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By Chinta Strausberg

 

Father Michael L. Pfleger and Curtis Moore, an old friend were presented the “Father of the Year” Award Sunday by Rev. Bobby L. Rush who is also congressman of the First Congressional District during a ceremony held at the Beloved Community Christian Church, 6430 South Harvard in Chicago.

The awards to honor father’s ceremonies began four years ago, according to Rush. He presented co-Father’s Day Awards to Father Pfleger, Pastor at Saint Sabina and Curtis Moore, retired police officer and a member of Rush’s church.

 “We started this because it is an automatic assumption that Mother’s Day would be a highlight day of the season for the church,” said Rush. “It’s an established folks we call CME’s. They only come to church on Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter. We want to intentionally honor fathers.”

In honoring Pfleger, Rush said he was ordained a priest “he didn’t stop there” having adopted three boys. “He took up the banner for our children when birth fathers were not even on the scene. He took up the cause of young people who day-by-day suffer under the number one problem, according to them, and that is fear of being shot and killed by somebody else of their generation. He took up their cause.

“His voice has been a voiced that has been raised from the rooftop to the mountaintop speaking out against drug dealers, gun dealers, gangbangers and every other ill that has come up against our community,” said Rush. “

Referring to Pfleger, Rush said he is “relentless in his approach, magnanimous in his spirit, selfless with intensity in his outrage over the injustice that he sees all around him, but he didn’t stop there. He adopted three children. So he moved from being a Catholic Father to being a community father and he moved to be a daddy to three adopted boys. He is a man of inspiration to all of us.”

Rush said his mother used to tell him, “Boy, you don’t have any crazy sense.” “Father Pfleger doesn’t have any crazy sense,” said Rush. “He keeps on keeping on, fighting the fight.”

In accepting the “Father of the Year” award, Pfleger said, “When I woke and had my morning prayer this morning, my heart was sad because I thought about my daddy who went home to be with the Lord,” he said referring to Louis J. “Lou” Pfleger born on October 19, 1911 and passed on July 5, 2008.

Pfleger was also saddened on Father’s Day because of the memories of his youngest son, Jarvis Franklin, 17, who was caught in gang crossfire on May 30, 1998 at 79th and Carpenter, but his saddest didn’t end there. Pfleger said he thought about his middle son, Beronti Sims, who died last month having collapsed in his Orlando, Florida home. Beronti would have been 33 on June 3, 2012. He recently buried his second son two-weeks ago.

“My heart was heavy as I thought about this Father’s Day,” Pfleger said. “I thank you for reminding me that every child is our child and the community is our children and that we are brothers and sisters, mother’s and fathers, sister’s and brother’s to one another out here in the community. Until we think like that all the time, we’re never going to stop what is going on.”

Turning to Rush, Pfleger said, “We didn’t serve in the Army together, but you are my brother whom I have known” for many years. Pfleger said his admiration for Rush goes “back in the days of the Black Panthers.”

Pfleger said when he was living on the West Side of Chicago, the Black Panthers used to meet in the basement of the Precious Blood church for a while. “I would sit in on those meetings. I was told I couldn’t say anything but to just sit in the corner and be quiet. That was hard for me to do sit in a corner and be quiet, but the Panthers taught me about community service.

“I realized that the Panthers were doing more on the West Side than the churches were,” said Pfleger. “I started picking up bread for their breakfast program. They thought I was picking up bread for the Precious Blood program. They didn’t know I was bringing it to the Panthers.

“I thank Congressman Rush because you are not only a natural father. You have been a father to this city and to this country, a father who protected his children by always fighting for what is right.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am that you are our Congressman. I am so proud of you,” said Pfleger. He recalled the day when Congressman Rush came on the House Floor and pulled his hoodie up in denouncing the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Pfleger said Rush “made the world recognize the scandal of America, and I told him how proud I was of him. I sat home and I had goose bumps watched him standing there with that hoodie on. I told him that my only regret, and he looked at me, was that all the other Congressmen didn’t run around him and stand with him. He should not have had to stand-alone.

“I thank you for this award. I thank you for being a father to this city and to this country and fighting for justice. I love you,” Pfleger said hugging Rush.

In bestowing the award to Moore, Rush said he and Moore served in the Army together and they have been friends since 1964. Moore, who is a retired Chicago policeman, helped him with his first campaign for office. Rush said the Moore is “an extraordinary family. Curtis raised five girls and one boy mostly by himself.

“He cooked, cleaned worked because he was called to be a daddy. There is something about a transition from being a father to a daddy. Ain’t nothing like a kid calling you daddy or dad. That is more powerful when they call you daddy. That is a more intimate relationships…a more protective relationship,” said Rush.

In accepting the award, Moore said, “I enjoy what I did, and I am glad as a result of what I did they all have become successful.” As an example, one of his daughter’s was the first black queen for the University of Westin Illinois in 35-years. His other daughter graduated from the University of Wisconsin last year.

Referring to his family, Moore said, “I have had a lot of support in doing what I’ve done. This is nothing new to me because my mother raised over 100 foster children. So, that runs in the family.”

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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