Mt. Irenaeus Community Enjoys Fellowship in Manhhattan

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — Friends of Mt. Irenaeus gathered at the Province’s West 31st Street building last month for an evening of fellowship that raised nearly $14,000 for the Western New York ministry.

Close to 100 people attended the April 19 gathering, the first to be held in New York City by “the Mountain,” as Mt. Ireneus is commonly known. Participants came from as far as Massachusetts and North Carolina, and included alumni of St. Bonaventure University, members of the mountain’s board of trustees and staff, and supporters of the Franciscan retreat program.

The evening included a Mass celebrated by Daniel Riley, OFM, president of the mountain, and a reception.

Nearly $14,000 was raised through a drawing and silent auction that included Daniel’s original paintings. Fifty-three raffle tickets were sold, entitling people to a chance to participate in the reverse drawing, said event organizer Kate Clemens, a SBU graduate who lives in Connecticut.

Winners of the raffle were SBU alumni Michael and Christine Fossaceca of Scotch Plains, N.J., who won a week’s stay in a three-bedroom house in California’s Sonoma Valley, as well as airfare.  This prize was donated by an alumnus of St. Bonaventure, John Scarzafava.

Win-Win for Participants and the Mountain
“This was an opportunity to win an unforgettable week in Sonoma, while providing much needed support for the incredible work of Fr. Dan Riley and the Mt. Irenaeus community,” said Thomas Fenn of North Carolina, chair of the mountain’s board.  In a recent letter to friends of the mountain, Fenn, a 1985 SBU alumnus, emphasized that the mission of the mountain is to “make all things new.”

Four SBU student volunteers with Students for the Mountain also attended the event — Christopher Novak, Lara Govendo, Alexandra Fioravanti and Erin Farrell.

Farrell, a SBU graduate student, said that the gathering of alumni, family and friends of the mountain in New York City was beautiful in many ways. “It was my last chance to bring the mountain to alumni while at Bonaventure,” she said.

“This was extremely hard for me to do, as I grow so much from these experiences, but it truly was the best way to wrap up my involvement with the mountain while still a student at Bonaventure. Each of us was a living stone, bringing different experiences to the table, but we all came together as one living stone, one family, that evening. It did not matter what age you are, we all had a connection that evening, and it felt as if we were one.

“Each person I met opened up his or her heart to students. They listened to what we had to say and were full of wisdom for us. The energy within the room that evening was rejuvenating for everyone. I only wish evenings such as the one we had together in New York City could happen more often, as they refresh and energize you.”

Dan said, “I was filled with joy and gratitude with the outpouring faith and rich reflections during our Eucharist Saturday night, and the ways in which the spirit of this time flowed into a very social and beneficial evening for all of us, and in particular, the mountain.”

“Mt. Irenaeus is a very special place, not just because of its beautiful and peaceful setting, but because of the beautiful and peaceful people who minister and who visit,” said organizer Franey Donovan of Connecticut, a member of the Mt. Irenaeus board of trustees.

“Those of us who attended the event were able to meet several Students for the Mountain and they are terrific young people,” he said. “They are an excellent example of the good things taking place at the mountain. The future of the Church will be in very good hands,” said Donovan.

This event was the first of its kind in New York City, said Donovan, who, with his two daughters, both SBU alumni, has organized gift-gathering parties over the past few years to support the mountain’s annual auction.

Funding Valued Ministry
Funding for Mt. Irenaeus is obtained several ways. Approximately one-third comes from SBU, Donovan said, with the balance from a fundraising campaign, annual auction, other projects and events.

“In addition, we also organized a local Conneticut/New York City campaign to support the Mt. Irenaeus Endowment Fund several years ago, but there was no formal event supporting the efforts. It was primarily personal contacts and phone calls soliciting financial donations,” said Donovan.

Among the attendees was SBU alumnus Paul Kline of Massachusetts; he wrote an article about Mt. Irenaeus that appeared in the December 2007 issue of The Anthonian.

Provincial Minster John O’Connor, OFM, who worked with Dan at SBU’s campus ministry 30 years ago, joined guests for conversation. He knew many alumni from the nine years he spent at the university.
The photo above shows Dan with event organizers, from left, Kevin Cleary, Tom Fenn, Kate Nolan Clemens, Marla Rapini, and Franey Donovan.

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