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Meet the Keynoter

Petero Sabune was born in Uganda. The son of a priest, he came to the United States through the American Field Service (AFS) exchange program in 1969. He returned to Uganda 1970 and, fleeing the ruthless dictator Idi Amin, came back as a freshman at Rutgers University in 1972 where he joined his brother who was then attending Rutgers Law School. Idi Amin killed his brother in 1976 and his sister was killed by one of Amin’s men in 1977. Another brother died in Nairobi, Kenya after a narrow escape from Amin’s men.

Sabune transferred to Vassar College in New York where he earned a BA and graduated from Union Theological Seminary with an M.Div. He was ordained in May 1981.

As a parish priest, Sabune served churches in two Episcopal dioceses: four in the Diocese of New York: Grace, White Plains; Saints John, Paul and Clement, Mt. Vernon; Trinity Parish and St. James (both in New York City); and two in the Diocese of Newark: Incarnation, Jersey City; and Trinity and St. Philip”s Cathedral as Dean.

He has visited 28 African countries and 10 of the 12 Anglican Provinces on the African continent. As Dean of the Newark cathedral, he hosted Anglican leaders from Africa for a symposium on Islam in Africa, including the primates of Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

Additionally, for the Diocese of New York, he was the dean of Institutional Clergy and chair of both the Immigration Network and the Commission on Congregational Life and Mission. He also served as a member of Diocesan Council.

In the Diocese of Newark, he served on the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council and as chair of the Diocesan Companion Relationship Committee.

He is a former member of Executive Council, where he served as The Episcopal Church representative to the Anglican Church of Canada.

He was also the chair of both the Province II Immigration and the Prison Ministry Networks.

He was a General Convention deputy in 1994 and 1997.

Internationally, he is a trustee of the Episcopal Seminary in Haiti, was a founding board member of the Business and Technology Institute of Haiti, and was chair of the Forgiveness and Reconciliation Project.

He was a board member of Forward Movement Publications and contributed to two books. He has lectured and led retreats extensively, including the Absalom Jones Annual Lecture at General Theological Seminary and the Mosley Memorial Lecture on Urban Ministry at Trinity College, Toronto, Canada.

Among his awards and honors, he received the Minorities in Criminal Justice Leadership Award, the NAACP Community Service Award, and the Caribbean American Families Inc. Community Service Award.

In 2007, Sabune was named a Trinity Fellow by Trinity Parish in New York City. A $20,000 grant enabled him to focus on the Forgiveness and Reconciliation Project with prisoners and pastors who participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; as a part of the project, Sabune visited 10 African prisons between 2007 - 2009.

In April 2010 he joined the mission team at The Episcopal Church as the Africa Partnership Officer. Prior to that time, he was pastor and Protestant chaplain at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in New York.

He and his wife Dr. Maureen Fonseca have four children and they are also the “adopted” parents of the children of Sabune’s deceased siblings: his sister’s daughter and his brother’s son.