Father Joseph F. Bona, SJ, died July 17, 2017 in Grand Coteau, La. He was 91 years old, and a priest for 45 years. Sept. 1 would have been his 50th jubilee as a Jesuit.
He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, 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, Fr. Bona entered the Jesuits at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri, 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.
Fr. Bona 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, Missouri.
He worked at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, (1991-94). From 1994 until this year, Fr. Bona lived at the Xavier Jesuit Center in Denver, serving in retreat, spiritual direction and pastoral ministry.
He moved to the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion this spring in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. He embraced this new mission of praying for the Church and the Society with his accustomed grace.
He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, with an associate’s degree in anthropology in 1949. Some years later, he earned a B.A. in philosophy and English at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.