Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, O.F.M.
St. Bonaventure University
Father de la Roche
In 1627, Fr. Joseph de la Roche D'Aillon, a missionary, became the first European and Franciscan to discover oil in North America. The location was in present-day Cuba, NY, a mere 20 miles from St. Bonaventure University. One could only imagine the excitement Fr. Irenaeus felt over this matter, being a huge Franciscan First enthusiast.
In 1934, the new Arts and Sciences building at St. Bonaventure was dedicated to Fr. de la Roche. Irenaeus had come to Bona's in 1934, and immediately took an interest in the history of petroleum and the story of Fr. de la Roche.
Fr. Irenaeus also founded the first Petroleum Sunday on April 24, 1949 at St. Bonaventure University. It was held on the fourth Sunday in April, in accordance with the time that Fr. de la Roche set sail from France to the New World, April 24, 1625. It was then that the Bonaventure community celebrated the discovery of oil and the prosperity and success of the petroleum industry with the Seneca Indians, and local businessmen involved with petroleum.