Reverend Peter G. Young '53
Priest and Substance Abuse Treatment Pioneer
Siena College is honored to have the opportunity to recognize the achievements of Fr. Peter Young, Siena College Class of 1953, founder and CEO of Peter Young Housing. Industries, and Treatment.
Fr. Young is a pioneer in substance abuse treatment. Starting with his first assignment as an Albany diocesan priest in 1959, he has been a minister to and an advocate for the addicted and those in recovery. He served for over thirty years as a prison chaplain, first at the Albany County Jail, and later at the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility. Fr. Young was instrumental in the passage of legislation that decriminalized public intoxication and stressed that alcoholism is a disease that "should be treated as such." He founded the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment program within the New York State Department of Corrections.
Peter Young Housing, Industries, and Treatment serves as a model for substance abuse programs throughout the country. This program is based on the "Three Legged Stool" approach to recovery: "recovery from addiction often requires support in treatment, housing, and employment." As Fr. Young has said, "People in prison don't stand much chance if they leave prison without taking very serious steps toward recovery and pursue after-care programs when exiting the prison system."
Fr. Young's awards and honors are numerous. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Service from the University at Albany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. He has been honored by Equinox, Inc, the Albany Inter-Racial Council, the New York State Jaycees, and has received the Citizenship Award from the New York State Bar Association. In 2004, he received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Christian Brothers Academy. Siena College's Alumni Association has honored Fr. Young with the Professor Egon Plager Medallion for Humanitarian Effort. His work is the subject of the documentary, Glidepath to Recovery, shown nationally on PBS.
To accomplish all that he has achieved requires not only a great deal of determination and hard work, but also much compassion. Bishop Hubbard has been quoted as saying that Fr. Young "has the ability to make people feel very special, very affirmed, which gives them the confidence and self-esteem they lack." Fr. Young is the pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Bolton Landing, and leads the Mother Teresa Community in Albany. In addition to his degree from Siena College, Fr. Young is also a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and St. Jerome's College.
In recognition of his over forty-five years of active ministry and his pioneering work in substance abuse treatment, Siena College presents Fr. Peter Young with the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.