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
Dec132018

Reflections - December 16, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

We are at that point of our Season of Advent when the Church “shifts gears” from encouraging our preparation and readiness to meet the Lord when he returns in glory at his Second Coming… to an emphasis on our preparations to celebrate the Lord’s First Coming at Christmas. This Advent change of direction occurs gradually each year, culminating on December 17th – beginning this week, you will notice a change in the nature of our scripture readings at Mass as well as the prayers that we use in our liturgies. For instance, the opening prayer for this Third Sunday of Advent brings together both themes of awaiting the future fullness of salvation’s joy as we prepare for the celebration Christmas: ”O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing…”

So, as we move into this second part of Advent, it’s good to take a look at how we are preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas, the First Coming of Jesus in history. Sure, there are the typical seasonal festivities and activities – the decorating, the parties, the shopping for gifts.  But is that all? Would it be possible to work a bit of extra prayer time into our already-hectic schedules, just to give thanks to God for the gift of his Son and all God’s graces and blessings in our lives? Perhaps we can take a little “break” from our typically seasonal preparations and craziness to visit a friend in hospital, or to make a phone call to someone we know finds this time of year difficult for one reason or another.  If we have the requisite talent (and don’t turn cookies into hockey pucks like I do), maybe baking a batch for a neighbor, co-worker or friend who isn’t on our regular gift-giving list, simply to thank them for their presence in our lives.

May these upcoming days of Advent be an opportunity to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s coming in time by exercising the gifts of our discipleship – along with the lights, the tinsel and all the other traditions that make this such a beautiful time of year!

 

Advent grace and peace,   

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Advent thoughts from a Junior High student of St. Theresa Catholic School…

During this Advent, we are all preparing for the birth of Christ on Christmas.  It's important for us to focus on light, which is a main theme of Advent.  Christ is the light of the world and guides us through darkness.  During the Christmas season, there are many examples of this.  We light the candles on our Advent wreaths to symbolize our preparation for His birth and for the flame of eternal life.  There are Christmas lights everywhere, reminding us of God's presence in our lives which brings us joy, peace, hope, and faith.  During our last school Mass, we were reminded to be the best people we can be by using Catholic values when we act.  Even though we receive presents at Christmas, the light is the most important thing, the light of Christ, the greatest gift God gave to the world.  May you enjoy all the gifts of Advent and Christmas and may your holiday season be bright with His light.

 

Friday
Dec072018

Reflections - December 9, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Recently I had a conversation with a visitor who continues to struggle with the perception that Pope Francis and the Holy See (i.e., the governance of our Church at the level of the Vatican) is downplaying, covering up or failing to adequately respond to the sexual misconduct scandals that have rocked our Church. This sense of frustration and anger is understandable; I can honestly say I, along with the majority of priests and bishops I know, have experienced tremendous heartache, anger and felt a sense of betrayal as the new details about the abuse scandal have come to light along with the knowledge of how the institutional Church has handled (or mishandled) credible allegations of sexual misconduct of priests and bishops in the past.

So, why hasn’t our Holy Father Francis taken more immediate, visible and perhaps drastic action in responding to the revelations? I think that there are some points of critical importance that have to be taken into consideration when we try to assess Pope Francis’ response.

First, we have to realize that – as Americans – we live in a very particular culture at a particular point in history where we are accustomed to fast food, lightning-speed Google search results and “instant gratification” as we are inundated with tweets, social media and a news cycle that is more reactionary than anything else. So, it’s natural for us to wonder “Why didn’t the Pope reply immediately to various questions posed to him about the scandals, or about conjectures about the Pope’s own integrity as he leads the Church through this storm?” and “Why did the Holy Father ask the US Bishops, meeting in Baltimore a few weeks ago, to delay voting on new policies for holding US bishops accountable for their dealing with abusers?”  These are questions that many reasonable Americans would ask.

