This morning I got up at 7 AM, showered and got ready for the first class of the Spring 2010 Semester at St. Bonaventure University. I was excited to once again be meeting with this small group of nearly two dozen educators from all across Western New York. It’s only been since July of last year that I’ve been a Bonaventure student, in the Educational Leadership program, but in that short time I feel a kinship the like of which I’ve never known prior. Coming to St. Bonaventure has been like coming home from a long journey. I drove the twenty plus miles from my home in Franklinville to the university, parked near Hickey Dining Hall and then walked across the campus to Plassman Hall. As I climbed the steps at Plassman I thought of my wife and how she had earned her Masters degree in this building. I thought of our marriage, our children, our first date at the Reilly Center and common love of basketball which often brought us to this wonderful Franciscan institution. I thought of the Allegany Franciscans who welcomed me to Kindergarten in 1957 and also of the Franciscan Friars who taught me at nearby Archbishop Walsh in the mid-1960’s.
After finding the classroom and greeting our professor Dr. Gibbs and my classmates I grabbed a hot cup of coffee and sat down in my seat in Room 150. Dr. Gibbs welcomed us and as he lectured I looked to my left and through the windows. The sun was streaming onto the brick of one of the adjacent buildings. My eyes looked higher toward that streaming winter sun and then I saw the red Spanish tile roof and I remembered how I used to sit in study hall at Archbishop Walsh nearly 43 years ago looking at those same red Spanish tile roofs. My eyes misted briefly as I thought back over all those years and the dreams of a teenage boy who could not have imagined all that would be in store for him. That moment filled me with gratitude to be sitting in class for the first time at Plassman.
On my way out of the building after class I spotted the plaque dedicating the building to Fr. Thomas Plassman, who was born in 1879 and died in 1959. He did a lot of living in 82 years. He became President of the University in 1920 at the age of 43. That’s an amazing feat for such a young man. I’m very grateful to be a member of the St. Bonaventure University community and to the Franciscans and others who built this place over the years. Deo gratias!