Pfleger tells St. Sabina he wants to stay

March 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

During Sunday's mass, Pfelger made his first extensive remarks since it was reported last week that Cardinal Francis George asked him to leave St. Sabina to lead Leo High School.

Pfelger has been pastor of the South Side church since 1981.

The popular priest received a standing ovation from his parishioners during a mass where Pfleger made it clear he wants to stay.

With energy and flair, Fr. Michael Pfleger has given St. Sabina parishioners a mass that he calls authentically Catholic but with a very different expression.

For 30 years, the priest known as "Father Mike" has called the South Side parish his home, and Pfleger would like to keep it that way.

"I've also said to you, because you have asked me consistently over this last week, that it is my desire to remain at St. Sabina," Pfleger said.

According to reports, Cardinal Francis George has asked Pfleger to leave St. Sabina to lead Leo High School, an all-male catholic school.

St. Sabina parishioners do not want to see their popular pastor go.

"As a new member, I came and have been inspired by Father Pfleger. Him preaching the word totally turned my life around. I would be very devastated if he left," said St. Sabina parishioner Cynthia O'Brien

"My heart tells me he is going to stay," said St. Sabina parishioner H. Mark Williams.

"We love our pastor. I know I love him dearly. He preaches the word of God and so we have to trust in God," said St. Sabina parishioner

And trusting in God is what Pfleger told his congregation Sunday.

Cardinal George, who was attending mass in Bridgeport, would not talk about the Pfleger situation. He will make the final decision about where Pfleger goes.

Over the years, Pfleger has had a strained relationship with the Chicago Archdiocese.

The activist priest was even suspended for mocking Hillary Clinton during her presidential run.

If he leaves, Pfleger says life will go on at St. Sabina.

"St. Sabina will not fall apart or the community will not be devastated because of Mike Pfleger or what happens to St. Sabina because God is still God," Pfleger said.

Pfleger told his parishioners that they should spend more time worrying about the situation in Libya and Japan than his future.

Pfelger says he has sent a response by letter to Cardinal George. His is now waiting for the Cardinal to respond.

Archdiocese officals say the Cardinal does not publically discuss meetings with clergy.

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