SBU Students Serve Community

Rachel Konieczny Around the Province


Kevin Kriso lights a candle in the St. Bonaventure University Chapel during a recent university ministry event as Francis Di Spigno looks on. (Photo courtesy of Kate Hogan)

ALLEGANY, N.Y. – “As Franciscans, we’re always coming up with that positive message to help people believe more in themselves than they would normally do and I think at the end of a brutal political campaign, All Saints’ Day was just perfectly tied to give us a good, positive message about how important it is for us to have community.”

Fr. David Couturier, OFM Cap., dean of the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University, said his All Saints’ Day Mass homily on Nov. 1 highlighted “the whole community of good people who are already in the process of becoming and living out that holiness and that saintliness every single day.”

This fall, the Bonaventure campus community, together with its University Ministries, participated in a host of events including All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on Oct. 29, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, respectively.

The campus celebrated All Hallows’ Eve twice, beginning with the Oct. 29 annual Halloween party for the Bona Buddies program and concluding with the Bona Silver Wolves group visiting the residents of Eden Heights of Eden Assisted Living on Nov. 1.

Mary Frac, junior psychology major and co-coordinator of Bona Buddies, said the group, in conjunction with Enactus, a nonprofit organization at Bonaventure promoting partnership between students and business leaders, hosted a Halloween party for children in the Bona Buddies program, complete with a haunted house.

“We had the kids come to campus this one Saturday for the Halloween party and for the first hour they did the activities,” Frac said. “Enactus was a huge help this year— every year they do the haunted house for us and so they put on a phenomenal haunted house for us upstairs in Butler [Gymnasium]. The kids also had lunch and got to trick-or-treat through the dorms — the freshmen are always so enthusiastic.”

Frac said her primary event to plan as co-coordinator was this semester’s Halloween party.

Subsequently, when 30 children in the Bona Buddies program unexpectedly needed additional transportation to and from the party, the Mt. Irenaeus community answered the call.

Kevin Kriso, OFM, guardian of Mt. Irenaeus, said the Bona Buddies group borrowed the Mt. Irenaeus van for transporting the children.

“The Bona Buddies are part of University Ministries and so it goes without saying that we all try to support each other in different ways and that was kind of an emergency situation where they had more students than they had transportation for,” Kevin said.

Frac said she appreciated the effort of the other clubs on campus that help to make the Bona Buddies group possible.

“Each week, practically, we have a club come in and help us out,” Frac said. “They’ll tell the kids a little about themselves and then hang out with the kids. It’s always really great to see the campus and community come together. It’s a lot of fun.”

Colleen Corey, junior marketing major and founder and president of Bona Silver Wolves, said the group traveled to Eden, N.Y., to visit the Eden Heights residents in the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve.

“We went to play games with them and talk,” Corey said of the residents. “They had their Halloween party on Oct. 31 so they were all kind of tired from that, so they just kind of wanted to talk with us. We played a lot of trivia.”

Corey, who started Bona Silver Wolves in the fall of 2015 with fellow Bonaventure student Katelin Brooks, said the group enjoyed meeting with the residents.

“I think it’s really great to make connections with everyone,” Corey said. “A lot of people are afraid to come out and work with the elderly but it’s just where they’re living and I think it’s really a good way to help them with their loneliness. It’s great to get off campus and do it.”

The Bonaventure community concluded the events by recognizing All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2. Francis Di Spigno, OFM, executive director of University Ministries, said it is the combination of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day that he cherishes.

“What I like about the celebration of All Saints’ and All Souls’ is that we celebrate people like my grandmother — the people who to us exemplify the Christian life,” Francis said. “They don’t get a day and in one regard, they’re more real to us than a St. Francis would be.”

Francis said the faith community has a tendency to admire well-known religious figures while seldom focusing on those who make “sanctity something attainable,” referencing his grandmother.

“We create images around the big saints — St. Francis, St. Anthony, St. Bonaventure, St. Peter — and we put them in a category of due reverence,” Francis said.

Francis said the Church intentionally puts All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day back-to-back.

“What I like about All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day is that it focuses on the unknown saints, the people who in their own way attempted to live and succeeded in living the Christian life of love.”

Rachel Konieczny is a St. Bonaventure journalism student who works for University Ministries.

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