November 15, 1930 – September 15, 2017
Both of Bernadette Josephine Metzger’s parents had been raised on Ohio farms surrounded by extended family. Both sets of grandparents had chosen to move to Columbus where more educational and job opportunities existed for their children. Bernadette’s parents met in Columbus. After their marriage they settled in a house near other family members and just down the street from Holy Name Parish. Bernadette and her siblings grew up in the city surrounded by loving aunts and uncles. Bernadette was baptized and confirmed at Holy Name where she attended school with Dominican Sisters as her teachers.
St. Joseph Academy is where Bernadette attended secondary school, and it is there she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. An exceptional student who had a natural talent in Math, she went to work after school in the billing department of a local company and, after graduation as an Office Clerk for the Ohio State Division of Securities. When asked about her journey from a government job into religious life she said,
As early as 1st grade, I knew the initial nudging towards religious life, although at the time, I could not have named it. I had a Dominican aunt whose deep joy and love of life drew me toward whatever it was that brought that kind of happiness in serving others. Also, at that time, I remember being so sad at having to wait until second grade to receive my First Holy Communion. Eventually, friends and activities claimed much more of my attention. During high school years and those following, the struggle to escape this call intensified as weekends of dancing and social activities and later talk of marriage and having a family crowded in. However, there seemed no place to hide, as I “fled him down the nights and down the days.” So two years out of high school, I entered Notre Dame in September of 1950.
Bernadette was given the name Sister Daniel Joseph and after professing her vows she was assigned to teach 2nd grade. Small in stature herself, her superiors may have thought primary would suit her best, but it was with 6-8th graders that Sister Daniel Joseph spent 12 years. A supervisor noted that in the classroom Sister was organized, patient, and able to adapt to the needs of her students. Her lesson plans were always well prepared and she kept current with best practices in her subject areas. At the time of her 50th jubilee Sister said, “One of my greatest joys was my years of teaching children. It was so rewarding to watch them grow and progress.” Former students shared stories of Sister’s laughter and ability to enter into fun on the playground, as well as how one look from her was all it took to keep them in line.
During the years following the Second Vatican Council, Bernadette chose to return to using her baptismal name. Her desire to help children most in need led her to the Child Guidance Center in Columbus, Ohio. There, Bernadette put her math and office skills to work setting up a computer file system. Next she took on the job of coordinating the State Auxiliary Services for 32 Catholic schools in the Dayton, Ohio area. All requests for personnel and materials to be funded through the program went through Bernadette’s office. She carefully examined each to make certain they did not circumvent legal restrictions on the funds and consulted legal counsel when in doubt. Her days were filled with detail, but as she said, “… the realization that the services are providing a tremendous advantage to the students and that without the money the services never could be offered makes all the paper work and occasional headaches worth the extra effort.”
Bernadette explored the possible call to minister as a Guidance Counselor, and did course work to prepare for that work, but it would be her mathematical skills that focused her full time ministries. She lived and worked in the Boston area for ten years, eight of which found her serving as Assistant Treasurer for the Boston Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Bernadette treasured her memories of living and working with the Sisters in Boston. In 1988 she responded to a call from home: would she return to Ohio and serve as Assistant in the Finance Office in Cincinnati? Bernadette said yes. She spent 22 years as an integral part of the Finance Department where much of her time was spent managing the Continuing Care and Ministry Fund accounts. Part of Bernadette’s responsibilities included attending local meetings on socially responsible investing and voting the stock proxies of the Ohio Province in line with Catholic Social Teaching and Province priorities. She also kept the Province abreast of pertinent global issues like excessive executive compensation, sweatshop and child labor practices in the supply chain and environmental impact assessments. After she “retired” Bernadette continued her work on the stock proxies as a valued volunteer in the Finance Office.
Besides her ministry in the Finance Office, Bernadette was very involved as a volunteer at Good Shepherd Parish. She was a Lector, a Hospital Eucharistic minister and very committed to the R.C.I.A. program. Bernadette loved accompanying people on their faith journey. She personally knew God’s abundant goodness in times of suffering as well as joy and experienced her relationship with God as a journey. Bernadette said, “The call continues as the good God nudges, pushes, whispers, shouts, cajoles and loves me, and as I continue to struggle to say yes.” Her willingness to share her story helped those preparing to receive the sacraments articulate their own experience.
