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
Apr182019

Reflections - April 21, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!” This verse, from Psalm 118, is the refrain from the responsorial Psalm of Easter Sunday – and these words so well sum up the Church’s spirit as we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection today. 

We rejoice in the fact that Jesus was lifted from death by the power of the Father’s love; we rejoice in the faith of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” who – upon entering the empty tomb, “saw and believed” (John 20:8). We rejoice in what this means for all of us who have been conformed to Christ, the Risen One, through our baptism: we, like the Risen Christ, have the promise of eternal life following our own death.

Admittedly, this is “a lot” for us to get our heads around, particularly because we live in a culture that is generally based on logic and empirical evidence. Beyond the discovery of the burial cloths and the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus in death, there was no solid evidence of Christ’s resurrection when the Apostle John stepped into the empty tomb. Bodily resurrection, life after death was a totally illogical and preposterous concept for the first-Jew, and yet something clicked inside of John. Through faith, he “saw and believed.”

Bodily resurrection after death, eternal life is no more logical or empirically proven in the twenty-first century than it was in the first century. Yes, we have an unbroken line of 2000 years of believers who have trusted that the Easter message is true… but this is based solely on the free will decision of each individual to use his or her free will to believe – or not. Often, that belief took a Christian an entire lifetime to perfect.

Today we will have the opportunity to renew our baptismal promises – those promises that we made (or our parents and godparents made for us) at the time of our baptism. Two of the articles of faith that we are invited to say “I do” to are: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ… who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?” and “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?”

True belief in such intangible things as resurrection and life after death is seldom something we arrive at instantly. Most of us aren’t quite up to the standards of the disciple John who “saw and believed” on the spot. We learn in the readings of Mass over the Fifty Days of Easter that many of the disciples were comparatively slow to believe. Their faith in the resurrection of Jesus as well as “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting” was something that evolved over the course of time and involved various steps and stages. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the Church sets aside a period of fifty days – from now through Pentecost Sunday – to allow us to reflect on and grow in our faith in the Lord’s resurrection and the new life that the Risen Christ promises us after death.

As we profess our faith in the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and are sprinkled with the waters of baptism, the same water blessed and used at the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday evening to baptize those who completed their initiation into the Catholic Christian faith, may we – like the majority of those first century disciples - be open to that evolution of faith and deepening of belief that leads us to accept the reality of Christ’s resurrection and its effects on our own lives, both now and for eternity. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!”   

 

Easter peace and joy,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Apr122019

Reflections - April 14, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, we find ourselves on the threshold of the most sacred time of our Church Year – aptly called Holy Week. Celebrating Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion today, we recall how Jesus entered in triumph into Jerusalem – with crowds spreading their cloaks and strewing palm and olive branches before him, while calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” as they praised God for the mighty deeds they had seen accomplished through Jesus.

How quickly that triumphant, joyful exultation turns somber… as we listen to the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord, recounting the experiences of Jesus as the “hosannas” fade into memory and Jesus, fully God and fully human, enters into the days of fulfilling his destiny to share a final meal with his disciples, to be denied by those closest to him, tried as a criminal, led to an agonizing death on a cross and then placed in a tomb. All of this, though, is just a prelude to what we will celebrate in a week and for fifty days thereafter… death being conquered by new life and the path to eternal life being laid open to us. 

Our “high holy days” in the Catholic Christian tradition are the three days of the Paschal Triduum (pronounced “trih-doo-um”) beginning Holy Thursday with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and culminating with the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Holy Saturday. Technically this is one continuous liturgy: on Holy Thursday we begin with the Sign of the Cross (as at all Masses) and the concluding Sign of the Cross is the final blessing at the Easter Vigil. Unique annual rites take place during the Triduum: at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we commemorate Christ’s mandatum (or mandate) to serve as he served. This is ritualized by the Washing of the Feet at Mass, followed by the commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist celebrated in the Eucharistic Prayer. Immediately after Communion, all are invited to join in a procession to Fr. Feeney Hall where the Eucharist is reposed until midnight for silent adoration (commemorating Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane). On Good Friday, the Triduum Liturgy continues with the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the Procession and Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. This is a very powerful service which is not a Mass at all (the Church’s ancient tradition prohibits the celebration of Mass on Good Friday and Holy Saturday before the beginning of the Easter Vigil). At the conclusion of the Good Friday liturgy, the church is left bare and empty through Holy Saturday (even the Eucharist is absent from the tabernacle) – this commemorates the time that the body of Jesus lay in the tomb and his spirit descended to the realm of the dead. Shortly after sundown on Holy Saturday, we gather in a darkened church for the Easter Vigil – lighting the Easter Fire, blessing the Paschal Candle, listening to the Hebrew scriptures foretelling our salvation… followed by the Gloria, the singing of the Easter Alleluia and proclamation of the Resurrection Gospel. The Elect are baptized, confirmed and receive their First Eucharist at this first Mass of Easter.

