Campus reveals All Bonaventure Reads book
reprinted with permission from The BV
Freshman checklist: finalize room assignment information, get residence hall necessities, buy school supplies and read the All Bonaventure Reads (ABR) selection.
At the end of August, a new pack of Bonnies will pour into St. Bonaventure and each will be expected to have read “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts,” the ABR book for the 2012-13 school year.
Neil White’s memoir details his story as an inmate in a federal prison in Carville, La., for 18 months after the FBI discovered his money-laundering scheme.
The facility turns out to be a part of the last leper colony in the continental United States. White describes his encounters with criminals, nuns, lepers and, ultimately, people who became his friends. The book is about his transformation process and how his experiences impacted his life.
Jean Trevarton Ehman, chair of the ABR committee, who stumbled upon ‘Outcasts’ one morning, reflected on this year’s selection process and commented on how the committee chose the seventh book in the program.
“We auditioned 56 titles this year, so it’s kind of an arduous process,” Ehman said. “We want it to be a book that’s going to be engaging because we respect that not all of our incoming students are readers. We want books that are thinking books that make our new students pause and wonder.”
“In the Sanctuary of Outcasts” turned out to be that book.
The search for a new ABR book began two weeks after Conor Grennan, author of last year’s ABR book, “Little Princes,” visited campus, according to Ehman.
She explained the committee contemplated renewing “Little Princes” as the ABR book but eventually decided against it.
“We did talk about rerunning ‘Little Princes’ and nobody could think of a good reason why not to do that, except that we thought that we were better than that,” Ehman said.
Andy Liuzzo, a sophomore Spanish and journalism and mass communication major, discussed the close ties ‘Outcasts’ has with Franciscan heritage.
“Unlike other past selections, Neil (White) actually has direct contact with a Franciscan in his time at the prison,” said Liuzzo, a member of the ABR selection committee.
Brother Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., vice president for Franciscan Mission at St. Bonaventure, reflected on how readers will appreciate the way the book extends to Franciscan values on campus.
“The service of lepers and other ‘outcasts’ is an integral part of the Franciscan tradition,” said Brother Ed in an April 20 university press release. “Reading the text will provide some unique opportunities to invite students into a critical conversation with the wisdom of the Franciscan intellectual-spiritual tradition and its contemporary relevance.”
Liuzzo said he recognizes the significance of being part of a group that has such a profound impact on the campus community. He is excited to introduce White’s account to students and faculty.
“It’s an honor to be behind the scenes of a movement that does affect everybody and to make a selection that we can be proud of and other people can enjoy and carry with them,” he said. “(White’s) story is not just another everyday story, and he definitely has a message to be told.”
Amanda Rossney-Koneski, a junior journalism and mass communication major, said she anticipates the book will spark conversation.
Rossney-Koneski said she hopes readers will revel in the memoir because it is a great way to build a bond with new students.
“I encourage all of the incoming freshmen to read it and people on campus to read it, too, because it’s a way to connect with the freshman class,” said Rossney-Koneski, a two year member of the committee. “We always pick good books.”
Ehman said Michael Fischer, provost and vice president for academic affairs, would task incoming students with writing a personal reflection about the story. The selection will play a role in the First-Year Experience program for freshmen, especially in University 101 classes. The ABR committee is finalizing plans to bring White on campus and is in the process of developing programs and activities for incoming students to engage in regarding “Outcasts.”
Incoming students may be preparing to close a chapter in their lives, but they will soon be beginning a new one.
Class of 2015