Mike Fenn, executive director of Mt. Irenaeus, recaps a fruitful and enriching weekend at the Mountain spent with St. Bonaventure leadership and alumni.
In the height of a Western New York winter, we were blessed with a weekend of warmth in the middle of February, as we hosted an unprecedented retreat with leadership of St. Bonaventure. The weekend’s title was, “Listening and Lifting Up the Spirit of Bona's,” and the Spirit burst forth through the entire weekend.
What started as a hallway conversation between Fr. Dan and interim president Dr. Andrew Roth evolved into a weekend of 50 friends up on the Mountain the weekend of February 17. More than 20 alumni from along the East Coast, out to the Midwest made the trek, along with a dozen in the school’s faculty and administrative leadership, including the university’s future president, Dr. Dennis DePerro.
These alumni made the effort to join us this weekend for one primary purpose – to tell their stories. Stories about how they decided as 17-year-olds to go to Bona's, about who their most important teachers were during their four years there (hint – they weren’t always in a classroom) and how they impacted the world because they spent these formative years at SBU. This led us to a more traditional brainstorming session where we thought of words and phrases that set the Bonaventure experience apart from other universities.
Finally, we spent Sunday morning dreaming….what would we want people to say about St. Bonaventure 15 to 20 years from now? This aspirational exercise was a wonderful way to wrap up a very full and fun weekend before we all scattered down the hill.
The work continues, as we now bring what was spoken on the Mountain back down to campus. The words that were shared will hopefully be beneficial to those setting the course of the school’s future, identifying what makes Bona’s distinct and relevant to a prospective student and their parents.
Personally, the weekend was a highlight of my first year in this role for the Mountain. We hope to continue to work closely with university leadership to help present the strengths that we offer to the world, and help our university bring forth the gifts that each student has within them. Perhaps a phrase Fr. Dan had spoken well before this weekend took place might be the best way to amplify our message to students considering St. Bonaventure: “We want you, because the world needs you.”