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-Noon          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

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
Thursday
Oct182018

Reflections - October 21, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel (Mark 10:35-45), James and John come across as being very “cheeky” (to use my grandmother’s term) in approaching Jesus and saying to him “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  Even in today’s culture, for a student/disciple to make such a request of a teacher/master would be considered brash, maybe even disrespectful.  But, James and John appear to be on a roll… and they go on to say to the Lord “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”  These two upstarts are asking for the primary places of honor in the reign of God!

I could think of many ways that Jesus could have replied to James and John… none of which would be altogether pleasant.  But Jesus, as always, takes the high road and patiently addresses their impertinence.

Essentially, Jesus reminds James and John (along with each of us who try to live as Christ’s disciples) that our focus should never be on having places of honor… not only in the life to come, but in this life as well.  He points out first that – if we are truly Christ’s disciples – we have to be willing to share in the sufferings of Christ (drinking “the cup” that Jesus drinks of, being baptized in “the baptism” with which Jesus has been baptized).  Not only that, our focus – like the focus of the Lord himself – must be on selfless service… and never devolve into lording it over others or flaunting authority: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”  I think James, John and the other disciples (who were “indignant” over the initial request of the two brothers) heard the Lord’s message, loud and clear.

Of course, this message applies equally to us in the twenty-first century as it did to those first-century disciples.  It’s easy in our world to get caught up in seeking honor and recognition, or even expecting it as an entitlement for who we are or what we do in our careers or social life.  Then, when we don’t receive the pat on the back, the promotion at work, the applause of a spouse or the upgrade to first class… we can feel “indignant” like the other disciples in today’s Gospel story.  It’s healthy for us (and probably good for our blood pressure!) that Jesus reminds us where the true rewards are: imitating him who came “not to be served but to serve,” putting others first, trying our best to respond lovingly to the needs of those around us and not seeking or expecting special recognition.  

 

In Christ’s peace,  

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Some food for thought from a student of St. Theresa Catholic School…  The Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer, Luke 11:1-4) is the center of our Catholic faith.  During our school Mass last week I reflected on Father Joachim’s homily.  Jesus gave this prayer to his disciples to help them pray to God and to help them spread this prayer to the world to also teach others how to pray. God sent Jesus to the world to save us from sin and to lead us into eternal life.  Jesus had to die on the cross to save us.  As Catholics who accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we are his disciples.  The main idea of the Our Father is for us to first ask for forgiveness for our own sins.  Just like Jesus, we need to forgive others who have wronged us or sinned.  It can be hard to admit our mistakes, but we are humans who are not perfect.  It can also be hard to forgive others when we feel hurt.  We should pray the Our Father every day so that we can be the best people we can be, focusing on love. ~ A Saint Theresa Junior High Student

 

Monday
Oct152018

Reflections - October 14, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

As I have expressed to you previously, one of the top recommendations made by parishioners who gathered for our Evening of Prayer and Discussion on September 24th was the desire (and the necessity) of receiving regular updates about the Church’s response to the current crises surrounding sexual abuse and the abuse of power in our Catholic Church. I had planned to write about an entirely different topic this week, but reconsidered when a very significant “Open Letter on Recent Allegations against the Holy See” was released by the Vatican News Service just this past Sunday.  It was a letter authored by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops (the Vatican “department” responsible for advising the Pope on the appointment and management of bishops/archbishops throughout the world. The prefect is the “head” of that “department”).

Please go to our parish website, www.StTheresaPhx.org, and take the time to read the letter of Cardinal Ouellet posted on/linked to the home page. It is most enlightening. You can also find there a copy of the homily that I preached at all Masses two weeks ago, as a follow-up to our Evening of Prayer and Discussion.    

Cardinal Ouellet writes on October 7th with the express permission of Pope Francis in responding to various accusations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Papal Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the United States. You may recall that Abp. Viganò released a lengthy “testimony” to right-wing media outlets a few weeks ago that – among other things – alleged various conspiracies by Vatican cardinals and bishops, the promotion by Pope John Paul II of Archbishop McCarrick to Cardinal and the failure of Pope Francis to take action against the retired McCarrick.  In his testimony, Abp. Viganò also called for the resignation of Pope Francis, leading to division and scandal in the Church and in the wider world. Evidently the Archbishop then “went into hiding” following the release of his testimony to the media and is unreachable. Sadly, much of the Archbishop’s testimony appears to be politically motivated (yes, there are “politics” in the Church) against the Pope.

