McHugh served community and parish with time, kindness

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Retirement was anything but retiring for Oakdale resident and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioner Doloris McHugh.

When she retired in 1993 as a dietician for the Upper St. Clair School District, she took up a new calling of service at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Carnegie. Since then, she had been a leader of the parish Christian Mothers Guild, helping to organize and plan practically every major event at the parish.

The Rev. David Poecking, pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, said she was always to ready to serve and help the parish in many ways. He was among those who mourned her passing Jan. 28. Mrs. McHugh, 78, died from a brain aneurysm.

She worked on the parish bread sale in November, the cookie sale in December, ran the Italian booth and prepared Italian dishes for the parish festival in August, and organized two rummage sales, which received recognition from the Diocese of Pittsburgh for the quality of the events, in May and October.

But she didn’t stop with planning and working on events.

Theresa Mox, who worked with Ms. McHugh on many of her projects, said she was also a Lady of Charity, a Catholic Women’s organization. And on Easter and Christmas she would visit parishioners who were home bound or in nursing homes.

“She had a way with people. Everybody liked her. She was a very kind person," Ms. Mox said.

She was also dedicated to her family, taking care of 49 graves of members of her family, Ms. Mox said.

Mrs. McHugh earned a degree from St. Mercy College, now Carlow University, and a certificate in dietetics. She worked as a dietician for St. Clair Hospital and later the Upper St. Clair School District.

Ms. Mox said the skills she learned in her career were put to good use in her volunteer work for the parish.

“For any event, she knew how much food was needed, how much it would cost. She was very well organized and taught us a lot,” Ms. Mox said.

Her maiden name was Bernardi. She married Dennis E. McHugh, who is also deceased.

Father Poecking said she drew on her Italian heritage, not only in cooking her signature Italian dishes for church receptions, but in helping to plan the events.

“She would make flamboyant gestures with her hands, like she was closing a zipper, when she wanted people to be quiet,” he said.

“She would say what needed to be said, but knew when to stop, too. She had a sensitivity to the culture of the community. She provided service, advise, and constructive criticism. She labored endlessly, and was always ready to serve and help,” he said.

Mrs. McHugh was active in her home community, too, serving as president of the Oakdale Garden Club.


Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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