Spiritual Journeys: Father Jack Wall

That Father Jack Wall is mission driven—to lift up as many lives as possible through his faith—helped him develop an influential following in Chicago and across the country.

He expresses that mission through his work at Old Saint Patrick’s Church, the Catholic Extension and elsewhere. That Wall is charismatic, smart, strategic, kind to every person he encounters and a gifted orator contributes to his success too.

“We are mission-driven, not member-centric, like a club,” Wall declares repeatedly while discussing his many roles.

Wall’s focus on mission helped grow Old Saint Pat’s from a skid row parish with only four members to a thriving church community of more than 4,000 families that offers a plethora of outreach programs.

He asked for the assignment in 1983. “I saw the oldest building in Chicago sitting empty, in the shadows of the Loop and at the crossroads of our highways, making it an easy commute from anywhere,” he says. Wall’s mission then included building a congregation that would serve young, unmarried professionals and facilitate dialogue about work and faith.

“I didn’t anticipate that the empty nester parents of that group would start coming from the suburbs too. But they did!” His congregation grew to include many of Chicago’s most influential citizens, such as the Daley family.

Five years ago, Wall stepped down from St. Pat’s head pastor position in order to accept a Papal Appointment as President of our country’s Catholic Extension, which is headquartered in Chicago. The Extension was founded in 1905 by a priest who also became the pastor of Wilmette’s Saint Francis Church. Its mission is to strategically invest in poor dioceses across the country to “unleash the power of faith that transforms hearts, lives and society.”

Despite the economic downturn, under Wall’s leadership, donations to the Extension have grown from $13 million to more than $22 million.

Wall’s passion for the Extension’s work is palpable. “You cannot go to the poorest communities of the United States and not find a Catholic Church. This is not charity. We invest strategically.” He continues, “We build up communities that care.”

On November 2, Loyola Academy honors Wall at its prestigious President’s Dinner as “A True Man For Others,” because his work has impacted and inspired youth in our community, too. Wall’s mission-driven life is an inspiration for all.