ALLEGANY, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University students and staff returned to the school this fall to find a new building waiting for them in the center of campus.
The newly constructed McGinley-Carney Center for Franciscan Ministry sits in the same place as its predecessor, the Thomas Merton Center, which was razed in 2016. The new building gives students 24-hour access to conference and workrooms, a kitchen, and a great room, for larger assemblies. A mural of the town of Bagnoregio greets students when they walk into the foyer, and Catholic and Franciscan artwork decorate the walls.
The building also includes the university’s first-ever interfaith prayer tower, a physical reminder that students who aren’t Catholic also have a spiritual home at St. Bonaventure.
“We are proud that we are Catholic Franciscan,” Francis Di Spigno, OFM, executive director of university ministries, told The Bona Venture, the student newspaper. “However, we are cognizant of the fact that there were no sacred spaces [on campus] that could be used for other faiths. We wanted this tower because when you go there, there is no iconography. We did it so no one can own it, but everyone can use it.”
The university ministries staff moved into the new building in May but waited to dedicate and bless the building until after the students had returned to campus for the fall semester.
More than 100 people – including trustee emeritus John “Jack” McGinley, ‘65, and Sr. Margaret Carney, for whom the building is named, as well as the friar community at St. Bonaventure University – attended a dedication and blessing ceremony for the new building on a sunny afternoon on Sept. 16. In 2015, in honor of McGinley’s 50th anniversary as a Bonaventure alumnus, he and his family and the Rita M. McGinley Foundation, of which he is chair, committed $2 million to enhance university ministries at St. Bonaventure University.
During the dedication, McGinley was surprised with a Gaudete Medal, the university’s highest honor for living meritorious a life of service reflecting the spirit and values of St. Francis of Assisi.
The citation honoring McGinley concluded: “St. Francis warned his friends that glory for good deeds done is never to be a personal goal, but glory for God must be our aim. Today, we heed that admonition to give Jack a token – not of glory – but of our affection and admiration. Gaudete is a command. It means we must rejoice and rejoice we will as we present this medal to Jack McGinley.”
Also honored that weekend was award-winning architect Fr. Richard Vosko, ‘65, who served as a consultant on the design of the new ministry center. He assisted Spillman-Farmer of Bethlehem, Pa., the architectural firm that worked on the building. A Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., he has been working since 1970 as a sacred space planner throughout the United States and Canada. His portfolio includes 15 cathedrals and innumerable synagogue consultations. He received an honorary doctorate from the university on Sept. 17.
Photos of the dedication can be found in an album on SBU’s Flickr page.
- “St. Bonaventure Ministries Center, Staff Prepare to Move into New Building” – March 10, 2017, HNP Today
- “Friars Celebrate St. Bonaventure University President” – June 29, 2016, HNP Today
- “Rebuilding God’s House: SBU Plans New Ministry Center” – Aug. 27, 2015, HNP Today