ALLEGANY, N.Y. — The community of St. Bonaventure Church celebrated Bonafest earlier this month, marking the feast day of the parish’s namesake, along with its festival tradition. The Western New York parish was one of several Province ministries that commemorated last week’s feast of St. Bonaventure.
From July 10 to 11, the parish celebrated Bonafest with food, games, activities, and an auction, a more than 20-year-old tradition.
“Bonafest continues to be an example of collaboration in ministry,” wrote pastor Richard Husted, OFM, in a letter that appeared in the Bonafest ad journal. “Parishioners working together on the common goal of Bonafest continue to foster a sense of community and those who gather for the festival can experience firsthand the spirit that motivates us as a community.”
Four parishioners were given the Province’s Francis Medal this year. They were Mary McGavisk, Don and Rita Policastro and Bill Sprague. Information about the medal and the recipients along with the traditional “Year in Review” are included in the event’s journal, which this year was called “BonaFest, a Time to Rejoice in the Good News.” An essay by Richard, titled “My Journey as a Franciscan Priest,” originally printed in The Anthonian, appears in the ad journal.
Patrick Tuttle, OFM, of Greenville, S.C., served as disc jockey at the three-day event. Raffle prize winners, Francis Medal recipients and more about Bonafest can be found in the July 18 bulletin.
The spirit of St. Bonaventure, whose feast day is celebrated on July 15, is especially strong in Western New York, where Fr. Pamfilo Da Magliano, OFM, settled more than 150 years ago and founded St. Bonaventure University, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany and many churches.
Festivities at SBU
The St. Bonaventure community hosted a series of events beginning on July 15 highlighting the feast of St. Bonaventure. The celebration began with a Eucharistic liturgy with celebrant and homilist Fr. Melvin Jurisich, OFM, former provincial minister of Saint Barbara Province.
The Mass was attended by Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, a Franciscan scholar, who shares “an interesting tidbit” about the saint who is so important in Franciscan history.
“Bonaventure died in 1274 in Lyons, France, during the ecumenical council that he had helped plan. When, in 1434, the friar’s remains were transported to the new church erected in honor of St. Francis at Lyons, Bonaventure’s head was found in a perfect state of preservation, the tongue being as red as in life. This miracle not only moved the people of Lyons to choose Bonaventure as their special patron, but also gave a great impetus to the process of his canonization.
“Dante, writing long before, had given expression to the popular mind by placing Bonaventure among the saints in the Paradiso, but the internal dissensions within the Franciscan Order held up the process of his canonization. Finally, on 14 April, 1482, Bonaventure was enrolled in the catalogue of the saints by Sixtus IV. In1562 Bonaventure’s shrine was plundered by the Huguenots and the urn containing his body was burned in the public square. His head was preserved through the heroism of the guardian, who hid it at the cost of his life, but it disappeared during the French Revolution. Every effort to discover it has been in vain. Bonaventure was inscribed among the principal Doctors of the Church by Sixtus V on 14 March, 1557. His feast was originally celebrated 14 July.”
On July 17, SBU hosted a symposium on “The Influence of the School of St. Victor on the Franciscans in the 13th Century,” with Dominique Poirel, the Fr. Joseph A. Doino, OFM visiting professor of Franciscan studies for spring/summer 2010. Scholars of Victorine theology — Boyd Coolman of Boston College, Paul Rorem of Princeton Theological Seminary, Dale Coulter of Regent University, Va., and Grover Zinn of Oberlin College, Ohio — presented papers.
Later that day, after evening prayer, the Franciscan Institute medal was presented by the faculty to Fr. J. A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv. Michael Blastic, OFM, read the formal presentation. Afterwards, Fr. Wayne gave a paper on the Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano, “The Gospel According to Thomas: The Word in Our Flesh.” The traditional festive banquet for the entire institute summer community — faculty, students and staff — followed in the Doyle Hall dining room.
The Franciscan Institute Medal is awarded annually to someone who has made significant contributions to Franciscan scholarship and education. Hellmann is chair of the department of graduate theology at St. Louis University.
The Province’s other St. Bonaventure Church, located in Paterson, N.J., also celebrated the feast day on July 15, at both the regular 11:30 a.m. Mass, and at a special 7 p.m. Mass. A reception followed the evening Mass.
St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown Manhattan recognized the feast by showing an image of St. Bonaventure on the cover of its July 11 bulletin. It shows St. Bonaventure holding the tree of the redemption, by Vittorio Crivelli (c.1440-1501). The bulletin also included information about the Franciscan saint, born in Bagnoregio, Italy, around 1217. St. Bonaventure is remembered for his theological and deeply spiritual writings, for his holiness and dedication to the ideals of St. Francis.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.