Maria Lohaus

Born in 1958 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany; married with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ludger Lohaus since 1979; three children, four grandchildren; teacher and music pedagogue; since 2005 freelance artist; since 1986 member of the Schoenstatt mother federation, since 2014 member of the diocesan council of Hildesheim; since 2016 leader of seminars „Baustelle Lebenshaus“ („house of life“) with Father Lothar Herter and Birgit Nikolayczik

Which experiences have influenced you as a woman?

As a young girl I grew up with a picture of woman that principally saw her in her function as mother and homemaker. So I became a teacher and married young, had three lovely children and built up my family. Once the children were older I studied drawing and graphics, and today work as a freelance artist.

As a member of the Schoenstatt Mothers’ Federation I have been marked by the experience that being a Christian woman and mother is important for my family and the world around, and I have discovered Mary as my companion. My image of woman has changed in the course of time. I have experienced that I am able to decide self-confidently, freely and on my own responsibility, and that I can fully unfold my potential beside my role as mother and wife.

When my husband accepted a professorship at the University of Hannover, I built up an art school for children and teenagers at our new home. It was a very fulfilling activity that gave me great joy, and I could also contribute my pedagogical experiences. I am happy to be a mother and educator and do not regret consciously choosing this model of a family together with my husband. Besides caring for my family I volunteer creatively in leading mother and child groups, am involved in parish work and also in the Schoenstatt Mothers’ Federation.

Where did you experience God in your life?

I got to know God in my parental home. My parents were very different. My mother, who had been a member of a Münster girls’ group, and who joined the Schoenstatt Mothers’ Federation after the 1968 Katholikentag, gave us a deep love for Mary and authentic faith in a loving Father-God.

My father, a very straight, pragmatic and deeply believing Catholic, was unable to do much with a popular Marian spirituality. He passed on to us faith in a just God whose authority had to be accepted absolutely.

I experienced my parent’s very different image of God intensively when they died. It deepened my faith in a personally loving God. My mother was bedbound for many years with severe dementia, and was even unable to use her limbs, but had clear and radiant eyes and a smile on her face at the moment of death. She died at the moment when our brother said a family prayer of our grandmother. Three of her four children were with her when she died.

My father died twenty years before our mother. He very consciously went to meet death. After a short but severe lung disease he felt death approaching and called each of his children individually to his deathbed. None of us believed he was dying, because he seemed so strong and clear. He blessed me and asked me to forgive him for any wrong he had done me. I was profoundly shaken to experience my father’s great humility. He died four hours later.

What do you consider the challenge for women today?

I see it as a challenge for women in their social, private and working lives as women, mothers, wives and daughters today, in being able to fully and holistically to unfold their womanhood. This includes equal opportunities for women who would like to follow their roles as mothers, and at the same time contribute their potential in the economy, state, church or society. In this there remains as before a great potential for development. From early Christianity we know that women were very important as leaders in their times. We also need Christian women who contribute their womanhood significantly in the economy, politics, church and society, in addition to being mothers and wives.

What would you like to change in this world through your life?

I would like to help women to be able to trust in themselves, to be free, strong and independent in living according to their consciences, and all that through deep union with Jesus Christ. In this connection they also have to discover Mary in a new way, and her importance for successful womanhood today. I am fascinated by a Christian image of human beings who can contribute to a society in which women are given the opportunity to combine their abilities and gifts in the family, at work, in the church and society in such a way that they are in harmony with themselves and can fruitfully shape the world around them.

To achieve this I am collaborating with Birgit Nikolayczik and Fr Lothar Herter in the project we founded in 2016: “Baustelle Lebenshaus” (Construction Site of the House of Life). In our seminars for young women from 25 upwards we try to follow up traces of each one’s personal relationship to God, and critically examine our lives and the Zeitgeist (spirit of the times). Our personal calling requires a personal relationship to God that carries and upholds us in everyday life.

It makes me happy to transform my own world, small as it may be, create a climate, and acknowledge that freedom only becomes possible through accepting responsibility. It makes me happy to discover that our striving, our whole being, can become a gift we can give to the Blessed Mother and help her to become a source of blessing for many people. None of us can do anything about the way they were taught about God, but as free people we have the possibility to engage with a new vision and start again with faith. At any rate God gives us opportunities to do so throughout our lives.