University Ministries welcomes students of all religious affiliations to participate in a variety of opportunities for spiritual growth, service learning, social action and community building.  
Our liturgical life, centered around Sunday Eucharist, invites all members of the Bonaventure community to join in various liturgical ministries and many prayer opportunities.  
Our Bona Buddies and Silver Wolves programs, as well as our service learning trips offer creative ways to live and learn with children, elders and cross-cultural communities.  
The Warming House, the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the nation, serves a meal six days a week. 
SEARCH, SBU for Life and Collegiate Peer Ministry are but a few of the other experiences that round out University Ministries. To learn more, stop at University Ministries, which is temporarily located on the second floor of Murphy Professional Building.  

Mt. Irenaeus and Students For The Mountain

Our premier retreat center, Mt. Irenaeus, is located 32 miles from campus and offers peaceful re-creation, prayer and family-style hospitality. Mountain Community Leaders take leadership roles with the friars and other Franciscans in the ministry of the Mountain, which invites all to relax, hike, work in the garden and share warm conversation and home-cooked meals. 

Franciscan Center for Social Concern

Interested in peace, social justice and the environment? The Franciscan Center for Social Concern seeks new ideas based on the interests of SBU students. Basic principles known as Catholic Social Teaching support our activities.

News, Publications & Research

More News

In his new book, St. Bonaventure sociology professor reflects on how to be ‘Happy Without the Meal’

Dec 20, 2013 |

A new book by St. Bonaventure University sociology professor William Elenchin, Ph.D., explores the paradox of today’s culture, where society’s dependence on overconsumption is often accompanied by a growing sense of sadness.

Happy Without the Meal coverElenchin’s goal in writing “Happy Without the Meal: Reflections from Catholic Faith and Reason” is to shine light on some of the key social changes that have created a toxic cultural atmosphere in the midst of material abundance.

“The more we have, the more we’re struggling,” he said.

No generation has ever had such an abundance of material goods at its fingertips. An already saturated marketplace is flooded with products. Yet in the midst of such plenty, many people experience distress and a growing sense of sadness in spite of excess possessions.

Elenchin maintains that the pursuit of the “goods life” has been confused with seeking a good life.

“My sense is that we have reached a point in history where we can readily see how false has been the promise of happiness and fulfillment through a life of consumption. New discoveries in the social sciences are aligning with old teachings from faith traditions and point toward the same true north regarding principles of wellbeing and happiness,” Elenchin said.

Elenchin cites the book “Character Strengths and Virtues” as an example. In the book, scholars extract six character traits established by research in the social sciences shown to enhance health and happiness. The authors note that these same character strengths align with St. Thomas Aquinas’ seven heavenly virtues from a millennium past.

Elenchin’s motivation for writing “Happy Without the Meal” stems from his experiences as a therapist, a sociologist and as a parent.

“There’s such a force out there, we need to understand this myth that’s saturated our senses,” he said.

Happiness can’t be bought, eaten or somehow consumed. In the chapter “The Stress of Leisure,” he describes the overconsumption of food and increase in obesity in the United States.

“Food is now marketed primarily as a source of happiness, not nutrition,” Elenchin says. And that marketing plays a critical role: Corporations spend 30 times more money to advertise preserved products than they do fresh food.

In his eighth year of teaching at St. Bonaventure, Elenchin’s sociology classes are populated by a generation that has grown up in this culture. 

“The teachings of the Christian faith are anchored in a natural joy and freedom, peace and strength. The cheap counterfeits of these virtues are passed off as pleasure and license in an ever-expanding culture of consumption,” Elenchin said.

The author is not suggesting technology should be abandoned — but notes it’s dangerous to confuse ease with progress.

“Those who make that mistake risk losing a life of meaning and purpose,” he said.

For instance, in 2012, Facebook reported that 83 million users, almost 10 percent of its accounts, were fake.

“It’s important to recognize the simple truth that a virtual life is not a real life. Cyber life doesn’t nourish us like real life. We always want more because there is little and at times no sustenance,” Elenchin said.

“Happy Without the Meal,” published by Wipf & Stock, is available at and Elenchin is also the author of “Hidden Courage: Reconnecting Faith and Character with Mental Wellness.”



About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, 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. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.     


We moved — back!

University Ministries has moved into its new home, the newly constructed McGinley-Carney Center for Franciscan Ministry, which is in the same place as its old home, the former Thomas Merton Center, located just north of Reilly Center in the heart of campus. University Ministries offices were temporarily located in the John J. Murphy Professional Building while its former home was razed and the new McGinley-Carney Center was being built.