Monk of Saint John’s Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota (USA)
Born: 28 May 1929
Professed: 11 July 1950
Ordained: 19 May 1956
Died: 20 July 2019
Deane Alfred Anderson was born the son of Alfred Edward and Maria Agatha (Honl) Anderson in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on 28 May 1929. He attended grade school at Notre Dame Academy in Mitchell, South Dakota and was also a Boy Scout as a youngster. Deane’s father was manager of the Hamm Brewing Company in Mitchell, and his mother taught in the elementary school. However, during the Depression, the family lived on a farm where Deane helped care for the animals and learned the discipline of hard work. In 1944 the family, now with his two younger sisters, Janet and Evelyn, moved to Mount Vernon, South Dakota.
Deane was the proud blue-ribbon winner for Beef Showmanship at the Davison County Fair. He not only groomed the steer to perfection but trained it to respond to his showman’s cane! And he won the South Dakota state “I Speak for Democracy” award. While in high school, Deane was selected for “Boy’s State”. He loved reading and participating in spelling bees and was thrilled to win sixty cents in savings stamps for spelling “inconvenience” at a PTA meeting.
While attending grade school, Deane began serving Mass, sparking his interest in becoming a priest. Towards the middle of his senior year, Deane applied to Saint John’s Preparatory School to begin priesthood studies but was too late to transfer. He completed his education at Mount Vernon High School, graduating in 1947 and later that fall, he was accepted into the pre-divinity class at Saint John’s University.
After completing two years of college, Deane entered the novitiate at Saint John’s Abbey, where he received the name Knute (after the martyr and King of Denmark, Saint Canute IV). Brother Knute excelled in Latin and Greek so that he could read the New Testament in its original languages as well as many of the early Church Mothers and Fathers. After making his first profession as a Benedictine monk on 11 July 1950, Brother Knute completed college, receiving a B.A. in philosophy/classics. He then continued his priesthood studies and was ordained on 19 May 1956.
Father Knute taught mathematics at Saint John’s Preparatory School (1953-1955) and was an instructor of Latin, Greek, and Patrology at Saint John’s University. In 1957, he enrolled at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands for extensive studies in classical Philology and Antiquities, returning to Saint John’s in 1962. Besides his knowledge of Latin and Greek, Father Knute mastered German, French, Dutch, Hebrew, and Italian.
A number of short assignments followed: associate pastor and instructor in religion at Saint Boniface Parish and High School, Cold Spring (1962-1963 and 1964-1965); instructor in Latin, Greek and Patrology at Saint John’s University (1963-1964), while Father Godfrey Diekmann OSB attended the Vatican II Council; and associate pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Richmond (1965-1967).
For the next eleven years, Father Knute resided at the abbey and assisted weekends in parishes in a radius of 150 miles from Saint John’s. In addition, Father Knute was chaplain at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Saint Joseph (1969-1975) and at Saint Raphael’s Convent, Saint Cloud (1975-1977).
In 1978, Father Knute accepted a position at Benilde-Saint Margaret’s Preparatory High School in Saint Louis Park, as a custodian and lived there with its Benedictine community. On weekends, he assisted at local parishes: Saint Raphael in Crystal; Saint Clements in Minneapolis; Saint Peter’s in Delano; and Holy Trinity in Saint Louis Park.
With his expertise in languages, Father Knute was well prepared when in 1980 he began working in the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University as a translator, cataloguer, and research associate. He translated letters and answered inquiries from European scholars about manuscripts in the collection. Father Knute assisted in editing a catalogue of the Alcobaca collection in Lisbon and created a card index of the manuscripts of Durham Cathedral Library in England. He also prepared many Greek incipits (first lines) for HMML’s master index to help cataloguers and visiting scholars locate various manuscripts. As a significant service to his fellow monks and other scholars, Father Knute made himself available to help in verifying and validating classical language translations and citations.
In 1987, Abbot Jerome Theisen OSB appointed Father Knute as the official mail carrier for the monastery. Daily he retrieved the mail from the Collegeville Post Office and brought it to the monastery for distribution.
Perhaps because of his rural upbringing, Father Knute never lost his love of the outdoors. He enjoyed going out into the Saint John’s forest to split wood for exercise and relaxation. Father Knute was a voracious reader, and his monastic cell was packed with books from floor to ceiling. In retirement, he continued to keep up with personal reading and research.
Summing up his years as a monk, Father Knute recalled, “I am grateful to God for the great blessings during my lifetime, and to my confreres for their support, kindness and good example.”
Father Knute died on 20 July 2019 in the retirement center at Saint John’s Abbey. He is survived by his sister, Sister Ingrid Janet Anderson OSB, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Saint Joseph, nieces and nephews, and the community at Saint John’s Abbey. The monks, family, and friends celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Knute at 10:30 a.m. on 24 July 2019 in the Saint John’s Abbey and University Church, with interment in Saint John’s Cemetery.
We commend our brother, Father Knute, to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John’s Abbey