January 17, 2023, at 2:10 pm, our dear
Sister Rebecca Metzger, OSF
was called to the peace she awaited
in the faith and hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sister Rebecca Metzger, OSF, 78, of Grand Forks, ND, passed away Tuesday, January 17, at home. She had heroically lived with cancer for ten years, far surpassing expectations of her medical teams.
Sister Rebecca was born to Joseph “Leonard” and Esther (Fischer) Metzger on October 4, 1944, in Langdon, ND. Her given name was Gail Marie. She was the oldest of seven children and grew up on a farm west of Wales, ND. Following high school graduation in 1962, Gail entered religious life with the Sisters of St. Francis at Hankinson, ND. She was given the name Sister Rebecca when she became a novice July 10, 1963. She made her perpetual profession on her 25th birthday, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, 1969.
Over the next nine years Sister Rebecca was educated in the skills of occupational therapy, culminating in a Bachelors Degree from the University of North Dakota in 1978. She was a natural for the work her community asked her to do at St. Anne’s Guest Home in Grand Forks. Except for five years in Cando as the administrator of Towner County Memorial Hospital (1987-1992), Sister Rebecca served as St. Anne’s activity director for seven years, then 44 years as the facility’s administrator. Until the last weeks of her life she was still handling administrative responsibilities.
Sister Rebecca was an effective long term care administrator and a valued member of various boards and committees on which she served over the decades. She worked together with other community members to move St. Anne’s Guest Home to a new location, when the old building was deemed inadequate by the fire marshal. Since 1981, under her leadership, St Anne’s’ new site has served two divisions of residents: HUD Housing and Basic Care. The decades of her service in long term care brought many changes in regulations for which administrators were responsible. With stamina and calm she led staff and residents through the anxious days of the historic flood of 1997 when all 80 residents needed to be evacuated to other facilities and family homes across the state. Twenty-three years later (8 years into her battle with cancer), the COVID-era would draw from her yet greater trust in God’s providence as she managed the stresses on personnel and residents and the financial impact the pandemic had on long term care facilities across the country.
Sister Rebecca was a hands-on administrator, as comfortable with a pen in her hand as with a wrench or rake. She could navigate situations with staff, residents or state surveyors, switching gears as needed. She worked closely together with staff at St. Anne’s in dealing with issues that would arise. Her service was supported by her life of balance and the routine that came with the stability of her assignment from Superiors for over fifty years to care for others as
Jesus would. But above all her energies came from “the Lord who sustains us in His service” through the Sacraments and from her prayer and community life among the Sisters with whom she lived.
Throughout her life, Sr. Rebecca was involved with many things, even outside of her regular office work. She did beautiful embroidery work and enjoyed gardening. She was an exceptionally talented decorator, taking second-hand items and turning them into beautiful décor.
Attending Sister Rebecca during her last months of cancer treatments were Sister Elaine Marie who has lived and worked with Sister Rebecca for almost fifty years, and Sister Christina, also a St. Anne’s veteran, who spent many hours providing comfort during chemo and, in the last weeks, tender care. Special help in the last week of Sister’s life arrived when Kathy Neumann, Sister Christina’s mother, and friend Judy Jacoby, both experienced hospice nurses, came to provide care around the clock.
Our thanks to Father Philip Chacko, Fr. Joseph D’Aco, Father Raymond Courtright and Father Tim Bushy who ministered to Sister Rebecca in the days before her passing, bringing her the Sacraments and Apostolic Blessing to strengthen her for the journey.
Sister Rebecca is survived by her Franciscan Community in Grand Forks and Hankinson, ND; by her mother Esther Metzger, sisters: Mary Eddy (Moorhead, MN), Jan Rieck (Mapleton, ND), Helen Borgen (Fargo, ND), and Karen Kolbinger, (Fargo, ND); brother: Darrell (Bev) Metzger, (Wales, ND); sister-in-law: Renae Metzger (West Fargo, ND), and many other family members and friends who were touched by her generous life and whom she deeply loved.
She was preceded in death by her father, Joseph Leonard Metzger and brother Donald Metzger.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Sister Rebecca’s memory may be directed to St. Anne’s Guest Home, Grand Forks.
Kindly remember Sister Rebecca in your prayers,
Sister Donna Welder, OSF—Provincial Superior