Father Pfleger's reported move to Leo High School could be a good thing

Father Pfleger's reported move to Leo High School could be a good thing

St. Sabina’s Reverend Michael Pfleger

Sometimes there are exceptions to the rule; usually we find exceptions made in exceptional circumstances. Reverend Michael Pfleger has clearly been an exception and exceptional. Rev. Michael Pfleger has been at his post at St. Sabina Church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on Chicago’s south side since 1981. Typically, the Archdiocese permits priests to stay at one perish for roughly 10 years. Father Pfleger has been at St. Sabina for 30 years.

Recently, Father Pfleger was asked to leave his parish at St. Sabina. Father Pfleger recently confirmed the report that Cardinal Francis George asked him to leave St. Sabina, but refused to comment further, as he had sent a letter in response to the Cardinal’s request and is awaiting a reply.

St. Sabina church leaders also sent a letter to Cardinal Francis George asking that Pfleger remain as pastor of their church; the church leaders’ statement says removal of Pfleger would be devastating to the church and the community.

To say Reverend Pfleger has been active in the community of Auburn Gresham would be an understatement. He has been very visible in his fight against drugs, crime, violence, and the deterioration of his community. Because of his activism and leadership, many community members believe Auburn Gresham has improved. He has made it a better place to live. Dan McGrath, the current president of Leo High School, a couple blocks away from St. Sabina, said that the redevelopment of the neighborhood, particularly on 79th Street, is attributable to Pfleger.

It is McGrath’s Leo High School where it is rumored Pfleger will be reassigned. Leo has faced declining enrollment and an uncertain future, although a turnaround has been reported with an improving enrollment and financial picture.

Father Pfleger clearly wants to stay at St. Sabina. Although he probably has critics in his neighborhood, it appears his influence and activism has made that community a better place. If the rumors are true that Father Pfleger would move to Leo High School, then he would still be in the community fighting for high school students rather than his parish. Bringing his talents to that high school, could be a wonderful thing for the children in attendance at Leo. Although he won’t head St. Sabina, his influence in the community isn’t because he is the head of a church, but rather because he is involved in his community, which I doubt will change because of his reassignment to Leo High School.


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  • Michael Pfleger is a presence the same way that your slightly ADD cousin is included to every family party. Eyes bulging, he is a character in character. Yes, he's done good; no, he's not above the rules of the church, which is who he works for. He gets paid to do this and now, he's challenging his travellin' orders. He is, perhaps, seeing himself a superstar, and mustering up support from friends in his circles to protest his having to listen to Cardinal. Calling in the cameras and surrounding himself in a shroud of noise, he is less speaking for the catholic community than he is invoking the demons of personality, ego and narcissism. Ain't saying that he is, but I've seen a lot of people who get involved with causes more for self-gratification than self-sacrifice. for every Pfleger in the press there are 1,000 volunteers who will never get so much as a free cheeseburger, much less a spotlight. Pfleger is a Spotlight Kid who doesn't seem to know when to leave the stage to a successor.

    I like activists, overall, and Pfleger is very good at commanding media attention. But social problems are a continual thing, and we expect, at some time in the immediate future, that our social causes eventually self-regulate and figure it out themselves, otherwise, we're just enablers who keep feeding the symptoms without casting out the causes.

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