Brother Robert Metzger
This National Vocation Awareness Week we thank God for the many religious brothers who serve the Church with great devotion. Today, Brother Robert Metzger shares with us his vocation story:
O Lord, you have probed me and you know me;
You know when I sit and when I stand;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
With all my ways you are familiar.
Psalm 139 v.1-3
I like to pray Psalm 139 whenever I think of my vocation story as God knows and understands me better than I do. Looking back to my younger days I did not understand this but God was always there to guide me. When I was in the 7th grade at St. Agnes Grade School in Dayton, OH, my parents and I signed the papers for me to enter the seminary high school for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This would have been in 1962 but the following year the Archdiocese decided everyone should spend the first two years of their high school education in their local Catholic high school.
In 1963 I entered Chaminade High School in Dayton, which was owned and operated by the Society of Mary (Marianists). I decided I was enjoying my high school life at Chaminade so much that I wanted to finish my education there rather than going to Cincinnati and completing my studies at the seminary high school. It was during those final two years at Chaminade that I got to know the Marianists and they asked me if I was interested in joining them. I said “yes” and signed another set of papers in my junior year. During my senior year of high school I spent a lot of time with the brothers trying to better understand this commitment. I entered the Marianist Novitiate in Marcy, NY about six weeks after graduating from high school.
My life as a Marianist has not gone as I “planned,” and I really feel that it has been the hand of God guiding me in this life. I originally wanted to work in one of our high schools teaching business courses. During my time at the scholasticate (a place of formation where the temporary professed Marianists work on their undergraduate degrees) I was assigned to work in the business office. I enjoyed this type of work so much that I soon asked to make this my ministry rather than teaching. Little did I know where this decision would lead!
I have spent most of my 40 years of Marianist ministry as the business manager of our retreat center, as the assistant treasurer of our province and then the Assistant for Temporalities/Treasurer and a member of the Provincial Council. This ministry has been very life-giving to me and has led me to the National Religious Retirement Office.
I was on sabbatical in 2007-8 and looking for a new ministry when I received an email from Sr. Janice Bader asking me if I would be interested in applying for the open position at NRRO. I ended up declining the offer to work at Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii in order to be a part of NRRO. Again, I felt it was God guiding me in this direction (even though it would be nicer living in Hawaii rather than with the winter weather we have been having here recently!).
During high school I ended up changing from diocesan priesthood to religious life because I was attracted to the community life as lived by the Marianists. Community has always been one of the elements that has kept me in this life over these many years.
No matter what vocation we choose in this life, it cannot be lived without letting God guide us through it.