In memoriam: Brother Bonaventure Scully, C.F.X., former rector of Keenan Hall

by Michael O. Garvey

In memoriam: Brother Bonaventure Scully, C.F.X.

Brother Bonaventure Scully, C.F.X., former rector of Keenan Hall at the University of Notre Dame, died Thursday (Sept. 1) at Xavier House in Baltimore. He was 87.

Brother Scully, who served in Keenan Hall from 1985 to 1999, was among the most popular and affectionately regarded residence hall rectors in a University proud of its distinctive commitment to the quality of undergraduate communal life.

Before becoming Keenan Hall’s rector, Brother Scully had taught science and religion and served as counselor, retreat director and principal for Xavierian high schools in Massachusetts, Kentucky and New York. He also served in the Catholic school systems of Denver and Memphis as superintendent, and his religious order as its provincial vocation counselor. In 1971, he became the first president of the National Association of Religious Brothers.

At Notre Dame, he became an exemplar of the residence hall rector’s role in loco parentis, regarding his job as primarily a work of hospitable Christian ministry. The door of his apartment on Keenan’s first floor was open most of the time, and there seemed always to be a pot of hearty soup or stew simmering on the stove of its kitchenette. Brother Scully was an accomplished, if somewhat undisciplined chef and no Keenan student during his tenure went long without a home-cooked meal.

Soon after he had moved into Keenan, Brother Scully undertook what one alumnus remembers as the transformation of “an abandoned dungeon of a basement into a bright, well-decorated and much-used social area with drop ceilings, piped-in music, TVs, pool tables, video games and study space. Quite simply, he made the hall itself a more comfortable place to live.”

In addition to being a companion, counselor and disciplinarian in the community life of the hall’s 300 residents, Brother Scully (“Brother Bon,” or simply “Bon,” the students called him) also was an enthusiastic supporter of spiritual retreats and social service projects, particularly of Dismas House, a community in which former prison convicts and college students lived together and where Brother Scully served as part-time cook.

A native of Baltimore, Brother Scully was graduated from Catholic University of America and professed vows in the Xavierian Brothers in 1951. He held a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Detroit and a master’s degree in religious education from Loyola University in Chicago.

“My most cherished pursuits,” he wrote recently, “were mostly my teaching, my efforts to encourage young people to deepen their relations with Jesus and to reach out to the less fortunate.”

The pursuits Brother Bon most cherished were, to those who lived in Keenan Hall and to most others who lived and worked at Notre Dame from 1985 to 1999, always plain to see.