By Monica Mattioli, ’77
Executive Director of Alumni Operations
Fr. Ross Chamberland has resided on campus throughout this academic year in the capacity of “friar intern.” Internships occur at a stage of Franciscan formation that provides exposure to the many available aspects of Franciscan life. We are blessed by Fr. Ross’s choice of St. Bonaventure University as an intern experience. I recently asked to meet with him to pose 10 questions that will help introduce him to our community. Always with a ready smile and wink, Fr. Ross graciously agreed.
MONICA: Why did you choose to become a Franciscan friar?
FR. ROSS: I had been considering a vocation and was quite familiar with diocesan priesthood, but not community life. I asked a sister friend for her opinion and she indicated that she could see Franciscan attributes in me. When I pursued this and met the friars, I knew I wanted to be one. They are dedicated, committed, kind, and happy guys. I knew that would be the right place for me.
MONICA: When did you enter the process?
FR. ROSS: I started formally in 2005.
MONICA: Where are you from?
FR. ROSS: I am from New Hampshire, right on the Massachusetts line. You might detect a little Boston in my speech. I spent some time in “Southie” along the way.
MONICA: What has been your academic preparation?
FR. ROSS: I earned a bachelor’s degree at Emmanuel College in social justice and urban life. I developed this major myself, after having earned more than 100 undergraduate credit hours at other colleges. Now this is a formal program at Emmanuel, consisting of rigorous courses in religious studies, sociology, and education. I hold a master’s in theological studies from Washington Theological Union, and an additional master’s in pontifical theology from Catholic University.
MONICA: What has been your work prior to coming to St. Bonaventure?
FR. ROSS: I came to St. Bonaventure directly from St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland, which is adjacent to Holy Name College, where St. Bonaventure has held alumni events. The parish population there reflects a worldwide mix of cultures. I was on the board of directors for a Blue Ribbon Catholic School and taught RCIA to high school and college-aged students. Prior to that, I taught religion in Brooklyn and led the Boston Catholic Youth Connection — a collaboration among diocesan parishes addressing gang activity. This was a peace advocacy activity where I got to know many gang members and was able to bridge between them, their communities, police, etc. I spent many nights in rough neighborhoods, on ride-alongs, and generally out helping in the city.
MONICA: Has St. Bonaventure met your expectations so far?
FR. ROSS: Yes! I was very interested in higher ed ministry, and I’ve been exposed to many aspects of that here. I’ve done everything from teaching a Clare College class to University Ministries work to assisting with advancement events. St. Bonaventure impresses me most in terms of the culture – steeped in tradition so much that I can really feel it. That struck me right away. When I meet with students, I often ask them why they chose St. Bonaventure and they tell me their experiences when they visited compelled them to come. I can relate to that.
MONICA: Describe one thing you’ve gained from your experience at SBU.
FR. ROSS: I have observed Franciscan life in its many forms. I have lived in community with friars. I have witnessed professors and staff living out Franciscan lives. And, I see our students developing their Franciscan values in their own lives. All of those show me how to be a better Franciscan in the future.
MONICA: You have expressed a special interest in alumni and advancement activities. Have you had any opportunities to be involved in those?
FR. ROSS: Yes, shortly after I arrived I attended the Devereux golf outing at Holiday Valley. I met some wonderful people there and had a great time. I’ve also attended athletic events, the Meet the Deans program in Rochester, was involved in the social gathering in Silver Spring, and went on the New York Harbor cruise. I’m looking forward to many more.
MONICA: What do you like to do in your spare time?
FR. ROSS: I enjoy music, arts, and movies. Generally, I love any live performance. I enjoy the chance to see a Broadway show or hear a concert. I recently saw Robert Redford’s “All Is Lost” – it was outstanding!
MONICA: Name one unique fact about you that people would not expect.
FR. ROSS: Among my academic credentials is a diploma from Boston Bartending School. I’ve found this to be a useful social skill, and it helped to support me through my other academic pursuits.
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