Seton Hill University will present its highest honor, The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, to Pittsburgh resident Catharine Murray Ryan.
The honor occurs as Seton Hill celebrates the 53rd anniversary of the presentation of The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal. Mrs. Ryan’s achievements both locally and nationally are numerous. In the early 1990s, as the need for a new Catholic campus ministry center came to her attention, Mrs. Ryan worked with The Pittsburgh Oratory to locate a suitable property for the new facility and then co-chaired the fundraising campaign to build it. This Newman Center serves the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University. In 2002, she co-founded the National Institute for Newman Studies in Pittsburgh dedicated to advancing knowledge of the life, teachings and spirituality of John Henry Newman. Mrs. Ryan served as a chaplain for seven years at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and the Forbes Regional Hospital. She served on the Board of Trustees of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for 13 years and on the Board of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation for seven, the last three as chair. She has been active with the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council and currently chairs the Advisory Council to the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

The Seton Hill University Alumni Association created The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal in 1959. The designation of a contemporary woman whose life achievements parallel in some way that of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Sisters of Charity, continues to emphasize the relevance of her life of nearly two centuries ago to our own age. Past recipients include: Mary Reed Newland, author; Julia Montgomery Walsh, the first woman to earn a seat on the New York Stock Exchange; and Corinne (Lindy) Claiborne Boggs, former congresswoman and U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. The first presentation of the Medal to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy coincided with the beatification of Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1963.

“Catharine Ryan brings great energy and commitment to the tasks she undertakes, many as they are,” commented His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. “Over the years, I have come to appreciate Catharine’s involvement in so many community and Church organizations. When I served as Bishop of Pittsburgh, I had the joy of seeing the NINS come to be. That Institute gave rise to the Newman Studies Journal, now recognized as a focal point for the study and the work of John Henry Cardinal Newman. The Gailliot Center for Newman Studies, which houses the most extensive Newman library collection in North America, is also a fruit of Catharine’s vision. In my service as Archbishop of Washington, I came to know of another of Catharine’s academic initiatives — the Advisory Council that she helped found, together with the late Father Kurt Pritzl, O.P., that supports the work of the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America. In all of this, I have always found Catharine to be a person more than capable of setting and achieving great goals that help to encourage the long-standing intellectual tradition in the Catholic Church.”

“Although the university has awarded The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal since 1959,” Seton Hill President JoAnne Boyle said, “rarely has there been a recipient whose life's interests have so aligned with those of Elizabeth's. Always looking ahead and moving forward regardless of the challenges, Catharine Ryan brings new life to the Seton motto, "Hazard Yet Forward!”

“How fitting it is to honor Catharine Ryan with The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal! Both women exemplify the courageous and selfless use of their time, energy and competence for the love of God and love of neighbor,” commented The Very Rev. Drew Morgan, provost and director of the National Institute for Newman Studies.

“Like Elizabeth Ann Seton,” Seton Hill Director of Campus Ministry Sr. Maureen O’Brien, S.C. added, “Catharine Ryan, with quiet grace and determination, has brought comfort, inspiration, and hope to many.”

Mrs. Ryan is a graduate of The Ursuline School in New Rochelle and attended Newton College of the Sacred Heart and earned the Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in economics in 1968. In 1993, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry from the Theology Department of Duquesne University. Mrs. Ryan and her husband, John, have called Pittsburgh home since 1969. John is chairman and retired CEO of Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA). The couple has two daughters, Mary Catharine and Maureen, and one son, John.

Catharine Murray Ryan will receive The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal on April 25, 2012, at the Duquesne Club in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. The Seton Hill University Alumni Association will mark the occasion in a special way through the announcement of the newly created Seton Hill University Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund. The inaugural student award will be made in Mrs. Ryan’s honor and presented as part of the evening’s program. Proceeds from the evening will be invested in The Seton Hill University Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund.