By Gordon Nary
Gordon: When and why did you join St. Sabina’s parish?
Kimberly: I joined St. Sabina in July of 1983. I was searching for a church home that could feed my spirit. A friend of mine was living up the street and heard the church bells one Sunday. The next Sunday he attended and called me afterwards. I came the following Sunday and have been here ever since.
Gordon: Please provide our readers and overview of St. Sabina’s Worship & Praise Ministry?
Kimberly: St. Sabina has a very vibrant worship service. The music is a mixture of gospel, what is called praise and worship music made popular by Hosanna Music, Hillsong music and sometimes a traditional hymn is sung. We hear sermons that we can relate to in our everyday lives. But also, we hear sermons about how we as Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ and that requires us to be social justice advocates.
Gordon: How has gun violence affected St. Sabina’s parish?
Kimberly: Someone knows someone that has been killed by gun violence. It this community it is not unusual to hear gun fire on a regular basis. Pastor Michael Pfleger’s foster son was killed by gun violence. Unfortunately, gun violence is EVERY WHERE. Even in those communities that believe they are in a “safe neighborhood.”
Dodging bullets have become a way of life for our young people. When asked “what do they want to be when they grow up?” Their answer is “alive.” That is a sad statement.
Gordon: What can all of our parishes do to help reduce gun violence and murders in Chicago?
Kimberly: Get involved, write letters to legislators to put into place common sense gun laws and mandatory background checks. If gun violence is not in your community, partner with organizations/churches who are doing things to combat this issue.
Gordon: What social media resources does St. Sabina’ parish use in connecting with your parishioners
Kimberly: Email and Facebook are the main social media resources. Also there is a live webcast of our 11:15 service each week.
Gordon: What was the response to your article A Black Catholic Lay Woman’s Views on Pope Francis’ Visit to the United States ?
Kimberly: I was asked by Dr. Linda Thomas to submit that article. I honestly can say that I have not received any response.
Gordon: Please provide our readers with an overview of your responsibilities as Director, Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program Catholic Theological Union.
Kimberly: I just recently became the Director of the Tolton Program at CTU. Dr. C. Vanessa White was the director for 18 years. I believe it is the only program like it in the United States that prepares Black Catholic lay men and women to do ministry in the Black Catholic Church.
Mainly, I am responsible for the 6 scholars we currently have in the program (i.e. some advising, directing, making sure they adhere to CTU/Tolton requirements, assist with their formation as lay ministers, recruit new scholars, and most importantly work with CTU Development to raise money for the program so we can continue to bring additional scholars into the program.
However, many of our Black Catholic churches cannot afford to hire a full-time/part time lay minister. The graduates from the program usually are bi-vocational. They work in corporate America and do ministry in their church. I am one of the fortunate ones who are able to work full-time as the Pastoral Associate at St. Sabina. The CTU position is part-time.
Gordon: Could you comment on Peter Finney, Jr’s , article in the National Catholic Reporter As church demographics shift, Catholics urged to address 'sin of racism'?
Kimberly: Racism is in the DNA of America, so therefore it is in the Roman Catholic Church. With the election of this new president who got elected in spite of his racial rhetoric, mistreatment of women, mocking of the disabled and lack of respect to veterans, that has opened the door for more overt racism than we have seen in a while.
A lot of time St. Sabina, specifically, Fr. Pfleger is on the frontline of issues in Chicago. We get a lot of hate calls in our office. The callers usually identify themselves as a “devout Catholic.” We have a lot of work to do in the church in order to dismantle the racism that is present.
Yes, racism is a sin and must be addressed from the pulpit and by the hierarchy of the church. However, it must be more than rhetoric. There has to be tangible actions to back up their words. The leadership and example of Pope Francis is good. He is a radical leader. Jesus was radical. He is following Jesus’ example. Now let us do the same.
Gordon: Thank you for an insightful interview and I hope that our readers wll considering making a donation to the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program.