Fr. James' Letters

To Children & Young People

Around this time every year I like to dedicate my column to our children and young people and I would like to do the same this year.  You have already returned to school and your new school year is already going into full gear.  In order to make this year a fruitful one and also to develop habits that will bear fruit in the long term, I invite you to reflect on and accomplish the following tasks.


  1. Love the Lord:  There is nothing more important in life than to love God with all your heart and soul.  He started to love you even before you were born.  Your very existence is a proof of His unconditional love for you.  Believe in it and count on it.  Never doubt it.  His total, categorical, forgiving love is a given.  Make sure that you grow in your love for Him.

  2. Pray every day:  Just as you cannot draw closer to your friends without constantly communicating with them, you cannot grow in your relationship with God without prayer.  Get into the habit of talking to God several times a day.  Start and end the day in prayer.  Begin the day thanking Him for a good night’s rest, and end the day asking for His forgiveness and for a peaceful night.  Always be grateful.

  3. Let the Sunday Eucharist be the center of your week: Whether you go to a public school or a Catholic school, the Sunday Eucharist must be the center of your week.  As young people you are taught to develop good habits. Ensure that you develop the good habit of never missing Sunday Mass.  Receive Holy Communion regularly and grow in your personal relationship with Jesus.

  4. Learn your faith:  During this year you will learn much about the world and life.  However, it is your faith that will enable you to face tough times.  Get into the habit of picking up the Bible and getting to know Jesus personally.  Those of you in REP, make sure that you do not miss a single session.  Those in Catholic schools, use every opportunity to deepen your faith.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.

  5. Develop your moral character:  Someone has said, “Character is what you do when no one is looking.”  Be good because you want to, not because you want people to speak well of you.  Learn to make morally good decisions that you will be proud of.  At all times listen to your conscience.  To develop a good conscience, be attentive to the wisdom of the Church.

  6. Love your family and let them know you love them:  Your family is one of the best gifts that God gives you.  Appreciate your family and take every opportunity to show them your love.  There is no better school of love than your family.  No matter how often you get mad at them or fall short, they will always be there for you.  In a particular way, I ask you, teens, to express your love to your parents.  Teenage years are difficult years for your relationship with your parents.

  7. Cultivate healthy friendships:  Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.  Developing and nurturing healthy friendships are far more crucial than you can imagine.  Our friends will make us better individuals or drag us down the wrong path.  Choose your friends carefully.  Remember that it is in friendships that you will learn and acquire people skills that will be necessary for a lifetime.

  8. Strive for excellence: Every four years we witness the Olympics where individuals push the boundaries and show us what humans are capable of.  They demonstrate to us that we should not settle for mediocrity.  No matter what you do, do the best you are capable of.  We will never be perfect but we can always strive for excellence.  If you have done your best, then you can go to sleep with contentment.

  9. Dedicate yourself to your studies:  As you may know, children in Asia and other parts of the world are allocating large amounts of time to their studies.  We should not be outdone by them.  Make your school work a priority.  Always strive to do more and not less.  I encourage you in a special way to learn math and science.  Innovation is what made our nation great and you have to ensure that America stays at the top.

  10. Enjoy your youth:  While you accomplish all these tasks, take time to enjoy your youth.  This time of your life will never return.  Learn something new every day.  Read a good book.  Spend time with your friends.  Go to the movies.  Play sports.  Learn an instrument.  Go out of yourself to help others.  Be creative.  Do not forget to laugh.  Develop a sense of humor.  Learn from your mistakes.  Smile and brighten the world around you.

My prayers and the prayers of our entire parish community go with you.  May you have a great school year and grow in holiness, wisdom and love!  May the Lord, who loved children and young people during His time here on earth, hold you close!

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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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)


8:00 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC and HFC) - vigil


7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC and HFC)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)