Fr. Reginald A. Redlon, O.F.M., a professed Franciscan friar for 68 years and the 15th president of St. Bonaventure University, died Wednesday (Nov. 7, 2012) at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J.
Read a tribute to
Fr. Reginald by
St. Bonaventure President
Sr. Margaret Carney
Fr. Reginald was St. Bonaventure’s president from 1967 to 1972, one of the more turbulent times in U.S. history.
“Reginald faced unimaginable internal and external challenges tied to the religious, political and social upheaval that characterized the late ’60s — the peace movement, the sexual revolution, and the call for freedom from cherished traditions and almost anything that seemed to be ‘expected’ by social convention,” said Br. Ed Coughlin, O.F.M., vice president for Franciscan Mission at St. Bonaventure and a 1970 SBU alumnus.
“Circumstances demanded that he make choices that touched every aspect of academic and residential life at Bona’s. A man of integrity and principle, Reginald made the hard choices that he believed were in the best interests of the university. He was admired by many and the majority of his critics respected him.”
Throughout his term as president, Fr. Reginald made several contributions to make St. Bonaventure what it is today. He oversaw the creation of the Faculty Senate along with increasing the number of faculty members with terminal degrees. During his five years in office, he was able to increase contributed funds and was able to renovate several buildings.
Fr. Reginald also added laymen to the Board of Trustees, which up until this time had all been members of the order. He took the time to completely revise the Administrative Handbook and began granting college sabbaticals.
“In spite of the incredible tensions that marked his tenure, Fr. Reginald was deeply admired by many faculty for his depth of intellectual attainment and eloquence,” said Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., university president. “His memory and legacy will be preserved here as they deserve to be and we will hope that his advocacy for us will ensure a provident outpouring of grace and goodness on this campus, which received so much sacrificial love and leadership from him in life.”
Thomas Anthony Redlon was born on Jan. 10, 1922, in Portland, Maine, the son of Thomas and Florence (Harris) Redlon. He attended St. Mary’s Grammar School in Westbrook, Maine, and graduated in 1939 from Westbrook High School. He attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., from 1939 to 1943.
In 1943, he was received into the Order of Friars Minor of Holy Name Province at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J. In 1944, he professed simple vows and in 1947, he professed his final vows. He did philosophical studies at St. Stephen Friary in Croghan, N.Y., and St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., and theology at Holy Name College in Washington.
Fr. Reginald served St. Bonaventure University as an instructor of philosophy and prefect of discipline at Christ the King Seminary — located on the campus at that time — after his ordination in 1949. He furthered his studies in Paris and the University of Friedsburg, Switzerland, before receiving his doctor of philosophy from the University of Louvain in 1955.
He was rector and superior at St. Francis (N.H.) College from 1961 until 1967, at which time he was appointed president of St. Bonaventure University.
Fr. Reginald also served as pastor at several parishes in New Jersey; as a trustee at Siena College (1967-70); and as president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (1970-72).
In 1992, Fr. Reginald was awarded the Bene Merenti Medal for his work as a pastor at St. Elizabeth’s Church; as a chairman for Bergen County of the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities campaign; as a pastor of St. Anne’s Church; and as a dean of Southern Bergen County.
Throughout the years of his priesthood, Fr. Reginald conducted many retreats for priests, religious, and laity. He retired in 2003 to St. Anthony Residence in Boston, before moving to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood in 2010.
“Fr. Reginald was one of the giants of the Province. He was a scholar and a gentleman and a man of great faith,” said the Very Rev. John F. O’Connor, O.F.M., provincial minister of Holy Name Province and a university trustee. “I will never forget his fraternal support for me and his enormous contribution to the life and welfare of Holy Name Province.”
Fr. Reginald’s wake will be held from 4-8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 9, 2012) with a wake service at 7:30 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, 65 Bartholdi Ave., Butler, N.J. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 10, 2012) at the church. Interment will follow at God’s Acre Cemetery in Ringwood.
He was predeceased by his brother, William, and sister, Mary. He is survived by a nephew, Mark Redlon, to whom condolences may be addressed at: 1 Maplewood Ave., Wyndham, MA 04062. Memorial donations may be sent to: Holy Name Province Office of Development, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them.