St Bonaventure Catholic Community was established by the order of the late Archbishop William O. Brady on October 21, 1958. He invited the Conventual Franciscans to organize the parish and Fr Ambrose Finnegan, OFM Conv. was appointed as the first pastor.
The first Mass was celebrated by the pastor on February 8, 1959 in the gymnasium of the Cedarcrest Elementary School on the corner of 87th Street and Bloomington Avenue. 1200 people were in attendance at the four Masses offered by Fr Ambrose and Fr Urban Wagner, OFM Conv.
In 1959 a Building fund was started. Each wage earner was asked to contribute $2.00 on the second Sunday of each month. On October 12th of that year construction started on the present parish offices. In November work began on what is now the Social Hall, but at that time it was the first church. On Sunday, June 19, 1960 Sunday Mass was held for the first time on the St Bonaventure grounds.
Fr Ambrose was able to see his dream come true when on September 10, 1967 Archbishop Leo Binz solemnly blessed the new church and offered the first Mass. The church seats 900 people gathered around the skylight covered sanctuary. Seating is arranged in three sections so that no one is more than fifty feet from the altar. A roof sloping toward the sanctuary focuses attention on the liturgy.
We are proud that a significant number of liturgical music selections which are sung among English speaking Catholics throughout the world were first heard here at St Bonaventure. From the very beginning music has been an important and integral part of the liturgy. Loretta Kaley, Father Richard Kaley’s mother, was the first music director, then in 1974 Marty Haugen moved into that position and stayed for nine years. It was during that period that Marty wrote a large number of original compositions for the parish which he later had published. The music continued under the direction of Mark Schultz who sang with Marty in the seventies and became Music Director in 1986. Today, Karen Thompson is St Bonaventure’s Music Director. Karen introduced the Musical Theatre to St Bonaventure.
From the beginning when the Conventual Franciscans were asked to found the parish many friars have been a part of the community including these pastors:
1958-1970, Father Ambrose Finnegan
1970-1973, Father Ernest Waechter
1973-1976, Father Quintin Helline
1976-1982, Father Howard Hansen
1982-1991, Father Edmund Goldbach
1991-1997, Father Regis Schlagheck
1997-2010, Father Bernie Zajdel
2010-present, Father Richard Kaley
Our current pastor, Fr Richard Kaley, is a native son of St Bonaventure. He left as a sophomore in high school in 1963 to go to the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in southern Indiana, where he began his life as a Franciscan. He has served as associate pastor, pastor, campus minister and vocational director in 5 different parishes and universities. After 47 years away, 36 of them as a priest, he has returned to St Bonaventure as our pastor. He professed his solemn vows here and was ordained here in 1975. He has many treasured memories of the parish community. He is glad to be back serving us and we are very pleased to welcome him back.
50th Anniversary interview with founding parishioners