By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
More than 1,000 people packed the Hyatt Regency Hotel on October 29 celebrating The Faith Community of Saint Sabina’s 100th anniversary—“A century of Discipleship: From Storefront to the World”—a church that sits on “Holy Ground.”
Senior Pastor Father Michael L. Pfleger and Rev. (Pastor) Thulani D. Magwaza were so proud of the turnout. “We sold out at 1,000,” Pfleger boasted very pleased at the number of people who showed their support.
The evening was peppered with welcoming words from Father Pfleger and Windy City Live co-host Val Warner, but it was the entertainment that shaped the atmosphere and had the audience clapping and literally dancing in the aisles.
Saint Sabina’s children’s Selah Choir, directed by Sam Williams, received a standing ovation, but it was the keynoter, gospel legend and anointed singer Yolanda Adams, that mesmerized the audience.
Singing a medley of songs, Adams took her audience into the soul of gospel music at times rapping in a spiritual way while teaching them about life’s lessons like how to stay away from foolishness on controversial social media threads.
She would take four words like “the blood of Jesus” and send the crowd into a frenzy repeating them over and over again, or when she would say, “I know what prayer can do…” as she rapped about life’s challenges, its temptations and how we fall but get back up again.
When Adams sings, she puts her whole soul and body into each lyric as if the Holy Ghost was upon her. At one point, Adams voice reached a harmonic crescendo causing Father Pfleger to grab his head in sheer joy.
In Pfleger’s anniversary book, Archbishop Blasé J. Cupich, who visited Saint Sabina on March 6, 2016, wrote, “Your history is indeed a proud one in the Archdiocese as noted in your gala’s theme. ‘From Storefront to the World: a century of Discipleship.’ From the first celebration of mass in 1916 in a storefront church on Racine Avenue, Saint Sabina has developed into a parish known around the world as a place where people can experience what the gospel is all about; a place of prayer and worship where parishioners champion justice and transform lives.
“Your history embraces the heritage of the founding members of Irish descent, as well as the present members of predominantly African American heritage and many other ethnicities, all of whom have enriched the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood with vibrant faith, education and service.
“The gift of Catholic faith that you share is precious and I assure you that our entire Archdiocesan family is grateful for your hundred years of faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ…” wrote Cupich.
Father Pfleger wrote about Saint Sabina’s rich history and how “many a saint has walked upon this Holy Ground and come to know the Lord ‘in the breaking of the bread.’
“The tradition that began Saint Sabina in a small storefront has continued and the cup, indeed, runneth over. Saint Sabina is today a shining light on a hilltop…a light of faith, education and service—not just to those who enter its doors, but to the church itself and to the world.”
“Our sanctuary has been a Holy Ground where souls have trembled and wept and healing and miracles have been made manifest,” Pfleger wrote. “But most of all it is where God’s word has been proclaimed and faith has come in the hearing of His Word…. It is indeed a place where one can come and stand still and know ‘God is.’”
Saint Sabina is also a church where many people have been healed especially from cancer with some members experiencing the return of cancer four different times.
It is a place where Ondelee Perteet, a teenager who in 2009 was shot at a party leaving him a paraplegic, defied his doctor’s predictions that he would never walk, like recently when he honored 12 former gang leaders who are all working full-time jobs, or Pfleger’s brokering a peace treaty among six rival gangs in the Auburn Gresham community and forcing area stores to hire blacks, but one miracle will never be forgotten.
Having received prayer from Father Pfleger, Perteet walked on his own to the altar right into Pfleger’s open arms. That is just one of many miracles that have happened at 1210 W. 78th Place—a church Father Pfleger says sits on “Holy Ground.”
“As we move forward in our journey toward Heaven, may we continue to walk by faith and not by sight. May we continue to behold and fall in love with the Christ who lives in us. May we continue to be consumed by the fire of the Holy Ghost and may we always be anchored in His Word.”
By video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated Saint Sabina for its 100th anniversary.