Father Clements lived a life that is a story worth telling. That is precisely what his sons have done. In the autobiography, “Just Don’t Ignore Me”, Father Clements gets the chance to tell his story as only he could. Clements trusted his sons to publish this book but only after his death. While he is sorely missed, the time has come to get an insight into his no-holds-barred account of his life as a Black priest inside the Catholic church.
Father Clements was only the second African American to be ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It is no surprise that his life would then be filled with stories to share. His experience with racial tensions was expected due to the time that he began as a priest in 1957. Clements felt the pressure both within the Catholic church as well as in the community of Chicago. He pushed beyond the 4 walls of the church as he championed civil rights. His service as the priest of Holy Angels church in Chicago covered more than 20 years but the impact he made continues.
This new book will give people a chance to see inside and get a closer look at the life Clements was called to live. This is his story of how he broke barriers and changed lives in the process. Clements fought back against racism in the Catholic church and his community as he marched with Martin Luther King Jr and developed close relationships with many other civil rights leaders. He went up against gangs in Chicago with the help of his lifelong friend Michael Pfleger, as they sought to take on a fight against criminal elements within their community. Clements continued the fight to help others as he championed initiatives to help those who needed it most. In the midst of all of that, he made the decision to adopt 4 teenage boys, making him the first Catholic priest in the U.S. to have adopted a child.
Clements was loved and cherished by many in the community including close family friend and mentee, Dr. Wilma J.Turner. She expressed her thoughts on this posthumous work and his influence in sharing that “Just Don’t Ignore Me, by Fr. George Clements, is an authentic and compelling ac- count of his life as a Black priest in the Catholic Church. He was a humanitarian and a civil rights activist who writes with compassion and sometimes humor as in this statement he shared, ‘Love your enemies, it drives them nuts.’ This autobiography needs to be in the hands of every be- liever as an example of how to fulfill the mission Christ set forth for His followers on earth. Fr. Clements shows us how his belief in God and his calling to be a priest touches every area of his life and the life of those around him.”
His heart for the church and his community is evident. His humanitarian ef- forts and fight for social justice are internationally known. Father Clements took a little old church in the ghetto and made it a thriving institution and staple in the Roman Catholic community. It’s easy to see that Clements made a great impact in his lifetime. What has yet to be heard in totality is his recount of the journey that it took to get here.
Once you read this riveting narrative, you will no longer have to wonder what really goes on inside the Catholic Church, behind closed doors, especially for a Black priest. The time has come to take a closer look at what he encountered through his years of service that led to his mantra, “Love me or hate me, just don’t ignore me”.