Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, O.F.M.
St. Bonaventure University
If there is one person who characterized Franciscan values in the history of St. Bonaventure University, it is Fr. Irenaeus. It is entirely apparent to those who knew him, or know anything about him, that Fr. Irenaeus loved St. Bona's, but what he loved even more was teaching about St. Francis and Franciscan values.
A hobby which kept Irenaeus busy for many years was collecting Franciscan Firsts. What this means is he would collect artifacts, articles, or any other type of literature, that described Franciscans as the pioneers in many fields throughout the world, the United States, and New York State. He discovered that Franciscans were the first to do, or discover, many things, including printing, biblical studies, fire-prevention, music, exploration, and oil. In fact, he noted that his interest in Franciscan Firsts developed after hearing an address by Father Bonaventure McIntyre commemorating the third centennial of oil, in which Fr. McIntyre mentioned many of the areas where Franciscans had been early participants.
During his tenure here at Bona's, he compiled a Union Catalogue of Franciscan literature. The Catalogue was designed to help find the location and availability of some rare Franciscan items. The Catalogue includes books, articles, poems, and dissertations, numbering over 50,000 items, from the earliest Franciscan times to date. Irenaeus wanted the catalogue to be a source for all those who were seeking any relevant subject on or about Franciscans.
Fr. Irenaeus proudly showing off his collections in the former vault