Pfleger: ‘My desire is to remain at Saint Sabina’

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Ball is in Cardinal George’s court


By Chinta Strausberg


Echoing what he said during a recent town hall meeting held at Saint Sabina, an “emotionally stretched” Father Michael L. Pfleger Sunday said his “desire is to remain at Saint Sabina” where he has turned that house of worship scheduled to close in three-months upon his arrival into one of the largest and most successful Black Catholic churches in America.

For the second time within a decade, Cardinal Francis George has asked Father Pfleger to leave Saint Sabina but this time to head the academically failing all male, black Leo High Catholic High School. Some supporters suggested perhaps Pfleger could head both the church and the school. His parishioners are opposed to his leaving the church.

Before addressing an overflow crowd and a bevy of cameras rolling, Pfleger asked that his favorite song, “I Love the Lord” be sang. It’s a song he listens to over and over again when he’s going through one of his many storms.

 “I have sent a response to the Cardinal and now I must wait for his response and it would be both wrong and unfair to say anything in that letter until I gave him an opportunity to respond.”

Pfleger said he has sent the Cardinal his response that included his thoughts and am awaiting a response. “I’ve also said to you, because you’ve asked me consistently over this last week, my desire is to remain at Saint Sabina. That’s my desire. That’s where I want to be,” Pfleger told a cheering crowd.

However, he made it very clear that “Saint Sabina will not fall apart or the community will not be devastated because of Mike Pfleger or what happens to Saint Sabina because God is still God.

“What we have tried to do here that is significant to me is that we have tried to present a model of worship that is authentically Catholic but it is a different expression and we’ve tried to present for the church universal that there is a model that is different that can work that will feed people and that will allow people to come and feel empowered not just who loves God but demonstrate their love in their lives,” he said.

“It just seems to me that while churches are struggling to stay open and while particularly throughout this country and in Chicago African American churches are struggling to stay open that if there is a church that has presented a different model and since 1989 has not taken one dime from the Archdiocese of Chicago, we ought to want to value something that is good and let’s look at it.”

The Archdiocese is only saying that the talks are confidential.

Pfleger added, “My life is in God’s hands. What happens at Saint Sabina is in God’s hands, but you know what? There are much more serious issues. Japan is struggling to survive. We, over the last 24-hours, have joined with other super powers and are bombing Libya, a civil war.

“I don’t quite understand we want to get involved with Libya, but we don’t want to do anything about Darfur,” a somber Pfleger said as the audience applauded in approval.

And to add insult to injury, Pfleger referred to the state of Utah and its recent adding to its official list of state symbols a John M. Browning M1911 pistol. Up until early March, Utah had 24 official state symbols that ranged from a tree to a Dutch oven.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. military that opted to use the John M. Browning weapon, Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Utah) introduced the bill, which was signed by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

“This is the first state in America, my God help us…. States have state birds. States have state flowers; have state dogs and different things. We understand that.” However, Pfleger said Utah went beyond the pale by passing a bill that gives the state a firearm as a state symbol. “How sick is that,” said Pfleger. “Now they’ve taken a gun that was created for the military and it is now the state gun.

“When you look at parents struggling to find food, people being bombed in Libya and I am not standing and supporting” the bombing of that nation. “Why are we bombing Libya? And then Utah has a state gun. There are bigger issues. I’ll be fine, but we need to pray” for the safety of our nation. “We need to be much more concern about the issues that are killing us as a world and as a people,” said Pfleger.

Before Pfleger began preaching his sermon, entitled “His Glory Will Be Revealed,” he made a disclaimer for fear someone would try to “trap” him by putting out an erroneous report on the You Tube. “Don’t take this and I’m preaching my story,” he said.

Referring to some of his members, Pfleger said, “Sitting out here this morning, are people battling cancer, people battling kidney problems, people who have lost jobs…homes…apartments, people whose marriages are going through….” Pfleger said his sermon could be about many of them but that “I’m going to get my piece in there, too.”

He asked the congregation to turn to 1 Peter 4:12-13 which is entitled “Suffering for Being a Christian”– 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

“One of the most difficult things for any of us to deal with is the sovereignty of God because it is his sovereignty that stretches us into uncomfortable places. It is his sovereignty to new dimensions. We always say we want to go to new dimensions, but the truth is we have to be stretched to go to the new dimensions. We want to get there, but we don’t want to grow to get there,” he said.

“It is the sovereignty that reserves the right so God to do what He wants without having to explain himself and that stretches us,” he said. “Stretching ain’t easy.”

Pfleger said many times God allows things to happen which sometimes helps to “mature…shape us and form us and calls us to become who he needs us to become. He will allow stuff to happen to bring us to places he wants us to be.”

As an example, Pfleger told them of the time when Paul had a thorn in his side. Paul begged God to remove the thorn from him. “God said no…but my grace is sufficient.” Pfleger said Paul “was mature enough to say, ‘Well, I glory in my infirmities.’”

