“Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and giving thanks. As a person grows older, you reflect on your life, give thanks and think upon what you can do to make the future better.” a Catholic Foundation donor reflects.

This year, one family chose to make the future better by establishing a tuition assistance fund for St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School in Grosse Pointe Park. The fund was created in honor of the family’s mother, Mary Frances Donahoe and aunt, Elizabeth Hodgin.

Elizabeth (Aunt Lib) Hodgin and Mary Frances Donahoe

The fund was established as a way of giving back to the Catholic institutions that have shaped their family, including their mother and aunt. In the hard times of 1920s and 30s, Mary Frances and Elizabeth lived much of their childhood in an orphanage in North Carolina run by their Uncle Pat, a priest, and the Sisters of Mercy.

Mary Frances raised her eight children in the Detroit area. In the 1950s through 1970s, they all attended St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School and the five girls also attended Dominican High School.

“It did not require much thought as to what to do to improve the future. My family benefited from the Catholics who supported the orphanage and its school, as well as St. Clare and Dominican High. My mother, my aunt, myself and my siblings were better off for attending these Catholic institutions,” the donor shares. “They helped to raise us, mold us and make us into better human beings. It is now our turn to support those who teach and protect children.”

One of the donor’s financial advisors is a lawyer who also serves as an advisor to the Orange County Catholic Foundation. This advisor knew of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan and suggested that the Foundation could help the family realize this desire to support St. Clare’s school.

During this time, Mary Frances passed, and the family brought her back to Verheyden Funeral Home and St. Clare Catholic Church. The tuition fund named for their mother and their Aunt Lib, who had passed previously, was created as a meaningful way to honor their lives.

“We were blessed with a wonderful childhood: loving parents and schools that taught us virtues to live by. There could be no better way than to honor them by establishing a fund at St. Clare to benefit students attending this wonderful school,” one of the sisters shares.

The Mary Frances Donahoe and Elizabeth Hodgin Tuition Assistance Fund provides several students tuition support for their nine years of study. The first installment of this fund was provided in November 2018 to four students.

“The Fund was established to help give children a faith-filled, academically excellent education at St. Clare School and instill Catholic values that will stay with them throughout their lives,” Principal Ann Tonissen shares.

“With tuition assistance such as the Donahoe/Hodgin Fund, more families will be able to enroll and stay at St. Clare School. Knowing this scholarship is available, more families will consider St. Clare School for their children. By increasing our enrollment through tuition assistance, we help sustain the future of our school.”


Is there a loved one you would like to honor with a fund in their name to support a local parish, school, or nonprofit organization?