Remembering Ursula Donaher

(GREENSBURG, Pa.,- March 7, 2022) When Ursula Donaher’s name is mentioned, longtime employees of the Diocese Greensburg recall her fondly. They will tell you that she epitomized a sense of class, style and grace. After a lifetime of service to the Diocese, its employees and her family, Donaher died Jan. 11, 2022, at the age of 92. 

Donaher was a role model for the younger employees during her time in the Diocese, which spanned the late 1960s through the late 1980s. Her role was as an administrative assistant to auxiliary Bishop Norbert F. Gaughan, who also served the Diocese as Chancellor and Vicar General. But to many, Donaher was more than a secretary; she was an institution.

Monsignor William R. Rathgeb, who has served as Judicial Vicar for the Diocese for more than 30 years, said Donaher had a good rapport with the priests of the Diocese and was extremely loyal to Bishop Gaughan.  “She really knew the history of the Diocese and was able to balance all that really well with her duties for the Bishop,” Monsignor Rathgeb said. “It’s our support staff that helps us to use the gifts that we have and to be on top of things, and that was the case with Ursula.”

“I guess you could have called Ursula the live, walking encyclopedia of the Diocese of Greensburg facts, all those that were true and as well as false,” said Cindy Ozzello. It was Donaher who more than 30 years ago and told Ozzello to apply for her present position as Secretary to the Vicar General. Ozzello, who has been with the Diocese for 44 years, recalls that Donaher was soft spoken and walked the hallways at the Pastoral Center with incredible poise.  “She always had her hair in a bun, and it was never out of place,” Ozzello remembered. Donaher never married, so the Pastoral Center employees were like family to her.  “She called everyone ‘honey’,” Ozzello said. “Everybody went to Ursula for everything.” Ozzello said the last time she heard from Donaher was a few years ago when Donaher sent a note to thank Ozzello for forwarding a piece of mail that came addressed to her at the Pastoral Center. 

Sharon Grabowski was packing pickles for Bell-View in Penn when she got the call 50 years ago from Bishop Gaughan to come in for an interview. Donaher administered Grabowski’s typing test. From that moment until now, Grabowski has served as an executive assistant for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Greensburg.  “She really was a good balance for Bishop Gaughan,” Grabowski recalled. “He really respected her, and they worked very well together.”

After Bishop Gaughan was appointed Bishop of Gary, Ind., in 1984, Donaher finished her employment with the Diocese when she became the Archivist, and she continued to help Bishop William G. Connare when he retired in 1987. After the death of Bishop Connare, Donaher, who was always looking out for others, retired and relocated to Rochester, N.Y., to become a caregiver for her sister. She came from a large family that included four brothers and two sisters.

Donaher is survived by her brother, Dennis, and his wife, Kathy, and 28 nephews and nieces.  A funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 20. The family asks that donations be made in the memory of Ursula J. Donaher to the Focus Pregnancy Help Center, 135 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14605.


Subscribe today!