Nearly 100 donors stepped up to the challenge to support a St. Bonaventure University Veterans Services fundraiser dedicated to send student veterans on a nine-day pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy.
Originally, the goal was to raise $7,500. Covering the cost of five student veterans’ pilgrimages this summer, it would set the stage for upcoming years. The goal was exceeded by the third week and momentum pushed the total raised to $10,870 by the end of the fundraiser, which ran March 19 through April 15.
The funds raised, along with other pledges, will enable student veterans from SBU to attend cost-free for at least the next three years.
The trip allows attendees from Franciscan colleges throughout the United States to explore the history of the Franciscan intellectual tradition and engage in healing meditations and discussions that focus on wellness and connection.
For Lawrence MacDonald Jr., a sophomore chemistry major at St. Bonaventure and a six-year U.S. Air Force veteran, motivation to attend the pilgrimage is bigger than himself.
“I’m hoping this pilgrimage gives me the skills to help other veterans who may struggle with the transition into civilian life,” he explained.
Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan order and one of the patron saints of the university. Prior to devoting himself to God, he served as a knight, was captured by a rival city and imprisoned for more than a year. The experiences led him to a life focused on developing loving relationships.
“The gift of a pilgrimage to Assisi will offer each student veteran the time and space to explore the environment that inspired and enlivened the spirit of St. Francis,”said Frank Morales, a retired Army master sergeant and director of Bona’s Veterans Services program. “Thanks to the strong support of the Bonaventure and military communities, this has been a successful mission for all involved. I’m proud of the fundraising work done by our student veterans, and all of us are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support.”
Along-term goal of Bona’s Office of Veterans Services is to establish an endowment to support a yearly pilgrimage for two new student veterans. People interested in donating can still do so online by visiting www.sbu.edu/donate, choosing “Other” in the drop-down selection and typing “Bona Vets to Assisi” in the text field.
About the University:The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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