Friars Welcome SBU Alumni to Manhattan Friary

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

NEW YORK — Nearly 100 turned out for St. Bonaventure University’s recent alumni gathering in the Province’s newest friary, St Francis of Assisi Friary, open since May 2007.

Attendees, coming from as far away as Pennsylvania and Virginia, visited with friars and friends and enjoyed cocktails and refreshments in the cozy atmosphere of the friars’ recreation area and dining room.

The gathering was co-hosted by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and SBU president Sister Margaret Carney, OSF. Jerome Massimino, OFM, guardian of the friary and pastor of the adjacent St. Francis of Assisi Church, welcomed guests to the friary.

The event, publicized as a new year celebration, included presentations by Leslie Quick, ’75, chair of the capital campaign, and former chair of SBU’s  board of trustees, and  alumni director Joseph Flanagan, SBU  ’74, who told HNP Today that “the friars really went out of their way for us by giving us  use of their living space.”

Alumni Pleased
Many guests seemed impressed with the building, as well as with the event.

Alumna Joanne Condon, SBU ‘80, said, “I couldn’t get over how peaceful the space seemed – – in the middle of Manhattan” she said.  “The reception was just lovely.  Anywhere I looked, I saw faces covered in big smiles.  It is as though we were at a family reunion. No matter how long it has been since people had seen each other, time just melts away. Everyone is just so comfortable with one another.”

She added: “Whenever I hear Sr. Margaret speak, I am so impressed. The woman is brilliant. Her passion for the university and all things Franciscan is overwhelming. I almost burst with pride when she spoke about Bonaventure having been awarded additional seats in the dual admission program. Sister described that other colleges, larger and perhaps better known, were not being awarded any additional spaces, but Bonaventure was. The explanation for these coveted seats was the type of student that Bonaventure produced — one grounded in Franciscan values.  What a testament to our university.”

Alumnus Robert Kane, SBU ’67, of Alexandria, Va., said, “It was great to see the friars and some of their living quarters, and the friars really made themselves accessible throughout the night. I thought that was great.”
He added: “What I experienced at the alumni event is what I always experience at a Bona event—a real sense of community and a mutual interest in the lives of other Bona grads. People genuinely enjoy seeing and talking with other people. There seems to be a fairly easy path that leads to that. It’s a really big cliché but it’s true — there is some aspect of family involved in all this.”

“Maybe it’s because my roots go back so far there – my uncle was Patrick Howard, OFM,  but I find a real  peace and calm envelopes one at St. Francis Church. In the midst of one of the busiest parts of the city,  when you sit in the church or in the peace garden, it seems like a real oasis or a safe place to relax and reflect or just to be quiet. It’s a pretty special place that creates that kind of atmosphere. And the friars with their general good nature and good humor contribute to that feeling.”

Patrick Fitzgerald, OFM, said that he was pleased to hear that the friary where he lives was hosting the Bonaventure alumni.

“I enjoyed meeting all, particularly those I knew from my days at Bona’s, 1970 to 1985,” he said.  Patrick was known as Fr. Brennan during those days.

Friars in Attendance
In addition to John O’Connor and Jerome Massimino, other friars who attended the reception included:

Brian Cullinane, OFM, who served at St. Bonaventure from 1975 to 1984.

Joseph Kotula, OFM, who traveled from Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat in Western New York

Miguel Loredo, OFM, who will be exhibiting his artwork at SBU’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts later this month

Dominic Monti, OFM, who served as SBU’s interim president from 2003 to 2004

Daniel Riley, OFM, from Mt. Irenaeus, who led two Mountain programs in the Hudson Valley area the weekend of the alumni reception.

In addition, Sister Alice Gallin, OSU, SBU’s interim president from 1993 to 1994, was at the gathering.

“It was a wonderful evening filled with friends, friars and fun,” alumna Condon said.

Shown in photo is Joanne Condon with John O’Connor, who her family has known for many years. John’s mother and Joanne’s mother, Mary Condon, went to the same high school, Dominican Commercial in Jamaica, Queens.

Jocelyn Thomas, a 1977 graduate of St. Bonaventure, is director of communications for Holy Name Province.