James F.

I am the oldest of seven children, and grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and in the suburbs of Detroit. I attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan, where I studied psychology and philosophy. After graduation I studied for an additional year in Erlangen, Germany prior to entering the seminary at Mundelein. I was ordained in 1990, and stayed on an extra year at Mundelein to finish an academic degree (Licentiate in Sacred Theology). I served as associate pastor at St. Pascal in Chicago and St. Anne in Barrington prior to being named pastor of St. Alphonsus in Chicago.

My thirteen years at St. Alphonsus were challenging but wonderful. I took over as the first diocesan priest pastor of a parish that had been founded and run for 117 years by the Redemptorists. Originally opened to serve German immigrants, it is a beautiful neo-Gothic church and is situated in a thriving part of Chicago. Seventy percent of our parishioners were young adults, between the ages of 22 and 35. We developed a successful new school model that led to an incredible turn-around, resulting in increased enrollment and almost no need for parish subsidy. We had a highly developed liturgical music program, and very active parish community life.

After finishing at St. Alphonsus I felt the desire (both professionally and personally) for immersion in a poor community. I found my way to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos in Guatemala in January 2013. In addition to serving as chaplain at this home for orphaned, abandoned and at-risk children and young adults, I have helped out at the parish in the nearby village. This has been a powerful experience, and I suspect stories about my time here will find their way into some of my homilies once I am back home.

In addition to parish ministry I have served as a spiritual director for the college seminary. I was also an instructor in the Deacon and Lay Ministry Formation program. Because of my background of having lived for a time in Germany, I was involved in the Crossing Over Project which seeks to build connections and share wisdom between Catholic pastoral ministers in the Archdiocese of Chicago and those working in Germany.