Fr. Pfleger to take over troubled school?

March 17, 2011 12:18:55 PM PDT
Sources tell ABC7 that Cardinal Francis George has asked Father Michael Pfleger to leave St. Sabina Church to take over Leo High School, which is dealing with declining enrollment. Students and parents are worried about the school's future.

For years, there has been speculation that Cardinal George has wanted Father Pfleger to leave the parish and move to another location where he may be needed.

Residents near the church in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood will have no part with any move to remove their beloved Father Pfleger from their church and community.

"The work he's done as far as changing the community, without him, it would be rough. We want him to stay. I don't want him to go," said Dan Brown, St. Sabina supporter.

"I don't think I would like it. I would like him to stay over there," said another resident.

Father Pfleger has been a fixture in the community for 30 years. Many believe he is personally responsible for cracking down on gangs and drugs and making the area safer for residents.

Pfleger is passionate about St. Sabina, his parishioners, his community and the well being of the city. Hundreds flocked to hear his sermon last Sunday.

"You looking on to a man who has made his choice to hold on to God, wherever God takes me," said Father Pfleger at Mass.

Former sport editor of the Chicago Tribune sports and Leo graduate Dan McGrath took over the job of president for institutional advancement at the high school eight months ago.

"We've made great strides academically as well. There is a lot of good things going on here. But I will say that we have a good relationship with Father Pfleger. I think we're trying to perform the same mission, and I think we could work with him," McGrath said.

Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent Office of Catholic Schools, said, "any conversation Father Michael Pfleger may or may not have had regarding his future is a private personnel matter."

Principal Phil Mesina of Leo High School says they have not been contacted about the possibility that Father Pfleger may be coming to their school

"I have not been approached by the archdiocese or the Office of Catholic Schools about Father Pfleger. Father Pfleger is wonderful. He has established his relationship with us this past year," said Mesina.

ABC7 caught up with Father Pfleger while he was playing with his dog Wednesday. His board of directors asked him not to comment on camera.

Pfleger said he will release a statement later about the rumors.

According to Pfleger, St. Sabina has not received any money from the archdiocese since 1989 and operates independently. He believes it is one of the most successful African- American parishes in the country. Pfleger says he is committed to its growth and improvement and to the safety of his community.

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