A little more than a month after our Province had to sustain the great loss occasioned by Father Hilary’s death, another of our Fathers was called to his eternal reward in the person of Father Bonaventure (Fitzherbert). His demise was a surprise to his brethren and friends, as his illness was of a very short duration. When, on Sunday, 17th January, he performed his usual duties in St. Mungo’s, Glasgow, of which community he was Vice-Rector, there could have been no forebodings among the people that some sixteen days later he would pass from earth to eternity. Yet so it was to be. Towards the end of January he went to the North of Scotland to recruit his health, as he had not been feeling well. That his indisposition did not seem fatal may be seen from the fact that even on Sunday, 31st January, he said Mass and preached. On the following day news reached Glasgow that Father Bonaventure was seriously ill. Within twenty-four hours he was dead.
Born in Dublin in 1859, he entered the Passionist congregation on the completion of his school-days, and was ordained a priest on 17th February, 1883. For some time afterwards he was attached to St. Saviour’s Retreat, Broadway, Worcestershire. He was next stationed at St. Anne’s, Sutton, Lancs.; in 1888-9 he was transferred to Harbourne, Birmingham, and thence back again to Sutton. In 1894: he went to Glasgow, where he remained about ten years. Amongst the other houses in which he lived was the Retreat in Herne Bay, Kent, of which he was, for a time, Superior. In 1920 he returned to Glasgow as Vice-Rector, an office he held from that year until his death.
Thus was the greater part of Fr. Bonaventure’s life spent in St. Mungo’s. He was Spiritual Director of St. Mungo’s League of the Cross. He also took a keen interest in the production of plays in St. Paul’s Hall, attached to the parish.
“The dead Passionist,” to quote The Irish Weekly and Ulster Examiner, “was a very able pulpit preacher. He had a splendid voice, indulged in no mere word-spinning. He argued his case in neat and expressive style, and brought home his points with a remarkable clearness that waked up congregations to the realities of life and the effects of sin.”
Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated at St. Mungo’s on Friday, 5th February, after which the interment took place at St. Kentigern’s Cemetery. His Grace the Archbishop of Glasgow presided at the obsequies and pronounced the final absolutions. The Canons of the Archdiocese and a large gathering of both secular and regular clergy were present. A touching and well-deserved tribute was paid to Father Bonaventure in the course of an eloquent and inspiring funeral oration delivered by the Rev. Father Patrick, C.P.
The church was thronged with a devout and mournful congregation, and, as the funeral wended its way to the cemetery, the streets of the city were lined with people – a further testimony of the esteem in which the dead Passionist was held.
Pie Jesu Domine, dona ei requiem. Amen.
(The Cross, Vol. XVI, 1925-26; p. 365)