Faith in mystery

Maher

Photo by Jamason Chen

Before Maureen Maher became the host of 48 Hours Mystery, she always had an itch for piecing together the enigma behind the criminal mind. Growing up, she referred to herself as an “ambulance chaser” with a passion for telling stories. And although her job is anything but average, she accepts every challenge as a gift from God.

As a successful journalist known for her powerful voice and strong sense of compassion, Maher can still recount her experiences at Loyola University Chicago.

Maher, 45, was born in a small suburb outside of Detroit. She was raised in a strong Catholic household and attended Catholic schools all of her life, something she grew to resent before moving to Chicago. Her decision to attend Loyola, though, turned out to be the very thing to spark her devout faith again.

“For the first time in my entire Catholic life, I was not taking religion classes. I was taking theology classes. But to say, ‘I choose to be a person of God’- that was an amazing gift.”

When Maher graduated from Loyola in 1992, she went from working at WLUW’s the “Shadow Radio Show” to traffic reporting in New York. She then returned to her roots in Detroit where she was put in front of the camera for the first time.

“I didn’t even know what a green screen or a Chroma key was,” she said.

From Detroit, Maher was transferred to Flint, Mich., which, at the time, had been the murder capital of the country. She then aligned herself with two homicide detectives and continued to anchor the morning news.

In 1997, Maher eventually joined CBS Newspath and returned to Chicago for two years only to be promoted to full-time correspondent and sent overseas to Afghanistan. She described her time in this war-torn country as “enormously painful,” but it influenced her outlook as a journalist in an invaluable way.

“It made me realize that, and this goes back to what we learn at Loyola, every one of us, as a human being, has a responsibility to spread the wealth and goodness of God across the planet in a more even fashion,” she said.

Maher returned to from Afghanistan in 2001. After learning that her mother became ill, Maher responded to an inner voice telling her to quit her job as a reporter. She approached Dan Rather, who said, “I don’t want to lose you,” and placed her at 48 Hours Mystery where she has spent the last 10 years.

One of the most profound lessons Loyola has instilled in Maher is her ability to work through some of the most heart-wrenching cases by creating a human connection.

“The greatest gift that I got from Loyola was the intellectual pursuit of God without boundaries. It allows you to respect people of all faiths,” she said. “When I’m sitting down with someone who has been accused of a horrible crime, I can respect them as a human being. I don’t sit in judgment of them. Before every interview, I try to give it back to God. He must have a reason for giving me this amazing opportunity.”

Today, Maher enjoys living in Chicago with her husband and two children when she is not on the road, and she will always credit Loyola for helping her reconnect with the values behind her role as a reporter.

“Loyola gave me [the freedom] to find myself as a person of faith,” Maher said. “I try to make it the foundation of everything I do: as a journalist, as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a human being.”

BY GABBY DEMIRDJIAN