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Catholic Life

Jamie Peace finds strong foundation in lifelong Bona/Friar family

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ST. BONAVENTURE – Tagging along with his grandfather to various job sites a young Jamie Peace came to St. Bonaventure’s campus in the early 1960s. Peace hailed from a family of master stonemasons and the university’s brick and mortar projects kept the crews busy at the time.

By the time the Reilly Center was built, Peace was old enough to be curious enough to wander into the construction areas.

He also met the friars, and a lifelong bond was forged.

Peace grew up in Portville, the eldest of five children in a Catholic family. His maternal grandfather, Jack Rowe, was founding partner of Stohr & Rowe masonry contractors in the mid-1930s. His uncles, father, and he himself helped continue the company into the 1990s. But his strong connection with the university drew him to creating a career here.

For 43 years and 44 classes, Peace has worked at St. Bonaventure. He began as a roustabout and today serves as manager of mail and receiving.

“Bonaventure has been my life,” he said. “Now my family is very much a Bona friar family.”

His wife, Yvonne, worked in the St. Bonaventure Friary for 22 years and is now with University Ministries. Their daughter, Devon, and son, Joe, joined her at work in the friary from the time they were born until they were each 3 years old. These days, the family can often be found visiting the friary or hosting the friars for barbecues at their home.

One friar whose memory will always linger with Peace is Father Gervase White, OFM, a 1951 alumnus who served 47 years at St. Bonaventure.

“Father Gervase baptized both of our children and was the celebrant at our 25th wedding anniversary in the chapel,” Peace said.

Father Gervase was also the one who arranged for a playpen and crib in Yvonne’s office in the friary for Devon and Joe. In fact, all of the friars helped keep an eye on the kids as their presence in the world was due to much prayer from the friars and 16 years of infertility treatments for Jamie and Yvonne.

“Brother Joe Reilly, the vicar under Father Gervase, would pray to St. Gerard, the patron saint of motherhood,” said Peace. “Our son is named after him and the saint.”

His connection with the friars has only grown stronger through the years.

“Jamie has been one of the most faithful and dependable companions of the friars and their mission over the course of several decades,” said Father Xavier Seubert, OFM, guardian of the friary. “His attention to detail and industriousness can always be counted on, even during the most difficult of times and situations.”

These days, Peace works hard to keep ahead of the increased demands of the mail. While the use of stamps has decreased, the number of parcels has risen sharply. Mailings of diplomas, admissions materials, fundraising appeals, and athletic tickets take up the bulk of his time, even with enhanced automation.

“If you get behind in this job, you don’t catch up,” Peace said, which is why he gets moving the minute his feet hit the floor in the morning.

He’s on campus by 5:45 a.m. Lunch is usually a quick 15-minute break, only taken when the morning mail run is complete. He walks approximately 15 to 16 miles per day, averaging well over 10,000 steps before noon. As for mail pieces, he estimates that he has delivered tens of thousands.

“I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “In my position, I see and talk with everyone from the president on down. And I see the students through the years, many of whom look me up when they visit after graduating.”

His favorite spaces on campus include the friary and the chapel in Doyle. “It’s the most beautiful chapel, so elegant and yet so plain,” he said. “Being connected to St. Bonaventure has tremendously impacted my life,” Peace said. “I just try to do a good job every day, continuing what was started so long ago. What’s happening here today, with the many new academic programs and enhanced learning spaces, it’s all exciting. The dream continues and I’m proud to be part of it.”

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