Posted On 2012-01-20 In Schoenstatters

Fr. Jonathan Niehaus called home to the Eternal Father

Fr. Heinrich Walter. Fr. Jonathan Niehaus (51), from Ivanhoe, MN, USA,  has been called home by God the merciful Father, after his battle with lung cancer. He consciously lived and offered the last phase of his life.





His requiem mass will be celebrated on Monday, 23rd January – 2pm, in the Adoration Church on Mount Schoenstatt. His burial will follow immediately on Mount Sion.

Schoenstatt-TV will transmit the Requiem Mass. Fr. Andrew Pastore will offer a live comment in English.

Official Condolence Book

Death announcement

Fr. Jonathan Niehaus (1960-2012)

“To the Queen of Minnesota”, was the dedication that the student Jonathan Niehaus gave his first book, “The history of Schoenstatt in the United States”, in 1983. Now, having offered his life after an intense battle with lung cancer we can say that he dedicated it “To the Queen of Mount Sion”. He was aware from the beginning of his illness, that his suffering were to be offered for a smooth transition of the Original Shrine to the Schoenstatt Family.

Jonathan James Niehaus was born in Madison, Minnesota on June 5, 1960, the oldest of Veronica and Melvin Niehaus’ six children. After his family moved to Ivanhoe in 1966 they came into contact with the Schoenstatt Sisters who ran a small hospital in that town. He made his Covenant of Love with the MTA on April 7, 1974, the same day his family’s home shrine was dedicated. During his youth years he participated in numerous activities with the boys and the Minnesota Schoenstatt family, including the search for land and the building of the shrine in Sleepy Eye, MN. He graduated from Ivanhoe High School in 1978 and from Southwest State University in 1982. Then he joined the Schoenstatt Fathers. His sister Sr. Deanne had joined the Schoenstatt Sisters community and later his brother Mark would join our community. His godson and brother Thomas was ordained a Diocesan priest in 2008.

After spending a year in Milwaukee, Jonathan moved to Germany to prepare for his novitiate that started in 1984. In the context of the 1985 Centennial of Fr. Kentenich’s birth, his course found their ideal—Pater renatus exoriens (the Father reborn dawning for all peoples)—making their course consecration on April 12, 1985. After years of study in Muenster, he performed his internship working with the Schoenstatt Youth in the USA in 1987-88.

Fr. Jonathan was a person with many special gifts, a great memory, a keen sense of history, and musically gifted. During his studies he excelled in many areas and was an intense builder of community at the Joseph Kentenich College, in Muenster, Germany. During those years he battled many struggles that helped him to grow in community life and in his covenant life.

After finishing his studies in Muenster in 1993 and serving a year as a deacon at St. Mary’s parish in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, Bishop Raymond Lucker ordained Fr. Jonathan on June 4, 1994 in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. He worked at St. James and St. Cecilia’s parish in Mequon until in 1996 he took over Fr. Gerold’s work with the Schoenstatt boys and young men. His accent in the youth work recruited dads to help run the groups and camps. Secondly, he wrote a whole new program for group material and outlines centered on the “tilma” that the boys earn, creating a simple form of a room shrine for themselves, modeled on the Schoenstatt heroes.

During these years of living at the Fathers’ Waukesha filiation, Fr. Jonathan unfolded his ability to help build community in our house on Cherry Lane. Willing to assist wherever needed, he could be counted on for such things as: celebrating the Sister’s mass, giving talks at our leaders’ weekends, explaining the history of the exile years to visitors, putting together a songbook for the community, being part of the Central Committee. Moreover he was exemplary in keeping his room in order, his early rising, helping to shovel the snow in the driveway, answering the phone. In a word, he was always willing to help.

