This is about a day late, because it was at Mass this morning that I learned that this is the birthday of a beloved Friar and the protector of Mt. Irenaeus, which has become my second home in the past eleven years. Sixty-eight years ago William Francis Riley was born and raised in Rochester, New York. He often speaks of his public school legacy but eventually he would find his way to St. Bonaventure University and graduate from there and later become Fr. Daniel P. Riley, OFM. If he hadn’t disclosed his age at Mass today most folks would think they were talking to a man twenty or thirty years younger. He has a vitality that is unmatched and a personality that attracts others easily. I first met him nearly eleven years ago when I began attending Mass at Mt. Irenaeus. I had been away from the active practice of my Catholic faith for nearly thirty years at that point. One Sunday morning in February 2000 I called the Mountain and learned how to get there. My wife and I made that first trip and it’s one that I’ve been making nearly every Sunday since. Dan has been so much a part of that journey. It was his vision to build this off campus retreat center in the hills of Allegany County in Western New York. Mt. Irenaeus is almost thirty miles from the campus of St. Bonaventure University.
From my first visit to the Mountain I felt welcomed and ultimately attracted but it was something Dan said early in my journey’s there that made me realize that I had finally come home. Mt. Irenaeus is home to many people like me who are looking for a place apart a place where solitude and the Gospel are celebrated. Mountain spirituality welcome all who come there and all are transformed by the hospitality that knows no bound. Everyone regardless of spiritual tradition is welcomed and they all know it soon after arriving. This video embedded here was made a couple of years ago and it pays tribute to this wonderful man who is a brother and father to us all. Happy Birthday Fr. Dan! We love you.