Memorial Celebration

Jon F. Hassler

March 30, 1933-March 20, 2008


The Walled City of Lucca
For Gretchen


A lovely day in Lucca
and we upon the wall
 as one by one and golden
the leaves begin to fall


Looking down on Lucca
we walk our circling walk;
through sunshine and shadow
we talk our bracing talk.


Certain memories offer
sustenance and calm;
past peace consoles us
facing present harm.


May both of us confronting
future disarray
recall the wall of Lucca
this perfect autumn day.





by Jon Hassler

The Red Oak

Among the four seasons' perpetual jokes
Is the winter appearance of overdressed oaks
Refusing to fall with the sleet an snow
Oak leaves cling, lifelike, through fifty below
Until they are nudged by the force of the sap
Rising to fashion the oak a spring wrap.


I hope when it's Autumn and winter for me
I can look as alive as the overdressed tree
And during the lengthening nights I can cling
To my wits and my heart - the tokens of spring
Only releasing them into the sod
The moment I'm dressed in the glory of God.



Processional: How Firm a Foundation

 Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB
President of Saint John's University, Opening Remarks

Reading from the Prologue to the Rule of Saint Benedict
Fr. Timothy Backous, OSB, Headmaster, Saint John's Preparatory School

Listen carefully, my son, to the Master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience...

See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom...

Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord's service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to send down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom.

A Sacred Improvisation, Fr. Robert Koopmann, OSB
Professor of Music and Fine Arts Division Head, CSB/SJU

Reading from The Word of God by Romano Guardini, 1885-1968
Diane Veale Jones, Professor of Environmental Studies, CSB/SJU

Deep within us there lives the consciousness that something must happen to us, that this present existence is not the real and true one, that it must become new and different and so attain to its proper reality. If one should ask us, we would not be able to say how this is to be, and yet we wait for it with a hope that we perhaps do not admit even to ourselves. This hope is often mistaken about its own meaning. Then we think that what we are waiting for is the coming day or the springtime or some encounter or change in circumstances. But we are mistaken. The change for which we are really waiting does not consist in this-that we will learn tomorrow to control ourselves better than today, that our next work will be more successful than the last, that we will rise to success or power or will find the person whose love can wholly rouse and fill us. All these things are fundamentally merely changes within a similar situation. What we desire is real transformation, the genesis of something entirely new from which we would at last receive our proper self. But are these not phantasies? Beautiful, profound and ultimately vain imaginations of human longing? No, to appeal to this desire, to interpret it, to promise that it shall be fulfilled, indeed that the fulfillment has already begun and is being consummated through the ages, this is the meaning of the "good news."

Reading from The Divine Milieu  by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955
Kenneth Jones, Professor of History and Director of Common Curriculum, CSB/SJU

Where are the roots of our being? In the first place they plunge back and down into the unfathomable past. How great is the mystery of the first cells which were one day animated by the breath of our souls! How impossible to decipher the welding of successive influences in which we are for ever incorporated! In each one of us, through matter, the whole history of the world is in part reflected. And however autonomous our soul, it is indebted to an inheritance worked upon from all sides-before ever it came into being-by the totality of the energies of the earth; it meets and rejoins life at a determined level. Then, hardly has it entered actively into the universe at that particular point than it feels, in its turn, besieged and penetrated by the flow of cosmic influences which have to be ordered and assimilated. Let us look around us: the waves come from all sides and from the farthest horizons. Through every cleft the world we perceive floods us with its riches-food for the body, nourishment for the eyes, harmony of sounds and fullness of the heart, unknown phenomena and new truths, all these treasures, all these stimuli, all these calls, coming to us from the four corners of the world, cross our consciousness at every moment.

We hardly know in what proportions and under what guise our natural faculties will pass over into the final act of the vision of God. But it can hardly be doubted that, with God's help, it is here below that we give ourselves the eyes and the heart which a final transfiguration will make the organs of a power of adoration, and of capacity for blessedness.

Psalm 139 Guide me Lord
Patricia Kent, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music, CSB/SJU

1.     Lord, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar. (Response)

2.     Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it. Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain. (Response)

3.     Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence where can I flee? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there. (Response)

4.     If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand hold me fast. (Response)

Annette Atkins, Remembrance
Professor of History and Edward P. and Loretta H. Flynn Professorship, CSB/SJU

Br. Benet Tvedten, OSB, Remembrance
Oblate Director, Blue Cloud Abbey, South Dakota

Patrick Hicks, Remembrance
Writer in Residence and Associate Professor of English, Augustana College

A Sacred Improvisation
Fr. Robert Koopmann, OSB and Bruce Thornton Associate Professor of Music, CSB/SJU

Michael Dennis Browne, Remembrance
Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Minnesota

Cindy Malone, Remembrance
Professor of English, CSB/SJU

A Sacred Improvisation
Fr. Robert Koopmann and Patricia Kent

Bill Holm, Remembrance
Author and Professor of English, Southwest Minnesota State University

Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB Closing Remarks

Music from the Fandel family Singers
Mike and Nancy Fandel, Rochelle Fandel Blease, Jeff Blease,
Emily Blease,
Michael David Fandel, Monique Fandel Rupp, David Rupp,
Janien Fandel Thompson, Kelly Flanagan Fandel and Neil Fandel

Recessional: Now the Green Blade Riseth

Organ Postlude, Fr. Robert Koopmann, OSB


Jon F. Hassler
March 30, 1933-March 20, 2008

Jon Hassler, a life-long resident of Minnesota, was born in Minneapolis in 1933, lived his first ten years in Staples and his next eight in Plainview, where he graduated from high school. He attended Saint John's University (B.A.) and the University of North Dakota (M.A.) and taught high school English for ten years before joining the faculty at Bemidji State University. It was in 1970, while teaching at Brainerd Community College, that Jon began to write fiction. In 1980 he became writer-in-residence and later Regent's Professor at Saint John's University where he remained until his retirement in 1997. Throughout his career he remained dedicated to writing and teaching.

Jon, a nationally respected author of novels, plays and nonfiction, is widely considered one of the most insightful, entertaining and authentic voices of Minnesota. He received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. His novels Staggerford and Grand Opening won prestigious literary awards, A television version of A Green Journey was produced for NBC in 1988. It starred Angela Lansbury and Denholm Elliott. In 1993, Jon was granted an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Assumption College (Massachusetts); in 1994 by the University of North Dakota; and in 1996 by the University of Notre Dame. In 2003 Saint John's presented the 10th annual Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to Jon to honor his service to humanity in his writing.