Father Joseph F. Bona, SJ, died July 17, 2017 in Grand Coteau, La. He was 91 years old, and a priest for 45 years. September 1 would have been his 50th jubilee as a Jesuit.
Remembered as patient, compassionate spiritual director, his life will be celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 29, in the St. Charles College Chapel in Grand Coteau. Visitation will be immediately preceding the Mass, beginning at 10: 30 a.m. He will be buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College immediately following the funeral Mass.
He was born in Omaha, Neb., Sept. 28, 1925, one of three children of John G. Bona and Anna Domotor Bona. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother George Bona and his sister Mary Pivonka. He is survived by nieces and a nephew.
A late vocation for those times, he entered the Jesuits at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., on Sept. 1, 1967, at the age of 41. He was by far the senior member of his novitiate class. His formation moved quickly, setting a record in the former Missouri Province for the shortest time between entrance and ordination: four years and eight months. In addition to fulfilling all the requirements in philosophy and theology, he also took courses in business and accounting.
He made his first vows in 1969 and was ordained May 11, 1972 at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis. He pronounced his final vows on May 22, 1978, in the cave of St. Ignatius at Manresa in Spain.
His initial ministry was in pastoral work at two parishes named after St. Francis Xavier, first in St. Louis and then in Kansas City. He soon became interested in directed retreat ministry and became one of a group of directors in a program that concluded each year with a 30-day retreat at Manresa in Spain. He also worked with retreatants at Immacolata Retreat House in Liberty, Mo.
He went to Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo., where he served as director of business and finance, house librarian and retreat director until 1983.
While at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, La., (1983-91), his contributions extended beyond retreats and spiritual direction, as he coordinated the taping of the “Morning Reflections” by the Jesuits of St. Charles College, which were broadcast locally on television.
He worked at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, Penn., (1991-94). From 1994 until this year, he lived at the Xavier Jesuit Center in Denver, serving in retreat, spiritual direction and pastoral ministry.
Over the years, he developed a great expertise in directing retreatants one-on-one. They appreciated his gentleness, patience, openness and acceptance. Both they and his brother Jesuits profited from his knowledge of the spiritual classics as well as contemporary authors. His good judgment, experience, and competence made him a valuable resource. He commanded the respect and gratitude of his retreatants and directees along with the esteem and affection of his peers.
He moved to the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion this spring once more in Grand Coteau. He embraced this new mission of praying for the Church and the Society with his accustomed grace.
He attended the University of Houston (1945-47) and the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned an associate’s degree in anthropology (1949). Some years later, he earned a B.A. in philosophy and English at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX (1952-57).