Saint Theresa Parish

A Roman Catholic Community
5045 E. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 840-0850 Parish Office
(602) 840-0871 Parish Fax  

Parish Email info@sttheresaphx.org

Parish Office Hours
Monday through Thursday
9:00AM-Noon & 1:00PM-5:00PM
Friday 9:00AM-12noon         Sunday 8:30AM-12:30PM

Closed Saturdays
& most Federal Holidays.

Liturgy Schedule
Saturday Vigil Mass 4PM
Sunday Masses
7:30AM
9:00AM (Liturgy with Children)
11:00AM and
5:00PM (Teen and Young Adult)

Daily Masses
Monday through Friday
6:30AM and Saturday at 8:00AM
Holy Day Masses as announced in bulletin prior to the Holy Day.

Sacrament of Reconciliation
(Confession)
Saturday, 9:00AM to 10:00AM
Wednesday, 5:00PM to 6:00PM and by appointment

Pastor

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Parochial Vicar 

(Associate Pastor)

Rev. Joachim Adeyemi

Rev. J.C. Ortiz

Priest in Residence

Rev. Kevin Grimditch

Assisting Priest

Rev. Paul Peri

Deacons

Colin F. Campbell

Mark Kriese

Ralph Ulibarri

 

Saint Theresa Catholic School
5001 East Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018

www.stcs.us

(602) 840-0010 School Office
(602) 840-8323 School Fax

 

 

Administration
Monday
Oct162017

Reflections - October 15, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Our scripture readings for this 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time are filled with great hope… and great challenge as well.

The Prophet Isaiah in our first reading (Is 25:6-10a) gives us a glimpse glad feasting for all people in God’s holy mountain – which scripture scholars see as referring to the new Jerusalem, in other words the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God: heaven. What a marvelous scene this is – a feast provided “for all peoples” (not just the Jews); a feast of “rich food and choice wines; juicy, rich food and pure choice wines.” The heavenly banquet which God will provide is truly a delectable feast of abundance for all people! Not only that, but in that fulfillment of God’s reign, God will “destroy the veil that veils all people, the web that is woven over all nations…” Among other meanings, this web or veil can be seen as ignorance of God, or as illusions that confuse and divide people – anything that inhibits life and wholeness will be destroyed at the end of time when God makes all things new.  Isaiah, speaking as God’s “mouthpiece,” goes on to say “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth….” What a tender, compassionate snapshot of God – we hear of the omnipotent Creator of the Universe as one who acts with motherly gentleness and comfort.  Isaiah is assuring his people (as well as you and me) that all those who look to God in hope will not be disappointed, for all God’s actions are for the sake of salvation – not just the world’s salvation in some abstract theological way, but salvation for us! How could we not want to cooperate with God’s plan of salvation… how could we not want to open ourselves to entering into the fullness of joy at God’s heavenly banquet?

St. Paul, as he writes to his community at Philippi, gives us another verse to contemplate: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). This is sometimes translated “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” In other words, we are given access to limitless strength and grace in Jesus Christ to accomplish anything God asks of us, yet we can’t take this strength and grace for granted… we have to ask for it. If we don’t ask, then God will simply respect our free will and will never force us to accept that strength. 

In our Gospel, once more we hear about a banquet – in this case, a wedding feast that a king gives for his son. But here’s where the challenge becomes clear: those who had been invited to the feast exercise their free will and refuse to come to the banquet. They choose to go their own ways. So, the king extends the invitation to any and all to come to partake in the banquet. The allegory here is that God, through his Son, has invited the Chosen People to come to the banquet – but many refused. So, the invitation has been extended to all people: Jew and non-Jew alike… all sorts of people, “the bad and the good alike.” But more than simply “showing up” at the banquet is required: the guests in the parable were expected to come “dressed” for the banquet. In other words, in responding to the invitation, some change was required of the guests. Seeing ourselves in this parable, the “change” required of us is not simply a change of clothes… but a change of heart. God has invited us all to come to the heavenly banquet, but in responding to that invitation we must show ourselves to be ready to enter that wonderful feast of juicy, rich foods and pure, choice wines. We show this not by the clothes we wear, but by the lives we live… relying on the power of Jesus Christ to empower us to do “all things in him who strengthens me!”

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer                 

Pastor

 

Monday
Oct092017

Reflections - October 8, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

This weekend, we have the privilege of hosting (and hearing the music of) a delegation from Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos’ Casa Sagrada Familia (“Holy Family Home”) in Texistepeque, El Salvador – a facility that I enjoyed visiting last February. While on that visit with my good friend Fr. Mike Straley, I met a young man who I came to sponsor: William Jefferson Ruiz.  Jefferson’s life ambition is to be a pilot; he is now 18 years old and is with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) as his only surviving relative is an elderly grandmother who doesn’t have the means to provide for him. During my time in El Salvador, I was impressed with Jefferson’s positive outlook on life, and the joy he brought to playing futbol (soccer), serving Mass, functioning as disc jockey at a social evening and doing his studies and chores.  I was able to meet and interact with a number of young men and women under the care of NPH who were similarly positive, friendly and committed to their brothers and sisters at Casa Sagrada Familia. The home in El Salvador opened in 1999, and features a school (grades K – 9), vocational workshops, medical clinic, farm and a wastewater treatment plant.

