Sister Judith Metz: A Jubilarian’s Story
By S. Regina Kusnir
Journey ~ Life Story
Joy ~ Judy’s Story
Some 60 years ago, a youthful Judith Metz put a ‘yes’ into action. The journey she has traveled since then is a story filled with many chapters all woven around her life as a Sister of Charity.
S. Judy met the Sisters of Charity at Seton High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Sisters were “lovely women, kind, friendly, and good teachers.” While at Seton, she became familiar with Elizabeth Ann Seton and felt like she knew her. Understanding the charism of the Sisters of Charity, when she felt a call to religious life, she chose to enter the Congregation, so “off I went,” she said.
S. Judy always wanted to teach at the high school level and Seton High School was her first ministry. There she taught history and social studies. During those years she studied local history and began doing research on Community history. A growing familiarity with the resources available in the SC Archives and the encouragement of the Sister-archivists led her to a life-long interest in delving further into the history of the Community.
While working for the Community in the early 1980s, S. Judy was asked to teach Community history to the novices. Soon she was invited to develop Heritage Workshops that she presented throughout the Community. In collaboration with Virginia Wiltse, S. Judy researched a biography of Mother Margaret George, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati founder. In addition, she organized several Heritage Tours that brought Sisters to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton sites in Emmitsburg and Baltimore, Maryland, and New York. These tours also visited the motherhouses of Federation congregations, even to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and to St. John and Moncton, New Brunswick.
In the 1990s S. Judy became the Congregational archivist. The availability of professional courses and workshops allowed her to bring new aspects to the role. She, along with a team of Sisters who worked in the Archives, introduced new technology and methodology. S. Judy treasures working with both the Sisters who preceded her as archivist and those she has collaborated with through the years.
Early in the 1990s, the Sisters of Charity Federation authorized the Seton Writings Committee to collect and publish the writings of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Sisters Judy and Regina Bechtle (SCNY) led the effort and along with a team of Sisters edited the three-volume Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings.
When Veronica Buchanan became SC archivist in 2016, S. Judy continued her role as Community historian. This position is seamlessly woven into her life since her high school days when she first made acquaintance with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The dictionary defines an historian as: a writer, student or scholar of history; a writer of history, a chronicler. This is quite the description of S. Judy as she continues to focus on researching, writing and presenting the history of the Sisters of Charity. She is a wealth of information and feels “privileged to bring this to the Sisters, the Associates, and to others in the community. It is a joy to do this work.”
There are numerous aspects to the ministry. S. Judy serves on the Saint Elizabeth Seton National Shrine Heritage Committee, and is a consultant to present and former ministries of the SCs especially as they celebrate historical landmarks or events associated with Elizabeth Seton. At Mount St. Joseph University she shares the charism with faculty and staff at the monthly Seton Learning Community meetings, and leads pilgrimages to Emmitsburg each year. She continues to work with the Seton Writings Committee; to prepare presentations on various aspects of Sisters of Charity history as requested; and to write for the Sisters of Charity magazine Intercom.
The cause of canonization for S. Blandina Segale has generated interest and requests for information. Recently S. Judy, along with other Sisters and SCs Associates, attended the dedication of the Sister Blandina Wellness Garden in Trinidad, Colorado, where she offered a reflection on S. Blandina as a Sister of Charity. She also recently completed a book on the nearly 140-year history of the Sisters of Charity in Trinidad.
As you celebrate this year of Jubilee, for what are you grateful?
“My heart is filled with gratitude as I look over these 60 years,” she says. “My work has always been a vocation and an avocation. I have studied our Charity saints so much in depth that I feel very close to them; they are real models and inspirations to me. In addition, I have had the opportunity to travel, to get to know the Sisters, and to spend time with them. I have a deep appreciation of the wonderful, prayerful, talented Sisters and Associates in our Community.”
What do you do for fun?
“I love to read and to be outdoors,” she responds. “I read American history, especially focusing on the early national and antebellum periods that give context to the era in which Elizabeth Seton and Margaret George lived. I enjoy walking, especially in the woods. I like being among the trees that I consider a life force. Walking on the earth makes me feel grounded.”
Elizabeth, who also loved nature, has a kindred spirit in S. Judy.