Fr. James' Letters

September 3, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Jeremiah spoke of God as a fire burning within his heart. When his ministry of being a prophet became difficult and he contemplated quitting, here is what he said: “But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.” Jeremiah was too in love with God to quit. He was a man of fire and could not cool down. We all benefited from this.

When thinking about Jeremiah I recalled a poem by T.S. Eliot I came across recently in a book I was reading. It’s from his Four Quartets:


The only hope, or else despair

Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre –

To be redeemed from fire by fire.


Who then devised the torment? Love.

Love is the unfamiliar Name

Behind the hands that wove

The intolerable shirt of lame,

Which human power cannot remove.


We only live, only suspire

Consumed by either fire or fire.


To love God is to be set on fire. Think of the Holy Spirit, which is the love of God and was represented as a tongue of fire. Praying every day, taking more interest in the things of God than the things of the world, surrendering our ego to be less self-absorbed and more self-giving… that is the life of loving God. And it is a great life. To not love God or to not be “all in” for our Lord is a lukewarm kind of life at best, the fire of Hell at worst.

I chuckled on the sideline at the Maine South football game the other week when I heard players yelling at each other, “let’s get fired up!” I remember pumping my chest and yelling the same thing when I was in high school. I suppose this is a little more of a sophisticated way of me encouraging you all today to do the same. Get fired up in your faith. Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, and, of course, our Lord were all fired up, and they lit up the world around them. That flame has been entrusted to us. May we enjoy it and spread it.

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Happy Labor Day to all. Tomorrow, Monday, September 4th, there will be only one Mass at 8:30am. There will be no 6:25am Mass, nor will there be confessions at 8am. Our parish office and school will also be closed. I hope you all enjoy the holiday.

Religious Education begins this Tuesday, September 5th and next Sunday, September 10th. Welcome back students and catechists. A blessed year to you all. May your love and knowledge of Jesus grow.

Over the summer we were quite busy completing several projects around campus. You probably have noticed all the doors to the church that were refinished and stained, though we are still waiting for the kickplates. A special thanks to a parishioner who donated the cost of this big project. We also did quite a bit of work in the parish school. The classrooms have new furniture and desks, we replaced our Chromebooks with iPads for the students, and we have four rooms in the downstairs of the Upper Grade Center where the old lunchroom used to be. One of these rooms is the new and enclosed STEM lab, a new music room, and several inclusion and meeting rooms. Summer was anything but a vacation for our maintenance crew, who worked very hard painting classrooms, polishing floors, and repairing and fixing. Finally, we are set to redo much of the concrete around the campus, leveling out tripping hazards and repairing broken patches of concrete, so be on the lookout as this work begins in the next few weeks.

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