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
Thursday
Dec072017

December 10, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent, a familiar figure appears in our Gospel (Mark 1: 1-18) – John the Baptist, who is considered a prophet who bridges the Old and New Testaments. In many ways, he’s an odd character – dressed in camel hair and eating a high protein, low carb diet of locusts and wild honey. The focus of John’s ministry, as we hear in today’s scriptures, is to echo the message of Isaiah the Prophet: “In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Is. 40: 3-5). In ancient times when a dignitary or ruler would visit a city, the townspeople would fix the roads to make the royal person’s entry smooth… so the people of Isaiah’s and John’s time understood that they were being called to the work of preparing the way of the Lord – not physical roadwork with shovels and stones, but rather in a metaphorical way: they were being called to look into their hearts and minds and “make smooth” their way of life in preparation for the (first) coming of the Messiah into the world.

Centuries later, we hear the same message.  Only this time, the challenge comes to us to prepare for the second coming of Christ – his coming at the end of time, a time that no one can predict. No less than the people at the time of Isaiah or John the Baptist, we too have “roadwork” to accomplish… so that we can be truly prepared to fearlessly and joyfully meet the Lord when he comes.

So, this Advent time gives us a wonderful opportunity to ask ourselves “what valleys and empty spaces in my life need to be filled in? What mountains or obstacles to God need to be levelled? What rough edges need to be smoothed?”

Perhaps, at first glance, it doesn’t seem like I’m in need of major roadwork (at least not like we’re all experiencing along Thomas Road these days!). But each of us might then want to take a second look, to delve a bit deeper into our Advent reflection. Maybe I’m too complacent when it comes to responding to the cynicism and disrespect so present in our world. Perhaps I’ve become aware of a smugness that sets me apart from others, or preoccupation about my wants during this shopping season, or a negativity and lack of gratitude for God’s many blessings in my life. 

Advent is a perfect time to start to fill the potholes and straighten the kinks in our lives… so that we can truly make this a season of “joyful expectation for the coming of the Lord!”     

 

Advent blessings,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

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Another voice: thoughts from one of the students of our parish school… for your inspiration!

St. Theresa School Mass is such a meaningful and important part of my life and my Catholic education. Every week I take a positive message with me after Mass that always lasts. I know my friends and so many other students feel the same way. I think it’s valuable for our parishioners to know how the school carries on the religious traditions of weekend Mass. The school Mass before Thanksgiving break is one of my favorite Masses because it reminds us of all the things we can give thanks to God for. The homily for this Mass was especially meaningful because Fr. JC asked us to kneel and pray for what we were thankful for. As a school community we all prayed together. When I prayed I felt the spirituality around me and I really focused on what I was thankful for in my heart. Throughout my Thanksgiving break I remembered thoughts and feelings I had during this prayerful time.

                                       ~A Junior High Student of St. Theresa Catholic School 

 

Friday
Dec012017

Reflections - December 3, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

We celebrate the beginning of a new Liturgical Year this weekend as we observe the First Sunday of Advent. As with the January 1st start of the secular year, we can look at our new Church year as a time for freshness and new beginnings.

Such freshness and progress in the area of our faith and morals is frankly unexpected.  We often look at such teaching as being “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.”  Twenty-five years ago, Pope St. John Paul II promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church – a volume of 2865 “paragraphs” or entries summarizing the faith of our Catholic Christianity, based on Scripture and two millennia of Church Tradition.  It was not by accident that John Paul II chose the thirtieth anniversary of the October 11, 1962 opening of the Second Vatican Council by Pope St. John XXIII as the “release date” for the Catechism.

Very much in the spirit of Vatican II, as he presented the Catechism in 1992, John Paul II said that “it should take into account the doctrinal statements which down through the centuries the Holy Spirit has intimated to his Church” and “it should also help to illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past.” In other words, the Catechism was seen from its very inception not as monolithic and changeless but as an evolving document in the way that it presents the truths of our faith. 

One such area of evolution has been in the Church’s teaching on the use of the death penalty in modern societies. In 1992, when John Paul II released the Catechism, paragraph 2226 still admitted the use of the death penalty. Five years later, Pope John Paul II (with the assistance of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI) issued a revision (§2267) substantially restricting the use of the death penalty: it said that, given the possibilities the modern state has of rendering the criminal incapable of doing harm again, “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” The Second Edition of the Catechism containing this revision was then released in 1997... affirming the Catechism as a living, evolving document. 

This past October 11th – in a statement commemorating the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – our Holy Father Pope Francis declared to a gathering of cardinals, bishops, clergy, religious and members of the diplomatic corps from many countries that the death penalty “is contrary to the Gospel.” He said that “however grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person.” Francis explained, “Here we are not in the presence of any contradiction with past teaching, because the dignity of human life from the first instant of conception to natural death has always found in the church it coherent and authoritative voice.” Thus, the Holy Father has taken a greater step than any of his predecessors by declaring publicly on a solemn occasion, directly related to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel” and “inadmissible,” making clear that the Catechism must address the question in a more complete way.

There can now be no doubt that we are a pro-life Church, a Church that reverences the gift of human life “from the womb to the tomb”… a pro-life ethic that is a “seamless garment,” using the terminology of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (the late Archbishop of Chicago). We believe that all life is sacred: only God has the power to give it or to take it away. And now the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, has affirmed that fact for all Catholics.

How blest we are to receive this guidance as we begin a new Year of Grace in our Church!

 

In Christ’s peace and hope,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Monday
Nov272017

Reflections - November 26, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate the final Sunday of our Church year, we have the third set of Sunday readings in as many weeks that deal with the topic of the end times: the fact that, as Christians, we believe that this life (and the world as we know it) will come to an end and a new life will begin when Christ returns in glory at a time that none of us can predict. These apocalyptic (end time) readings can seem terrifying for some, but to those who do their level best to live as Christ’s disciples, these scriptures are actually quite reassuring and motivating.

On this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we are given a “snapshot” of the final judgement in our Gospel reading (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus describes to his disciples what it will be like “when the son of Man comes in his glory” at the end of time: accompanied by all the angels, “he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him….”  The visual imagery of this Gospel passage is magnificent!   

Jesus goes on to describe what can be described as the “litmus test” for being admitted to God’s heavenly reign, the banquet of eternal life – what we most often refer to as heaven.  What’s required of those who will hear those words “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” has absolutely nothing to do with how popular we are in this life, or how much money we make, what political party or clubs we belong to or how much social status or power we have. It doesn’t even have to do with how many hours we spend in church, or how vocal we are about our faith, or how vehemently we adhere to the details of Catholic doctrine. 

Whether or not we inherit that kingdom prepared for us from the beginning of the world directly depends on how we relate to those around us – how we treat others. Jesus says to the righteous, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”  When questioned, Jesus goes on to assure them: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” 

There it is. The ultimate litmus test, the goal of every disciple: to treat others as if they were Christ himself. How do we even begin to do this, as humanly frail and broken as we are?  How can we do this, when it’s so easy to become short-tempered and preoccupied with self? 

I think that we can only hope to achieve this way of life when we remember that we can’t possibly do it on our own. We have to continually open ourselves to God’s grace and mercy, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us – and trusting in that guidance – at the very moments we struggle in treating the other as Christ.  When we’re able to do this, we’re strengthened as we deepen our intimacy with God… we grow in our ability to love God and to love our neighbor as self. We increase the chances of hearing those wonderful words at the end of time: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor      

 

Tuesday
Nov212017

Reflections - November 19, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays… simply because we get the opportunity to “wallow in gratitude” for all that God gives us. Think of it – there are so many blessings, so many gifts that God gives us… gifts that, in many cases, are all too easy to take for granted. Gifts that are given to us… not because we’ve earned them, but simply because our God loves us.

In these next few days before Thanksgiving Day, perhaps we can take some time to take into account some of those easily-taken-for-granted gifts. Gifts like health, the gift of our five senses, relationships with those who love us – and with those whom we love.  Houses to live in, beds to sleep in, food to eat… these are some gifts many people don’t have.  Employment, security, the ability to travel – even the ability to simply drive or walk to church.  The beautiful weather and scenery of our state of Arizona; the ability to worship in freedom and enjoy our other constitutional rights as Americans. Of course, this only begins to scratch the surface in naming God’s gifts in our lives. It’s really incredible when we begin to list the gifts we have been given; the reasons we have to be people of gratitude.

