Alumna's gift honors enduring Chapel legacy and the power of reconnection

Donor and Volunteer Tribute 2022–23: Our Place — Our Lady of Victory Chapel
Donna Krzmarzick ’62, ’86

From the 2022–23 Donor and Volunteer Tribute summer edition of St. Catherine University Magazine.

LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence: Our Place

Donna Krzmarzick ’62, ’86 has returned to St. Catherine University season after season in her life. For her, as for so many others, one place that encapsulates this deep connection to St. Kate’s is Our Lady of Victory Chapel. Since its opening in 1924 it has endured as an iconic landmark, treasured gathering place, and “one of [Krzmarzick’s] favorite sites on campus.”

A two-time St. Kate’s graduate — with a 1962 associate degree from St. Mary’s School of Nursing and a 1986 bachelor’s from the College of St. Catherine — Krzmarzick’s path to St. Kate’s began with her parents’ hopes for her education. “My mother was not allowed to pursue her dream of further education, but she became a strong advocate for all of her children to attend college,” says Krzmarzick. “St. Kate’s was my first choice because it was a Catholic women’s college with an excellent reputation.”

Unfortunately, her family was unable to afford the cost of tuition, so Krzmarzick enrolled in a three-year program at St. Mary’s School of Nursing (now a part of St. Catherine University). After graduation, she began her career in psychiatric nursing and eventually found herself pulled back to St. Kate’s, where she graduated from the weekend program in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

After a career at multiple hospitals in executive leadership, Krzmarzick retired in 2012 and began ref lecting on the University that had supported  her goals as a Catholic woman committed to self-empowerment, excellence, and service. She became an active alumna, attending her 50-year Reunion, volunteering, and making donations. Krzmarzick also established an endowed scholarship for nursing students in order to help secure more resources and support for St. Kate’s students experiencing barriers  to education.

Krzmarzick says her most personal philanthropic tie to St. Kate’s, however, did not come until her 60-year Reunion celebration in 2022, where she attended a session about LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence and learned about the Chapel’s need for restoration to protect it into the future.

Krzmarzick was moved to contribute as a way to honor reconnecting with her daughter Ange, whom she placed for adoption as a baby. “I decided I wanted to purchase a window with my name and the renovation of a pew with her name,” says Krzmarzick. “The light from my window will shine upon her pew, which will be a symbol of God’s gift to both of us.”

“I am deeply touched by Donna’s story and the ways she continues to pay forward the experiences of her life into the present and future,” says Sharon Howell, CSJ, director of the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice. “To have that daily reminder of the passing of light and life from mother to daughter within the heart of the community, the Chapel, is the genuine claiming of ‘our space’ as a women’s Catholic institution."

Krzmarzick’s gift, and others like it, goes toward preserving the beauty of the Chapel and ensuring that this cherished space endures for another 100 years. Restoration will be complete in fall 2024, in time to celebrate the Chapel Centennial!

“It has been a blessing to have the opportunity to give back,” says Krzmarzick. “I treasure my education and experience at St. Kate’s and never regret giving to the University, as it reinforces the importance of educating women to lead and influence."