By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
“From Storefront to the World” is the theme for Saint Sabina’s 100th anniversary that officially kicked off Saturday with the children’s choir, the release of 100 balloons and 800 volunteers. The volunteers fanned out across the city doing what Father Michael L. Pfleger taught them to do — serve in the spirit of love and peace.
However, the celebration of this historic event really began on June 25th when Pfleger turned the ARC of Saint Sabina’s gym into a skating rink — a throw back to the family skating events once popular at the church.
Pfleger, who was ordained a priest by the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 14, 1975, was appointed pastor of Saint Sabina at the age of 31 in 1981 but was told the church would be shut down in a few months. Pfleger said he personally washed the walls vowing that closing Saint Sabina would never happen.
In 1981, Pfleger made history again adopting 8-year-old Lamar and Beronti, along with Jarvis Franklin in 1997; however, Franklin was caught in the crossfires of gang warfare and was killed on May 30, 1998.
While Father Pfleger has personally tasted the bitterness of life and today’s violence, he continues to fight back, marching every Friday night at 7 p.m., where he calls for peace and urge gangs to put down their guns.
Saturday was the year-long build up for the actual birthday of Saint Sabina making 100 years old and the work of many people, including Minister Kimberly Lymore, Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th), Jocelyn Jones, office manager Glenda Franklin and dozens more. Saturday, the 800 volunteers went to 46 sites performing acts of service on behalf of Saint Sabina Church, which was originally located at 7743 South Racine.
People were lined up outside of the parking lot waiting to get bags of fresh food and vegetables while cooks from an anonymous company prepared barbecue hamburgers for the 800 volunteers who had fanned across the city doing what Saint Sabinians are taught to do—serve people.
Leading by example, after kicking off the “Day of Service,” Father Pfleger made a number of stops including the Saint Sabina Academy where volunteers were busy making 500 sandwiches. He went to a vacant lot at 7701 S. Morgan and greeted volunteers busy at work. He visited the Ronald McDonald House in Hyde Park, Pfleger then went to Working Bikes at 2423 S. Western, where bikes are repaired before coming back to the church.
Some of the volunteers opted to work with seniors, others cleaned up yards including the play lot at Saint Sabina, visited the sick in the hospital, worked on a food pantry project, picked up donations and fed the homeless.
The latter was especially attractive to the Saint Sabina Sisterhood Ministry, which joined forces with their male counterparts, the Armor bearers. They visited the Boulevard Shelter, 3456 W. Franklin, where members fed the residents. The Armor bearers (men’s group) purchased the food and cooked the meals. Both distributed gift bags full of toiletries.
The Sisterhood then went to 79th and State Street to pass out leftover gift bags to women. They also went to 79th and the Red Line, as well as the viaduct under North Avenue and Ashland, where they gave out gift bags to homeless people.
It was a day for Saint Sabina members to show what Father Pfleger has taught them for 35 years that it is not what you do in church, but rather outside of the building. The 100th anniversary celebration is far from over. Saturday was just a taste of what’s to come.
At 7 p.m., on Sunday, October 2, 2016, Saint Sabina will host a 10 a.m. 100th Anniversary Worship Service followed by an open house of the entire church campus. On Saturday, October 29, the church will hold a gala dinner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 E. Wacker, where award-winning Yolanda Adams will perform.
For those wanting to reserve a room for this historic event, you may do so under the “St. Sabina Church Room Block,” by calling Central Reservations at: 1-888-421-1442.