But in contemplating these questions, we should remember that (according to Catholic belief) Pope Francis is empowered by the Holy Spirit as the Vicar of Christ on earth, responsible for guiding the Church throughout the world – not just in our own country, not just for Americans who are used to instant results. Our Holy Father realizes that crimes of abuse have happened in every country in the world where priests and bishops have used their power to take criminal advantage of the vulnerable – and he has to discern how best ministers of the Church throughout the world can be faithful to their call to reflect Christ in their ministry. Along with his advisors, Pope Francis is charting the course so that policies can be developed that will be applicable in India, in Spain, in Chile, in Uganda, in the United States, Ireland, the Philippines, Germany… everywhere. In order to properly discern the best course of action, the Holy Father has to listen, to pray, to consult and reflect... and call others to do so as well. This is something that requires a great deal of effort and deliberation – and research into how the root causes of abuse can be effectively addressed, as well as how it was possible that an abuser can climb the ladder of power in the Church and end up as head of a religious order or as a cardinal archbishop. Superficial, quick answers from the Pope are not appropriate in matters such as these, nor are hastily-crafted policies or directives from the Holy See or from a single nation’s Bishops’ Conference. While “putting it off” is unacceptable, we must recognize that dealing with this multifaceted issue will take time and deliberation.

Our Holy Father is taking unprecedented steps to heal and to move toward needed reform in our Church: he has summoned the presidents of all the world’s National Bishops’ Conferences to Rome in February to help discern the direction forward. Pope Francis has also called all the bishops of the United States to come together for a retreat in January in order to prayerfully reflect on what can be done so that our Church can grow holier as a result of the pain and scandal.  The Pope has also consistently asked Catholics worldwide for our prayers so that – in dealing with these issues – “we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.”  What is needed is trust in God.

 

Advent grace and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Dec042018

Reflections - December 2, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this first Sunday of the new Church Year – the beginning of the Season of Advent – we are confronted with a “scary” Gospel reading (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36) in which Jesus uses quite a bit of apocalyptic (end-times) imagery. It’s something like the Gospel from two Sundays ago, Mark 13: 24-32, that spoke of the end of the world being accompanied by the darkening of the sun and the moon, stars falling out of the sky and “the powers in the heavens being shaken.” 

While most Catholic Christians are familiar with the fact that we hear readings about the end of the world and the final judgement towards the conclusion of the Church Year… it may be startling to hear that theme continued in the Gospel of the very first day of the new Church Year. Wouldn’t you think that the Church would start its new year with a more upbeat, positive reading?

Actually (and perhaps unsurprisingly) this Gospel selection is very deliberate. Many of us are aware that Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. Often, though, we think that this season is all about our preparation for Christmas: the coming of Christ in history, or his “first” coming.  But in fact, Advent has a two-fold nature in helping us prepare for Christ’s coming: in the first part of Advent (up until December 17th), we focus on our preparation for Jesus Second Coming – that moment, that no one can predict, when he will return in glory at the end of time.  Hence, today’s apocalyptic Gospel passage. Then, from the 17th until the 24th, Advent focus us on our preparation to celebrate and commemorate Christ’s First Coming: in the manger at Bethlehem on Christmas Day, when “God became flesh and dwelt among us.”

So, what are we to make of today’s Gospel reading? While the images sound terrifying (“People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world…”), as Christ’s disciples we are invited to focus ourselves on the pivotal verse of this passage: “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Lk. 21:28). You see, if we make our best effort to live out our discipleship each day, we will be able to stand erect and raise our heads – rather than cowering in fear – when the Lord returns in glory at that time no one can predict. How exactly can we make our best effort to live out our discipleship each day? Well, Jesus gives us what can be considered the ultimate standard of discipleship in the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, all your mind and all your heart… and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). To see some very practical applications of the Greatest Commandment (a “how to list” of living out this commandment), check out Matthew 25:31-46.

As we begin Advent, we rely on God’s grace to be our strength so that we can practice our discipleship each day – preparing joyfully for that time when we shall behold our God face-to-face.

 

Advent blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Wednesday
Nov212018

Reflections - November 25, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

A “wise elder” of the parish recently mentioned to me how he thought it might be helpful for me to share a brief catechesis (religious teaching) on Holy Communion – specifically, what the Church teaches about the reception at Communion of the Body of Christ as well as the Blood of Christ. He has, over the years, heard from people who wonder if they are receiving “all of Holy Communion” if they choose to receive the Host while abstaining from the Chalice – or, are they only receiving “partial Communion?”  

Well, to answer this question in a word: No. One receives the entirety of the Body and Blood of Christ when one received under one species (form) of the Eucharist – i.e., under the form of bread alone or under the form of wine alone. Either way, the “all” of Jesus Christ is received. To receive both the Body and Blood of Christ is a “fuller sign” of the Sacrament (keeping in mind Jesus’ words to his disciples at the Last Supper “Take and eat, this is my Body… take and drink, this is my Blood) but the person who receives under both species is not receiving “more Jesus” than the one who receives only the Host, or only the Cup.

