Father Michael Pfleger, America’s scapegoat is loved by his community
When Father Michael Pfleger called in to the Roland S. Martin show at 7 a.m. on Friday morning, at least I knew he was awake. I gave dialed him up and asked if I could drop by and visit with him after I left WVON. Thanks to GPS (I call her GiGi) it was an easy trip down to 87th.
I felt welcome from the moment I pulled up in front of the Faith Community of St. Sabina. I didn’t know that Father Pfleger had resumed his duties at the parish until our Chicago family members made us aware of the fact earlier in the week. You may remember me recounting the “temporary leave of absence” Cardinal George had placed on Father Pfleger a few weeks ago.
I went in fully intending it to be a personal visit to check in on how the Father was doing since all of the media and political scapegoating that had taken place over the last few weeks. The last thing that I want to do is throw gasoline on America’s race baiting fire, but a story unfolded that I had to share with the Dallas South family.
After a few minutes of personal discussion, Father Pfleger took me into the “Upper Church” the beautiful cathedral built on Chicago’s south side in 1933. After that, we traveled downstairs where kids from the predominantly black (I saw three white faces in my visit to the southside – Pfleger was the only male) neighborhood were being trained for a summer work program. In all, St. Sabina is preparing 150 young people to work in business around the community.
We then went on a walking tour, where I was able to see Christianity in action – not in rhetoric as is often the case in this country. I don’t have time to go into all of the programs and initiatives St. Sabina has launched, but here are a few.
- St. Sabina’s Elder’s Village, a six-story building which houses seniors in an atmosphere of respect, honor and dignity.
- St. Sabina/Catholic Charities Social Services Center addressing basic social and psychological needs of families and individuals by providing information and referral linkages to counseling, community casework, shelter services, transitional housing, senior housing, nursing home and in-home care services.
- St. Sabina Academy, a grade school serving students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The faculty and administration believe that God has a purpose for every child’s life and incorporates the gospel of Jesus Christ and African values in their curriculum.
This doesn’t even include seed businesses like Perfect Peace Cafe and Bakery that St. Sabina has planted on the blocks surrounding the church. They have partnered with entrepreneurs to establish restaurants and clothing stores in the neighborhood, as well as companies like Walgreens. Speaking of partnerships, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has worked with Pfleger and St. Sabina to help keep the community safe and helped them to build a park that is attached to the Elders Village.
The reason I’m really writing this post is to convey the love that the community showed both of us in the hour that we walked the streets. Father Pfleger had only been reinstated about a week ago, so many people didn’t know he was “back” (he rented and apartment down the street during his leave). It started as people -actually every one of them- acknowledging and speaking to us as he passed. It’s not hard to recognize the only white male in the ward.
But as we continued up and down 87th, the waves turned to handshakes and the handshakes turned to hugs. “I didn’t know you were back,” said one man. “We support you Father,” said another. “You were right,” said a woman as she hugged and kissed him on the cheek. This was the scene for the entire hour,
A number of cars honked as they rolled through. One man stopped his car in the middle of the street to give Father Pfleger a shout out. When he approached the vehicle, the man and his sons all stuck their fists out the window to give him a bump. My only experience with Father Pfleger had been in Dallas, so to see how he is loved and embraced by his community while not surprising was still awesome to witness first hand.
I didn’t tell Father Pfleger that I would be posting this and while I haven’t shared any of the details of our conversation it still feels a little weird. Regardless of what America may think, I felt it important that those who visit this site see what the media refuses to report in their attempted character assassination on one of God’s true soldiers.
I feel privileged that the good Father would take a moment of his busy time to spend with a fella like me. May God Bless Father Michael Pfleger and the awesome work he is doing on the south side of Chicago.