Father Michael Pfleger: “We got a war going on out there’

Needs ‘boots on the ground’ to combat violence
By Chinta Strausberg
Beginning with the elders and referring to Joseph who raised Jesus, Father Michael L. Pfleger Sunday called all fathers to the altar charging them to be the Joseph’sof their communities and to be the foster fathers of the youth who may be fatherless because “there’s a war out there” and he needs “boots on the ground” if peaceis to prevail.
“We need you like we never did before,” Pfleger said towards the end of his annual Father’s Day progam where long time Saint Sabina members Phil Hunter, who is
the director of the churches Employment Resource Center, and Cory Williams th eofficer manager for the past 14-years, were keynote speakers.
Pfleger told the fathers when he tells young men on the street that he loves them the youth tell him no man has ever told them that. Pfleger said we have to make sure that our children know they are loved.
Asking for their presence at Friday’s, June 21, 2013, 7 p.m. “Occupy the Streets”peace march being held at Saint Sabina, 78th Place & Throop Streets, which marks the last day of public school and the beginning of what he wants to be a peaceful summer for the children, Pfleger said, “We must take back our streets.
“Since last Friday night, 6 people were killed and 29 shot. That is more than a classroom of people shot…. We have to be present in the street. There is a war out there…and we must be soldiers. We must be the boots on the ground,” Pfleger said urging them to stand up for the community. “
While police officials claim crime is down compared to last year, Father Pfleger said he’s been paying attention to the body count and he has his doubts. “Enough of the killing,” he said urging everyone to join him this Friday for a massive show of unity in demanding peace in our streets.
Earlier, Williams, a member of Saint Sabina since 1984 who was married in the church in 2007, was born in Chicago and is an only child. Pfleger said recently Williams told him he had a job offer but after Pfleger, whom he called his “spiritual father who has brought me closer to God,” matched that offer he decided to remain at the church.
Saying he is grateful for the men God placed in his life including Pfleger and family members, Williams said he grew up an angry man because his father was taken from him at a young age having been a victim of gun violence that left him to “grow up with a huge hole in my heart….”
When he learned he was going to be a father, Williams, who was raised by a single mother, said, “I did not know what it was like to be a dad…had no concept ofbeing a good father.” He said dads play so many roles in the lives of children.“We should give them what they deserve…but there is one gift we should always give them…the gift of introducing them to our Holy Father…to God. That is the most important gift we can give them….”
Looking back over his life, Williams said he knows God is his protector. He told of a time when he went on a skiing trip. His car went off the road. What stopped the car was a rock. “That is why I know God is my rock.” There was another time when he was wearing his friend’s jacket and was accosted by five individuals who tried to take his friend’s jacket at gunpoint. “I told them no. I was surrounded by five men.”  “My God showed up,showed he had my back and they had no choice but to flee.” He challenged parents to teach their children about God.
In addressing the church, Hunter said there are different types of fathers but all playing the same role including being “a hedge of protector” around theirfamilies. “As a father, you want to protect your children…. We know what’s out there and we want to make sure you don’t come into harmsway.”
Hunter is the fourth of five children and he and his wife have been members at Saint Sabina since the early1990’s.  Hunter said fathers have to be providers for their families. When Hunter worked at the steel industry, he worked double shifts and held several jobs around Christmas time just to buy toys for his children.
Parenthood, said Hunter changed his priorities in life because God had given him the giftof children. “I thank God for my children. He saved my life by giving me those children….”
Hunter said men must maintain a presence in their children’s lives and that just because you made a baby does not mean you are a father. “There’s something about being accountable to the children that makes you a father.” Hunter said there are too many absent fathers and that “we need to get away from that.”
While his dad provided for his family, Hunter said his father was not present in his life, as he would have liked.  His daughter opened his eyes when she asked him to be more involved in heractivities. “My children deserve that,” he said.
Hunter said the role of a father is to show children the right way…to make the right choices in life and to teach children to take responsibilities for their actions, to be the disciplinarian and the encourager for their children. “As fathers, we must be examples for our kids….” He also advised men to tell their children they love them.
Father Pfleger asked Lt. Col. Antonio Baggett, a father of ten who is an Army Chaplain, to pray.