All of this is part of the vision of a priest whose roots were in Phoenix: Fr. William Wasson, who “accidentally” founded Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (“Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) by taking in a few street kids in Mexico to give them some stability, education, a purpose in life and an experience of family.  Fr. Wasson opened his first home (one of three in Mexico) in 1954; since then NPH has spread to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Haiti. Over the years, 20,000 children have called NPH home – there are approximately 3200 children under NPH care currently in the various homes – and an additional 2300 students who live outside the homes receive scholarships, meals and health care. In 2016, more than 100,000 services were provided to children and adults through NPH outreach programs in the various countries noted above. NPH transforms the lives of abandoned and disadvantaged children with homes, healthcare and educational programs, making a significant and positive impact in Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are many ways one can become involved in the good work of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos – Msgr. Richard Moyer, a long-time friend who served as Vicar General of our Diocese, Pastor of Our Lady of Joy in Carefree and long-time Pastor of St. Jerome’s in Phoenix (among other roles over the years) prior to his retirement, is with us this weekend and preaching at all of our Masses to share some of his experiences with NPH and give us a greater understanding of the ways in which we can help as individuals and as a parish community. I’m grateful to Msgr. Moyer for taking the time to join us – and to Fr. Mike Straley, who did much to introduce me to NPH and who will join us this Wednesday in order to preach at a special 10:00AM School Mass as the Pequeños assist with the music and spend time with our St. Theresa Catholic School students afterward. A number of St. Theresa families are hosting the Pequeños and their chaperones during the six days they are spending in Arizona; I deeply appreciate the hospitality offered by the hosts as well as parish and school staff members who are helping with this NPH visit. I hope that you will be as positively impressed by the Pequeños and by NPH as I have been! For more information about this wonderful organization, go to www.nphusa.org.

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Monday
Oct022017

Reflections - October 1, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today we have the privilege of celebrating the October 1st Feast of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, the Patron Saint of our Parish Community, in place of the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  When the feast of the patron saint of a parish falls on a Sunday (and that particular Sunday is not already designated to celebrate a higher feast, e.g., Easter) the Church allows the patronal feast to take precedence over the regular Sunday, since the feast actually becomes a Solemnity on that Sunday in the parish.

Our Patroness is known by various names: Thérèse of Lisieux, Theresa of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower, to name three… she lived a humble (one might say obscure) life in the small French town of Lisieux, entering the local Carmelite convent at a young age and dying of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in 1897.  Yet, this young woman who dedicated her life to God literally revolutionized the Church as a result of her spiritual insights and writings that were published following her death. Theresa became renowned for her spiritual treatise insights in her autobiography The Story of a Soul. In it, she urged all to follow “the little way” – the way of love. To do all things, even the seemingly insignificant, with great love was her path to holiness… and a model for each of us to attain holiness in our lives. What a precious and powerful insight: to do all things with great love! How could following the Greatest Commandment of Jesus possibly be made any more clear than by our embracing this “little way” of St. Theresa?

So profound and insightful was the teaching of St. Theresa, she was recognized for her holiness and was canonized in near-record time in 1925. So wise was her teaching, Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed St. Theresa a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

It seems to me that the real wisdom of St. Theresa’s teaching was in its utter simplicity. There was no complicated theology, no convoluted penances, no repetitious prayers, no requirements to follow multiple steps of any sort. The key is simply to allow oneself to be loved by God, and then to become an instrument of God’s love in the lives of others – not necessarily in any grandiose way, but in the simplest and most subtle ways: being patient with an irritating colleague or family member, reaching out with care to someone who’s lonely or sad, gently practicing works of mercy.  In essence, resolving oneself to be God’s love in the world.

Centuries before the life of our Patron Saint, another great saint named Paul recognized the crucial role of love in the Christian life as he wrote to his community at Corinth: Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). St. Theresa understood and lived these words.

As we celebrate the Patron Saint of our community, we give thanks to God for St. Theresa for teaching us her “little way” – the way of love. We ask God, through the intercession of St. Theresa, for the grace and strength to embody the “little way” of our Patroness today and every day. 