Bernadette also shared her story with the students of Mount Notre Dame High School. She loved the Adopt-a-Sister program. Bernadette followed a number of groups all the way through high school and continued to stay in contact with them into young adulthood.
In community Bernadette actively participated in community and Province meetings, study days, days of recollection, ongoing formation programs, and celebrations large and small. She appreciated opportunities of getting to know her Sisters at deeper levels and was always willing to lend a hand. Bernadette helped more than one Sister prepare to move to the Cuvilly Community and spent time visiting with Sisters there. She regularly served as a “buddy” to bring Sisters from Cuvilly to community celebrations. Bernadette also served as a Lector and Eucharistic minister at Mount Notre Dame. She loved singing, dancing, swimming, a good book, a good movie and playing computer solitaire! Bernadette appreciated being able to drive but was notorious for getting lost and learned early to build in extra time to find a new place. When asked what she would do when she retired, Bernadette replied: “I hope to remain in active ministry as long as I can do so effectively. And when ‘it’s time’ to discontinue active ministry, I will devote my life to supporting the active Sisters in prayer. Then that will be my way of contributing to Notre Dame’s efforts.”
Bernadette’s beloved family was an important part of her life and she valued all the ways they stayed in touch with one another. She was grateful her health and ability to drive made it possible for her to visit and join family members for celebrations and sometimes for vacation. Bernadette agonized with anyone suffering in her family.
Bernadette summarized her life in these words:
“…there is much that contributes to the sense of awe and gratitude I experience as a Sister of Notre Dame. What is most meaningful is the luxury of time and space for prayer. The ministries in which I have been involved and the wonderful people with whom and for whom I have ministered have been a constant reminder of God’s goodness in our world. These same people have both challenged me and motivated me in ministry, and have enriched my life in friendship and sharing of joys and sorrows. These same people have helped to deepen my prayer as we have shared the mystery of who God is for us. The people I have known and loved have greatly increased my appreciation of God’s goodness.”
Now as her Sisters, family, friends and co-workers gather to celebrate the gift of her life, we thank God for the many ways Bernadette made God’s goodness and love known to us. We pray in thanksgiving a favorite blessing of Bernadette’s, “May the good Lord give you blessings for being so kind.”
Saints of God, come to her aid! Come to meet her, angels of the Lord!
May Christ, Who called you, take you to Himself; may angels lead you to Abraham's side.
Give her eternal rest, O Lord, and may Your light shine upon her forever.
Born November 15, 1930 in Columbus, Ohio
Parents: Turney Daniel Metzger (born in Pickaway County, Kentucky) and Mary Ociea Blubaugh (born in Danville, Ohio)
Siblings: Patricia Metzger Wolff, Ociea Katherine Metzger, Mildred Metzger Iezzi, Daniel Metzger
Baptized on December 17, 1930 at Holy Name Church, Columbus, Ohio
Confirmed on May 29, 1939 at Holy Name Church, Columbus, Ohio
Entered September 7, 1950 at Mount Notre Dame
First Profession: March 28, 1953
Final Profession: August 13, 1958
Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1963
Master of Arts in Mathematics, Webster College, St. Louis, Missouri, 1968
Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling, Boston State, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980
1953-1960 Holy Family Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
1960-1961 St. Veronica Parish School, Hamilton, Ohio
1961-1963 St. Christopher Parish School, Columbus, Ohio
1963-1967 St. Eugene Parish School, Detroit, Michigan
1967-1970 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish School, Reading, Ohio
1970-1971 St. Eugene Parish School, Detroit, Michigan
1971-1974 Data Entry, Child Guidance Center, Columbus, Ohio
1974-1976 Program Coordinator, Catholic Education Office, Dayton, Ohio
1976-1977 Student, Dayton, Ohio
1977-1978 Sabbatical, Boston, Massachusetts
1978-1980 Student, Boston State College, Boston, Massachusetts
1980-1988 Assistant Treasurer, Boston Unit, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Boston, Massachusetts
1988-2010 Finance Assistant, Finance Office, Ohio Unit, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Reading, Ohio
2011-2017: Volunteer in Finance Office, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
2017: Ministry of Prayer, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died: September 15, 2017, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
September 15, 2017