Fr. Britto's Blog

The People, My Treasure

What do I treasure the most from my SPC experience? What will I miss? What are the things I love about St Paul of the Cross? These are the questions that I am grappling with in the next three columns which will be my final ones. For starters, the first thing I will miss from our parish is this: our people. You, parishioners, are the one thing that I will miss the most and that I treasure the most.

We are a vibrant parish, made up of committed, happy individuals and families who are happy to be part of this community. As recent data show, some parishes around the diocese are losing parishioners. We are fortunate to be a parish that has been consistently growing over the last twelve years. When I came here in July 2009, we had 4,437 registered households. Today that number has grown to 4,938. During this period, our parish roster has added 1,559 new parishioner households, even though we lost 1,030 members due to transfers or death. These numbers tell us that this is a vibrant community that welcomes new members all the time.

We are also a youthful parish. Whereas 6% of our parishioners are over the age of 70, the majority (72%) is below the age of 60. We are also happy to report that we have many young people. We have 3,754 children below the age of 18, and 2,765 children below the age of 14. More than 2,000 children below the age of 14 are in our Catholic school or in our Religious Education program. Ours is a family-oriented parish. Two-thirds of our households are families with children. In fact, during the Pre-Covid era, the Masses in the Holy Family Chapel were filling up while the Masses in the upper church were thinning out.

It is not merely the numbers that matter to me. It is the individuals and families that make us a community, and that is what I will miss. I stepped into a parish which previously had only pastors who were either Irish or Italian. I was the first non-native born pastor. I was also stepping into the shoes of a very popular pastor who had grown up in the parish. In spite of all this, the people welcomed me with open arms. They even found my jokes funny – at least most of them.

When our Centennial Year rolled around in 2011, I had to reach out to all sorts of individuals and groups to make that a flagship year. We had many, many events to cater to the various groups in our community. Every one of those events went off beautifully because numerous individuals stepped up and gave of their best. I am convinced that the celebration of our centennial made a tremendous change in the life of the parish. It brought many individuals into active participation in the life of the parish.

Every time I needed help to run an event or to head up an organization, people volunteered. When I had to reach out to individuals to become leaders, most often they said “Yes”. Five years ago, when we launched the capital campaign, I was very nervous. I was not eager to ask for money. And yet, with the help of our amazing committee, we overshot our target by more than a million. During the pandemic, we would not have been able to keep our church open if not for our volunteers. More than 150 parishioners undertook various tasks so that our members could receive Jesus. People always step up.

More than all the institutional factors, the memories I have made with parishioners, the times I have spent with people, whether they were happy or sad, the love that I have received from many, young and old, the occasions when I was able to help them draw closer to the Lord – these are the treasures that I will carry with me. Each and every one of you – whether I know you personally or not – has a place in my heart and I will be praying for all of you.

Over the last couple of years, groups and leaders have been asking me about naming some building or hall after me. I have always strongly insisted that I do not want anything to be named after me. I want my name to be in the hearts of people. I do mean this. Nothing will please me more than this – that God somehow used me to draw you closer to Him and to help you love Him more.

One of the early martyrs deeply revered in the Church is St Lawrence who is known as the archdeacon of Rome. He assisted Pope Sixtus II who put him in charge of administering the treasures of the Church. As a deacon, Lawrence dedicated himself to the poor and spent his time in almsgiving. After Pope Sixtus II was killed in the persecution of Valerian in the year 258 AD, the Prefect of Rome summoned Lawrence and asked him to gather all the treasures of the Church. The Prefect was hoping to appropriate the riches of the Church for the City of Rome. 

In the next couple of days, according to legend, Lawrence gave away much of the Church’s wealth to the poor. Then he gathered the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the destitute of the city, and presented them to the Prefect of Rome. St Lawrence is supposed to have pointed to those people who are usually outcasts in society and said: “These are the treasures of the Church.” With St Lawrence I declare to you today: “You are the treasure that I carry with me!” I cherish all of you, and I will miss you.

Let us always be united in prayer! God bless!

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

UC = Upper Church

HFC = Holy Family Chapel

Monday - Friday

6:25 am (UC)

8:30 am (UC)

Saturday

8:00 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC and HFC) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC and HFC)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)