardine Kessing, pastor of the church from 1985 to 1999, was included in the Bonafest booklet. In his message, he described his life in Boston where he moved after serving at St. Anne’s Church in Fair Lawn, N.J.

Between Bernardine and Richard, Kevin Downey, who is now serving at St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes, N.J., was pastor of the Allegany church, known as “Little Bona’s.”

This year’s Bonafest was organized by many parishioners and friends of the parish including Bill Sprague and Bob Forness who served as general chairmen.

In a letter in the journal, Richard said, “As we celebrate our parish festival, we look back at the good things with which the Lord has blessed us. This has been a challenging year for the parish of St. Bonaventure.”

Changes and Energy in Parish
“Like all parishes within the Buffalo Diocese, we have been part of the restructuring process called “A Journey in Faith and Grace,” Richard said. “There have been and will continue to be, school and parish closings meant to downsize, revamp and re-energize ministries through the diocese.”

“Our parish continues to have a vibrant variety of ministries and a future filled with new and bright possibilities,” he said. “Change is always difficult but with change, always come new challenges and new opportunities for growth.”

Richard received a letter last month from the Most Rev. Edward Kmiec, bishop of Buffalo, recommending that the name of the new merged parish remain St. Bonaventure.

“The name of St. Bonaventure has been attached to the parish since 1869 when the parishioners worshipped at the chapel of St. Bonaventure University and later (1931) at its present location,” Bishop Kmiec said. “I am grateful for the leadership that Fr. Richard has shown throughout this restructuring process.”

The merged St. Bonaventure/ St. John the Baptist Parish has held several other events recently including:
1) Preventive ultrasound screenings
2) Summer Song religious education program for kindergarten through third grade students earlier this month

— Jocelyn is the Province’s Director of Communications.