Fr. James' Letters

August 14, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne, a poet from the 17th Century, a verse then used in a title by 20th Century Trappist Thomas Merton in one of his books. We are not meant to be alone.

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith,” we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, our second reading this week (Hebrews 12:1). The presence of the “cloud of witnesses” (in other words, a community), inspires us to holiness.

While I love being with people and am probably extroverted, I could easily live alone. However, living alone, all by myself in the rectory, wouldn’t be good for me. For one, I’d have to eat all those leftovers and sweets that are dropped off, as well as the adult beverages, and that wouldn’t be a good thing. I’d become very particular, as I’d never be challenged by another’s different way of living, and I wouldn't have the opportunity to exercise generosity and charity by emptying the dishwasher, for instance. Additionally, the presence of other priests and seminarians inspires and forms me, as they themselves are holy and I want to be holy like them.

Family and community living is challenging, make no mistake, but it is in the challenge where we truly grow and truly live.

The Catholic Church gives us community – in the parish community around us and in the communion of saints. We are a challenging family, and this is a good thing. If you find your neighbor a challenge, or some priest or bishop or pope a challenge, know that you are a challenge just as much to them. “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” concludes Donne’s poem. But being challenged puts us all together in the cloud of witnesses, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

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Allow me to take a page out of Mark Miller’s Archive Corner playbook. A few weeks ago was the installation of Bishop Robert Barron as the new bishop of the diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota (see picture above of a holy card from his installation… thank you to parishioners Kevin and Jane, who attended the installation, for the memento!). Bishop Barron, as many of you probably know and will remember, was a newly ordained priest assigned here at Saint Paul of the Cross in the 1980s. This parish was his first assignment and I’m sure he attributes all of his accomplishments as a priest and bishop over the decades to your formation and the foundation he received here! I’m sort of joking, but not totally. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a great parish and a wonderful place for a priest, especially a young priest (and seminarian) to serve. By the way, our seminarian, Martin Nyberg, is staying in the room in the rectory where Bishop Barron lived. We expect you, Martin, to exceed your room’s predecessor. At any rate, congratulations, Bishop Barron. We are very proud of you and will be praying for you in your ministry as shepherd.

Tomorrow, Monday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Because this is a holy day, we will have four Masses on Monday: 6:25am, 8:30am, 12pm, and 7:30pm.

The start of SPC school is right around the corner, and our school faculty and staff will return this Monday to prepare for the arrival of students. Next Sunday, August 21st is a special “Welcome Back School Mass and BBQ” in the late afternoon. This year’s school enrollment will be around 730 students. (By the way, because of the large number of students, the school will no longer attend the 8:30am daily Mass on Tuesdays. Instead, we will have each week a special all-school Mass Tuesday at 10am.) Teachers, we hope you enjoyed your summer and be assured of our prayers for a smooth and successful school year.

This Friday, August 19th is the Young Adult Group led by Martin Nyberg, aka, “future-Bishop Barron.”

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