Khalil White-El, an 18-year-old Chicago youth shot and killed in the city late last month, will be laid to rest with a Funeral Mass at St Sabina Catholic Church on Friday, September 2 at 11am CT.
The news of his killing was announced on August 23 by Fr Michael Pfleger, the pastor of the parish and a mentor to White through the church’s Strong Futures violence intervention initiative for young Black men.
“He was in our program, at our block party Friday, at our King Center yesterday showing off his uniform for his new job,” Pfleger said on social media.
“But tonight he's gone. What the hell is wrong? When do we stop killing each other?”
White, who had recently graduated high school and been hired at a local car wash, was shot multiple times in an alleyway on the evening of August 23, according to Chicago police. He was pronounced dead at the scene—just miles from St Sabina.
As with many murder cases in the city, no arrests have been made. Pfleger, on August 24, referred to the perpetrator(s) as “cowards and punks.”
“We will catch you,” he said on Facebook, just 10 days after offering a $10,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest in another shooting that wounded four and killed one in mid-August.
It was not the first time Pfleger has made such calls publicly in Chicago, one of the nation’s most dangerous cities in terms of gun violence and gang activity. Despite conducting the most background checks in the country for gun purchases, it has seen almost 2,000 people injured in shootings so far this year, and more than 400 killed. Statistics show that roughly half of both counts have come since late May.
St Sabina has long been a hub for activist responses, and the church currently hosts multiple such programs, including B.R.A.V.E. Youth Leaders (“Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere”) and Purpose Over Pain, a group founded by parents who have lost children in shootings.
Pfleger also leads weekly Friday Night Peace Walks every summer throughout the parish’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. On August 26, participants joined White’s family for a balloon release and prayer service in his memory.
“My heart is torn. A piece of my heart was taken from me,” his mother Regina Howard told local media that day.
White’s killing was the second notable case in as many months involving a young Black Catholic, following the police shooting of 22-year-old Jada Johnson during a mental health crisis earlier this summer in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Her funeral was held at St Patrick Catholic Church on July 15.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).