These three lines, inscribed on a brick outside the Swan Business Center, summarize the experience of John Catanzarita, ’78, his wife Meg (Westfall) Catanzarita, ’80, and a pair of their friends; Pat and Gerrie (Kane) Sweeney, and Mark and Kathleen (Horan) Kenville.
Meg tells the story of their meeting like it was yesterday. “I was just an innocent freshman moving into the dorms and along came this nice gentleman named John Catanzarita who helped me move into my room. He was on the Freshman Welcome Committee.”
According to John, “A very good friend of mine, Mark Kenville, was also on the committee with me and he went to high school with Meg. So he said, ‘Oh you should meet Meg, she’s really nice.’ So we met more formally at the social they held for incoming freshmen and one thing led to another.”
Like many Bonaventure romances of that era, their relationship was cemented at two places; The Rathskeller and Sunday night Mass at University Ministries.
Meg was the first female bartender at St. Bonaventure, where John already worked.
“That got my attention,” John recalled. “I was bartending and saying ‘Whoa, now I can start dating her.’”
John added, “We would go to Mass at Campus Ministries and it was so much fun. A lot of people would go back then and it was one of the cooler Masses. Typically there would be an acoustic guitar, and it would be standing and sitting room only, absolutely packed.”
“You didn’t feel like you were at Mass, you felt like you were a part of a bigger community together on campus. It was really nice,” said Meg.
After John graduated in 1978, the couple took some time off while John worked as a CPA at Deloitte in New York City.
“We reconnected later that year going into the summer, and it was pretty much history after that,” said John. “[Meg’s] senior year we were going out even though I was in public accounting. I actually went to Saudi Arabia for my job for two months, but we stayed in touch. After she graduated college, she came to New York City to work as well.”
Meg elaborated on the time John was in Saudi Arabia. “We were [living] at 31 West Main next to the barber shop senior year and John was in Saudi Arabia. We got home at about 2:00 in the morning and I picked up the phone and dialed his number that he had given me. And sure enough he answered, ‘hello?’ so he talked to everyone in the house from Saudi Arabia. I can’t remember what the bill was, but it was worth it.”
“We always say that being at Bonaventure, of all the little schools you could have landed at, you didn’t realize how lucky you were at the time because you were walking through it, like any teenager or person in their early 20s,” concluded Meg. “But looking back, you realize that those four years, especially for us, carved out our destiny going forward. The small Catholic campus is a place to create relationships that you maintain for your whole life and to get an education where you grow so much socially.”
“To this day I am amazed at the number of very close friends and couples who all met there. Not only did they meet there, but they are still married,” said John. “Some of our closest friends from when we were at college are our closest friends today.”
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