Author Jon Hassler to Receive Colman Barry Award from SJU

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April 14, 2003

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. -- Saint John's University will present the 10th annual Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to author Jon Hassler, SJU class of 1955, to honor his service to humanity through his writing. The award will be presented on Friday, April 25, in conjunction with Saint John's Day activities and the celebration of the appointment of SJU President Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, to a third six-year term.

Hassler, a nationally respected author of novels, plays and nonfiction, is widely considered one of the most insightful, entertaining and authentic voices of Minnesota. His novels Staggerford and Grand Opening have won prestigious literary awards, and he is the recipient of the 2000 Flanagan Prize from the Minnesota Humanities Commission and the 2000 Distinguished Minnesotan Award from Bemidji State University.

Hassler received his bachelor's degree from Saint John's and master's degree from the University of North Dakota. He was writer-in-residence at SJU from 1980 until his retirement in 1997 and is currently Regents Professor Emeritus of SJU. He and his wife, Gretchen, live in Minneapolis. Among his most recent works are a novel, Staggerford Flood and a work of nonfiction, Good People -- from an Author's Life.

The Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society recognizes the contributions that the Rev. Barry, a Benedictine monk of Saint John's Abbey and former president of SJU, made during his life of scholarship and teaching. The author of several books, including his three-volume Readings in Church History and Worship and Work, the Rev. Barry began his teaching career at Saint John's in 1952. He died in 1994.

The Rev. Barry was responsible for the creation of the Jay Phillips Chair in Jewish Studies in 1969, the first such chair at an American Catholic college and the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library in 1964. His creative leadership set the roots on the SJU campus for Minnesota Public Radio in 1967, which has grown to become one of the top public radio networks in the nation.

The Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society is given annually to those who, like Rev. Barry, have made significant contributions to human knowledge, understanding or communication in religion and society.

Saint John's University for men and the College of Saint Benedict for women are partners in liberal arts education, providing students the opportunity to benefit from the distinctions of not one, but two nationally recognized Catholic, undergraduate colleges. Together, the colleges challenge students to live balanced lives of learning, work, leadership and service in a changing world.