“Sometimes, God will allow us to go through something to use us as an example,” Pfleger said referring to Abraham who was going to kill his son but God stopped him. “God said, ‘I needed to prove everybody that you could be trusted.;”

Pfleger said, “Sometimes God will take us through experiences to send the devil a message…to let the devil know that He has his hands on his anointed.” “David said that He will even prepare a table for you in the sight of your enemy…to let you know you’re my child.”

“God will let you know I will cover you and protect you and let the devil know while you are going through your hell devil, you picked the wrong person this time.

“You can’t give in to intimidation and pity because while you are going through your stuff, God will let the devil know you shouldn’t have picked her.”

“But, when you’re going through stuff, do you ever wonder how will this bless me”? “If He allows it, He will bless you before it is all over.”

Pfleger said he recently got a telephone call from a 28-year-old man who wanted to turn himself in to the police. He asked Pfleger to help him turn himself in but said he wanted to kill himself. Pfleger told him, “Don’t ever talk suicide” because “after awhile you will get through this. Just wait awhile. Speak to yourself because this too will past…. God is able to carry you through….”

Monday, March 21, 2011, Pfleger said he would stand with the young man as he turns himself over to the police.

When you are going through a storm, Pfleger said, “It’s hard to see the blessing” and they don’t understand that “His foot is on the wheel. His hand is on the clay….”

“God told me to tell you what ever the enemy throws in your life, God will make a blessing out of it,” bellowed Pfleger.

“Tests and trials are a reality of life,” he told the church. “If you are seeking to follow Christ, you will have trouble. There will be persecutions. Don’t forget that the symbol of our faith is a cross. It’s now a crown. It’s a cross…. That is why a lot of churches don’t have crosses anymore.

“Peter tells them tests are a reality; so he tells them if we don’t test our reality, you must be prepared and be ready because God is ready to mold us like play dough.” “Just like in school, if you know a test is coming, you ought to be prepared.”

“But, He said pick up your cross and follow me,” said Pfleger emphasizing they will have trials. “If you are not experiencing any trials, you should be nervous because if you are not experiencing any trials, that means you are not a threat to Satan.”

Pfleger told them they have greatness in them which guarantees trouble will come your way.

He gave them good news “all our tests are open book,” Pfleger said holding up the bible. “Once you have studied for the test, you have to perform it…. If you have studied, prepared yourself, then you should be able to get to a place of maturity that says, ‘devil, I’m ready, bring it on.’”

“The devil is a loser. He’s already lost. They have beaten us down so much that we think we’re victim mentality, they can’t take it….” He asked the church to say, “I am an over-comer….I will pass” any test.

Pfleger said after preparation comes performance followed by promotion. “Tests will come…. Trials bring substance to your testimony. There are no test-less testimonies…. You cannot participate in the resurrection, if you’re not willing to participate in the suffering….

“I got to go through what He went through so I sit in the High place he called me to sit. There is no crown without a cross,” Pfleger said.  “There is no glory without a story.”

Here is an example of just a few services Saint Sabina provides under the leadership of Father Michael L. Pfleger. This is a report for August 2010. Given the economy, these numbers have increases. These are the latest statistics:


employment resource center (for august 2010)


One-on-One employment coaching                                                             508

One-on-one financial coaching                                                                   20

One-on-one public benefits assistance                                                        12

ERC Services given to clients:                                                               1257

            resumes created or updated/improved                                           193

            Mock interviews                                                                            63

            Workshops conducted                                                                   16

            Client support: bus pass, uniforms, id cards                                   25

            Job leads handed out                                                                 1719

            job leads posted on job board                                                      140

            Clients conducting on line job searches                                        558

            Clients using free phone for job searches                                     124

            Job Applications/Resumes to employers                                         334

            email accounts set up                                                                    42

            free voice mail accounts set up                                                       0

            Credit reports pulled                                                                   30

             Credit reports scored                                                                 14

            Employers/training providers contacted                                        29

            Aldermen’s Offices Contacted                                                       0           

            referral to social services agencies                                             21

Assistance Applications (food  stamps, Circuit Breaker)                                          12

                          Reported job placements adults                                     42

Reported job placements youth                                                                61

Total                        103


social services


Individuals receiving food                                                                   2121

individuals receiving clothing                                                               398

shelter referrals                                                                                   4

substance abuse referrals                                                                      0

other services (i.e. advocacy & counseling)                                           836              

rent, transportation, emer. fund                                                   $12,050


The ARK of St. Sabina

August Monthly Report


During the month of August, The ARK of St. Sabina served approximately 125 students per day through the following programs: Teen REACH, Project Umoja, Safety Net Works, Karate, Arts and Crafts, Open Gym, Chess Club, Homework Assistance, Men’s Night Basketball, Boys to Men Life Skills Group, Cheerleading, Girl Power Life Skills Group, Tweenagers Life Skills Group, Young Men’s Club Life Skills Group, Friday Night Live, and use of the Activity/Game Room.

On Wednesday nights The ARK of St. Sabina hosts “Men’s Night Basketball”, which was started to give men 18 years of age and older an alternative to the streets. The Men’s Night basketball attracts men from across the city and it has been successful in having its desired result. During the month of August, about 35 men per Wednesday night participated in our Men’s Night Basketball.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host.

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