 

With love and prayers,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Sep262017

Reflections - September 24, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Many of us remember singing the refrain to the song written and performed by the St. Louis Jesuits: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call to him while he is still near….”  The popular liturgical song published in 1975 was based on the Old Testament passage we hear as our first reading today, Isaiah 55:6-9.  Only, the song took a little artistic license with the actual words of verse 6: the word “still” does not appear in the scripture passage at all.  Not to criticize the composer of the song, but it’s interesting that – by inserting the word “still” – there’s an implication made that at some point the Lord will not be found (or, that the Lord is somehow only with us temporarily).

We know that God is with us unconditionally and forever.  We may try to separate ourselves from God, or even deny God’s existence – but that doesn’t make God “go away.”  So why would the Prophet Isaiah remind us that we must “seek the Lord while he may be found; call to him while he is near?”  Isn’t God always to be found?  Is God not always near to us?  Of course!  But Isaiah’s message is actually not so much about God’s availability to us as it is about our responsibility to be aware of God omnipresence to us; to continually seek God and to never hesitate to call out to God.

You may have heard me remark from time to time that one of the greatest gifts God has given us (by creating human beings in God’s own image and likeness) is the gift of free will.  Freedom of choice.  God always respects that gift of free will, so God will never force Godself upon us.  God takes the initiative in our lives by pouring forth God’s love to us in so many different ways… but then God awaits our free will response.  We can choose to respond to God – or not.  It’s up to each of us as individuals to recognize the fact that God is with us; it’s up to each of us as individuals to then choose to “seek the Lord” and to “call out to God.”  We can choose to do so – and benefit from the grace, comfort and strength that God is ready and willing to give us… or we can choose to “go it alone,” forgetting that God is right with us to help us if we ask… or preferring to pretend that we’re “independent” and don’t really need God’s help.

It seems to me that Isaiah understood human nature quite well (which isn’t surprising… after all, he was inspired by God and was God’s “mouthpiece” to the people of Israel and to us!).  Perhaps Isaiah is simply reminding his listeners to remember that God is always present and to never be hesitant, or too proud, to call out to God when we are in need… or simply in order to give God praise and thanks for the many ways that God is at work in our lives.

God is so good to us… all the time!

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer 

Pastor

 

Friday
Sep152017

Reflections - September 17, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

For two consecutive Sundays now, we’ve heard Gospel passages that focus us on the crucial role that forgiveness plays in the life of a disciple.  Last week, we heard of the three step “fraternal correction” process of resolving conflicts that Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-20.  Today’s Gospel selection (Mt. 18:21-35) continues the theme of forgiveness, as Peter asks Jesus the question “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  No doubt Peter thought he would impress Jesus by suggesting seven times: he’s picking up on a passage from the Prophet Amos where it’s described that God only punished foreign nations after the third transgression.  Some Jewish teachers at the time of Jesus interpreted this to mean that forgiving three times was sufficient.  Peter, then, proposes something that he feels is totally magnanimous: double the 3 and add 1.  After all, seven would seem be an exceedingly generous number of times to forgive.

Imagine Peter’s surprise – and perhaps horror – when Jesus responds “not seven times, but seventy-seven times!”  Seven happens to be a number that symbolized perfection or completeness for the Jews, so in saying “seventy-seven” Jesus is stating that a disciple is called to forgive an infinite number of times (underscoring this sense of an infinite number, some scripture translations render this as “seven times seventy” times).  The point: the disciple is not to count or limit forgiveness in any way.  Forgiveness, according to Jesus, has absolutely no bounds.

Just so Peter (and disciples like you and me!) really get the point, Jesus goes on to illustrate this teaching of boundless forgiveness with a parable in three scenes.  In the first scene, a king forgives a servant an enormous amount when the man asked the king to be released from the debt.  The second scene describes how that very servant, now freed of his huge debt, is approached by a fellow servant who owes the first servant a fraction of what the first servant owed the king.  The fellow-servant asks that his small debt be forgiven.  Instead of treating the fellow servant with the same mercy and forgiveness that he received from the king, the first servant has his fellow servant put in prison until he had paid the debt.  The third scene brings the point of the parable home succinctly: the king gets wind of the fact that the servant for whom he had forgiven a huge debt had not treated his fellow-servant in a like way when asked to forgive a paltry debt. The king then calls the unforgiving servant back, and punishes him severely for not having shown mercy to his fellow-servant.

The twofold teaching of this parable – along with Jesus’ initial response to Peter – emphasizes the extravagant mercy that God shows each of us… and the necessity of our exercising that same mercy with others in our own lives.  Not just seven times, but every time.

May we think of this passage each time we pray those familiar words: “forgive us our trespasses… as we forgive those who trespass against us!” 

 

Grace, mercy and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor 

 

p.s. Once again, St. Theresa Parishioners come through for those in need… in our “spontaneous” emergency collection two weeks ago to support Catholic Charities’ relief for hurricane victims, members of our community gave $5107.38 to help our brothers and sisters in distress. Thanks to all who gave for your generous response; donations for hurricane relief can still be made by going to www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.