History of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina
The history of the Faith Community of St Sabina is a celebration of life that gives witness to a legacy of faith, education, and service. This proud tradition of service began on July 9, 1916, when the first Mass was celebrated in a storefront on South Racine Avenue. Toward the close of 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, the parish took on the formidable task of constructing a cathedral-like Upper Church. The perseverance and pioneering spirit of the parishioners paid off. On Sunday, June 18,1933, St Sabina's beautiful new church was dedicated by George Cardinal Mundelein.
The parish thrived as the center of religious and social activities in the community. It was the original site of Chicago's St Patrick's Day Parade and St Sabina's Community Center (now the ARK) quickly gained a city-wide reputation for its Sunday dances, roller-skating parties and basketball tournaments.
During the 1960s when the racial makeup of the community began to change, St. Sabina, under the leadership of Monsignor John A. McMahon, opened its doors to the new African-American residents, unlike many other churches in the area. Today, St Sabina is a strong and prophetic faith community that continues to "celebrate history and make history." It is a church that speaks to the cultural, social and spiritual needs of the black faithful, yet has broken down the walls of race and denomination so that all feel welcome.
In November 1990, St. Sabina raised more than $ 100,000 to payoff its financial debt to the Archdiocese of Chicago. St Sabina continues to be a tithing, self-sufficient church despite the challenges of maintaining superstructure buildings. There are approximately 200 full and part-time staff members who work joyously for the Lord in this endeavor.
The spirit of self-determination possessed by St. Sabina members and nurtured by Rev. Pfleger extends beyond the walls of the church. During the summer months, Rev. Pfleger leads church members in ministering in the neighborhood on Friday nights to bring a presence of love and peace to the troubled streets. The men of the church have engaged in outreach to prostitutes and there have been numerous evangelization efforts throughout the community.
These efforts have resulted in a community that is revitalized and reborn. An Osco drug store and LaSalle bank opened new facilities in the 79th street commercial corridor. New housing developments are cropping up in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood and property values are on the rise.
Rev. Pfleger is a committed, dedicated man of God who values and holds his priesthood in the highest esteem. God's presence and power, alive and active in Rev. Pfleger, has empowered St. Sabina to take a prophetic stance and has allowed God's desires to become realized in this parish and the surrounding community.
Under the unique leadership of Rev. Pfleger, St Sabina has become a progressive force in the city of Chicago and has served as an example of active faith for the entire nation. Giving witness to the Christian doctrines of love, peace, and justice, Rev. Pfleger has used his spiritual gifts of faith and vision to fight the sins of injustice in every form: racism, the retail sale of drug paraphernalia and grain alcohol, and the proliferation of alcohol and tobacco billboards in the African-American community.
St. Sabina has received both national and international attention for its spirit-filled worship and impact on social justice issues. St. Sabina has been the host to numerous national and international leaders who have come to experience the vibrant church with a liturgy rich in African tradition. St. Sabina is recognized in the community as a beacon of hope and an outpost of love. St. Sabina is a meeting place where God inhabits the praise of His people and where His people embrace the wonder of His awesome presence. It is Holy Ground.