A Life of Service
Mother General Alberta Stango was a nun who dedicated her life to helping children with leprosy through her selflessness and generosity. This
internationally beloved woman is a local hero to most, born nearly a century ago in Newark, New Jersey. Mother General Stango has been written about for her sainthood.
Born to Albert and Geraldine Stango, Sister Alberta began her holy service at St. Lucy’s Church in Newark when she was just a teenager. At the young age of 19, Sister Alberta was sent to Southern Rhodesia (today known as Zimbabwe) in Africa to work with children with leprosy. When she got there in the 1940s, the country was undeveloped, leaving her to live in the jungle; later in her life, she would tell stories of lions and wild animals running by her tent while she was sleeping.
Though the conditions were undesirable, Sister Alberta remained in Africa to complete her duty as a servant of the Lord. During her time there, she helped develop an entire city, complete with a school, a medical center and most important to her, a Roman Catholic Church. Realizing that she would need financial assistance from America to further develop the town, Sister Alberta turned to her father, Albert, who was the President of the local Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Albert helped his daughter raise money for her endeavors by organizing fund raisers and clothing drives.
Sister Alberta also received aid from another Newark resident— former Italian Tribune publisher Ace Alagna. Mr. Alagna knew Sister Alberta and the Stango family from their time together as classmates at St. Lucy’s school. When Sister Alberta was in need of a way to transport sick children, Mr. Alagna generously sent her a station wagon and added a color television to keep her and the kids entertained. They remained friends throughout their lives.
Aside from her role in building the wild outpost of Southern Rhodesia into a town, Sister Alberta worked tirelessly to establish the Catholic religion in the region and recruited followers to assist her in her mission. Sister Alberta was elevated to Mother General Alberta and created an order in her name.
Mother General Alberta gave her life for her cause, dying herself of leprosy in the early 1980s after years of exposure to the disease. Yet her legacy lives on; today, the order created by Mother Alberta has over 3,000 nuns from nations all over the world. They continue her mission today.