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St. Sabina parishioners ‘keep doing the work’ amid Pfleger investigation

While the activist priest Rev. Michael Pfleger remains on leave pending review of a decades-old abuse allegation, community efforts continue at his South Side parish.
Romance Anthony and her sons, Kamari and Kaylen, got free food from St. Sabina Church Saturday afternoon. The church also distributed free coats, presents and masks.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Families with young children in need of new winter gear on one of Chicago’s first snow days of the new year had to look no further than St. Sabina Church on the South Side Saturday.

As a wintry mix trickled down after a night of snowfall, the Auburn Gresham parish gave away 1,000 youth-sized winter coats and other accessories to families in need.

The church received the jackets from an anonymous donor last month, while the hats, scarves and gloves packaged in holiday wrapping paper were donated by Our Lady of Perpetual Health Church in Glenview.

Any remaining gear will be shared with the church’s social services.

“People look to St. Sabina to be able to help them out when they have a need, and that’s good,” said Kimberley Lymore, a longtime parishioner and associate minister at St. Sabina. “It’s always a fulfilling feeling that we get when we can help people.”

A family receives winter gear at St. Sabina Church Saturday afternoon.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, one of the most prominent figures in the Catholic community in Chicago, wasn’t at the coat drive. Pfleger stepped away from the parish earlier this month while the archdiocese investigates decades-old sexual abuse allegations against a minor.

St. Sabina parishioners and community members have rallied around Pfleger since the allegations surfaced Jan. 5.

About 300 supporters have signed a petition — or drafted their own letters — calling on a review board to expedite its investigation into the sexual abuse claims against Pfleger, Lymore said. The plan is to deliver the documents to the archdiocese next week.

None of it is distracting from St. Sabina’s community efforts, members said.

“We wanted to make sure that we keep doing the work because that’s what [Pfleger] wants us to do,” Lymore said. “We do it and... whoever comes, comes, and we just try to help them out as best we can.”