Fr. James' Letters

December 31, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Next month the Archdiocese of Chicago is showcasing five priests who attended Catholic school and the impact it had on their vocation. I was asked to be part of this. Here’s what I wrote for the piece:

I recall as a grammar school student, shortly after the morning bell rang, putting my coat back on and walking over to church with my classmates for Mass. I recall playing kickball in the parking lot with the beautiful church in the background beyond the fence. Whoever hit the church on a fly was king for the day. I recall hearing the church bells while taking a quiz on the multiplication tables. I recall, when my parents drove me in the morning, seeing the church rising above the treeline; at pickup, seeing the tall steeple in the rearview mirror. For nearly a decade in my time as a student at Sts. Faith Hope and Charity in Winnetka, the church was truly the center of my life. Nothing has changed, and I’m grateful for it.

The point I’m trying to make in the brief article is that I was impacted by the church. Think of that word ‘impact.’ There is a receptivity implied in it, an openness. I didn’t go probing and exploring in my early years. I witnessed, I observed, and I received. I was open, and so I was influenced. And all it really took was something very simple – like seeing the church – to instill a dedication to God in me.

Now, I say all this on the Feast of the Holy Family, for I feel the same applies to a family. For a family to be holy, it doesn’t need to do anything extraordinary. Remember, I didn’t become a priest because of some explicit lessons in the priesthood I received in grammar school. I wasn’t convinced by anyone to become a priest. It came naturally because of the presence of the church.

Likewise, your family members can naturally become holy if you simply have “the church” as a constant presence in your lives. No need to cajole or convince or yell. Just live it yourself. Silently go to Mass every Sunday. Silently pray. Silently live a decent, hardworking life. Silently resist temptations to gossip or greed or materialism. Silently read instead of mindlessly flipping through your phone or Netflix. Silently be good to strangers. Silently write thank-you cards and make eye contact when you shake someone’s hand. Silently come up with another word when you’re upset instead of taking the Lord’s name in vain. Silently pray for others, even your enemies.

All of these little things will go to making you holy. And the people around you will be made better because of it.

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A reminder about the Mass schedule this weekend: the Masses on Sunday morning (7:30am, 9am, 10:30am, and 12pm) will be Masses for the Holy Family, fulfilling the Sunday obligation. The Mass on Sunday evening (5pm) will be for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (Jan. 1). We will have two Masses on Monday, January 1st for the holy day of obligation: 7:30am and 9am. There will be only one Mass on Tuesday, January 2nd at 8:30am with no Confessions prior.

I’ve continued my written “Advent” reflections through the Baptism of the Lord. You’ll find this week’s reflection inside the bulletin and online.

Allow me the opportunity to thank all those who made the Christmas celebrations possible: the choir and musicians, the church and gym decorators, the sacristans and servers, the ushers and counters, and the eucharistic ministers and lectors. I also want to thank my staff who were very busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas. They did a wonderful job keeping everything together and functioning smoothly.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who supported the parish in a tremendous way this season. Your gifts and contributions were, as usual, quite remarkable. And thanks to your donations we were also able to serve the needs of the poor through our food pantry a few weeks ago. God bless you for your generosity.

Have a wonderful and safe new year. May 2024 be a fruitful and faith-filled year for you.

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