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Weekly Bulletin March 7, 2021
by Terrie Evans
Our San Antonio Church Community is deeply saddened by the passing of Jo Ann Metz (1929-2021). Although she would soon celebrate her 92nd birthday, we believed she would be there with us at our 100th Anniversary in 2022. Jo Ann grew up in South Fairmount across the street from the Esposito and Panaro families when her parents Frank and Mary (Herdeman) Metz relocated to Queen City Avenue along with sisters Mary Jane, Rosemary, and Carol. Jo Ann attended St. Bonaventure School, graduated from St. Xavier Commercial High School and went on to college where she studied law. She took learning very, seriously a trait that was with her throughout her life. When she joined the workforce, her soon to be husband, Victor Jelen entered her life. He was much like Jo Ann, smart and driven to succeed. They welcomed three children Andrew, Jean and Peter while building their dream home together with Jo Ann being elected the President of the Oak Hills School Board. Even though Jo Ann moved up on the hill, she still kept close ties with those families from the Little Italy section of South Fairmount.
By this time she had earned her law degree and knew she could put her knowledge to good use when she heard about decisions being made concerning the future of St. Bonaventure and San Antonio Church. Being from a German family she felt an alliance to St. Bonaventure but San Antonio was her home parish where her mother Mary, was welcomed and became President of the St. Ann Married Ladies Sodality. She knew she had to help and soon took the helm for the lengthy ordeal to keep San Antonio Church open for worship. All the parishioners grew up with Jo Ann, knew her sisters and respected her ideas. Jo Ann became the litigator for the series of meetings and rallies that got everyone involved. All the members from the founding families of san Antonio Church listened to her plan after our San Antonio Church Committee met with the office of the Archbishop to plead our case. Those unknown years in the 1980’s were a very sad time for the parishioners who built, were baptized and married in the little church.
Jo Ann fought hard and enlisted those brave men and women who presented us with the gift we have today, a beautiful church for us to worship in. Jo Ann will be remembered for not only saving our church, but working to stop the blight of South Fairmount as the area around the church was changing, and not for the better. She bought homes to rehab so there would not be empty buildings in the place she referred to as “the Healing Valley”. She attended Commission meetings, presentations at MSD and met with the South Fairmount Association every month. Jo Ann leaves too many family members and friends to mention who along with all of us will never forget her. She was the last of her sisters and sadly she buried her son Andrew in 2009. She leaves her son Peter, daughter Jean and beloved granddaughter Kali Alyssa Jelen.