Afternoon Edition: Feb. 19, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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The Rev. Joseph Jablonski’s Catholic religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, has its U.S. base in Aurora and operates around world, with roughly 3,000 members.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be partly sunny with a chance of flurries and a high near 19 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 4 degrees. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 24 degrees, but there’s more snow expected Sunday before temperatures warm up.

Top story

California bishop banned priest, but that didn’t keep him from ministry around Chicago

While ministering in San Bernardino, California, in 2014, a Chicago-area priest named Joseph Jablonski told a boy something that prompted the bishop’s office there, when it found out, to notify the authorities and bar him from ever again ministering in that diocese.

The bishop’s office decided that Jablonski’s words — deemed to be an attempt at “grooming” for a possible sexual encounter — amounted to “sexual abuse,” according to records and interviews.

But that didn’t prevent Jablonski from continuing over the next several years to serve as a priest in other places — including Chicago, Aurora and Joliet.

That’s because, although the Diocese of San Bernardino immediately notified Jablonski’s religious order — the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, whose Chicago-area headquarters is in Aurora — the order, which describes what happened as “an inappropriate conversation,” kept things quiet.

“The provincial at the time didn’t feel any obligation to contact any other diocese,” the Rev. Richard Kennedy, who has led the order’s U.S. province since 2018, says of his predecessor.

“Whether or not that was prudent,” Kennedy says, Jablonski “was formally corrected and criticized” by his order “for getting himself in this situation.”

Kennedy says there have been no other substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse against Jablonski.

Jablonski, who’s now in his 70s, wasn’t charged with any crime in San Bernardino.

Kennedy says Jablonski is leaving the order, which operates around the world.

Read Robert Herguth’s full story on the handling of the allegations against Jablonski here.

More news you need

  1. Ninety-seven Black Cook County residents died by suicide in 2020 — the highest total for a single year in more than a decade. The alarming rise came as government officials fell short on pledges to improve suicide-prevention efforts.
  2. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today she retains “a thousand percent confidence” in CPD Supt. David Brown even after the inspector general’s scathing report of the department’s response to civil unrest last year. Lightfoot said the police department learned a lot from the critical review.
  3. Lightfoot today touted “major improvements” in getting the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of those in the city’s most vulnerable communities. The mayor said about 50% of first doses have been given to Black and Latino residents in the most recent week.
  4. Seven firefighters were injured in an extra-alarm fire this morning in Bridgeport on the South Side. One firefighter was taken to a hospital in critical condition from burns and smoke inhalation, police said.
  5. Nine more people saw their drug convictions tossed today by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office as part of an ongoing review of cases tied to disgraced former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts. As of this afternoon, 109 people have had their Watts-related convictions overturned.
  6. Some of the charges in a 2019 bribery indictment that implicated former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown will be dismissed, a judge said this morning. While Brown was never charged and denies wrongdoing, the case against Donald Donagher Jr. and Penn Credit Corporation has lingered.
  7. Florence Jones-Smith, the stylish head of the Mothers’ Board at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church who built a social media following posting photos of her Sunday outfits, died recently at age 94. Funeral services for Jones-Smith were held earlier this month.
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A bright one

Lost for four days, including during the snowstorm, Toby is home at last

A tear trickled from Toby’s eye, and it was almost possible to believe that his ordeal — four nights outside during one of the worst snowstorms in years — had all been too much for him.

But then he flopped down on the floor like a punctured souffle and dozed off. Perhaps he was just bored.

A few feet away, Toby’s owner, Nelly Roa, gushed about the police officers who helped to finally bring the lost 2-year-old German shepherd home Wednesday afternoon.


Nelly Roa kneels next to her dog, Toby, at a press conference about the efforts to find Toby who went missing after a mishap at the veterinarian at the 14th District Chicago Police Department In Palmer Square, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Toby’s ordeal began Saturday morning when he hurt his eye in Roa’s Albany Park backyard. Roa, 29, took her dog to the vet and then went home. When the vet’s office called a little later, it wasn’t to tell her the dog was ready to be picked up.

“They gave me a call, telling me, ‘We’re sorry, we lost your dog,’” Roa said. “I’m like, ‘What do you mean, you lost my dog?’” Somehow, the dog had slipped out of the facility and run away.

Police, Roa and her helpers finally cornered Toby at Division Street and Artesian Avenue on Wednesday afternoon. He was scared but otherwise in good shape, Roa said.

“Then he came to me — a little scared — and then I hugged him, and I haven’t let him go,” Roa said.

Read Stefano Esposito’s full story on the search for Toby here.

From the press box

Days before the window opens for the Bears to give Allen Robinson the franchise tag, the receiver made it clear he wouldn’t be thrilled if the team uses it. It’s expected the Bears will use the tag on Robinson if the two sides don’t reach a long-term deal soon.

The NHL postponed the Blackhawks-Hurricanes game set for tomorrow so Carolina can face the Lightning in a previously delayed matchup instead. The Hawks and Canes will still play tonight (6 p.m., NBCSCH) in Raleigh.

And Cubs outfielder Ian Happ defeated the club in their arbitration case, so he will make $4.1 million this year. The team had filed for Happ, who led the team in several hitting categories in 2020, to be paid $3.25 million.

Your daily question ☕

In honor of the recent opening of the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Old Town, who’s your favorite painter? Tell us why.

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s a positive habit you’ve developed during the pandemic? Here’s what some of you said...

My sister, mom, stepmom and I started having Zoom ‘meetings’ every Sunday during the lockdown. We have continued every Sunday since. It is the highlight of my week!” — Amy Brennan

Reading. I use the 90 minutes of commuting time I save by not driving to work to read. I’ve read more books in the last 11 months than I had read in the previous 4 years.” — Ed Ader

“Getting up at 5:30 to drink coffee and watch an episode of ‘Star Trek’ with my husband before setting forth on the day’s adventures.” — Carolyn Bowes

“Learning how to be comfortable alone a lot of the time during this pandemic.” — Angela Aquino-Fanella

“Cooking for myself more, no going out to eat every night!” — Lynne Lapierre

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