And practically “on the side” he followed an inner inspiration and goal to publishing one or two books a year. He realized how few books had been published of our Schoenstatt spirituality in English, inspiring him to put much energy into creating new material. He did much precious research into the history of Schoenstatt, particularly the Exile time. At Fr. Dieter’s promptings he translated Heavenwards into English; wrote the history and mission of the home shrine; put together texts of Fr. Kentenich on the major aspects of our Schoenstatt spirituality. His book on May 31st has already been translated into various other languages as well as some of his other publications. An immeasurable gift to all of us; we owe him so much for making our spirituality and our Founder accessible in the English language. And with this he became one of the outstanding experts of the Kentenich studies.

Then in 2005, Fr. Jonathan volunteered to move to Austin, Texas, as part of our new team in Texas. For four years he commuted between Austin and San Marcus where he served as University chaplain for the students at Texas State. It did not take him long to gain the trust of the students, faculty members and staff. Such a good relationship unfolded between them making it hard for him to leave again in 2009.

While in Austin, Fr. Jonathan had already been drawn into the formation process of our seminarians in India. Now, in 2009 the community asked him to move to Mount Sion in Schoenstatt to become part of the educators’ team for our seminarians in their Father studies in Germany, India, Africa, and South America. For over a year he traveled to our formation sites giving study seminars on Father Kentenich. Like in Waukesha, Fr. Jonathan became a vital part of the House community in the Father House on Mt. Sion.

With the transfer of Fr. Jonathan to Schoenstatt another dream of our community could take shape, the beginning of our Sion Institute. In cooperation with the other members he conducted two fruitful seminars with our doctorial candidates on Mt. Sion, the last one centering in on the theme of the Covenant Culture.

While in Burundi for a four week course with our students in July, he noticed pain in his back and that his voice was getting weaker. By the end of September, he was taken to the tropical decease hospital in Wuerzburg where metastasized lung cancer was found. From then until now he has spent going from hospitals in Montabaur, Dernbach, Koblenz and Neuwied. His mother and Fr. Mark were able to accompany him in October, his sister Sr. Deanne visited with him throughout the Christmas Holidays and finally his sister Becky, his brother Fr. Tom and his course brother Fr. Zé Fernando accompanied him in his last moment. May he rest in peace.

January 19, 2012 – the Schoenstatt-Fathers of the USA-Delegation (“Sion of Joseph”)

16 Responses

  1. James Marnell says:

    I was blessed to work with Jonathan at the International Center in WI during the summer of 1988. We both assisted with the Boys camp under the direction of Fr. Lang. Jonathan and I had many long conversations as he tried to inculcate the world of Schoenstatt into my mind and heart. I later went on to read his books on Schoenstatt spirituality. I’m sure Fr. Kentenich received him as a true spiritual son upon their meeting in the Father’s house-the heavenly Schoenstatt realm.

  2. Fr. Venancio "Jun" Balansag, JCL says:

    I had fond memories with Jonathan way back when we were postulants, novices and theologians in Germany. We belonged to the same course, Pater Renatus Exoriens. A musically gifted person, Jon played the flute perfectly and our course was able to record our first CD, the contents of which were our own compositions in the seminary. Some of the pieces were written and arranged by Jon.
    When I pursued a different path, I lost tract of my course brothers. Jon’s books on Fr. Kentenich and Schoenstatt somehow kept my link to him to this day.
    Requiscat in Pace, Jon.

  3. Sr. M. Angela Macari says:

    On behalf of the East Coast Schoenstatt Famly, I send our deepest condolences to the Niehaus Family as well as the Sion of Joseph and the entire Schoenstatt Fathers community. My only consolation at this deep loss is that he specifically offered his life for the Original Shrine…such a precious treasure demanded such a gigantic ransom! Father Jonathan thank you for your most childlike faithfulness to our Father and Founder and for living the conviction: "Schoenstatt is my world, my world, indeed the whole world must become Schoenstatt!" J.K.

