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Chicago Priest From South Africa Says Mandela ‘Made Us Believe In Ourselves’

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Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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(CBS) – Nelson Mandela touched so many lives – including that of a Chicago Catholic priest originally from South Africa.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker talked with Thulani Magwaza, an associate pastor at St. Sabina’s Church.

Mandela’s death at age 95 was announced Thursday afternoon. Magwaza wanted to focus on Mandela’s life and his achievements, particularly his election as president of South Africa.

“To see the first black man in the presidency, it made me cry,” he said Thursday. “It made me cry because it said to me Mandela has removed all the barriers, he had removed all the obstacles, he had removed all the things we thought we could not do. And he made us believe in ourselves. He made us believe in our potential. He made us believe that if we aim high nothing is impossible.”

Magwaza says because of Mandela’s spiritual strength on the days that he was freed from prison, his oppressors were freed as well.

Father Michael Pfleger, the priest most associated with St. Sabina, says he was honored to have had a 15-minute conversation with Mandela and felt “overwhelmed.”

Like Magwaza, he admires Mandela’s ability to forgive the people who did him wrong.

“Real power and real character is when you have the ability to retaliate but instead you meet them with forgiveness and justice,” Pfleger says.

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