Margrit Wegner was born in Hamburg and she was aware of her calling from an early age. My home parish, church music and youth work were formative influences on me and led to my desire to become a pastor”, she explains. A degree in theology was followed by the post of assistant vicar at Hamburg's Michel church and then that of vicar in the district of Steilshoop, characterised by high-rise apartment blocks, before transferring to Stockholm Cathedral in Sweden. Her first post as pastor finally took Margrit Wegner to the Chapel of St. Jürgen in Lübeck. But how did she come to be the first woman to become pastor at Lübeck Cathedral in 2010? “Martin Klatt who is now my colleague, encouraged me to apply”, she recalls. “I was very keen on the idea of working there as I had already fallen in love with the Cathedral before even moving to Lübeck. I was attending a concert at the time and it was genuinely love at first sight.”
When Margrit Wegner takes up her post at the Cathedral, Jörg-Philipp Thomsa is already Head of the Günter Grass House. Born and brought up on the Lower Rhine, he studied German and History at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He came to Lübeck for the first time in 2005 as a tourist and was immediately fascinated by the town. “I liked the town so much that I returned one year later to serve an internship in the Buddenbrook-House — ideal for a Thomas Mann fan like me”, says Thomsa with a grin. And it was here that they met for the first time after a reading: Günter Grass and Jörg-Philipp Thomsa. The start of an intensive collaboration. Thomsa becomes an academic trainee in the Günter Grass House and finally its Head in 2009, always with the full support of the man who lent his name to it and who died in 2015.
There they are now, the pastor and the museum curator, and the original question about opposites. “There are definitely connecting elements in our work”, Jörg-Philipp Thomsa opines. “It’s a matter of great concern to both of us to relate the themes of our “bosses” to today’s times and identify contemporary references. What are the questions that preoccupy people today?” For example, religion, finiteness, the question of guilt and responsibility — these are central, recurring themes in the works of Günter Grass. “That gave us the chance to find common ways of communication”, Margrit Wegner explains. “For example, one time we held a joint service with a reading from ‘Cat and Mouse’.”