This morning began early when I woke up unable to sleep anymore at 6:30 am. A shower and then getting dressed for graduation at St. Bonaventure University. The steady rain forced me to put my cap and gown in a makeshift barrel bag covering and then a twenty-five minute drive to campus. With the help of custodian in the Reilly Center I found a spacious classroom where we could stow our gear. I got gowned and capped and then stood in line waiting with hundreds of others grads and undergrads prior to our procession into the Reilly Center arena. As I turned the corner following my classmates I saw than one each side of the center aisle were the faculty of St. Bonaventure University who greeted us as we processed. Early in that procession my eyes misted a bit as I remembered my Franciscan roots at St. Pius X Grammar School where I graduated 45 years ago.
My adviser Dr. Gibbs, who is also head of the Department of Educational Leadership extended his hand. “Congratulations, Don.” Next to him was my friend Brother Kevin Kriso, OFM. Kevin looked resplendent in his red robes. My humble friend is actually a Doctor of Counseling Psychology; next was Dr. McDonough who taught me so much about curriculum and data analysis; then there was Dr. Anne Claire-Fisher who explored the Secular Franciscan life; Fr. Bob Struszynski, OFM who is actually a Doctor of Theology; Fr. Dan Riley, OFM who is one of my dearest friends; Fr. Michael Calabria, OFM a lovely friar and Facebook friend who heads the University’s Islamic Studies program.
One of the professors that I didn’t know was wearing a Tau. I had two on this morning but they were under my gown. At St. Bonaventure University we are all Franciscans. Today was one of those peak experiences that define our lives. I cannot begin to describe all that I experienced today but I can tell you that I am honored to be a St. Bonaventure Alumni. I had been looking forward to shaking Sister Margaret Carney, STD, OSF’s hand and I did today. Sister Margaret embodies all that one would want to be. She is so personable and hospitable. I can think of no one else who more embodies what it means to be a Franciscan.
Today I graduated with an MSED in Educational Leadership and that is very important and meaningful to me. More importantly I graduated from St. Bonaventure University an institution that embodies all that I treasure. I am a Franciscan and receiving a degree from a Franciscan institution is great blessing. Words cannot adequately express all that is in my heart tonight.