To place all of this in an historical context: according to the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds (as found as an appendix of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal), “From the first days of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion consisted of the reception of both species in fulfillment of the Lord’s command to ‘take and eat… take and drink.’  The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds was thus the norm for more than a millennium of Catholic liturgical practice” (§17).  “The practice of Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass continued until the late eleventh century, when the custom of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful under the form of bread alone began to grow.  By the twelfth century theologians such as Peter Cantor speak of Communion under one kind as a ‘custom’ of the church.  This practice spread until the Council of Constance in 1415 decreed that Holy Communion under the form of bread alone would be distributed to the faithful” (§18).  But, in 1963 – in the document Sacrosantum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council – the Church authorized the extension of the faculty to receive Communion under both kinds to all the faithful, teaching “Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds” and “at the same time, the faithful should be instructed to participate more readily in this sacred rite (receiving under both kinds), by which the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is made more fully evident” (§20).

While the practice of the faithful receiving under both species has been restored by the Second Vatican Council, this “does not represent a change in the Church’s immemorial beliefs concerning the Holy Eucharist” (§21) – i.e., one who receives Communion under one species alone is still receiving the entire “Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.”

Sometimes, you might note a person receiving only from the Cup – while not receiving the Host.  Most often this is due to a wheat or gluten allergy that a communicant might have. It should be noted that low-gluten Hosts are available for those suffering celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity; a person in need of such a Host is asked to simply stop in the sacristy ten minutes or so before Mass and the procedure for reception of the low-gluten host will be explained by a priest deacon or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. 

God is so good to us, nourishing us with the very Body and Blood of his Son… so that we may live fully and joyfully as Christ’s disciples!

 

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Monday
Nov192018

Reflections - November 18, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

For most Americans, when we think of “Thanksgiving,” we call to mind turkey and cranberry sauce, family gatherings, parades, bowl games and perhaps Pilgrims in the early days of their settlement in what was to become the United States.  These are some of the traditions that we have come to associate with the holiday that we will be celebrating this coming Thursday.  As memorable as all these traditions are, they really don’t get to the core of what Abraham Lincoln envisioned when – in the midst of the trials of the Civil War – he proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday in 1863.  President Lincoln proclaimed not an annual observance of “turkey day,” but rather an annual day for the people of this country to call to mind God’s great blessings in their lives.

It was clear to Lincoln that the blessings of food, land, family, and freedom enjoyed by Americans are all gifts from the Creator.  But Americans, he realized, had forgotten this.  A special day was needed for us to forget our differences and remember our blessings.  This was particularly important for Americans, who were divided into Union and Confederacy, “blue and gray,” North and South, in 1863.  Remembering blessings was essential in those days of tragic loss of life, families and fellow-citizens torn apart by differing ideologies… those days when it wasn’t unusual for people to question what the future of our country would look like.  For Abraham Lincoln, remembering one’s blessings (rather than focusing on all that was painfully wrong in America during the Civil War) naturally led to giving thanks to the Source of those blessings: a loving and gracious God.     

As I look back on the “roots” of our American holiday of Thanksgiving, it seems to me that – not unlike citizens in those days of Lincoln – we find ourselves in the midst of difficult times in our country.  Divisiveness is now defined by whether one is “red” or “blue,” rather than “blue” or “gray.”  Tragedy and death is now being reported from everyday places where people are innocently gathered, rather than from the battlefields of Gettysburg or Antietam.  Families – even the family of the Catholic Church – continue to be torn by differing ideologies and disagreement.

Stepping back from all of this, forgetting our differences and taking time to focus on the blessings given to us by our God, especially the blessings that we so easily take for granted – and then, giving profound thanks to our God – is as powerful an antidote to preoccupation and worry in our day as it was in the day of Abraham Lincoln. Remembering the blessings, rather than focusing on the ills of our society and our world… and then gratefully rejoicing in the love of God that makes all of our blessings possible: this is the core of our annual celebration Thanksgiving Day. And it’s reason for celebration that is every bit as valid in 2018 as it was in 1863!

As is our custom at St. Theresa, we will celebrate our Annual Mass of Thanksgiving Day on Thursday at 9:00AM.  This is the only Mass we celebrate on Thanksgiving Day (there is no 6:30AM Mass scheduled this Thursday).  I invite all of us to give thanks together as a Eucharistic Community gathered around the bountiful table of the Lord as we begin our celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday (particularly appropriate, as the word Eucharist is derived from the Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”).

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer    

Pastor