Growing in Holiness, Wisdom, & Character

Usually I address my column to all the parishioners of St Paul of the Cross parish. This week, however, I would like to write a column especially for you as you are about to begin another school year. I am sure you are eager to get back into the swing of things. Even though you will miss the fun of summer, you will be happy to see all your friends.

First of all, I want to make you understand that you are precious in God’s eyes. God loves you in a special way. During His life on earth, Jesus paid particular attention to children and young people. The gospels tell us that on one occasion He welcomed children, hugged them and blessed them. He told His disciples that unless they became like little children, they would not enter God’s Kingdom. I also want you to know that you are very important to our parish. As your pastor, I am delighted to see so many children and young people coming to Mass.

Second, I want to encourage you to use this academic year for your personal growth in holiness, wisdom and character. Time is a precious commodity and as we get older, we realize that it is getting scarcer. When you are young, it is easy to pretend that we have all the time in the world. Do use your time carefully and fully utilize the opportunities that God places on your path.

  1. Use the time to grow in holiness. Whether you are enrolled in a Catholic school or in a public school, don’t forget that your faith is the most important treasure you have been given. Nurture that gift by committing to go to Sunday Mass. Find time for personal prayer. Dedicate your efforts to studying your Catholic faith. If you are in REP, be determined not to miss even one session. If you are either a second grader or an eighth grader, this is a particularly unique year for you. You will be either making your First Holy Communion or receiving Confirmation. I encourage you to be serious about your preparation for the sacrament. Try to get into the habit of reading the Bible. You can start by reading prayerfully one of the gospels.

  2. Use the time to grow in wisdom. These years are crucial for your growth in wisdom. You have so much to learn – about God, life, love, people and our world. You have to learn many skills that will come in handy in the later years of life: how to deal with people, how to negotiate our world, and how to love and forgive. Your first school of wisdom is your home where your family will teach you many crucial skills. I hope you will listen to your parents and learn from them. The schools you frequent will teach you much. Dedicate yourself to your studies. Even though it is important to learn to play sports, dance, sing, play an instrument or do many extra-curricular activities, do not neglect your studies. Being a good student should be a priority. No matter what grades you get, you should always do your best.

  3. Use your time to build character. Becoming well-integrated persons with solid moral values takes life-long work. Particularly during these years, learn to distinguish between good and bad. Get in the habit of making good, moral decisions. Your parents are the first teachers of morality and hopefully they will be helped by our religious education and Catholic school programs. You will learn many valuable qualities on the playground as you play sports or collaborate in various team-building activities. If you are a teen, become part of our youth ministry and you will meet wonderful young people who share similar values.

As you engage in these three important tasks (holiness, wisdom and character), don’t forget to be joyful. I would have said, “Have fun!” But that expression is so confusing and it means different things to different people. Learn to be happy. You will find out that by being a good, caring, faith-filled person, and by loving other people you become happy.

Towards the end of chapter 2, Luke concludes the story of Jesus being lost and found in the Temple at the age of 12 thus:

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Dear young person, you too are called to be a joyful member of your family and obey your parents. Just like Jesus you need to increase in wisdom, in years, and in divine and human favor. This year is being given to you so that you can achieve these objectives. The parish is here to help you.

I do pray for you. If there is anything I can do for you, do not hesitate to call on me.

God loves you tremendously!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule


7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

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6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church


8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel