SBU Opens ‘Fascinating’ Ireland Journey to Public

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University is inviting the public to participate in a 10-day journey through Ireland next summer to experience the culture and to learn about history as students and faculty members have done for nearly five years.

The Fr. Mychal Judge Center’s guided learning tour of Ireland will depart from JFK Airport, New York City, on June 25, 2013, and will return on July 4. Interested participants are asked to register by Jan. 12.

Learning about History and Peace
Since 2008, more than 100 St. Bonaventure students and faculty members have participated in the Judge Center’s journey to Ireland and Northern Ireland, visiting many iconic venues of Irish culture and learning firsthand how the Irish people overcame decades of violent conflict to live in peace, according to a brochure about the trip. The program will be led by Larry Sorokes, director of the St. Bonaventure Office of Life-long Learning.

Information about the trip is available from Larry, an SBU alumnus who joined the university staff in 2008, at 716-375-2304. SBU established the Fr. Mychal Judge Center in 2008 as a memorial to Mychal Judge, OFM, a St. Bonaventure alumnus who devoted his life to service, peace and reconciliation, as the brochure says.

“I’m excited to bring this opportunity to friends of the university, as we continue to remember Fr. Mychal’s contributions to peace and reconciliation,” said Sorokes. “Since starting this program four years ago, I’ve had many people – parents, alumni, and colleagues – comment that they would like to participate in a similar experience, learning about the troubles and post-conflict Ireland, as well as enjoying the cultural and social aspects of the region.”

Experiencing Process of Peace
Earlier this year, SBU alumnus and trustee Frank Sevola, OFM, participated in a similar trip as one of four chaperones.

“I found the entire trip fascinating,” said Frank, the pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, N.J. “I loved being with Bonaventure students, especially as a grad and as a trustee. They were excellent students— bright, inquisitive and insightful. It was also a lot of fun. I found the tours of Bogside and Belfast to be the most amazing. The follow-up discussions with the students were also great — very insightful and thought provoking.”

The Feb. 24 to March 4, 2012 trip, which included time in Dublin, Bogside, Derry and Belfast, as well as visits to a university, a retreat center, several historic sites, and discussions and liturgies.

“The trip was all about studying the troubles in Northern Ireland,” Frank said, “We spent the first overnight in Dublin and the next day bussed to Ballycastle in NI where we spent three days at the Corrymela Retreat Center. This center was founded as a place for peace and reconciliation in NI. We also visited  the Bogside in Derry where Bloody Sunday took place. We were given tours of the areas by men who fought during the Troubles —each in their own area

“The students were able to experience firsthand the process of peace and reconciliation,” the 1982 SBU graduate added. “That is very valuable. They also met many people their own age (in Belfast we were close by Queens University). It was also a great opportunity to experience another culture.”

Frank said, “I am very impressed with the Mychal Judge Center.  Mychal was dedicated to peace and reconciliation in his life and especially in NI.  This center pays tribute to this memory by teaching students about peace and reconciliation and allowing them to spend time in the place he loved so well.”

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province and a graduate of St. Bonaventure.