Many of us are aware that the word eucharist has its roots in the Greek word that means “to give thanks.” Every time we gather for Mass, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are expressing our gratitude to God. Listen carefully to the words of the Liturgy – especially the words of the Eucharistic Prayer – and it becomes so very obvious that “thanksgiving” is really a strong theme of every Mass.

What better way can there be to begin our Thanksgiving Day than celebrating the Eucharist? Though it is not one of the “holy days of obligation” of the Catholic Church, Thanksgiving Day could well be called a “holy day of volition:” one of those days we voluntarily choose to celebrate Mass together, under no obligation, simply because it feels right to do so in order to give God thanks.

This Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, we will gather for Mass at 9:00AM. Plan to join the community in celebrating the Eucharist as we begin the wonderful day of gratitude we call Thanksgiving! With a little advance planning, this should be a convenient time in everyone’s schedule. Please note that the 9:00AM Mass is the only Mass celebrated at St. Theresa on Thanksgiving Day – there will be no 6:30AM Mass this Thursday. If you’re planning to serve bread with your Thanksgiving Dinner, you’re welcome to bring it along with you for a special post-Communion blessing that will be offered.

May God’s blessings continue to come upon us and upon those we love during this season of gratitude… and may God continue to form us as a community of thankful praise!

 

With grateful prayers,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Nov142017

Reflections - November 12, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

We hear an interesting parable in today’s Gospel (Matthew 25: 1-30), a parable that in some ways at first glance seems harsh. It focuses in on the Jewish wedding custom of Jesus’ time, where it was traditional that the groom would be escorted from his home to the place of the wedding feast by virgins (likely the bridesmaids). Since weddings were often in the evenings, the bridesmaids would go before the groom with oil lamps or torches to light the way. In the Gospel story, we hear how the groom is delayed – when finally at midnight, the groom was ready. The women, who had drifted off to sleep, awoke and prepared to do their duty of meeting and escorting the groom to the feast. 

In the parable, Jesus points out that some of the bridesmaids were foolish – and their lamps had run out of oil. They were unprepared; whereas the wise women had brought along extra oil for just such a situation as the groom being delayed. Interesting, the wise ones would not share their oil with the foolish – they sent them off to buy more oil.  Meanwhile, the wise women – torches blazing – escorted the bridegroom to the wedding banquet and entered the feast.

What are we to make of this parable? Jesus is teaching his disciples the necessity of being prepared; remaining vigilant for the “coming of the bridegroom.” Those who are prepared will be ready to enter the wedding feast along with the bridegroom; those who aren’t prepared will be left to fend for themselves.  The “bridegroom” in the parable is Jesus himself; he’s speaking of his return in glory at the end of time – at a time impossible to predict. Those who are prepared, who have remained vigilant in living their lives as his disciples, will enter the heavenly banquet… while those who have “run out of fuel,” so to speak, in living their discipleship will find a closed door instead.

Perhaps the fuel that keeps our lamps of discipleship burning symbolizes all the good works – mercy, justice, faithfulness, love – that characterize the life of the believer.  Those who maintain a sufficient supply of this “fuel” will be prepared to greet the bridegroom (that is, Jesus when he comes in glory at the end of time) and those who haven’t prepared with enough “fuel” for their lamps will be unfortunately in no position to borrow the good works of discipleship from another person… even if that person were willing to give them. Each will be accountable for his or her own deeds.

As our Church Year moves toward its conclusion (the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year is the final Sunday of the year, the Solemnity of Christ the King) and we then move into the Season of Advent, we hear at Mass an increasing number of scripture passages having to do with apocalyptic (or, “end time”) themes. These readings have a common theme, summed up in the final verse of today’s Gospel: “”Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”  As his disciples, we are to always be prepared to greet the Lord – no matter when he comes or when we are called to him!

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor