The drive to transform neighborhoods, create nonprofits and support close-to-the-heart causes makes these individuals stand out in the eyes of their peers.
Twenty-four years into his life as a priest, Rev. John Stabeno knows now more than ever the severity of his vocation. As the founder and executive director of the Washington Township, N.J.-based Prodigal House Foundation, the 48-year-old helps sufferers to overpower their addictions, with his often-unfortunate past as his inspiration.
“We’re looking at an epidemic,” the 1982 graduate of the former St. John Neumann High School, 2600 Moore St., said. “There is a great deal of despair, especially among young people, who are lacking a sense of hope.”
Stabeno witnessed a wave of woe in his youth, as numerous friends engaged in substance abuse. He eventually fell prey, too, but readily recovered and returned to his alma mater for two stints as a counselor.
“I have wanted to help people the way I was helped,” the advocate said of his most prominent undertaking, the management of his six-year-old foundation.
Stabeno called on the parable of the prodigal son, in which a shameful young man receives his father’s mercy after squandering his inheritance, as motivation for launching the location, which hosts various groups all intent on saving lives through love, even if it is of the tough variety.
“In some way or another, addiction affects most families, and we have too many great people who are misguided,” the Passyunk Square resident said.
Stabeno, whose outreach also assists local clans and who typically celebrates the Saturday Vigil Mass at Annunciation B.V.M. Church, 1511 S. 10th St., considers hearing success stories his greatest reward in tackling that which strips his fellow children of God of their dignity. He, however, has had to weigh those fortunate revelations against tales of death and dismay.
“Words can barely describe the pain of seeing a family burying a child,” the priest said.
As he believes the division between good and evil is expanding, Stabeno vows to let nobody bow to emptiness.
“I feel humbled to have this honor,” the designee, who hopes to intensify his connection to South Philly through establishing a comfort club for affected families, said. “I just hope more people will realize the responsibility that everyone has to make a difference.”
Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 124.
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