Brother Andre Bennett OSB, 76
Saint John's Abbey
John Bennett was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to Edward and Elizabeth (Gohman) Bennett on February 26, 1930. At six years of age he was the fourth of five children when his mother died. His father married Mildred Zwack in 1938, giving John four half-sisters and a half-brother. John attended St. Cloud public schools and received his secondary education at Technical High School in Saint Cloud.
Having worked as a bookkeeper for four years, he applied for entrance to Saint John's Abbey in 1952 when he was 22 years old. The monks accepted John into the Brothers' novitiate and he began using the religious name of Andre. After his first profession of simple vows on April 25, 1954, Brother Andre worked as an assistant librarian for Saint John's University from December of 1952 until October of 1955.
In October of 1955 Brother Andre began schooling at Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Yankton, South Dakota, that would prepare him for service as a resident nurse for the university, preparatory school and the monastery. On April 25, 1957, Brother Andre professed final monastic vows to Abbot Baldwin Dworschak OSB at the pre-dawn Conventual Mass.
On August 15, 1957, Brother Andre completed an extended course in psychiatric nursing at St. Joseph's Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. After three years of study, Brother Andre finished his nurse's schooling at Yankton and obtained his license from the State of Minnesota as a Registered Nurse in October of 1958.
Having received his license, Brother Andre was appointed Saint John's Infirmarian in 1958. He held that position for 33 years, until 1991. For most of his tenure, the Infirmary was located in what is now known as St. Gregory House. In 1976, Saint John's University converted the infirmary into student housing. The monks renovated the south wing of the Quadrangle to become both a Health Center on the ground floor and a monastic retirement center on the second floor. After retirement as Infirmarian in May 1991, Brother Andre served as a medical records professional in the new Saint John's Health Center from 1993 until 2002.
In the last months before his death, Brother Andre re-joined the medical staff as a volunteer team member by answering the phone in St. Raphael Hall, the retirement center for the Abbey. All of the staff and residents there miss his service and the dry humor that often inspired practical jokes. His gruff manner masked a gentle kindness. He was a good, skillful and knowledgeable nurse who liked to cook for others. He enjoyed books and movies, especially if they included thrilling adventure, mystery or espionage. His leisure activities included hooking rugs, maintaining a fish tank, and cultivating assorted cacti and African violets. He was devoted to his siblings and their families.
Brother Andre died at Collegeville in the morning of January 15, 2007. He is survived by his stepmother, Mildred T. Bennett, of Gilroy, California; his sister, Lorraine Pletscher of New Brighton, Minnesota; his sister, Delores Winter of Camaro Island, Washington; his sister, Donna Jacobs of Sun City, Arizona; his brother, Roger Bennett, also of Gilroy; his half-brother, Edward Bennett, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, and his three half-sisters in California, Peggy Campagna of San Carlos, Barbara Asher of Redding and Suzanne Bohn of San Jose.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Brother Andre at 3 p.m. on Friday, January 19, 2007, in Saint John's Abbey Church with interment in Saint John's Cemetery following 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, Andre, to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen OSB and the monks of Saint John's Abbey.
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