Feb 20, 2023 | By Elizabeth Egan, '23
From the school colors to the values of compassion, wisdom and integrity, St. Bonaventure University’s Franciscan roots are displayed across its campus.
“The uniqueness of Bonaventure comes from being a Catholic Franciscan University,” said Alice Miller Nation, the director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern (FCSC). “And we don’t apologize for that.”
To Miller Nation, opportunities for transformational service are among the most significant elements provided for Bonaventure students in the Franciscan Mission and Ministries pillar of the university's ongoing Bolder Bonaventure initiative, the largest fundraising campaign in the university's history.
Miller Nation described transformational service as a service opportunity that changes how a person views things. For Miller Nation, this opportunity was provided to her through working at a Native American reservation as a Jesuit volunteer after college.
“The experience gave me a new perspective.” Miller Nation said. “I could see things differently, that’s what we are trying to do through mission and ministry at Bona’s.”
Currently, the FCSC
provides a number of options for students to participate in a service opportunity that has the potential to be transformative.
The Warming House offers a chance for students to volunteer at or help run a soup kitchen that serves between 40 and 80 meals a day.
Bona Buddies lets students serve as a mentor to children, allowing them to learn to invest a little bit of themselves in someone else.
Break the Bubble takes students out of Bonaventure to serve and learn about communities that are different from their own.
Campus Ministries also gives students a variety of opportunities to volunteer and actively participate in weekly Mass as well as provides time and space for students to discuss their faith.
In the campaign for A Bolder Bonaventure, Fr. Stephen Mimnaugh, O.F.M., interim university chaplain, hopes to make sure these opportunities are offered to every person who graduates from St. Bonaventure.
“I think one of the first things that I would like to see is making it more easily accessible for students to have service learning opportunities,” Fr. Stephen said. “We offer great opportunities already and can do more to expand those opportunities.”
He mentioned a quote heard often at Bonaventure, “No service without love.”
“In the abstract it’s something that looks good on a wall or in handouts,” Fr. Stephen said. “Unless people really have an opportunity to experience what that means, I think it’s just a nice tagline.”
To Fr. Stephen, the most life-changing way to experience this is by being of service to other people.
Valentina Cossio, a senior accounting
major from Florida, couldn’t agree more.
Cossio came to Bonaventure knowing that one of her goals was to learn more about the Franciscan tradition, which she had previously known nothing about. She has been involved with the Warming House, Ladies in Faith Formation, the campus food pantry, Liturgy Committee and more. Two of her most significant experiences were traveling to the St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia through Break the Bubble and working for the Warming House’s summer program, Farm to Table.
“I had never been to a soup kitchen before St. Francis Inn,” Cossio said. “Through my SBU-101 class, I was becoming a lot more interested in exploring different social issues and the inn provided me with a way to see the issues I was learning about firsthand.”
This experience went on to inspire Cossio to get involved with the Warming House and then Farm to Table, a 10-week summer program where students spend the morning planting and harvesting vegetables at a local farm and the afternoon creating and serving meals at the Warming House. The students engage in discussions about our planet’s food and agricultural systems, as well as reflect on the issues of hunger in the local community.
This ripple effect is what Miller Nation and Fr. Stephen hope to see come out of transformational service opportunities.
The Franciscan Mission and Ministries pillar of the campaign aims to create more opportunities like the trip to the St. Francis Inn that left Cossio inspired to continue working at a soup kitchen for three more years.
“The Franciscan charism is what makes St. Bonaventure distinctive,” said Bob Van Wicklin, vice president for University Advancement. “Gifts to the campaign will ensure that it flourishes and is embedded in everything we do here.”
Along with supporting efforts for increased service opportunities the funds raised will support renovations to the University Chapel, enhance FCSC programs and increase the community endowment for Mt. Irenaeus, Van Wicklin noted.
Miller Nation hopes the effects of the Franciscan Mission and Ministries can be seen in every Bona student as they walk across the stage at graduation.
“The day that you graduate from here, we want you to hold that piece of paper high but we don’t want you to leave with just that piece of paper,” Miller Nation said. “We want you to leave with a Franciscan heart.”
Miller Nation often uses this phrase when describing the goals of the FCSC.
“It’s recognizing that life is not working late, that every person we greet and meet has a story, it’s the cultivation of wisdom and the attitude toward compassion and integrity.”
Miller Nation and Fr. Stephen will be guests on the student-run radio WSBU 88.3 FM “The Buzz,” on Friday, Feb. 24, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET to talk more about this pillar in the Bolder Bonaventure campaign. The interview will be live streamed on YouTube. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjsF_gaR6aI
Questions may be submitted in advance by email to The Buzz at firstname.lastname@example.org
or during the program via The Buzz’s Twitter account (@wsbu). Tag the account and use #ABolderBonaventure hashtag when posting a question.
To learn more about the Bolder Bonaventure campaign, please visit www.sbu.edu/ABolderBonaventure