  4. Phil Schanen says:

    R.I.P. Jonathan Niehaus He had a definite imapact on my life and I put up a little evangelization web address a few years ago when the Gilbert Schimmel half hour program was being sold on EWTN. In his "trifecta" of books on everyday sanctity, instrument spirituality and the covenant spirituality he relates how Fr. Kentenich counseled an unemployed person who was having temptations against purity to do something creative like making toys for his children. This advice practically impacted my life and something I carry with me to this day. It can be very useful to do something creative and very simple in one’s free time like working on a 300 piece puzzle for 20 minutes. This simple activity can get a person "unstuck", give a person "a sense of accomplishment" on a daily level/24 hour level, get the ball rolling in one’s day, give the person a building block in one’s day. Very down to earth advice, a very practical activity and in a way I parallel it to all the talk in society about self-esteem. Work with God to do something simple and creative like working on a 300 piece puzzle for a few minutes to give yourself a sense of accomplishment. This tiny sense of accomplishment on a 24 hour level can give a person true "self-esteem" in God’s eyes. It is a tiny God-given victory on a daily level-24 hour level that can make a big difference. *Three dimensional spirituality*

    Forming persons who can carry out God’s plan in everyday life may also be related to a Spanish Language education project I worked on. google dot com, type in: twitter PhilipSchanen

    May God reward Fr. Jonathan Niehaus for his generosity of heart. The music cd that the u.s.a schoenstatt boys produced in the last couple years is true evidence of his conviction that "life is beautiful." Hope they commission another batch of those music cds to be made and available for sale.

    -can be hard to summarize or accurately articulate how a person impacts your life-

  5. Joe Yank says:

    In 1978 Fr. Monnerhan visited Wisconsin, he had just finished his book "Josef Kentenich – A life for the Church" and we asked him when it would be translated into English. He said "you must pray for English translators." We began praying at that time because we were so hungry for words of our founder in English. A little more than 10 years later Fr. Jonathan Niehaus came along and brought to us Fr. Kentenich’s many writings in English. Fr. Jonathan was truly an answered prayer to our English speaking Schoenstatt Family for he brought to life our father and founder and our Schoenstatt Spirituality in his many books. But as many know he was not only a scholar, writer, translator, etc. He was truly a priestly father.

    Ten years ago my son joined a boy’s group led by Fr. Jonathan. He truly shone as a real father as he led the boys to know and love the heros of Schoenstatt, Fr. Kentenich, Josef Engling, Brother Mario, Gilbert Schimel, Carl Leisner. He could teach them about these men because they were truly his heros as well and his life mirrored their love for Schoenstatt and the Church.

    Now we ask you Fr. Jonathan to take these many boys and men whom you mentored here on earth to our dear MTA and our father and founder that we may grow in the covenant loyalty that you so wonderfully exemplified. We pray to our dear Mother in the words of Fr. Kentenich from Heavenwards:

    From all the nations suffering here
    choose the best men for yourself for the
    expansion of your kingdom.
    Take them into your hands as instruments
    in order to turn the destiny of the nations to
    the Lord.

    As you go to your heavenly home dear friend, brother and father we count on you being with us as one of our great heros.

    MPHCEV, Joe

  6. Jentz Family - Brookfield, WI says:

    Fr Jonathan was an important part of our Schoenstatt education, especially through the Father Son Weekends and when working with the boy’s groups. I feel honored to have been able to assist him in some of his projects over the years. We will miss him dearly, may his soul rest in peace. We pass on our condolences to his family.
    Dave, Christi, Elliot and Paul Jentz

  7. Colette J Albright says:

    He visited my daughter in Columbia St Marys hospital, Mequon WI. she was scheduled for surgery the next day and terrified. He not only calmed her fears but instilled in her the positive feeling that if you "turned it over" you never had to worry. To this day that is her mantra, no matter what happens in her family or profession life, she "turns it over" Thanks to Father Niehaus. May the Perpetual Light shine upon him.

  8. Barbara i Marek Jędrzejewscy Bydgoszcz Polska says:

    Łączymy się w modlitwie za ś.p. o. Jonathana.

    Niech cię przygarnie Chrystus uwielbiony,
    On wezwał ciebie do królestwa światła.
    Niech na spotkanie w progach Ojca domu
    Po ciebie wyjdzie litościwa Matka.

