Fr. James' Letters

July 4, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

It's great to be with you! I know you have heard about me, but I'm Father James Wallace, your new pastor. Saint Paul of the Cross is a great parish and I am delighted to be here in my second stint as a pastor. Thank you for having me and for welcoming me.

Jesus had three "parts," if you will, to his ministry. He was a prophet, priest and king. Theologians call this the tria munera. It is also referred to as the teaching, sanctifying, and governing offices of Christ.

Catholic priests, by the way, have these three offices as well, for we are modeled after Christ. Catholic priests are prophets (we preach and teach), we are priests (we pray and administer the sacraments), and we are kings (we govern parishes and the local church).

These readings, one could say, focus on the prophetic office of Jesus. How providential for the start of my ministry here at Saint Paul! Why? Because the prophetic office comes first in the tria munera. Saint John Henry Newman called preaching the primum officium (the first duty) of the priest. The Second Vatican Council likewise listed preaching/teaching as the first obligation of a priest.

Yes, you see your priests celebrating Mass and making decisions about the finances of the parish, but the most important thing we do, arguably, is preach the Word of God.

When God comes to Ezekiel in our first reading, God tells the man what he is to do. "But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD!" (Ezekiel 2:4). God doesn't instruct Ezekiel to build an altar or make a sacrifice or manage the temple. Ezekiel is simply to say, "Thus says the Lord God." In other words, Ezekiel is to preach. And the reading ends, "they shall know that a prophet has been among them." The Israelites won't know they had an administrator or a temple priest. No. They'll know they had a preacher.

Our Lord is unable to do any miracle in Nazareth because he is unable to be a prophet. “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place..." (Mark 6:4). If he cannot teach, he cannot heal and he cannot sanctify.

I find this a relief. I love to preach and teach. I hope when my time is done as pastor of Saint Paul of the Cross, it will simply be said of me that 'they knew a prophet was among them.'

Same with you, who are, when you are baptized, likewise consecrated prophets, priests and kings. May it be said by your descendant and friends that you were a prophet.

I know it was said of Fr. Britto. He was a great prophet. I am humbled to succeed him. Thank you, Fr. Britto, for your love of the Lord and for your faithful service to the people.

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Just a word on the structure of these weekly bulletin letters. The first part of my letter (see above) will always be something spiritual--typically a reflection on the readings. The second part of the letter (this part) will be more "business" - typically highlights around the parish or things I'd like you to know about. Feel free to email me if you would ever like me to include something - a particular group meeting or whatever.  

Being as this is summer and I just arrived two days ago, I don't have much to notify you of. We will have just one Mass at 8:30 am on Monday, July 5th (Independence Day observed).

Every year around this time is the Chicago Priest Golf Outing. It's held at Pine Meadow next to Mundelein Seminary and is a chance for priests to come together for fraternity. I play in it with my priest buddies (we're actually the reigning champs) and this upcoming Thursday at Pine Meadow we will be defending our title!

Have a blessed 4th of July and I look forward to meeting you all. And thank you, again, Father Britto and Father Peter for all you have done. You will be missed.

Yours in Christ,

Who is Fr. James?

Father James Wallace grew up in Winnetka, Illinois and attended Sts. Faith Hope and Charity grammar school, New Trier High School, and then The George Washington University in Washington DC, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 2007. He attended seminary at The Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained a priest in 2012 for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition to being the pastor of Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, he serves as a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese, a dean in Vicariate II, and a professor of canon law and spiritual director at Mundelein Seminary. He is also one of the featured Mercy Home Sunday Mass celebrants, airing Sundays at 9:30am on WGN.

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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


8:30 am UC - weekday Mass

4:30 pm UC - vigil


7:30 am UC

9:00 am UC

10:30 am UC and HFC

12:00 pm UC