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Remembering Father Stabene

November 10, 2012
The Herald-Star

The Stabene Society held its second-annual memorial six-course dinner in remembrance of the Rev. Edmundo Stabene on Oct. 18 at Scaffidi's Restaurant in Steubenville.

The more than 90 guests attending received a keepsake photo of Stabene along with his favorite prayer, "The Prayer of St. Francis," courtesy of honored guest Frances Fante. Guests also received a souvenir program provided by Dominic Potts, the society's founder and event moderator.

Monsignor Gerald Calovini of Holy Family Church gave the blessing and invocation, followed by Mena Potts introducing Martin Imbrosocio, a retired teacher who conducted the opening ceremony by reciting in Italian Stabene's favorite prayer, "The Prayer of St. Francis," then leading the audience in singing it.

Joe Pino, trained in classical voice, sang "Ave Maria," which he had sung at Stabene's funeral.

Dominic Potts welcomed those attending and explained the purpose of the society. Stabene, who died at age 92, had served more than 65 years in the priesthood, "always doing so perseveringly, indefatigably and unselfishly, making himself available to assist anyone on any occasion, at any time, at any place, regardless of the day of the week, the hour of the day or the time of night."

Potts said, "If we needed Father Stabene's comfort, prayers and solace, it mattered not to Father whether it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon or 3 o'clock in the morning - he was there. We knew he would be there. We knew we could count on his presence. Father remains a revered friend, spiritual icon and model of emulation for all of us in the society and beyond. He continues, in our memory, to be a paragon of nobility, ethicality and virtue. Having lighted a path and shown us the way in the past, we can now do so in his memory in the future," Potts said. "That's the purpose of the Stabene Society and the reason we gather and honor him tonight. We shall do so each year in the future on the anniversary of his death."

Mena Potts, founder and director of the Center for Dream Studies, was the first of several speakers, describing her long friendship with Stabene that began when she was a pupil at St. Anthony School. She also recalled how her parents, the late Emilio and Josephine Bernabei, provided food from their operation, Bernabei's Imported Foods, to the needy who Stabene helped over the years.

"Father was always there for his flock, assisting his parishioners during life's passages both joyous and sad," she said, remembering his generosity even in the weeks before his death how he organized a surprise birthday party for her, a memory she cherishes.

Carm Gentile, president of the Italian American Cultural Club, explained the organization established Stabene Scholarships in his memory, last year awarding five $1,000 scholarships.

Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway Community College, recalled her warm welcome from Stabene when she first came to the area and how he consistently had one of the largest classes at the college when he taught Italian courses.

Brian Scarnecchia, founding president of the International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute and director of legal studies at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, recounted how he and his wife, Vickie, first met Stabene and enjoyed an endearing friendship to come.

Alphonse Ruggieri, radio host of the longtime "Italian Hour," recalled the inspiration and support of Stabene when Ruggieri receive a lifetime achievement award in 2009 from the Chamber of Commerce in Pescaro, Italy.

Mary Ellen Redington conducted an interlude call "Memories of Father," which gave others in attendance an opportunity to reminisce. She also joined with her husband, the Rev. Randall Redington, an ordained Catholic deacon for more than 29 years, in offering their memories.

The Reddingtons made a surprise presentation to the Dominic and Mena Potts - a statue of Jesus on the cross with open arms. It was given in appreciation of their effort to launch and perpetuate the Stabene Society.

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