In Memory of





Obituary for Reverend John Francis Brandes

John was born in Minneapolis May 4, 1926 to Lewis and Mary Lou Brandes, and died in Shoreview on January 10, 2023. John was preceded in death by his brother Jim, sisters Barb (Olson) and Kassie (Shearon), and nephew Paul. He is survived by his brother Ray and sister Mary (Griffith), as well as 25 nieces and nephews, and their children and grandchildren – many of whom he baptized and married.

John knew from the time he was in fifth grade at St. Bridget Catholic School in North Minneapolis that being a priest would be his life’s work. He entered Nazareth Hall in 1940 as a ninth grader and was ordained June 2, 1951. John always loved being a priest these 71+ years and took great pleasure in celebrating the Eucharist and giving homilies. His excellent homilies were always topical, relatable, poignant, and engaging.

John served at the Cathedral of St. Paul when first ordained (1951 – 1966), and then as Pastor at the Churches of St. Rita in Cottage Grove (1966 – 1972), St. Mark in St. Paul (1972 – 1986), St. William in Fridley (1987 – 1993), St. Boniface in NE Minneapolis (2004 – 2012); and as Priest-in-Residence at St. Anthony of Padua Chapel at Catholic Eldercare in NE Minneapolis (2014 – 2020). John also spent twelve years as assistant pastor at San Lucas Tolimán in Guatemala (1993 – 2004), serving the Catholic community there.

In addition to being a spiritual inspiration to his family and friends, John initiated or strengthened our ties to the natural world as an outdoorsman. He took many of his nieces and nephews and their children on canoe trips and skiing. He took his last trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at age 77, and was skiing into his 90s.

John was a peace activist who strongly believed in making sacrifices for justice through civil disobedience. He was arrested and went to court seven times, mostly on charges of trespassing while demonstrating at Honeywell to protest the company’s manufacture of cluster bombs. “The judge gave us community service. My feeling was that I WAS doing community service when I was arrested,” said John. He was deeply loved and will be sorely missed by all who knew him because he loved unconditionally and inclusively. May he rest in peace.

Visitation Sunday, January 22nd, 2023 from 3-8 PM with Vigil Prayers at 7 PM at CHURCH OF ST. BONIFACE (633 NE Second Street, Mpls.). Mass of Christian Burial Monday, January 23, 2023 at 11 AM with visitation one hour prior also at the church and reception to follow. Interment at St. Mary’s Cemetery, near his maternal grandfather.

In Lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of John’s favorite charities: The Nonviolent Peace Force, Catholic Charities of Minneapolis, San Lucas Mission (Guatemala), and St. Steven’s Human Services (Minneapolis).