This year, due to the time of sunset, the Triduum Liturgy begins at 7:30PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Triduum is an experience all Catholics should have at least once – as it is that time when we enter into the central mysteries of our faith. I encourage you to make time to join us for all three parts of the Triduum Liturgy.  It can truly be a life-giving and faith-enhancing experience!

Additionally, Stations of the Cross are prayed at Noon on Good Friday in the church and on Holy Saturday morning, the ancient Office of Tenebrae (psalms and scripture readings) will be prayed at 5:30AM. All are welcome. No Masses apart from the Triduum Liturgy are celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Confessions are not scheduled on Holy Saturday (Please note: the last opportunity to attend Reconciliation before Easter will be this Wednesday, April 17th, from 5:00 – 6:00PM). On Easter Sunday, Masses are celebrated at 6:00, 7:30, 9:00, 9:15 and 11:00AM. The 6:00 and 9:15 Masses are outdoors in the school courtyard. There is no 5:00PM Mass celebrated on Easter Sunday.

I look forward to us sharing our community’s journey through these holiest of days, in union with the Church throughout the world.

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor            

 

Friday
Apr052019

Reflections - April 7, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Last week I learned from Fr. Nelson Libera (a fellow Judge on the Tribunal and Pastor of St. Matthew Parish and School in West Phoenix) that he and his parishioners had spent the prior Sunday (March 24th) assisting 37 migrant families seeking asylum in the US (90 people in all) who had been “dropped off” by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. These families were bused from the border and simply left at the bus terminal to fend for themselves. They had no resources, no place to sleep, no food, water and only the clothing on their backs.

Parishioners of St. Matthew’s, members of their parish and school staff were joined by other volunteers from a network of Valley churches to provide medical care, food, water and showers.  Many of the asylum-seekers shared their experiences with Fr. Nelson, who was moved by the stories of the conditions in their own countries from which they were fleeing along with stories of their long journey to seek asylum. Having had a week-long stay in El Salvador the year before last related to my involvement with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), I have some appreciation of the economic and other hardships of many Salvadorans, the prevalence of gang violence and even the corruption of many police and other government officials. Currently, the US Department of State classifies El Salvador as a “Level 3/High Risk” country for danger, noting “Violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics and arms trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”  Honduras and Nicaragua are also Level Three countries (only Level Four countries, mostly found in war zones, are considered more dangerous). Three out of the seven nations are considered “high risk” by the State Department – and these countries are the ones that many Central Americans are fleeing in search of asylum. Frankly, if I lived with my family in a Level Three country with little hope of change or improvement there, I too would be seeking asylum. And, traditionally, the United States has been considered a refuge for those seeking asylum. (Note: the asylum-seekers are not “undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants. These individuals and families have presented themselves to US authorities at the border in order to begin the process of being granted asylum. It’s at that point that our government buses them to places like Phoenix, so that they can then find their way to family members or friends around the US until such time their asylum cases are settled). Unfortunately there is a gap between the asylum-seekers being dropped off by ICE and their being able to make it to wherever their destinations might be. This is where communities like St. Matthew’s have stepped in to assist the asylum-seekers. I am pleased to let you know that St. Theresa Parish has assisted St. Matthew Parish in their efforts to assist the asylum-seekers with a grant of $1200 from our parish tithing budget. It’s just one small way that we can help an already economically-disadvantaged parish community as they respond to the Gospel challenge to “welcome the stranger.”

Our Holy Father Pope Francis, in addressing the people of Morocco on March 30th upon his arrival there noted that the migration crisis throughout the world is “grave” and that it is an “urgent summons for concrete actions.”  The pope went on to urge global governments to see migrants as "persons, not numbers" and to acknowledge "their rights and dignity in daily life and in political decisions."  He said that many would not have left their home countries "were they not forced to do so.” 

May our Lenten journey challenge us to be grateful for the blessings that we enjoy (and easily take for granted) as we grow in our sensitivity toward those seeking hope in new lands.

 

Lenten grace and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor    

 

Friday
Mar292019

Reflections - March 31, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

At this weekend’s 11:00AM Mass, we have the privilege of celebrating the Second Scrutiny of the Elect.  This is part of the Church’s ancient tradition surrounding the initiation into the Catholic Faith of those who have never been baptized.  The “Elect” are the individuals who have neared the completion of their journey toward the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist that they will soon receive.  They have already participated in classes leading up to the Rite of Election, and now they are moving through the three Scrutinies… all of which prepare them for their Christian Initiation that will take place at the Easter Vigil on April 20th.

The Rites of Scrutiny – which contain prayers of minor exorcism to drive out anything within the Elect that is not of God – are always accompanied by readings from Cycle A of the Lectionary (even though all the other Masses use this year’s Cycle C readings). The reason for this is that the Gospel for each of the Scrutinies contains special instruction for the Elect. The rather long Gospel passages of the Samaritan Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind and the Raising of Lazarus are chosen by the Church very deliberately so as to strengthen the Elect on their faith journey (as well as to remind each of us who are already baptized of the faith journey that we continue on!)

Today’s Second Scrutiny presents to us the story of the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41).  It’s a fascinating account of Jesus’ healing (on the Sabbath) of a man who was born unable to see… and the resulting consternation of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees became fixated on the fact that Jesus had violated the Law of Moses by healing on the Sabbath (the Pharisees considered healing to be “work”).  They grilled the now-healed blind man mercilessly over how Jesus, whom they considered a sinner because he had violated the Sabbath traditions by healing, had brought about this healing.  Frustrated by the healed man’s answers, they threw him out – refusing to listen to him as they gave him answers they didn’t want to hear (e.g., that if Jesus were not from God, he would not have been able to give the blind man his sight).  Amazingly, the Pharisees were so caught up in the “how and when” of the healing (and how they could use this incident against Jesus) that they were completely blinded to the miraculous healing itself.  The fact that, in the words of the formerly-blind man, “It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind” did not move the Pharisees in the least.  The more important thing to them is that their rules had been violated. 

The Gospel story ends with a great reversal: the formerly-blind man whose eyes had been opened by Jesus had his sight restored and was able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah; yet the Pharisees, while they were physically able to see, were revealed to be spiritually blind.  “There are none so blind as those who will not see” is an old    proverb that can readily be applied to these Pharisees.  In being so mired in a religion of rules and regulations, they failed to see the wonder of God at work in giving sight to a blind man.  The Pharisees had become blinded by their own self-righteousness.

Today we pray that our Elect will freed of any spiritual blindness so that they may clearly see the glory of God in our world.  We pray too for each of us – may we be freed of self-righteousness and any spiritual blindness that might afflict us – so that, with renewed spiritual insight, we may live joyfully and effectively as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

 

Lenten grace and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor         

 

Friday
Mar222019

Reflections - March 24, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Our journey through the holy and joyful Season of Lent continues – and, as we’re a little more than halfway through these forty days of transformation and spiritual growth as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery in Holy Week and Easter, it may be a good time to ask ourselves the question “How well am I doing with that Ash Wednesday invitation to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel?” Maybe I’ve been diligent with certain Lenten practices (abstaining from meat on Fridays, taking on some extra devotions and prayers, being more generous than usual in giving alms and feeding the poor) – but – is my behavior changing at all?  Am I deepening my relationship with God, becoming any less “self-referential” or self-centered?  Are the changes that I’m experiencing during Lent the sort of change and spiritual improvement that can continue beyond Lent and through the remainder of the year?

Recently, I came across a posting online that “struck me” as a few very practical suggestions that can lead us to experience a more fruitful Lent and are practices that could easily be sustained during the Easter Season and beyond. These “Take 5 for Lent!” suggestions are simple, yet potent daily aids in our journey of discipleship in Jesus Christ:

1) Read Scripture for 5 minutes

2) Name 5 things that you are grateful for

3) Smile at 5 people today

4) Take 5 minutes for silence

5) Pray for 5 people.

Also, as we continue our Lenten journey, it’s natural for Catholics to use this forty day time of “turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel” to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we approach Holy Week and Easter. Now may be a good time to note this on your calendar:

  • · Our Lenten Evening of Reconciliation will take place in just over two weeks on Monday April 8th from 6:30 until 8:30PM

 

  • · Our . Please note that Confessions are NOT offered on Holy Saturday (April 20th), the day before Easter – as “the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and his Descent into Hell, and awaiting his Resurrection” (from the Roman Missal   

 

May this Lent be a time of fruitful spiritual growth and an increase in works of mercy for each of us!

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor