Reverend Gerald Steinmetz, OFM, 78, Sunday evening, October 17, 2021, at San Juan Diego Friary, Albuquerque, NM. Father Gerry, as he was known, was a Franciscan priest and member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. He had retired earlier this year due to illness, after 50 years of priestly service in the southwestern U.S.
Born on July 14, 1943, in Yorkville, IN, Gerald August Steinmetz was the son of Clement H. Steinmetz and Marie Widloff Steinmetz, with three brothers and two sisters. He attended North Dearborn High School, Guilford, IN, before entering Duns Scotus College, Southfield, MI. He made his first profession of vows as a member of St. John the Baptist Franciscan Province on August 16, 1966, in Cincinnati, OH. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 12, 1971, at St. Leonard College, Centerville, OH, by the Most Reverend Nicholas T. Elko, Auxiliary Archbishop of Cincinnati, OH.
Beginning in 1971, Fr. Gerry served at St. Theresa, Grants, NM; Sacred Heart Cathedral, Gallup, NM; St. Francis, Gallup. He was vocation director for the southwest portion of SJB Province for five years (1973-78). He joined Our Lady of Guadalupe Province at its inauguration in 1986. From 1987-92, he worked as a missionary at San Juan Bautista in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He chose to inaugurate his ministry in Mexico with a 380-mile pilgrimage on foot.
In the late 1980s, the Franciscan Order invited friars to consider a mission in the Vicariate of Requena in Peru. The mission was in a remote area, accessible at the time only by boat. Fr. Gerry volunteered for the mission, departing in March 1992, and serving there for nearly 12 years. His provincial during part of that time, Father Larry Dunham, gave testimony to Fr. Gerry’s zeal for his missionary service in a letter he wrote following a visit to Peru:
“Coming to the selva [jungle] was an eye-opener in many ways. For the first time, I now really have begun to understand and appreciate the incredible adjustment an acculturation process you had to go through….the lack of electricity and so many of the ‘things’ we take for granted back here, the tremendous distances, the unbelievable amounts of time it takes to accomplish tasks because of these distances…But most of all I really have come to appreciate and see the great beauty of the people you have been serving for these eleven years.”
In May 2003, Fr. Gerry returned to the U.S. to start treatment for cancer. He recovered and was able to resume ministry for another 18 years, serving as pastor with the Pueblo peoples, as well as our St. Francis, Gallup and Holy Family Parishes, Albuquerque. His final assignment was as pastor of Laguna-Acoma. Fr. Gerry’s also included five years as vocation director, and most recently, as a member of the friars’ administrative council.
Fr. Gerry was preceded in death by his parents, as wells as three of his six siblings. Surviving him are his brother Ron Steinmetz and his sister Marlene Werner. Gerry was devoted to his family, including nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, November 3, at Holy Family Church, Albuquerque. A Funeral Mass follows. Burial will be in the friars’ plot at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Albuquerque.
For those wishing to honor Fr. Gerry’s memory, donations may be made to the Southwest Franciscan Missions, PO Box 12395, Albuquerque, NM 87195.