Obituary: Benedictine Father Jonathan Fischer

Benedictine Father Jonathan (Francis) Fischer, 88, died Jan. 11 in the retirement center at St. John’s Abbey. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the St. John’s Abbey and University Church, with interment in the abbey cemetery. The service will be live-streamed (

Father Fischer was the third of seven children born to Wendelin Matthias and Rosemary (Engel) Fischer in Strasburg, North Dakota, on April 4, 1934. He attended Strasburg High School and following high school graduation in 1952, he enrolled in St. John’s University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1957. During his undergraduate years, he pronounced Benedictine monastic vows in 1955, with the monastic name Jonathan. Upon completion of his divinity studies at St. John’s, Father Fischer was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

In 1965 Father Fischer earned a master’s degree in German at Middlebury Language School in Middlebury, Vermont. He continued postgraduate studies in German at the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Munich, Germany, and at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1988 he completed his hospital chaplaincy training at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota.

His work assignments spanned administration, education, manuscript microfilming and pastoral ministry. Early on he was a prefect at St. John’s Preparatory School and also taught German and religion there. He was associate pastor, and later served as pastor, at St. Joseph Parish, and also as assistant chaplain and then chaplain at St. Benedict’s Monastery, both in St. Joseph.

Father Fischer served on a missionary assignment as pastor in St. Benedict’s Parish in White Earth, Minnesota, doubling as pastor during those years at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Ogema, Minnesota. Later, he was the field director in Germany and Portugal (for what is now called the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, St. John’s University), where he oversaw medieval manuscript microfilm operations.

He also served as chaplain of Divine Redeemer Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. John’s Hospital and Midway Hospitals, all in St. Paul. He returned to the abbey for retirement in June 2014.

He is survived by his sister, Jolenta Masterson, Sequim, Washington, and brother, Henry, Littleton, Colorado, and the community at St. John’s Abbey.


Author: Carol Jessen-Klixbull

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