Father Alexander Andrews OSB

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Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: 19 November 1933
Professed: 11 July 1965
Ordained: 31 May 1969
Died: 31 July 2013


Edward Charles Andrews was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 19, 1933, the youngest of eight children born to Leslie Joseph and Emily (Trayling) Andrews. Edward grew up in an Irish Catholic family in St. Aloysius Parish where he was baptized and confirmed. He attended Langland Elementary School in Chicago and graduated from high school at Lane Technical School in 1951. Edward went to the University of Illinois from 1951 until 1954 when he was drafted into the armed services. After his four years with the US Air Force, being discharged as a staff Sargent, he returned to the University of Illinois and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1960.

Edward pursued his interest in history at Columbia University in New York City where he received a Master’s of Arts degree in History in 1962. He also spent a year at the University of California in Berkley taking classes in Russian history and culture.

Sensing a call to religious life and on the recommendation of a friend, Edward came to Saint John’s in 1963 and applied for the novitiate in 1964. He was accepted and received the religious name Alexander. He professed his first vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1965. After vows, Alexander continued his priesthood studies at Saint John’s Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1969, by Bishop George Speltz.

Father Alexander had a long teaching career in the Saint John’s University History Department beginning in 1966, interspersed with other teaching and pastoral assignments. He did a year of teaching at Benilde-St. Margaret High School, St. Louis Park, Minnesota, in social studies during 1970-1971, and then returned to the history faculty at Saint John’s for four years. Father Alexander was named pastor of St. John the Baptist parish, Collegeville, for six months in 1972. In 1975-1976 he was associate pastor at St. Augustine’s parish in St. Cloud and in 1982-1983 he became chaplain to the Benedictine Sisters at Mount St. Benedict Monastery, Crookston, Minnesota. Father Alexander then returned to the History Department at Saint John’s University. He was known as an excellent teacher and knowledgeable in all things Russian. Each year he would throw away all his lecture notes from the previous year and begin anew, warning students as each course began that they were already way behind in their reading. Father Alexander chose not to seek a doctoral degree, preferring the rank of Lecturer in History. Thus he could avoid faculty meetings and committee appointments. He retired from the classroom on June 1, 2000.

Father Alexander was a member of the chaplain team that served the Benedictine Sisters of Saint Benedict Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota, from 1993 to 2004, presiding at one of their Eucharistic liturgies each week.

He was an excellent preacher with a prophetic edge to his message.

In his retirement he became the local commentator on all things monastic in the monastic snack room, the retirement center, or wherever anyone would be willing to listen to his reflections and often somewhat acerbic commentary on daily monastic life. Understatement was not his style. For a time he helped in the Abbey Archives.

Father Alexander was a large man with a big heart. He was an avid reader, frequently visiting the Alcuin Library looking for new spiritual and theological books which he called “pious piffle.” He loved a good joke which would bring out his boisterous laugh. And he was a hearty eater.

Father Alexander died on Wednesday, July 31, in the Saint Cloud Hospital. He is survived by his niece, Nancy Szankowski and the community at Saint John’s Abbey. The monastic community, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Alexander at 10:30 AM, Saturday, August 3, in Saint John’s Abbey Church. Interment in Saint John’s Cemetery follows the service.

We ask each community member to offer two Masses according to the manner of his participation in the priesthood of Christ. We commend our brother, Alexander, to your prayers.

Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John’s Abbey