Our Holy Father has pledged that, in investigating all the allegations raised by Abp. Viganò, “We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.” Pope Francis stated categorically that “both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.” The investigations into the allegations made by Archbishop Viganò are ongoing – and the Open Letter of Cardinal Ouellet appears to be an initial part of the “much fuller response” to the allegations that the Holy Father has promised.

To quote Cardinal Ouellet’s closing words: “It would please God that this injustice be quickly repaired and that Pope Francis might continue to be recognized for who he is: an eminent pastor, a compassionate and firm father, a prophetic charism for the Church and for the world.  May he continue his missionary reform joyfully and in full confidence, comforted by the prayer of the People of God and by the renewed solidarity of the entire Church together with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary.”

 

Peace and unity in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Oct092018

Reflections - October 7, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Last weekend, I was glad to preach at all the parish Masses in an effort to help our community understand how the Catholic Church has been responding – and continues to respond – to issues of clergy sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the “clerical culture” of the Church that has contributed to the secrecy and past mishandling of allegations of abuse.  I shared some statistics concerning sexual abuse, some practical ways that the Church has been working to achieve a safe environment for our young and vulnerable members as well as the efforts underway by Pope Francis and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to hold bishops and other Church leaders to accountability as we – the People of God, the Church – continue to address these issues. My preaching was a follow-up to our September 24th Evening of Prayer and Discussion, at which participants asked for greater transparency and regular updates regarding the challenges facing our Church.

It may seem obvious, but one of the indispensable tools that each of us as Catholic Christians has available to help “build a better Church” is something that we may easily overlook or take for granted: the power of prayer.

Pope Francis has invited Catholics worldwide to pray the Rosary and two other prayers throughout the month of October (which, like May, is a month specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary).  The Holy Father asks that we “join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.”

Holy Father Francis asks that we “conclude the recitation of the Rosary with the ancient invocation Sub Tuum Praesidium, and with the prayer to Saint Michael Archangel that he protect us and help us in the struggle against evil” (see Revelation 12, 7-12).  With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.

For those unfamiliar with the prayers that Pope Francis requests after praying the Rosary, here are their English translations:

Sub Tuum Praesidium

We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Prayer for the Intercession of St. Michael

Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Blessings and healing in Christ,   

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Oct022018

Reflections - September 30, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

As I write this first thing Tuesday morning (to make the publisher’s deadline for the Sunday bulletin), less than twelve hours have passed since we were in the midst of our Monday “Evening of Prayer and Discussion” – an opportunity for parishioners to come together and voice their concerns, questions, frustrations and anger over the scandals of sexual misconduct and abuse of power that have recently roiled the Church. As I introduced our time of sharing and prayer, I admitted that I didn’t “have all the answers” – and also spoke of how the revisiting of the sexual abuse scandals in our Church (as well as the newly-exposed shortcomings, petty infighting and criminal behavior among members of the Church hierarchy) have left me saddened, angered and disillusioned as well. 

I feel that our time together was productive (as well as emotionally draining)… parishioners, parish staff members and clergy coming together as the Body of Christ, the People of God, in order to share feelings and insights as we make our way through the current storms of our human brokenness as we make our pilgrim journey toward its final destination: the Kingdom of God. This image of the Church as a “pilgrim people on a journey,” so eloquently used during the Second Vatican Council, speaks to me powerfully.  As we, the Church, have for the past twenty centuries learned and grown as a result of our mistakes, human fallibility and sinfulness (think of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the corruption and loss of focus that led to the Protestant Reformation)… so I truly feel that the current “storm” we are experiencing is serving to help us as a Church learn from past sinful (and criminal) behavior on the part of some of our members and leaders to become a truer and more effective community of Christ’s disciples in our world.  

Though I have not yet had the opportunity to review the notes that were transcribed during our gathering, much of the discussion Monday evening centered around questions like: “Why is sexual abuse an ongoing issue on the Church?” “What are the leaders of our Church – the bishops and the Pope – doing to address this problem?” “What’s wrong with the structure of the Church that this issue of sexual abuse comes up over and over again?” “How are factors like celibacy and homosexuality contributing to the abuse of minors by clergy?” “What is the Church doing to keep our children safe?”  Obviously, questions like these are impossible to thoroughly answer in just a few words (and will require more detailed follow-up in future gatherings like Monday night’s and other means such as through the bulletin, parish website and in Sunday homilies). For now, though, I’d like to suggest that you check out the Safe Environment Program which is required of all clergy, teachers, parish and school staff as well as every volunteer in ministry in the Catholic Church: go to www.phoenix.setanet.org to learn about how all Dioceses of the United States have, since 2002, used this mandated training for all priests, deacons, employees and volunteers. This training has made a huge difference in raising awareness and sharply reducing instances of sexual abuse in the Church.   For a good statistical overview of the progress that the Church has made in addressing the scourge of abuse (and to see the graphs that I referred to Monday evening, go to our parish website (www.StTheresaPhx.org) and click on “CARA study indicates decline in abuse reports. Is the worst behind us?”

I hope that this is helpful, and look forward to continuing to inform our community (through the bulletin, from the “pulpit” and in future meetings such as Monday’s) of how our Holy Father Pope Francis, our bishops and the entire People of God – the Church – continues to address sinfulness, scandal and problems so that we may progress on our pilgrim journey of more fully reflecting who we are as the Body of Christ in our world.

 

With faith, hope and love,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Sep202018

Reflections - September 23, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

So many of us have been left reeling by the events in the life of our Catholic Church during the course of the past several weeks.  By the time you read this (since I am writing on September 11th prior to my departure for retreat), additional time will have passed.  Perhaps the meeting scheduled at the Vatican on September 13th between our Holy Father Francis and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, will result in some “calming of the storm” that we are moving through as Catholic Christians.  As of this writing, the Vatican is “preparing the necessary clarifications that top Vatican officials including Pope Francis covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal” according to a statement issued by Pope Francis’ nine cardinal-advisors, who have expressed “full solidarity” with the Holy Father over the scandal.  Perhaps these clarifications will be released by the time you read this, and the accusations of the former Papal Nuncio to the US (which have already been changed by the ex-papal ambassador and contradicted on a number of levels by public record and by Pope Emeritus Benedict’s personal aide) will be seen in a whole new perspective.

Be that as it may, I can say as a priest who is in his thirty-ninth year of priesthood, that the revelations of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report (as well as other revelations of sexual misconduct both in the US and abroad by brother priests, bishops and even cardinals) have left me angry and hurt.  It’s a shame I feel deeply – especially for the victims, whose pain I can’t even imagine.  On top of it all, to have what seem to me to be power plays and factionalism dividing our church and threatening our unity under Christ’s Vicar on Earth, Pope Francis, are unconscionable and in my opinion, diabolical.

As Pope Francis himself realizes, we as the institution of the Church have much to repent for.  That process of repentance and purification continues, as we are aware, into our own day and I am sure will continue until the end of time.  For nearly two thousand years, our Church has evolved, learning from the sins of our past.  Our imperfection as human beings making up the Body of Christ, the Church, on earth is particularly evident at this time in our history.  The human brokenness of the Church was highlighted in history during the Crusades, the Inquisition and in countless other instances… yet we are told by Jesus himself that he has built the Church on Peter and his successors – and “the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.”  Only God, though, is perfect – not human beings.

Confident that God is indeed guiding us toward healing and wholeness as the People of God, the Church, I invite any adult who may be interested join me and members of the Parish Staff for an “Evening of Discussion and Intercessory Prayer for our Church” this Monday evening at 6:30 until 8:00PM in church.  Child care will be provided.  I hope that this gathering can give us an opportunity for us to simply come together to talk to one another, listen to one another, pray and open ourselves to God’s wisdom and guidance in the context of our community of faith.  I don’t promise to have answers to all questions or any “instant cure” for the pain and confusion, but maybe our coming together on Monday can be step forward in our healing process.

May God’s Spirit guide us forward on our journey of faith, hope and love as disciples of Jesus Christ, his Body on earth – the People of God, the Church. 

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor