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Mothers unveil memorial wall of slain children on Mother’s Day

MarshLee (center) other mothers attend unveiling memorial Sunday St. SabinChurch. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Marsha Lee (center) and other mothers attend the unveiling of a memorial Sunday at St. Sabina Church. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 25, 2011 12:29AM

On a bright Sunday morning, children around the city celebrated their mothers while a group of mothers gathered at St. Sabina Church to remember their children lost to violence.

For the past three years, the South Side church has been a Mother’s Day refuge for these women on what many call “the hardest day of the year.”

In an emotional ceremony, the mothers, who come from Chicago and suburbs, unveiled a memorial wall featuring photographs of more than 70 sons and daughters who have died. Located at 78th and Racine on the church’s lawn, it is a stark reminder of the loss these women face every minute of every day.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger greeted the mothers with hugs and words of support. He offered an opening prayer, asking God to “wrap your arms around each of these mothers. Hold them and make them strong.”

Pfleger, who has been suspended from his ministry by Cardinal Francis George, then stepped aside, allowing the mothers to reconfirm why they stand strong together.

“We are here to support each other and make sure the children are never forgotten,” said Annette Holt, who lost her 16-year-old son Blair four years ago. “But our goal is to change things so other mothers don’t join our sorority.”

Marsha Lee never thought she would be in this position. Her son Thomas, 20, was killed in 2008 outside a convenience store. Police suspect it was an attempted robbery; the killer has never been caught.

Lee feels there is someone out there who has information about her son’s murder.

“We need to stop the code of silence,” Lee said firmly. “Whoever killed my son probably killed before and will kill again.”

Mothers holding red roses crowded around the memorial to point out their children. Tears flowed.

“We are tired of crying at funerals,” said Pamela Hester-Jones of the Save Our Children Campaign. “It’s time to stop the madness.”

Pfleger, who declined to comment on his current situation, did state why St. Sabina stands with these women on Mother’s Day and throughout the year.

“We do this to support the mothers,” Pfleger said. “This is a genocide in America . . . and we want people to see this memorial and never forget.”

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