Father Metzler: 50th Anniversary Celebration

We preach...Rev. Warren W. Metzler,  M.A. (written for 50th Anniversary)

Warren Metzler was born in Braddock Hospital July 20, 1937, the second of 4 children after his sister Patricia, to Paul W. and Ellen (Zentner) Metzler. He attended elementary school in Whitaker, across the river, and graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1955. Father attended Minor Seminary at St. Gregory, Cincinnati, Ohio and Major Seminary at St. Vincent in Latrobe, graduating in 1964. He was ordained for the Diocese of Pittsburgh on May 9, 1964 by Bishop John Wright at St. Paul Cathedral and offered his First Mass the following day at St. Rita Church in Whitaker.

Father’s assignments as a parochial vicar were somewhat evenly divided over 17 years between Most Blessed Sacrament in Natrona Heights, St. Susanna, Penn Hills and St. Edward, Blawnox. During that time he served for 15 years as a Master Catechist for the diocesan CCD, regional and twice national chaplain to the Christian Family Movement, and hospital chaplain to Allegheny Valley Hospital, St. Margaret Hospital and, most recently, the former Forbes Metro and now to Forbes Regional Hospital. From 1972 to 1976 Father was chairman of the Association of Pittsburgh Priests, and he has served as President of the Wilkinsburg Ministerial Association. After his 25th ordination anniversary, Father returned to school to Duquesne University where he received another Master’s degree in Theology, this time in Health Care Ministry.

He is now in his 33rd year as Pastor of St. James Church in Wilkinsburg. “I deliberately intended to enter ministry in the inner city,” Father said. “My predecessor, Father Bob Murphy, another ‘Braddock boy’ who had always been my idol, retired from there at 77, leaving behind a parish beautifully run with active lay involvement, integrally serving the community’s needs and affairs, and cooperating with Wilkinsburg’s 37 Protestant church communities.”

“Shortly after arriving at St. James, my sister Joanne’s and my interest in genealogy uncovered the fact that our great-great grandfather, John Sherry, was very active at St. James parish, and with the Missionary CCD of the diocese, and with a special care for the Sisters of Charity delivering blankets and coal to St. James convent in the early 1880s.  And my grandfather Warren A. Metzler was confirmed at St. James church on November 7, 1888.”

“A great influence on my priesthood has been the example and teaching of the recently deceased Father Demetrius Dumm, O.S.B. who taught me scripture for five years at St. Vincent. He definitely made the scriptures come alive and become meaningful, making it so easy to see its relevance to our present day and applicable to the human condition always.”

Father also mentioned the tremendous significance of Pope John 23rd and the Second Vatican Council on his ministry, since both of them marked the very beginning of his priesthood, and the vitality and exuberance of Pope Francis. “The council, with its powerful principals of subsidiary, that decisions should be made at the lowest possible level, and collegiality, of how the church is the people of God, each feeling the movement of the Holy Spirit in their own and different way, and all coming together to reflect the Church of God in our midst. And Pope Francis’ wonderful example of simplicity of life, and what he has called ‘promoting the Gospel of Peace, Love and Forgiveness.

“What has sustained and focused my priesthood has been the principles of Justice and Peace, the powerful examples of faith I have seen lived out in the lives of families, and working with and developing lay leadership in the parishes I have served.”

Father’s interests, he said at present, are “golf, movies, solving cryptograms and finding time to go to my cabin in Armstrong County.” He also continues his interest in his family history deeply rooted in its Irish and Swiss Mennonite origins. Last June Father was on the planning committee for the 275th anniversary celebration of the coming to the United States in 1738 of Valentine Metzler, his fourth great-grandfather, held last June at Metzler Mennonite Church on Metzler Road in Lancaster County. A center of the focus of attention was what is called the Bishop Metzler Bible, printed in German in 1571 in Zurich and acquired by Valentine in 1767, even then 200 years old, now in the archives of Franklin and Marshall College Library. Father still has a brother, Paul J., and his wife Charlene living in Export PA, and eight nieces and nephews, scattered around the country.