When Father Metz thinks about his 50 years in the priesthood, he realizes what a fortunate and blessed man he is.
“I’ve had an interesting ride and it’s been really wonderful,” said the retired priest of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. “I look back at these years with great joy in my heart.”
Ordained on May 29, 1965, Father Metz recalled the excitement he and his other recently ordained classmates felt. The Second Vatican Council had recently ended, and the young priests were on a type of spiritual high.
“We couldn’t wait to bring Jesus to the people in the parishes,” Father Metz recalled. “I remember talking with the other classmates and we all thought we were going to spend our lives in parishes.”
“Now that I look back, none of us spent our whole life in parish ministry,” he added with a laugh.
After his ordination, Father Metz spent three years at a parish, before being moved to service in campus ministry. He went back to school and earned a degree from Marquette University. However his next assignment did not use his diploma; he served at a house for priests who were ill. He remarked the experience was “humbling.”
Father Metz’s ministry took him all over the world, thanks to his work in Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In 1976, then-Archbishop William Cousins of Milwaukee appointed Father Metz as the first liaison to the renewal movement while establishing the Catholic Charismatic Renewal office. In 1987, Father Metz became administrator of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services in Rome. His role allowed him to travel around the world as he “kept tabs” on renewal offices around the globe, reporting his findings to the head of the office in the Vatican.
He stayed in Rome for eight years before going back to parish work in the Milwaukee Archdiocese where for served for 14 years at St. Mark Parish in Kenosha. While there, he met a couple from the Orlando Diocese who invited him to escape the cold for a couple of weeks for some Florida sunshine. He stayed in Wisconsin until he turned 70, and while his former boss from Milwaukee — now Cardinal Thomas Dolan — offered him a job in Manhattan, Father Metz sought out the Sunshine State. He currently serves in residence at All Souls Parish in Sanford.
Although All Souls is a little bigger than the last parish he served, he is doing much of the same ministries: Mass (both in English and Spanish), the Sacraments, religious education, hospital visits.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Father Metz said. “I’ve traveled a lot and the one thing I found out that was true all over the world is we are all basically alike, no matter the color of our skin or the language we use.”
Father Metz said that sentiment is especially true as he celebrates the liturgy, whether in Sanford, Kenosha, Rome or places in between.
“To me it doesn’t matter where you are, the Eucharist is still the Eucharist. Jesus is still Jesus, and the Sacrament will always help you gain that union with God.”