It’s been a while since I stayed overnight at Mt. Irenaeus and even longer since I participated in an overnight with St. Bonaventure University men. Last Tuesday night while grabbing a bite to eat at La Verna Cafe on campus one of the young men involved Mountain ministry invited me to join them and I’m glad I did. Following a lovely dinner we moved into the cold and contemplatively walked from the House of Peace to Holy Peace chapel. It was so cold that I could hear the snow crunch under my shoes. Once inside the chapel we had some quiet time followed by readings and then one of the young men introduced the theme of the evening which was “New Beginnings.” Following a reading from the 9 Chapter of Acts of the Apostles by Br. Joe Kotula, OFM we separated into small groups and began to examine what new beginnings had happened or were happening our lives. Following that session we gathered together in the larger group and eventually the topic became forgiveness. The session lasted over two hours and there were lots of young men and some older ones too who shared what was on their heart this night in the middle of the Allegany County woods.
Eventually our session ended in the chapel and we made it back down the hill to the House of Peace and the warmth of the fireplace. I found myself visiting with my friend Br. Kevin and watching these young Bonaventure men enjoy themselves. I finally made it to bed and had a very peaceful sleep. Thanks to Sam and the other young men who made me feel so welcome. I look forward to doing this again and soon. This was my first men’s overnight as a student. There were actually two of us St. Bonaventure University graduate students in attendance. This has been a busy semester for me and this was a lovely way to take a break and very Franciscan too.