As 2017 marks the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Bonaventure, ministries around the Province commemorated this month’s feast of the 13th century philosopher and theologian in special ways – with a variety of scholastic, social and spiritual events.
In Western New York, the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University hosted a St. Bonaventure Conference from July 12 to 15 that was dedicated to the saint’s intellectual heritage and contemporary.
“The university gathered many of the world’s pre-eminent Franciscan scholars to explore the theology, philosophy and spirituality of the man who thematized the beginnings of the Franciscan intellectual tradition,” said Fr. David Couturier, OFM Cap., dean of SBU’s School of Franciscan studies and executive director of the Franciscan Institute since 2014. “Every year, the conference intends to promote an understanding of how culture and religion form individuals and communities, and what elements of Bonaventure’s own experience and written work may be retrieved in the contemporary world.”
Among the speakers who presented at last week’s conference was Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF, who delivered the Ignatius Brady Lecture with an address on “Bonaventure on the Centrality of Love.” Sr. Ilia is a former professor of spirituality at the Washington Theological Union, where she also directed the Franciscan Center of Theology and Spirituality. She has written several books, including Christ in Evolution, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth and Clare of Assisi: a Heart Full of Love.
The commemoration concluded on July 15 with a Mass celebrated at the University Chapel. Former Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, a Franciscan historian and SBU’s interim president from 2003 to 2004, presided and preached. A dinner and the Franciscan Institute Medal presentation followed the Mass. The medal is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to Franciscan scholarship and education.
This year’s recipient was Fr. Robert Karris, OFM, a former provincial minister of Sacred Heart Province and General Councilor of the Order of Friars Minor. He is a widely published author, most known for his groundbreaking work “John: Stories of the Word and Faith” and “Eating Your Way through Luke’s Gospel.” He was previously president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and general editor of the 15-volume Works of St. Bonaventure series published by Franciscan Institute Publications.
“It was a very nice feast of St. Bonaventure,” said Dominic. “I am so happy to have been with all the scholars sharing their insights into Bonaventure and felt honored to preside at the Eucharist. The conference had a wide variety of sessions with over 60 scholars from around the world.”
Festivals and a Course
Nearby, on July 9, the community of St. Bonaventure Church celebrated the feast of the parish’s namesake with its annual Bonafest. The more than 30-year-old festival included food, games, entertainment by local bands and a 5K race, in which several of the Province’s postulants participated.
On an insert that appeared in the local newspaper The Olean Times Herald, James Vacco, OFM, pastor, said: “This year, Bonafest commemorates the 800th birthday of our parish and the university patron. Scholars are not exactly sure as to the date and year of his birth. The general consensus among them designates 1217, although some scholars say 1221.”
The Province’s other St. Bonaventure Parish, located in Paterson, N.J., celebrated the feast day with a special 11:30 a.m. Mass.
In South Carolina, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Greenville paid homage to the saint last month by offering a discussion about “the seraphic doctor” as part of a course offered by St. Anthony’s University, a program launched in summer 2015 by the parish.
“We particularly celebrate the well-rounded character of St. Bonaventure,” said T.J. Cofield, director of adult faith formation at the Greenville parish. “His humility and charity are characteristic of all the saints in the Franciscan tradition, but his matching intellectual stature as a doctor of the Church and a close teaching peer of St. Thomas Aquinas make him stand out even more among the friars in history.”
As a letter from the General Ministers of the First Order and of the TOR posted July 14 on the Order of Friars Minor’s website said, “Saint Bonaventure helps us to “spread the wings” of the hope that drives us to be like him, unceasing seekers of God, singing of the beauty of creation and witnessing to a Love and Beauty that “moves all things.”
— Johann Cuervo is a communications assistant in the Provincial Office.
- Franciscan Institute page of St. Bonaventure University website
- Commission for the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition website
- “St. Bonaventure: The Saint, the University and Life’s Journey” — July 13, 2016, HNP Today
- “Rebuilding God’s House: SBU Plans New Ministry Center” – Aug. 27, 2015, HNP Today
- “SBU Appoints Dean of Franciscan Studies” – Aug. 4, 2014, HNP Today
- “Carnivals, Commemorations of St. Bonaventure Make Season Festive” — July 31, 2013, HNP Today