Chicago Honors, Remembers Mandela with Prayers

By Regina Waldroup
|  Sunday, Dec 8, 2013  |  Updated 5:42 PM CDT
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Dozens of Chicagoans flocked to Saint Sabina Church for a prayer service honoring Nelson Mandela.

Dozens of Chicagoans flocked to Saint Sabina Church for a prayer service honoring Nelson Mandela.

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A mass of people gathered at Chicago's Saint Sabina Church Sunday to remember the late Nelson Mandela.

“I can’t help thinking about who he was, and not just the last 24 hours, but what he was in last 95 years,” said Father Michael Pfleger.

Sunday services around the world honored the man who changed the face of South Africa with a day of prayer, holding him up as the "Father of the Nation" and as a global beacon of integrity, rectitude and reconciliation.

The day of prayers in South Africa begins an official program of mourning that includes a memorial service in a Johannesburg stadium on Tuesday.

Mandela's body will lie in state at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, from Wednesday to Friday, followed by a state funeral next Sunday at Mandela's Eastern Cape ancestral home of Qunu - expected to be one of the biggest gatherings of world leaders in modern history.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Former President George W. Bush and his wife, will travel to South Africa for the services.

“His story is something that well never forget,” said worshiper Juanita Cummings-Brown.

“He was the [Martin Luther King] of South Africa,” said worshiper Frederick Sivels.

Father Thulani Magwaza, who is from South Africa, said Mandela was more than just a great man.

“He had an idea that he went to prison for,” he said.

Now an associate pastor at Saint Sabina, Father Magwaza says Mandela was a liberator and reconciler, but people also need to remember he was a fighter who stood for everyone’s rights.

“People tend to look at Mandela post-Robben Island,” he said. “There was a Mandela before freedom. There was a struggle before there was freedom.”

Mandela served 27 years in prison and walked away without bitterness in his heart.

Father Magwaza challenges others to live that lesson every day.

“Mandela’s walk to freedom has come to an end, but the walk to freedom for South Africa, for the world, is not over yet,” he said.

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