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In Memoriam ~ Fr. Jonathan Fischer, OSB, Former SJP Staff


Francis Fischer was the third of seven children born to Wendelin Matthias and Rosemary (Engel) Fischer in Strasburg, North Dakota, on April 4, 1934. His father was the owner of an auto service station in Strasburg, and his mother was a homemaker.

After completing his elementary and high school education in Strasburg he enrolled in Saint John’s University and received a B.A. in philosophy in 1957. During his undergraduate years, Francis pronounced Benedictine monastic vows in 1955 with the monastic name Jonathan. Upon completion of his divinity studies at Saint John’s, Father Jonathan was ordained to the priesthood in 1961.

In 1965 he earned an M.A. in German at Middlebury Language School in Middlebury, Vermont. In 1988 he completed a unit in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Saint Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, Minnesota.

Father Jonathan’s work assignments spanned administration, education, manuscript microfilming, and pastoral ministry. In 1955, he served as assistant director of summer retreats at Saint John’s Abbey until 1959. After ordination, he was a prefect at Saint John’s Preparatory School (1961–1965), taught German and religion until 1973 and he served for one year as the director of the Student Exchange Program at Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria.

He was pastor at Saint Joseph’s Church, Saint Joseph, Minnesota, and chaplain of Saint Benedict’s Monastery from 1973–1979.

In 1979 he became pastor of Saint Benedict’s Parish in the Indian reservation at White Earth, Minnesota as well as pastor at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Ogema, Minnesota.

In 1982 Father Jonathan was appointed field director in Germany and Portugal for what is now called the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (, Saint John’s University, where he oversaw medieval manuscript microfilm operations through 1987.

Additional pastoral assignments through 2014 included Divine Redeemer and Saint Joseph Hospitals, Saint John’s Hospital, and Midway Hospitals, Saint Paul. He also gave generously of his time by conducting regular grief support groups.

Father Jonathan returned to the abbey in June 2014. Among his interests and hobbies, Father Jonathan enjoyed reading and tinkering with things that needed fixing.

Father Jonathan died on January 11, 2023, in the retirement center at Saint John’s Abbey. He is survived by a sister, Jolenta Masterson, Sequim, Washington, and brother, Henry, Littleton, Colorado, and the community at Saint John’s Abbey.

The monks, family, and friends will receive the body on Monday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. and celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Jonathan on Tuesday, January 17 at 3:00 p.m. in Saint John’s Abbey and University Church, with interment in the abbey cemetery. The service will be live-streamed (