Regina Fratrum Minorum is what is written on the lintel above the entry into this small side chapel which is adjacent to the University chapel at St. Bonaventure University. Translated literally I think it means, “Queen of the Friars Minor.” Mary held a very special place in St. Francis of Assisi’s heart and it’s depicted in this mural behind the altar in this small chapel. I used to come here and sit when I first moved to the area in 1979. I loved the quiet and peace and I always felt very secure in this chapel. Today when I was on campus at St. Bonaventure University waiting for the staff of Graduate Admissions to return from lunch I walked into the University Chapel and then here.
Today was a homecoming and an epiphany for me. Yesterday, I formally applied for admission to the University and today I met with the head of the department I will be a student in. I wanted to stop by admissions too and make sure that I was covering all the bases. With some extra time following a great lunch at Cafe La Verna I stopped by this chapel and sat where I sat so many years ago and thought how much my life had changed and how grateful I am for the direction it took and continues to take. I thought too of the Franciscan influence in my life and how these men and women in brown had so deeply influenced my life. I began my formal education at St. Pius X School in Delevan, New York in 1957. Fifty-two years later I’m in the process of application at St. Bonaventure University. How much my life has been formed by Franciscans.
Today, as I walked about the campus I discovered that I knew many people. I met Dr. Gibbs who will be in charge of my education here. At Graduate Admissions I met Tina Dewe, a woman whom I still owe an airplane ride. I talked to Br. Ed Coughlan and Fr. Dan Riley. In fact Dan Riley has more to do with me being at St. Bonaventure other than my wife and daughter than probably anyone else I know. It was a homily on Holy Thursday night nearly ten years ago delivered by Dan that brought me home to my roots. Although the experience of a student is new, the surroundings are old and familiar. I did get to sit in St. Joseph’s Oratory for the first time in my life. I’ve passed it many times throughout the years and been intrigued but never had a chance to venture in until today. St. Bonaventure has always held a special place in my heart. I remember sitting in study hall at Archbishop Walsh high school and looking south at the orange tile rooftops. It was here that I attended basketball camp in the summer of 1970. It was here that my wife and I came on our first date almost twenty-eight years ago. Here it was that our son Devin began to play organized basketball in Butler Gymnasium. Here we’ve come hundreds of times to watch the Bonnies basketball teams. Now, my daugher and I are students. I stopped by the bookstore to pick up a t-shirt that says St. Bonaventure University. I look a bit more official.