Diakonisse Hanna Lachenmann

Deaconess Hanna Lachenmann
(11 November 1930 – 14 June 2024, aged 93 years)

Sister Hanna was born in Stuttgart and grew up with seven siblings in a parish household. She felt connected to the Frankfurt Deaconess House since her baptism, as her godmother was Deaconess Margarethe Lachenmann. She had a rich childhood, but it was also overshadowed by the Nazi era. The war tore the family apart; the eldest brother was killed in the war. The post-war period was difficult, but the poverty that they had to experience as a family was still rich due to their religious parents’ home, where they prayed, sang and read the Word of God every day. From childhood she had flute and violin lessons and had her place in the community. In 1947, her aunt brought her to the Frankfurt motherhouse for the first time, which was then evacuated to Villa Manskopf. There she got to know and love Lutheran liturgy and Gregorian singing.

Because she wanted to become a caregiver, she asked the motherhouse if she could come for an internship. So at the age of 19 she came to the Elisabethenhof in Marburg (a welfare home) and got to know how to work with girls who came from completely different backgrounds. The death of Sister Emma Wolff, from whom she had learned a lot in a short time, was decisive for her entry as a probationary nurse. A passage from the Bible made it clear to her that becoming a deaconess could be her calling.

In October 1950 she joined the mother house as a probationary nurse and worked in various areas of work and was able to obtain her high school diploma, which was previously not possible due to the war. This was followed by studies at the vocational pedagogical institute and at the university.

In 1957 she began working as a teacher at the technical school for social education, together with Sister Anneliese Friese and Sister Änne Inerle.

A year later the blessing took place with five other sisters; Sister Gisela Tyroff also belongs to her group. Her blessing verse accompanied her throughout her life: My soul will rejoice in the LORD, and the poor may hear it and rejoice.

After her consecration, she continued to work at the technical school, in many different subjects and has influenced countless generations of students.

From the summer of 1970, she only worked half-time there as she was assigned to work alongside Superior Anneliese Oehlert as deputy. Other tasks were added: leading the sister choir, playing the organ, holding devotions and much more. From 1984 to 1995 she was responsible for the training of young deaconesses.

Sister Hanna also enjoyed taking on tasks outside of the motherhouse: as a member of the leadership group of the Evangelical Women’s Work, for many years in the EKD synod and helped to develop a lot for diaconal communities.

In 1995 she gave up her position as deputy, but that didn’t mean that she had any less impact. We have her to thank for the commemorative publication for our 125th annual celebration; she worked with the Diakonie Memorandum on the Diakonie anniversary 1848-1998.

From 1987 to 1996 she was a member of the board of the DIAKONIA World Association as a representative of the Kaiserswerth Association of German Deaconess Motherhouses, and was Secretary of the DIAKONIA World Association for many years from 1996, and German editor for DIAKONIA News. Sister Hanna was able to inspire many people for global diakonia!

She enjoyed designing countless editions of the mother house newspaper for many years with Sister Elisabeth Breitenbach.

Sister Hanna has had a great influence on many people in the world through her spiritual attitude: through lectures, devotions, etc. She developed further the worship life in the community and delighted with her new songs.

As she grew older, she learned to appreciate the computer anew, because when she could no longer travel so much, she was connected through email to sisters and brothers not only in Europe, but also as far away as Australia and America. Until the end, she maintained countless contacts, including by letter and telephone.

In 2023, the community celebrated the 65th deaconess anniversary with a festive service with Sister Hanna and Sister Gisela, with gratitude for so many years of spiritual life.

Sister Hanna still had a lot of plans; she always had ideas about what else she could do. Finally, she put together a series of photos about the history of the church, from the beginning to the present day, which she wanted to show to employees and sisters.

She remained focused on people until the end. She always had interesting things to talk about and remained eager to learn.

For some time now, Sister Hanna had been having increasing problems with her heart and lungs. At the end of April she returned from the St. Mark’s Hospital feeling stronger after a long stay. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long, and so at the end of May she was sent to the Nellinistift for short-term care because her general health was deteriorating. She spent the last few days in St. Mark’s Hospital with pneumonia. She decided that nothing more life-prolonging should be done. On Thursday she received a visit from her sister Elisabeth, her son and daughter-in-law. Afterwards she was able to fall asleep peacefully and quietly.

She had come to appreciate the short time in the Nellinistift and was already planning to have her computer brought in so that she could stay in touch with the world. She loved the nursing staff from the start, received wonderful care from all the staff and was grateful for it.

Thanks go to everyone who lovingly looked after our fellow sister. In recent years this has included all employees in the Frankfurt Deaconess House and also the employees of the Inner Mission, SV-Care and the CityChurch. Everyone appreciated her approachable nature and knowledge.

With Sister Hanna we are losing an important pillar of our community. She has shaped our house like no other sister; We will miss her very much and remember her fondly.

Nachruf S. Hanna Lachenmann[1]

Hanna Lachenmann, English translation