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Suddenly on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, Sister Antonita Mettert became gravely ill and was taken to the emergency room of Mercy Mount Airy Hospital by Sr. Ann Cecile Albers. Sister was diagnosed with pancreatitis and immediately admitted to the Intensive Care unit. During her hospitalization, her nephew Ronald Mettert from Tipp City, Ohio visited frequently as well as members of the St. Clare Community.

Sister was in and out of consciousness during the five days she was hospitalized. Sister Ann Cecile kept vigil Friday night as Sister’s condition worsened. She and Sr. Paula Huecker were with Sr. Antonita when God called her home at 7:55 PM on Saturday December 10, 2011.

Amanda Mary Knecht and Allen James Mettert welcomed their fifth child, Mary Jane, on September 23, 1927 in New Castle, Indiana. Mary Jane was also greeted by her sister Ann and brothers John, Russell and Allen. Allen Senior supported the family by working at a nearby casket company. The family attended St. Ann Church in their home town and received their elementary education at the local public school.

In 1932, the family experienced a tragedy when mother Amanda experienced a stroke and was hospitalized for three months. Since Mary Jane was only five years old at the time, her father managed to get special permission for Mary Jane to visit her mother after visiting hours. During that precious time with her ailing mother, Mary Jane spent time talking to her and observing the nurses who cared for her mother.

The Metterts wanted their children to receive a good education and Mary Jane wanted to attend a Catholic high school. A neighbor told her mother about the Aspirancy at St. Clare Convent in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mary Jane began classes there in September of 1941, but unfortunately her father died unexpectedly in December of that year. Mary Jane needed to remain at home to help her mother as her siblings were not available to assist at the time.

Mary Jane’s mother wanted her to be educated in the Aspirancy and after returning in September of 1942, Mary Jane began to feel called to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, especially since one of their ministries was nursing. Following her junior year at the Aspirancy, Mary Jane’s reluctant mother drove her to St. Clare Convent on July 16, 1944 to begin her preparation to become a woman religious. Mary Jane was given the name Sr. Mary Antonita as a novice. The young Sister made her First Profession on May 3, 1947. It was also during that year that she was able to complete her high school studies and received a diploma from Our Lady of the Angels High School. In an interview, Sister Antonita cited May 3, 1952 as the highlight of her life, the day of her Perpetual Profession.

Sr. Antonita’s dream of becoming a nurse never materialized. Instead she received on the job training in the business office, focusing on accounting. After ministering in hospitals in Dayton Ohio, Covington, Kentucky, Kansas City, Kansas, and Batesville, Indiana sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, Sister received a BS in Accounting from the University of Dayton in 1966.

While working at St. Mary Hospital in Cincinnati, she attended Xavier University, earning an MBA in 1969. In April, 1971 she permanently closed the doors of St. Mary Hospital, the first hospital run by the Congregation in the U.S. In June, 1972 she became the Administrator of Daniel Drake Hospital, a long term hospital run by Hamilton County and served in that capacity until 1978. She then became the Coordinator for Retired Sisters and eventually the Administrator of Franciscan Terrace. Her love for the elderly continued to blossom under her leadership at Crestview Care Center and eventually to the founding and ongoing development of Our Lady of the Woods, a large independent living group facility for those with limited income. Sr. Antonita was truly a voice for the poor elderly. The care Sr. Antonita had for older individuals was lovingly displayed by her tender provision for her own mother in the later years of her life.

The last visible act of love Sr. Antonita provided for others on this earth was her effort to refurbish the gift shop at Mercy Franciscan Terrace that could best meet the needs of residents and their family members. Her dedication, care and vested concern for the well being of others were endless.

Be at peace, Sr. Antonita. You are missed. Watch over those you have loved and served on earth.

Sr. Arleen Bourquin, SFP