Born in 1957, married and mother of four daughters (“Being a mother is my biggest and most important task.”) Self-employed as legal counsel and professional guardian, she receives her assignments from various courts in her area.
Looking back on the many years of my life, I feel a great satisfaction and I thank God for the conditions he gave me – all of them good foundations to find myself and to develop my talents.
I was formed in a family where justice prevailed, lines were straight and reliable, we children were loved and respected. My father had moral courage, he was not afraid to stand up for justice, for the weak and for the people on the margins of society, even though he was straightforward and dominant. His motto in life was: “Do right and do not shy away from anyone! My mother was kind and pious, hardworking and self-sacrificing, an everyday saint – I discover parts of both parents in myself. For almost 40 years I have lived with my husband, who took me as I am and did not try to change me, but supported me. Although our family life is often turbulent and not entirely peaceful, we stand on a solid foundation.
God has been in my life since I can remember. The farm where I grew up was right next to the church of the village. For me, the interior of the church was part of the extended playground. Following the example of the adults, I went to the church interior and moved around there without any inhibitions. The Angelus ringing three times a day was particularly formative. In each case the “Angel of the Lord” was prayed to the sound of the bell. During that time, everyone left their work, my father took off his hat, and all those present said the prayer together. At some point I began to do the same.
My parents lost three of their six children. God demanded a lot from them, and despite the omnipresent burden, they remained steadfast in their faith in God. As a teenager, as was customary at the time, I was presented with the God who punishes, the God who sees everything and knows about everything. I found prophecies threatening, since I was young and still had my life ahead of me. When our children were born, I looked for a way out of austerity, lack of perspective and fear. They were to be countered by the loving God, a God who is there in every situation and always keeps his hands open.
That is how Schoenstatt found me. My first longer stay in this place of grace was to participate in a conference for mothers and children about 25 years ago. I experienced this time vividly and intensely, I was “at home”. Although I first had to make friends with Father Kentenich over the years, great trust and security quickly deepened in this place of grace. From here, many people were placed on my path, with whom I feel closely connected. Schoenstatt has long since become “my safe place”. “It is like coming home when I am in the shrine … because here, with you, I belong. Mary, I bring you my life.”
I have been working for the Family Court for 20 years. I represent the interests of children affected by the disputed proceedings of their parents. Each case is unique and involves a lot of suffering and worry – there is always a lot at stake. Before I started this profession, I had no idea what was demanded and expected of children. Speechless and affected, I find myself in situations that one can hardly believe to be possible. Silently, I sometimes ask for the right words in quick prayer, which can comfort and calm me. Sometimes I am present when children are separated from their families. All this is not my doing, not from my strength. I encounter children who have no one to confide in in their distress, children who remain unnoticed in the fierce conflict of their parents, children who have to experience bad things. I have long known how disturbing and at the same time drastic the effects of insufficient care and disturbed relationships can be on the entire future life of those affected. Every walk to the court is for me a path of prayer, a surrender of persons, trusting that God will bring about the right decision. Not always, but sometimes miracles happen.
The values of our society have shifted. The cost of living is expensive, the demands and requirements are high, and women are taught to contribute to the upkeep of the family. Many marriages and families break up. Women find themselves in a variety of different roles. They should always be attractive and appealing, in a good mood, contribute to the family income, be a loving and patient mother to the children and a reliable partner who makes the home clean and comfortable. Our political system suggests that small children are better cared for and socialized outside the family than in the family setting. Although I am aware of the high number of children who are better cared for outside their families, this is not the norm. A little person can only grow up emotionally healthy if he or she is safe, supported and cared for, if he or she is protected by a loving environment, if he or she is allowed to grow and learn. Only on this basis can healthy development take place.
There are so many different challenges in everyday life, in every human life. Every person has talents that have been given to him by God. It takes courage to follow paths that are ridiculed by the majority of society. Confused by the variety of media offers and the possibilities they offer, a lot of time is spent shopping, playing games, listening to music, exchanging in chats or social media. Many people are constantly distracted and let themselves be “seduced” by the wide range of possibilities and offers. They are looking for support that they cannot find there. Women are often overwhelmed by the variety of their obligations and encounter little understanding.
Faith no longer fits into this modern age because we are doing well. We fill our inner emptiness with shopping, activities and “more of everything”. But what happens later, when beauty fades and youth is gone, maybe when the money runs out, when partnerships come to an end, unexpected problems with growing children. With the loss of faith, the sense of fundamental values is lost: the sense of the value of loving – which must be connected with willingness to make sacrifices; the value of understanding – the view of my partner; and the value of forgiveness – to turn around in order to break new ground.
My work requires me to have contact with people of the most diverse backgrounds; their disturbances have a “good reason” in each case. Conscious of the fact that I encounter God in every person I meet, I make contact with people in a generally attentive and friendly manner. Professionally, I am dependent on establishing trust, the prerequisites for this were given to me. As a believing person I try to meet my world with kindness, patience and understanding, to offer my support, to keep my word and to love as well as I can. Every day anew I work on it.
I am neither a preacher nor an apostle, my contribution is my example. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I share that I rely on God, put my worries and myself in his good fatherly hands and try to leave the scepter of my life to him.
In addition to the good example set by my parents, in the Sisters of Mary I admired a striking cordiality and kindness, combined with understanding and patience, accepting everyone as they are. Beyond that, my horizon broadened and I could recognize the founder who is behind it all: Father Kentenich in his way of accepting people respectfully and attentively and teaching them in wisdom. He took the time to listen, to look at the other person, to feel with him, and to recognize his worries. He went ahead in faith and demanded nothing that he himself had not already suffered.
In this way I learned to rely on God’s grace, to go my way at the hand of the Blessed Mother, to stand firm and to endure.
How beautiful that I was given a home in Schoenstatt, … it is like coming home when I am in the shrine. Here you have accepted me completely and here, to you, I belong.