Usually when people think of a mountain they think climbing, trailblazing. Mt. Irenaeus may also have those alluring qualities but its main purpose is quite different.
This Mountain, with its shuffling leaves, trickling water and sense of relaxation, is meant to calm the senses, promote inner contemplation and self-reflection.
The Mountain serves as a getaway of sorts for the Bonaventure community, said Maddie Gionet, MMountain coordinator and junior journalism and mass communication major.
Freshman Kate Timony agreed.
“If you’re stressed, it’s nice to go and get a home-cooked meal and talk to the friars,” said Timony, member of Mountain community leaders (MCL) and a biology major. “You can really talk to them about anything. They were the first people who really reached out to me when I started here.”
Some of the more timeless programs up at the Mountain are the evenings or overnights away. The Mountain and the friars present many opportunities for people of all faiths and backgrounds to enjoy all the Mountain has to offer. Professors, sports teams and any individual from within or outside the Bonaventure community can come and experience the wonders of the Mountain, said Br. Kevin Kriso, O.F.M., Coordinator of Mt. Irenaeus Gospel, Manner of Life and Ministry for St. Bonaventure University.
Evenings away are one of the more popular ways students can first become acquainted with the Mountain. Professors can choose to have their classes come to the Mountain any time throughout a semester, Gionet said. “The professor will have a theme planned or will help plan the theme with a MCL member,” she said. “Then they use that theme throughout the night in the chapel along with activities they may choose to do.”
Open evenings and overnights are when there really isn’t a specific theme planned, but just an opportunity for students of all backgrounds and majors to come and have some time away. Students and faculty can bring work to do or they don’t have to bring anything. All the friars ask is that students come with an open mind.
“You get to know people on a deeper level, you get to share in experiences that you never would usually get into,” Gionet said. “It’s one of those places to really get that community experience you’re always hearing about.”
On theme nights, the Mountain has something special. For women’s overnights, women can enjoy desserts and chocolates while bonding together on the exclusive night away. Men enjoy bonfires and bonding during their weekend. And for those who like contemplation, the Franciscan Identity or silent overnights are perfect.
If students stay overnight, they can stay in one of the cabins or in the House of Peace where the friars of the Mountain live.
“You don’t need to be religious to go up there … just need to go up there and be,” Br. Kevin said.
When students come up to the Mountain the friars do ask if the students could help with some service tasks.
The activities can depend on the season. Sometimes students may be asked to tend to the garden, pick up some lumber for the fire, chop wood or clean up the trails. Most of the time, the friars will ask students to help prepare the meal for everyone to enjoy.
Gionet commented on how the Mountain has affected her life.
“It’s good for me to just go and reorganize my thoughts and reevaluate my life path and figure out what’s truly important,” she said. “I get an appreciation for life and for the simple things. Being able to go somewhere, shut my cell phone off and not answer emails, go to a meeting or do homework, I can just really take some time to breathe.”
Everyone is welcome to enjoy the experience only Mt. Irenaeus can offer.
“Parents are very, very welcome to come up to the Mountain at any time,” Br. Kevin said.
If students are interested in attending an evening away or an overnight, they can sign up in the Thomas Merton Center and the University Ministry staff takes care of transportation.
“I think that before you graduate it’s important to experience the Mountain,” Gionet said. “We have seniors who visit the Mountain during their last fall or spring semester and regret not being up there sooner.”
Class of 2013