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Pittsburgher Katherine Donahue Freyvogel to Receive Highest Seton Hill University Honor

Seton Hill University will present its highest honor, The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, to Pittsburgh resident Katherine Donahue Freyvogel.

The honor occurs 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. Mrs. 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. These efforts led her to be invited 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 and now serves as President Emerita. Mrs. Freyvogel served on a number of local and national boards, including as President and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Saint Lucy’s Auxiliary to the Blind; as Vice Chair of the Advisory Board for the Saint Vincent Seminary Board of Regents; and as an elected member of the National Advisory Council of the National Association of Catholic Bishops.

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.

“I am delighted to learn that Katherine Donahue Freyvogel will receive The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal awarded by Seton Hill University,” said His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. “Katherine Freyvogel has demonstrated a life-long commitment to Catholic education at every level, elementary, secondary, and higher.  Her exceptional leadership in providing education opportunities for young women deserves the applause of all of us.  It was a joy for me to work with her over so many years and witness firsthand her talent, ability and dedication.”

“Katherine Donahue Freyvogel’s boundless energy and servant’s heart are evident in every facet of her life,” commented the Most Rev. David Zubik, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “Her commitment to advancing Catholic education as part of the important work of the Gospel embodies the legacy of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and her role as the founder of Catholic schools in the United States. Katherine’s leadership at Oakland Catholic has led countless students to discover how a Catholic education provides transformative grace. I cannot imagine a tribute more appropriate for Katherine’s tireless work to enhance the lives of others and to provide opportunities for them to grow in their Catholic faith.”

“It is truly fitting that in the Centennial year of Seton Hill’s founding as a four-year Catholic college we would honor Katherine Donahue Freyvogel - a woman who has dedicated herself to improving Catholic education for students in the Pittsburgh area – with The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal,” said Seton Hill President Mary C. Finger. “While her accomplishments are many, Katherine has gone about improving the lives of others with a humble, quiet grace that reminds us of the life led by Elizabeth Ann Seton – a life dedicated to the greater good. All of us at Seton Hill University are pleased to recognize Katherine’s deep and committed faith by awarding her with the university’s highest honor, The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal.”

“As Seton Hill celebrates the important milestone of its Centennial year, it is important to take the time to honor those whose lives of service mirror those of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, the founding order of the university, and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton,” said the Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg. “By honoring Katherine Freyvogel with The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, Seton Hill is acknowledging her incredible works and holding her up as an important role model for the university’s students, who, in the Setonian tradition, are called upon to live lives that transform the world.”

Mrs. Freyvogel earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Chatham University and received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree from Carlow University in 2013. Mrs. Freyvogel and her husband, Thomas J. “Ty” Freyvogel, Jr., have been married for 46 years. Ty is an author, entrepreneur and consultant.  They are the parents of seven children and grandparents of 27. The Freyvogels are members of Saint Scholastica Parish in Pittsburgh.

Katherine Donahue Freyvogel will receive The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal on September 13, 2018 at the Duquesne Club in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa.  The date marks the eve of the anniversary of the Canonization of Elizabeth Ann Seton as the first American Saint on September 14, 1975. The evening’s events will support the Seton Hill University Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund. The 2018 student award will be made in honor of Katherine Donahue Freyvogel and will be presented during the program.

ABOUT KATHERINE DONAHUE FREYVOGEL

Katherine Donahue Freyvogel, the daughter of John and Rhodora Donahue, grew up in Pittsburgh and attended Saint Philomena Grade School in Squirrel Hill and later graduated from Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Monroeville. Katherine valued her Catholic school education and said her parents’ commitment to such an education was “the greatest gift they could give me.” She added, “It was the overall approach of the Sisters who were committed and dedicated in their roles as teachers that translated to me a love of Church, faith, and family and the need, in particular, to educate young women.  The Sisters challenged us to go beyond what we may have thought we could accomplish.”

Katherine went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Chatham University in Shadyside.  She began a career in business with Federated Investors, Inc., the investment management company that her father founded. 

In 1972, Katherine married Thomas J. “Ty” Freyvogel, Jr. and held various positions at Federated Investors including Salesperson for Mutual Funds, Director of Shareholder Services, and Director of the Graphic Arts Department.  Following the birth of her first child in 1976, she expanded on a career of volunteerism with several nonprofits and continued to advance Catholic education. 

Indeed, Katherine’s extraordinary involvement in support of Catholic education led her to be invited 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. 

Established in 1989 by then-Bishop of Pittsburgh Donald Wuerl, Oakland Catholic is the largest college preparatory school for young women in southwestern Pennsylvania. Oakland Catholic educates more than 500 students from 45 school districts and 87 parishes in five western Pennsylvania counties; the students represent diverse socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. Graduates of Oakland Catholic have continued studies at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities and students are acknowledged regularly by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and continually recognized both locally and nationally for their academic and athletic accomplishments.

In 2001, Katherine acknowledged the importance of Oakland Catholic’s physical facilities matching the caliber of the school’s academic program and the students’ performance. She led multiple capital fundraising campaigns for campus expansion, new construction, and renovation projects to enhance Oakland Catholic.  Her work 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.  Throughout her tenure with Oakland Catholic, Katherine aligned all efforts with the school’s mission to help each student reach her full potential spiritually, academically, and personally.  In honor of Katherine’s profound leadership, the Oakland Catholic Administration and Board of Directors named its principal campus facility, The Katherine Donahue Freyvogel Building.  

Now President Emerita of Oakland Catholic, Katherine remains active in the growth and continuing success of the school. Oakland Catholic represents, in a powerful way, the dedication, energy, and leadership that remain hallmarks of Katherine’s service to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and to the larger community.

Always seeking ways to help others, Katherine’s engagement in the community as a volunteer is extensive.  She served as President and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Saint Lucy’s Auxiliary to the Blind and also participated as Chair of the 25th Medallion Ball and Chair of the Junior Medallion Committee.  Katherine also served for more than two decades with the 25 Club of Magee Women’s Hospital, which is dedicated to raising funds for neonatal research. She served for six years on the Saint Vincent Seminary Board of Regents, where she held the position of Vice Chair of the Advisory Board.  She also served for four years as an elected member of the National Advisory Council of the National Association of Catholic Bishops. Katherine served as a member of the Epiphany Association, an organization dedicated to providing the formational and educational resources needed for the in-depth, continuing spiritual renewal of life and world in the Judeo-Christian faith and formation tradition. She was named to the national Catholic Education Foundation Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Pittsburgh Catholic Charities Caritas Award for Leadership that same year.  Katherine received the Woman of Spirit Award and later an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Carlow University.

In addition, Katherine’s dedication and service to the Church has resulted in her being named a Dame of Magisterial Grace in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta Federal Association, USA in 1996. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Order of Malta. In 2003, she was named a Dame of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great by then-Bishop of Pittsburgh Donald Wuerl, now Archbishop of Washington, D.C. In 2013, Bishop of Pittsburgh David Zubik conferred upon Katherine the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross Medal. Prior to his retirement, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI awarded this medal to Katherine for distinguished service to the Church; it is the highest medal that can be awarded to a layperson by the Papacy.

Katherine Donahue Freyvogel and her husband, Ty, have been married for 46 years. Ty is an author, entrepreneur and consultant.  They are the parents of seven children and grandparents of 27. The Freyvogels are members of Saint Scholastica Parish in Pittsburgh.

 

If you are a member of the media and would like more information, contact Director of Media Relations Jennifer Reeger at jreeger@setonhill.edu, (724) 830-1069 (office) or (724) 433-9613 (cell).