Celebrating a Saint with Prayers, Community Events and an Award

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

Friars and their partners-in-ministry commemorated a philosopher, theologian and doctor of the church — St. Bonaventure – this month with a variety of athletic, social, spiritual and academic events. Commemorations began a week before the July 15 feast of St. Bonaventure, the seventh general minister of the Order of Friars Minor and affectionately called the Franciscans’ “other saint.”

In Western New York, St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany began celebrating the saint early on July 12 with its annual Bonafest. For the 36th year, the community held a festival on the grounds of the church — affectionately called “Little Bona’s” — that offered food, games, music and, as in recent years, a road race. At the start of the Saturday festivities, community members young and old participated in the traditional 5K walk/run on the Allegany River Trail. Among participants were Ronald Pecci, OFM, director of the Province’s postulant program, who ran with several men preparing to be friars, Christian Seno of Holy Name Province, and students from Immaculate Conception and St. John the Baptist provinces.

A caricature of James Vacco, OFM, pastor of the parish since 2011, appeared on the cover of the Bonafest program. The festival was organized by a committee of 15 people, many of whom have “been doing this for many years,” said James, who reflected last month on the significance of the Franciscan saint. 

Honoring a Scholar
At nearby St. Bonaventure University, the Franciscan Institute presented the 25th Franciscan Institute Medal at a dinner following the feast of St. Bonaventure Mass. The Mass was celebrated by historian and former SBU president Dominic Monti, OFM, shown in photo above.. The medal was given to Br. William Short, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, who led a five-day seminar titled “Francis of Assisi: Early Sources – A New Vision,” at SBU from July 7 to 11. He also worked on a three-volume series of early documents relating to St. Francis. “As a scholar, linguist and teacher, Bill has worked closely with every dimension of the project,” said F. Edward Coughlin, OFM.

Br. William is an academic dean and former president of the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. The Franciscan Institute Medal was established in 1987 to honor scholars who have made outstanding contributions to Franciscan studies.

The postulants studying at SBU this summer participated in the commemorations and posted photos on  Facebook.

Celebrating Namesake 
In Paterson, N.J., St. Bonaventure Parish honored its patron saint at two Masses on the feast day. As the community had done in recent years, it held a potluck luncheon the Sunday before the feast, giving the community “another opportunity to celebrate our namesake,” according to the parish bulletin. Participants brought dishes to share and the parish provided beverages, snacks and desserts. This luncheon was also an occasion for the community to say farewell to pastor Christopher VanHaight, OFM, who was preparing to leave for his new assignment in Durham, N.C., at the end of July. Photos were posted on the Facebook page of Saint Bonaventure Catholic Church.

In England, Basil Valente, OFM,and David Blake, OFM, celebrated the feast with SBU students in the Francis E. Kelley Oxford Program. The group visited Christ Church Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Oxford in England.

“In the wonderful spirit of ecumenical worship, the Christ Church Cathedral choir members warmly welcomed the St. Bonaventure group to the Cathedral and publicly prayed for us and our intentions on this special feast day,” said Basil, leader of SBU’s Oxford program for more than 15 years, who shared a video.

The cathedral is located at Christ Church College, near Trinity College, where SBU’s Oxford program is based.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: The photos on the cover of this newsletter issue show Christopher VanHaight, Ronald Pecci and Christian Seno, Dominic Monti, and an illustration of James Vacco.