30 Oct

Taking possession of the faithful entrusted to my care.

Dear Parishioners,

According to canon 527 in the Code of Canon Law, there are three parts to a priest becoming pastor of a parish. First, the diocesan bishop must appoint the priest. This occurred back in the spring when I received my letter of appointment from Archbishop Cupich on April 22. He wrote, "Father Wallace: With this letter, I am pleased to appoint you Pastor of Saint Juliana Parish in Chicago. This appointment, effective July 1, 2016, is made in consultation with the Diocesan Priests' Placement Board, as well as with your Vicar and Dean. Your term of office will continue until you are reappointed, transferred, or your successor is named. Bishop Francis J. Kane will act as my delegate in receiving your Profession of Faith."

The second part of the process of becoming a pastor is the aforementioned Profession of Faith, which I will make before you all this Saturday evening. The third is the priest ‘taking possession’ of the office. I took possession on July 1st when I moved to the parish. The Mass of Installation is a more formal and solemnized expression of the parish being entrusted to me.

23 Oct

If I was a campaign manager.

Dear Parishioners,

How different would the presidential debates appear if both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, when attacked, beat their chest and responded: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner"? It seems like this has become a race based on character, and neither candidate reflects that all important virtue called humility. I don't know about you, but I would feel better about November–I'd be more hopeful for our country–if these flawed individuals took the approach of the tax collector from our Lord's beautiful parable for this Sunday. Recall, Jesus compares the righteous Pharisee who thanks God that he is not pathetic like the rest of humanity and the tax collector who utters the humble prayer I suggested and cited above (cf. Lk 18:9-14). The tax collector acknowledges his sins and then trusts not in his own character and ability to "bounce back," but on God's mercy. The humble person places the focus on God, and that to me is endearing. If I was a campaign manager, I'd coach humility. It's amazing the effectiveness of that virtue.

16 Oct

On prayer and persistence.

Dear Parishioners,

Most worthwhile activities and endeavors in life don't come easy. They require persistence. Whether it was you courting your spouse, getting that promotion at work, learning an instrument, overcoming a bad habit, or finishing a book, you had to work over time for these things. It's rare that we can get what we want without any effort. And if we can, maybe we ought to think twice about the thing's value.

The life of prayer is no different. "I charge you," says St. Paul, "in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching" (2 Tim 4:2).

02 Oct

We are unprofitable servants.

Dear Parishioners,

"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do'" (Lk 17:10).

I love our Lord's advice here. What it does is establish that when something good is achieved, it is the good itself that is celebrated, and not the person who helped bring it about. It is not about me and my own skill. It is about the cause that has been fulfilled. And if we are to recognize anyone, it is whoever gave the task to fulfill. In most cases, at least in my own life, that individual is usually Christ Jesus. It is very freeing advice.