The Good Journey:
150 Years of History at St. Bonaventure University
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Franciscan Institute Publications
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In February of 1970, I saw the St. Bonaventure campus for the first time. I’d driven up from Kent, Ohio, where I was in school, and snow was falling hard. I noticed that the small, free-standing post office building, located mid-campus where the Quick Arts Center has stood since the mid-1990s, was nearly overwhelmed by the snow. I had grown up in California along the snowless coast, and this first impression was striking....
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It’s one of those foggy mornings in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. The mist closely hugs the Allegheny River and then oozes over the campus of St. Bonaventure University. On this morning, you must stand directly under the tower outside the University Chapel to see the upper bell dedicated to Mary, Queen of the Order of Friars Minor. And it’s impossible to discern the other buildings on this Franciscan...
Chapter One: Founders (1856–1890)
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It took a bishop, an entrepreneur, and a friar full of energy, ambition and vision to establish a Catholic presence in Western New York. John Timon, first bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo; Nicholas Devereux, a prominent entrepreneur and land speculator from Utica, New York; and Pamfilo da Magliano, an Italian Franciscan missionary, are remembered today as the co-founders of the college that would become St. Bonaventure University....
Chapter Two: Approaching a New Century (1890–1920)
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By 1890, Allegany, New York, had become an important center for American Catholic education. St. Bonaventure’s College offered high school and college programs along with a postgraduate theology curriculum in its seminary. Allegany also housed St. Elizabeth’s Academy for women, chartered by the Board of Regents as an accredited high school in 1893, where the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany offered girls an opportunity for education beyond grammar school....
Chapter Three: The Plassmann Era (1920–1949)
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No prior president was better prepared to head St. Bonaventure’s College than Fr. Thomas Plassmann, OFM. Born on March 19, 1879, in Avenwedde, a district of Westphalia, in Germany, Bernard Plassmann was the son of a lumberman and wood carver. He remembered his boyhood as a happy time “full of fun and action,” and recalled his youthful desire to be either “a soldier or a friar.” Plassmann left for America at 15 and...
Chapter Four: University (1949–1967)
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Fr. Juvenal Lalor, OFM, was chosen president when Fr. Tom Plassmann became minister provincial of Holy Name Province. Born in Brooklyn in 1911, he joined the Order in 1929. He was ordained in 1936 and was subsequently assigned to St. Joseph Seminary in Callicoon and later to St. Bonaventure’s English department. Lalor earned an M.A. from the Institute of Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto in 1941 and his Ph.D. from...
Chapter Five: Mirror of the Times (1967–1972)
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Fr. Reginald Redlon, OFM, was chosen to head St. Bonaventure University in 1967. He was born and raised in Maine, joining the Franciscans at Callicoon in 1943. After his ordination, Redlon went to Europe where he studied in France and Switzerland before receiving a doctorate from the University of Louvain in Belgium in 1955. He served as a member of the faculty and the rector of the province’s seminary-college in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, until he was appointed president of St. Bonaventure University....
Chapter Six: Embracing Modernity (1973–1989)
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The friar chosen to follow Redlon as president of the university was Fr. Damian McElrath, OFM, who came to campus with professional experience that well prepared him for the position. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928, McElrath entered the seminary in Callicoon when he was 15 and spent his entire adult life with the province. McElrath was an ordained friar with graduate degrees in theology and ecclesiastical history. He earned a doctorate...
Chapter Seven: Facing the Millennium (1990–2003)
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The search for a president to replace Doyle brought forth a late application from Fr. Neil J. O’Connell, OFM, a friar from Holy Name Province, who was little known to most members of the university community. Although O’Connell had followed the traditional pre-Vatican II route to the priesthood via the Franciscan seminary system, he had lived much of his life since ordination...
Chapter Eight: A Mission Renewed (2003–)
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In the aftermath of the basketball scandal, the university returned to its roots with the appointment of a friar as interim president and a Franciscan sister to be senior vice president assigned to ensure the university’s Franciscan heritage....
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Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2011