Sister Tonya Receives Spirit of St. Joseph Award

Posted by Dana Hinton

May 21, 2024

Sister Tonya Severin, a distinguished alumna from the class of 1961, was honored with the Spirit of St. Joseph Award on Saturday, May 18, at the Oakmont Country Club. This award recognized individuals whose lives reflected the virtues of St. Joseph through humble, selfless service and support. Sister Tonya exemplified these qualities, living an extraordinary life through her quiet dedication and support of Saint Joseph High School’s mission.

Introducing Sister Tonya for the award, Bishop Larry Kulick, JCL, said “What a life God gave her. What a blessing bestowed upon you, calling you to your vocation as a religious Sister. But also having the great opportunity and privilege to be not just a teacher, but an educator… You have lived the ordinary in extraordinary ways.”

In her speech, Sister Tonya said she had thought and prayed about how she lives the Spirit of St. Joseph. When she heard Pope Francis speak about St. Joseph as a great educator, she said, “There it is! I love teaching. And I love teaching biology because every day with my students I can stand in awe of all the wonderful things that God has caused to come into being in this wonderful world of ours.”

Saint Joseph High School, founded in 1915 and located in Natrona Heights, PA, is the oldest Catholic high school in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, educating 130 students from 2 dioceses, 23 parishes, 4 counties, and 23 school districts. Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the school is recognized for its academic excellence, award-winning arts, and athletic achievements, including National Merit scholars and WPIAL championship teams.

To hear audio from the award ceremony, click on the files below!


  1. S. Rita Davis

    Congrats and blessings upon you Tonya. You continue to be a great blessing to us all! I’m so glad the students got the benefit of your knowledge and talent for teaching!

  2. Monica Boggs

    Congratulations and thank you for the contributions of time and talent you continue to make in education.

  3. Trudy Foster

    Congratulations, Tonya. Your love and compassion reach out to all.

  4. Sincy Sebastian

    Congratulations dear Sr. Tonya for your great accomplishment. We are proud of you.

  5. Lisa Downs

    We love you S. Tonya and are so proud of you!

  6. Louise Smith

    Tonya, congratulations on your reward. I can only imagine how privileged the many students who lives you have touched with your love and dedication. Thanks from them and us.

  7. Shirley Patterson

    And now, Sister Tonya, you are a blessing to Nazareth! Thank you.

  8. Ann Palatty

    Congratulations, Tonya, for this award. You truly deserve it. Being an educator is a privileged vocation in life.

  9. Luke

    Congratulations Tonya on this outstanding award.
    You do model the qualities of simplicity, humility and service.

    I can imagine how great you are as a teacher because your whole being is radiant when you talk about Biology and other forms of science.

  10. Maggie Cooper

    Congratulations, Tonya! What a wonderful tribute to you for your service to education there!

    • Annette Skees

      Congratulations, Tonya, on the Spirit of St. Joseph award. You touched many lives in your years of teaching and continue to do so even today in Bardstown. Your students were truly blessed to have you as their teacher.


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