Fr. James' Letters

January 29, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

I owe everything to my priesthood. I remember as a kid how Sammy Sosa, the Chicago Cubs slugger, would always say when interviewed, “baseball has been very, very good to me.” Well, I would repeat that: “God has been very, very good to me.” Hopefully you would say that too.

Not that life is easy and without challenges. It is hard, but overall I am filled more with a spirit of gratitude, as opposed to one of frustration or something else negative. I give thanks for the relationship to Jesus Christ I have. He has called me into intimacy with him, and it has deeply transformed my life. He has also called me into service with him and for him. That life of self-offering is also deeply rewarding. God has helped me grow in holiness, expanded my intellect, and given me a wealth of diverse experiences and encounters. Because of God I see how beautiful life is, and how beautiful people really are, especially you all at the parish.

You might pause and take stock of “what you have” in your relationship with God. If you’re like me, sometimes you focus more on the negatives than the positives. I wish I was holier, I wish I knew more, I wish I could pray better, I wish… Forget that for now. Forget what could be better. See, instead, what you have. Think about what your life would be like without God or without faith.

Zephaniah makes a reference in our first reading to, “the remnant of Israel.” God says through him: “But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD: the remnant of Israel.”

This was a small group of Israelites, mostly farmers and other poor laborers, who were left to live by themselves in the land after Jerusalem had been sacked and the nation conquered. The wealthy and the elite had either been killed or taken into captivity in Babylon. These simple folk were left to till the land and pray to God. God blessed them and, though they did not have much, they were grateful.

I like to see ourselves as this remnant; or, at least, aspire to the remnant. Just like my simple priesthood has made me feel so blessed, so too can you be blessed in your simple relationship to God: praying with him and serving him. Thinking about the blessings of your life will help make you grateful and help you remain right now with God. You won’t go off seeking an adventure elsewhere, like the prodigal son.

That remnant might not have been doing anything fancy or sophisticated in the world’s eyes, but in God’s eyes they were a true light. So too are we.

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This week throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago is Catholic Schools Week. We are blessed with a wonderful school and I would like to congratulate and celebrate all of our teachers, students, and families. And thank you to the parishioners who make our school possible with your support. At the end of each Mass this weekend, a student will read a brief essay about the meaning of their Catholic education. Now, while I love our students, that doesn’t mean I will go easy on them in the annual faculty-students volleyball game (faculty won last year, by the way).

Speaking of Catholic schools, our parish has raised $30,000 through the Tax Credit Scholarship Program. This is a huge boost to help families enroll who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford tuition at the school. Please consider donating through this program, as it costs you very little and helps us tremendously.

Congratulations to all the second graders who made their First Reconciliation last week. They did superbly. We look forward now to First Communion in May.

I also want to say congratulations to the evangelization team for the success of “The Word on the Street” event a couple weeks ago. We had well over one hundred people at Harp and Fiddle. We are looking at April 25th as our next event.

As I mentioned last week, we are now in the midst of the 2023 Annual Catholic Appeal. Our goal this year is $142,718. Last year we far surpassed our goal, and I thank you very much for making this happen. Hopefully we can do the same this year, so we can help the Archdiocese’s charitable efforts and continue our own mission.

This Friday, February 3rd, is the feast of Saint Blase. We will have a blessing of throats at the 6:25am and 8:30am Masses.

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