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Pittsburgher Katherine Donahue Freyvogel Receives The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, Highest Seton Hill University Honor

Seton Hill University presented the university’s highest honor, The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, to Pittsburgh resident Katherine Donahue Freyvogel during an event on Thursday, September 13, 2018 – the eve of the 43rd anniversary of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization as the first American-born Saint - at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh.

The honor occurred as Seton Hill celebrates the Centennial of its founding as a four-year college in 1918 as well as the 55th anniversary of the first presentation of The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal. 

The evening’s events supported the Seton Hill University Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund. The 2018 student award was presented to Seton Hill junior Kennedy Kehew of Elder’s Ridge, Pa., and was made in honor of Katherine Donahue Freyvogel.

“Katherine Donahue Freyvogel embraces Elizabeth Seton’s family motto, ‘At whatever risk, yet go forward,’ and exemplifies all that can be accomplished with strength of spirit. She remains a guiding force in Catholic education,” said Seton Hill University President Mary C. Finger, Ed.D.

President Finger continued: “While her accomplishments are many, she has gone about improving the lives of others with a humble, quiet grace that reminds us of the life led by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton—a life dedicated to the greater good.”

“I am both honored and humbled to accept The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal,” Katherine Donahue Freyvogel said. “This recognition is dear to me and I am deeply touched to receive it, especially as the university celebrates its Centennial anniversary. I share this recognition with my family—especially my husband, Ty, our children and grandchildren, my siblings, and my dear mother, Rhodora Donahue.”

She continued: “Throughout my life, I have strived to be open to God’s will and to maintain as guideposts Church, faith, and family. On the eve of the 43rd anniversary of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization, I am grateful for this extraordinary honor.”

Kennedy Kehew said: “I am honored to receive the 2018 Seton Hill Alumni Association Scholarship Award, and I am humbled that it would occur on such a special evening – the awarding of The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal to Katherine Donahue Freyvogel. Mrs. Freyvogel’s selfless service inspires me, and I know her life’s work sets a profound example to all Seton Hill students who work every day to fulfill the Seton Hill mission.”

Katherine Donahue Freyvogel’s achievements both in the Pittsburgh region and nationally are significant. During her early career, she held leadership positions at Federated Investors before turning her attention to the work of advancing Catholic education and volunteering with Catholic organizations. Mrs. Freyvogel valued her own Catholic school education and said the commitment of her parents, John and Rhodora Donahue, to such an education was “the greatest gift they could give me.” Her love of Church, faith and family led her to assist in the establishment of a women’s high school in Oakland, the merger of Saint Paul Cathedral High School and Sacred Heart High School, and to serve as the founding President of the Board of Directors of Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh.  Several years later, with the expansion of the school, Katherine was invited to participate in a new model of governance for the high school known as the President-Principal Model. She became the President of Oakland Catholic High School in 1997. Mrs. Freyvogel led multiple capital fundraising campaigns for campus expansion, new construction, and renovation projects to enhance Oakland Catholic that resulted in an expanded art wing, state of the art science laboratories, a welcoming dining hall, a new theatre and gymnasium, and the creation of The Rhodora J. Donahue Chapel in honor of St. Joan of Arc that incorporates elements of the convent that stood on the same site for many years. Mrs. Freyvogel, now President Emerita of Oakland Catholic, was named to the national Catholic Education Hall of Fame for her efforts. In 2013, Mrs. Freyvogel was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross Medal, the highest medal that can be awarded to a layperson by the Papacy. She and her husband, Ty, are the parents of seven children and grandparents of 27.

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; Corinne (Lindy) Claiborne Boggs, former congresswoman and U.S. ambassador to the Holy See; Pittsburgh philanthropist Catharine Murray Ryan; and Pittsburgh attorney Rosemary Corsetti. The first presentation of the Medal to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy coincided with the beatification of Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1963.

The Seton Hill Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship was created in 2011 and was presented for the first time in 2012. The Fund provides financial assistance to students with significant financial need who have demonstrated the potential to achieve academic success. 

Kennedy Kehew, the daughter of Jeneane and Corey Kehew, is a junior at Seton Hill University studying forensic science with a minor in environmental studies. She is the president of the Student Government Association and vice president of the Class of 2020. A student in Seton Hill’s Honors Program, Kennedy is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honors fraternity and the Honors Council. She is also a member of the Forensic Science and Chemistry clubs and serves as an Orientation Leader and a Student Ambassador. Kennedy is an active volunteer in the community. She serves several hours a week during the academic year volunteering at the Elizabeth Seton Center Adult Day Care program at Caritas Christi, the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. She has also been involved in community cleanup efforts through her work with Seton Hill’s Chemistry Club. Kennedy hopes to someday work in law enforcement investigating the criminal aspect of environmental disasters. 

PHOTO: Seton Hill University President Mary C. Finger, Ed.D., Seton Hill Alumni Association Scholarship Awardee Kennedy Kehew and The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal Honoree Katherine Donahue Freyvogel at The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal event on September 13, 2018 at the Duquesne Club. 



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