    Promienny Chryste, Boski Zbawicielu,
    jedyne światło, które nie zna zmierzchu,
    bądź dla tej duszy wiecznym odpocznieniem,
    pozwól oglądać chwały Twej majestat.

  9. Rev. Charles Quinn says:

    I knew Fr. Niehaus only from his writings; I never met him personally. They helped me understand Schoenstatt, and especially Fr. Kentenich. Partly because of him and his writings, I will soon be making my own covenant of love with MTA. I am glad that through an unexpected set of circumstances I will be able to offer a Mass for the repose of his soul at the shrine in Staten Island, NY. Truly, Our Lady takes care.

  10. Ann Dentice says:

    Thank you heavenly Father for Father Jonathon. What a tremdous gift his life was for us. Now he is free to give us even more of his treasures. Indeed, your life is beatiful!
    We love you Father Johnathon. In our Covenant of Love, Ann

  11. Christine VanderBloemen says:

    He will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace. Amen.

  12. Carl R. Strandt - New Berlin, WI says:

    Fr. Jonathan was instrumental in the formation of my children. His spiritual guidance aided my wife Linda and I as we educated and formed our children to be active Christians. I enjoyed the father and son camps, and the other activities he fostered.He invited us into the Schoenstatt family and we were fortunate to also get to know some of his family. He taught me, and I was able to use his words as I taught others. Thank you dear Blessed Mother for Fr. Jonathan Niehaus. We now have another saint in Heaven who will intercede for us.

  13. Mary Beth Breunig--Madison/Waukesha Movement says:

    What a tremendous loss for the Schoenstatt movement on earth. He was such a gifted person who taught me and my family the history of Schoenstatt in such a meaningful way. We don’t know God’s plan for taking him so young in his life, but I’m willing to bet he has great plans for him in the next life. We will miss you Father Jonathon. Pray for us to our MTA that we may live our covenant as faithfully as you gave example with your own life.

  14. Nancy Schultz says:

    My earliest memories of my cousin, Fr. Jon is from childhood. He was a master of making plans on how to "spy" on the grown-ups. We,cousins, spent a lot of time scurrying from closet to closet so not to be seen, though, I’m sure the grown-ups must have heard a lot of giggling.

    At Grandma Niehaus’, he and Uncle Larry created many imaginative games that were great fun. I remember sitting up in Grandma’s tree and trying very hard to hit them both with tree bark. I don’t remember the game but apparently I felt they were the bad guys. I do remember it being fun.

    We treasure the times that he stopped by KC during his travels and wish that we could see him one more time. We trust that he is in heaven with our other loved ones and we will see them all again. We are grateful for our a new advocate in heaven.

    Aunt Veronica and family, we wish we could be there in person but will be in spirit.

    All our love,
    Randy, Nancy and Nick

  15. Sr. M. Connie, South Africa says:

    The Movement in South Africa as well as the loyal group in Zimbabwe are all deeply saddened by the loss of Fr. Jonathan and would like to pass on their condolences to his family ,to the Schoenstatt Fathers especially his course brothers.
    We have been keeping Fr. Jonathan in our prayers particularly during this phase of his lung cancer.
    Fr. Jonathan has enriched our lives through making the spirituality of our Founder accessible in his many English translations but we are also aware of the many other significant contributions he has made in so many different ways. We pray that this loyal son of our Founder may receive his eternal reward and know that aspects of his lived covenant will continue to inspire and enrich all our lives.
    Thank you Fr Jonathan for your richly blessed life!
    Sr M Connie
    South Africa

  16. a friend says:

    Rest in peace, Fr Jonathan, rest in movement, I prefer to say. Take care from heaven above for our Schoenstatt and the way towards 2014 that you helped to prepare.

    I remember meeting you almost 30 years ago, as a seminarian, and was impressed with your radical childlike heroic and inconditional commitment. An impression that never changed in all these years.
    I remember my last meeting with you and guard it as a precious heritage.

    Take care of your family, together with your Dad, and give them comfort.

    We miss you here.

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