Fr. James' Letters

June 26, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

This is such an interesting scene with Jesus and his disciples. Our Lord is rejected by a Samaritan town and my boys, James and John (I’m named after James so I always take note of his actions in the Gospels), ask the Lord if they can send down fire to destroy the town.  Jesus says, “Yeah, sure, let’s burn it down.”

No, no. Just want to be sure you’re paying attention. That’s not what Jesus says.

There’s precedent for things being destroyed by fire in the Old Testament. Sodom and Gomorrah, of course, were destroyed by fire. The golden calf that the Israelites crafted while Moses was atop Mount Sinai in disobedience to God was smelted down by fire. And Elijah destroyed with divine fire several divisions of soldiers who were trying to capture him while he was praying atop a mountain.

But Jesus is not like this. Not that he’s okay with being rejected, but that there’s no time to look to this Samaritan village and do this deed. Jesus is on a mission. He has to go to Jerusalem. He has to go there to die. Jerusalem is his focus; not the Samaritan village.

When our Lord rebukes the disciples for their proposal, he’s essentially telling them they need to stay focused too. Don’t worry about that village. Keep following me to Jerusalem. It’s the same spirit behind him telling the young man not to bury his father or the other to say farewell to his home.

Jesus is our focus. He is our goal and mission. There will be a lot of encounters in our life that try to take us away from the Lord; inconveniences and even crosses we face while we journey to Jesus. We’ll want to “rain fire” down on our spouse for that nasty comment, our child for not listening to us, our boss for his actions, our priest for his (you name it). Just let it go. Stay focused on Jesus. The reward of following him will be much greater than having destroyed your opponent with fire. Sometimes it’s what we don’t do that makes us holy.

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Let me start by thanking everyone who “took care of business” while I was away on retreat last week. I’m particularly grateful to Father Nick, who, among other things, covered some funerals and sick calls and also set up for Father Dan Smilanic, who celebrated a few daily Masses during that time. And thank you to the staff. Everything seemed to be great while I was away – I should go on retreat more often!

But seriously, it was a very blessed time of retreat. I was with the Cistercian Trappist monks at New Melleray Abbey in Iowa, rising at 3:30am to begin prayer, praying then throughout the day, and otherwise existing in silence and contemplation. I read all the notes and intentions you all left for me, and held you and your intentions in prayer throughout the retreat. And for those who weren’t able to write notes, but need prayers (or your loved ones need prayers), I prayed for you too. The notes were very thoughtful and you all show your tremendous faith in God and your devotion to one another. I am privileged to be a priest and to be your pastor.

As I mentioned last week, Father Nick and I, along with all priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will be away this Tuesday through Thursday, June 28-30, on the Priest Convocation. This is an event required for all of us that happens once every three years. There are talks, including a keynote by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, and time for prayer and fraternity. Because all priests are to be present together, and we stay away from the parish, all parishes replaced Masses with communion services those three days. So, we will not have Mass Tuesday through Thursday this week. We will have, instead, a communion service those three days at 8:30am. I’m sorry we will not be present to celebrate Mass, but please know of our prayers and our own intentions for yours while we celebrate Mass together offsite. 

This Friday, July 1st is the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for the SPC Boy Scout Troop 24. Seven young men will be receiving the highest rank of Eagle Scout: Giancarlo Donahue, Stephen Kuhlman, Michael Lattanzio, Letterio Montalbano, Bradley Orzada, Anthony Purciarello, and PJ Spagnolo. Congratulations, young men, and congrats also to the entire troop, the leaders and Scout Masters.

Your servant 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