In the blessed year 1855, four Franciscan Friars brought the ideals of Saint Francis and Saint Bonaventure to a small town in south-western New York. Friars came from all over Europe to assist the four Franciscans in building a seminary and a university. The original Friars resided in the neighboring town of Ellicottville and in 1858 campus residence for Franciscan Priests and Brothers was completed.
University Monastery and Chapel prior to fire of 1930
The Friary is designed and fashioned in modern angles and lines. However, its spirit and life are the ancient ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi and the example of the Friars who have lived and taught at Saint Bonaventure over the past one hundred forty-five years.
The heavenly Patron of the Friary and the University is Saint Bonaventure, a Saint and a Doctor in the annals of the Catholic Church. Saint Bonaventure is called the Seraphic Doctor because of his ardent, mystical love of God expressed in his life and in his writings. The motto of Saint Bonaventure is the motto of the University: In Sanctitate et Doctrina-- "In Holiness and Learning." As the use of the University Chapel has assisted the Friars in living up to this motto, so the re-dedication of the Chapel was intended to assist the Friars, the Faculty, the Students, and all who come to the Chapel to adopt for themselves the motto of Saint Bonaventure.
On February 18, 1960, the Olean Times Herald looked back at the aftermath of the disastrous fire of 1930, "Walking throughout the charred ruins after the fire, the Very Rev. Thomas Plassmann, OFM, president, spoke words of vision and courage while most might have despaired. 'From these ashes,' predicted father Tom, 'a new St. Bonaventure.' Persistently, the college grew to a university. Size and status increased. and the vision of Father Tom- who has been dead for just a year- is now on the threshold of realization."
A new Friary opened in 1986 and the Old Friary became Doyle Hall. The University Chapel remains in the building, while the rest of the facility is now offices, dormitory space and Health Services.
"1986 " changes added 12/17/2003 by D. Frank