Father Bonaventure Gonnella, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1908-1982)

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Born June 8, 1908 in Springfield, Massachusetts, he was the son of Oreste and Amelia Gonnella. He attended local and elementary public schools. He graduated from Springfield High School of Commerce in 1926. He attended Northeastern University in Boston before he entered the Passionists at Holy Cross Seminary, Dunkirk, New York in 1928. He professed his vows on August 15, 1932 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He was ordained a priest at St. Mary’s Monastery, Dunkirk on April 28, 1939 by Bishop Duffy of Buffalo, New York. For fifteen years after ordination he was a preacher of parish missions, novenas and renewals in English and Italian. He preached in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, as well as to members of the Black community in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Chinese community in Chinatown, New York. In 1952 he had a severe heart attack. After that he was assigned to West Hartford, Connecticut. While there he served for fifteen years as hospital chaplain at Newington Veterans Administration Hospital, Newington, Connecticut. He was also Associate Retreat Director at West Hartford. In Riverdale, New York he was essential in developing the public relations associated with the building of the new retreat house. After his heart attack he spent winters in Florida. Most of the time he stayed at the monastery in North Palm Beach, Florida. He served as hospital chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital, West Palm Beach, Florida and was also assistant principal and counselor at St. Clare’s Elementary School, North Palm Beach, Florida. In 1982 he had extensive surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital. Later he was back in West Springfield where he often went to the home of his sisters and brother, adjacent to the then Vincentian residence on Longhill Street, Springfield. In 1969 he was appointed psychotherapist at the Clinic for Alcoholics at Springfield Municipal Hospital. He died while a member of the West Springfield community.