A total of 799 young adults from across the Diocese of Scranton are being honored this fall for their commitment to their faith and service to their parishes and schools.
The 2019 Bishop’s Youth Awards have been handed out to 8th grade and 12th grade students at four Masses in which Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has served as principal celebrant.
The award ceremonies began on Monday, September 23, at Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre where 337 nominees were honored.
The Masses continued on Monday, September 30, at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Tannersville where 117 students received awards and the following evening, Tuesday, October 1, at Saint Paul Parish in Scranton, where there were 289 nominees.
The final 56 nominees were recognized at a Mass held on Monday, October 7, at Saint Boniface Parish in Williamsport.
The first Bishop’s Youth Awards were handed out in 1996.
“It’s very important to me because I get to see the Bishop,” Evan Stabinski, 14, of Scranton said.
“I serve at the Cathedral every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and with my Boy Scout troop I occasionally do food drives and pasta dinners and I also help with the church dinners,” Stabinski said.
Evan’s twin brother Alexander also received an award and recognizes its importance.
“It’s an honor because of the fact they think I’m doing well serving God and serving my community,” Alexander Stabinski said.
The twins, who both attend All Saints Academy, find their faith in every aspect of their life, whether it’s in Church, home or their school.
“All Saints is like a family. Everybody is very close,” Alexander Stabinski said. “Faith is a big part of the education.”
Another eighth grade award recipient is Marcus Binner of Tunkhannock.
“I altar serve, sing in the choir and I was also in The Way with my brother,” Marcus Binner said.
As he saw all of the young people gathering at Saint Paul Church in Scranton to receive their awards, Binner was awestruck.
“It’s actually incredible how many people are here. It’s really cool. It’s really inspiring,” Binner added.
Marcus Binner’s older brother, Paul, a 12th grade student, was also honored with a Bishop’s Youth Award.
“I think it’s a pretty cool award because it shows how all these high-schoolers have been involved and they put a lot into their faith,” Paul Binner said.
Ethan Lehutsky, 18, a 12th grade student from Wayne County was also recognized with an award.
“I feel honored,” Lehutsky said. “I’m an Eagle Scout. I completed my Eagle project which was cleaning up the Glen Dyberry Cemetery after a tornado a couple years back hit Honesdale.”
After spending five weekends cleaning brush and fallen tree limbs, Lehutsky and several volunteers were able to help restore the cemetery.
“It definitely gives you a good feeling and it feels nice helping people take care of things,” Lehutsky said.
Serving the community is also something that Megan Winslow, 18, a parishioner of Saint Eulalia Parish knows about.
As a lector, choir member and volunteer at her annual parish picnic and monthly church breakfast, Winslow feels her faith is very important.
“It helps me through a lot of things in my life. I always have something to rely on and believe in when nothing else is there,” Winslow said.
Winslow previously attended the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) which brings together tens-of-thousands of young adults from across the nation.
“It was amazing. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. About 25,000 people were there and we did different workshops,” Winslow said.
At a time when some people worry that young adults aren’t involved in their church or care about faith, Winslow says events like NCYC and the Bishop’s Youth Awards show otherwise.
“It shows how many people in the local community come together for religion!” Winslow said.