CHICAGO (STMW) – “Like Albertina Walker said, I’m still here,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church, told parishioners Sunday, quoting the late gospel singer.

His words drew cheers from the packed South Side church, even though the question of just how long the community activist priest will continue as St. Sabina’s pastor remains unanswered.

Pfleger said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday he has not yet received a reply to a letter he sent to the Archdiocese of Chicago regarding his future at St. Sabina, where he has served as pastor since 1984 and wants to remain in that role.

Pfleger confirmed earlier this month that Cardinal Francis George has asked him to leave St. Sabina, prompting his response letter. Pfleger has declined to confirm reports that he has been asked to take over nearby Leo Catholic High School, which has experienced declining enrollment.

“I still feel I’ve got work to do here (at St. Sabina), and I’m going to try to continue to do it,” Pfleger said Sunday.

St. Sabina church leaders sent a letter to Cardinal Francis George asking that Pfleger remain pastor at the church. There he is credited with helping build the largest and most active African-American Catholic parish in the city.

“I prefer that he stays because he’s been a big asset to the neighborhood and the church,” 74-year-old Margie Sharpe said as she awaited the start of church service. She said she has been a member at St. Sabina since 1984.

Asked what impact it would have on the church if Pfleger had to leave, she said “I’m not sure, but I know we’ll all miss him.”

Losing Pfleger as St. Sabina’s pastor would be “very sad,” said Gail Pierce, who as been a member at the church for about one year.

“I have not been a devout person coming to church every Sunday until I joined here,” 52-year-old Pierce shared. “I love his ministry. I love the way he teaches. I love the things he does in the community.”

But she said Pfleger would be an asset to Leo High School.

“If he goes there, I think it would be great for the school, but I think he’s really needed as our spiritual guider here as well. I don’t know if he could do both. If he could do both, that would be great.”

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

Watch & Listen LIVE