Chicago Pastor to Speak At King Banquet

By Rosanne Pellegrini
Contributing Staff

The Rev. Michael Louis Pfleger, who as pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago has been a leader in youth outreach, will be the featured speaker at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee Awards Banquet on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the Welch Dining Room of Lyons Hall.

More than 400 members and friends of the Boston College community are expected to attend the dinner. At the banquet, University President William P. Leahy, SJ will present the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, given annually to a Boston College junior of African-American descent whose achievements and aspirations echo the spirit of the slain civil rights leader. The scholarship covers three-quarters of the studentís senior-year tuition. Each scholarship candidate submits an essay on the impact of Kingís ideals on his or her life, with a plan to implement Kingís vision during a senior-year project.

This yearís scholarship finalists are Rhoda Nanre Nafziger of Boston; Alvin Barnett of Garden City, NY; Rochelle Webb of Marietta, Ga; and Ariel Paredes of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Since 1968, Fr. Pfleger has lived and ministered in the African-American community on both the West and South sides of Chicago. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1975. In 1981, at age 31, he became the youngest full pastor in the diocese when he was appointed pastor of Saint Sabina Church.

During the course of his ministry, he has founded several programs and organizations, many aimed at youth outreach. They include a hotline to help youths free themselves of gang involvement and report drug or gang activity, and a community center that offers free programs six days a week to some 300 youths per day.

In addition, Fr. Pfleger established a center for employment resources, a retreat for inner-city churches and groups, and an 80-unit senior facility scheduled to open in July. He also created a Social Service Department which assists some 1,200 individuals per month in meeting food, clothing, counseling and job information needs.

A dedicated activist who has led campaigns against guns and gangs, alcohol, tobacco and drugs, Fr. Pfleger has been recognized for his commitment to equality with numerous awards. His 1999 honors include the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Martin Luther King Jr. Award; the American Council on Alcohol Problems Distinguished Service Award; the South Central Community Service, Inc. Spiritual Leadership Award; and the Association of Chicago Priests Pope John XXIII Award.

Fr. Pfleger serves on several boards of directors and advisory boards, and is a member of numerous community organizations and committees.

The Feb. 9 banquet also will feature a performance by The Voices of Imani. For information on purchasing tickets to the event, contact Nampeera Kayondo at ext.2-4756.

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