Johannes Maria Haw was born on May 26, 1871 in Schweich, Germany. He began theological studies at the major seminary of Trier and was ordained a priest on March 30, 1895. His first assignments in the Diocese of Trier were: chaplain in the parish of Our Lady in Koblenz (1895-1897); vicar in Holz, near Heusweiler (1897-1900); parish priest in Wintersdorf (1900-1906).
Then he became the leading figure in the Catholic anti-alcohol and temperance movement. In 1906 he was named diocesan representative of the movement based in Trier. In 1907 he became the leader of the movement for the whole of Germany. During these years he discovered more and more the many faces of poverty.
In 1912, in Leutesdorf, a village on the river Rhine near Koblenz, he acquired a house for the cure of dependent alcoholics. The foundation of the “Johannesbund”, a society of benefactors and lay assistants to his work, followed on October 15, 1919. Later, two religious congregations arose from the “Johannesbund”: The “Sisters of St John and Mary the Queen” (1928) and the “Missionaries of Saint John the Baptist” (1948).
Fr. Haw´s apostolate to the poor grew rapidly. In 1921 he opened in Leutesdorf a printing press and publishing house for the religious apostolate of the pen. In the same village, he established, in 1924, a retreat house. Also in 1924 he founded a social center for the homeless in Berlin. Five years later he took over a home for released prisoners in Döberitz. In 1926 he started the letter-apostolate for sick people. Once a month he would write a spiritual reflection for the sick. In 1927 and 1931 he opened minor seminaries for vocations to the priesthood. In 1931 he accepted the responsibility for an almshouse in Aachen. In 1936 a second retreat house was built in Braunshardt and an orphanage was founded in Bonn.
National Socialism and Second World War stopped the progress. In 1941, the Nazi regime closed all of his institutions. Shortly after the war, Fr. Johannes Haw took up his responsibilities and started to build up his works again. Fr. Haw died in Leutesdorf on October 28, 1949. Today both congregations he founded are working in Germany, Portugal, Mozambique and India.