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
Feb142019

Reflections - February 17, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

I recently read an article in America Magazine (an excellent Catholic periodical published by the Jesuits) that spoke of the experience of parents and priests around the presence of little children at Mass.  Predictably, the stories told by parents covered the spectrum from being made to feel terribly unwelcome at Mass by a priest or a fellow church-goer due their child “doing what children do” and not being perfectly still and quiet… to the exact opposite, where families with young children felt embraced by a caring and welcoming community and their presence at Mass is a cause for joy and hope. 

Not surprisingly, those families who are made to feel unwelcome (either by the priest or by adults around them) because of their children often make the decision to go elsewhere for Mass (or, they just quit going altogether – thinking “maybe we’ll return when the children are a little older,” but in fact they just drift away).  Conversely, those who feel that their entire family (kids and all) are welcome at Mass end up being joyful and engaged parishioners, active in their Catholic faith. 

I do believe that St. Theresa is a parish where little ones are a valued presence at Mass (I hope you parents feel the same way!)  To me, a squeal or other reminder of the existence of young people at Mass is a wonderful reminder of the gift of life and is a sign of hope in our Church… and of course, that’s only amplified in the ramada after Mass when the kids are running around with their donuts, playing hide-and-seek with their friends. 

One insightful priest, quoted in the America article, summed it up wonderfully by saying this:

“I love having little kids at Mass.  I love it when they are bored and pay no attention and squirm. I love it when they get distracted by a moth and spend five minutes following the moth’s precarious voyage among the lights.  It’s all good.  They are being soaked in the Mass.  They hear the words and feel the reverence and maybe they even sense the food of the experience, you know?  Sometimes people complain and make veiled remarks about behavior and discipline and decorum and the rapid dissolution of morals today and stuff like that but I have no patience for it.  For one thing they were little kids at Mass once, and for another if there are no little kids at Mass, pretty soon there won’t be any Masses.  You have to let kids be kids.

I love having little kids at Mass.  If you are distracted by a little kid being a little kid you are not focused on what’s holy.  Little kids are holy.  Let it be.  My only rule is no extended fistfights.  Other than that I don’t care about grapes and yawning.  I think the cadence and the rhythm and the custom and the peace of the Mass soak into kids without them knowing it.  That’s why a lot of the students here come back to Mass, I think—it sparks some emotional memory in them, and once they are back at Mass then they pay attention in new ways and find new food in it.  It’s all good.  The more the merrier.  I don’t mind dogs when I celebrate Mass, either.  For one thing they are generally better behaved than little kids, but for another I figure the Mass soaks into them too, and how could that be bad?  You know what I mean?”

To me, this is a perspective that we can all reflect upon!

 

Peace and joy in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Feb082019

Reflections - February 10, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Back in 1978 when I was in graduate school/seminary, as I was discerning the question of being ordained a deacon (in preparation for my ordination as a priest), I struggled with the logic of moving forward on the path to priesthood.  The other “pull” in my life was to transfer to med school in order to become a physician.  Well, to be completely candid, I had also come to know a young lady – also in a grad program at Catholic University, working toward her Masters in Social Work – and there certainly was the opportunity to pursue a deeper relationship with her. Against these “odds,” I questioned how it made sense for me to continue studying for the priesthood as opposed to going in the direction of medicine and marriage.  But somehow, I just couldn’t get the idea of priestly ministry out of my mind… even though it didn’t make much logical sense as compared to the alternatives. Now, 40-plus years later (and nearly 39 years into the priesthood) I can honestly say that I made the right choice in the end.  Don’t get me wrong, becoming a priest certainly does defy all sorts of human logic (no one could have ever told me how these past 39 years would have turned out!) – but I can’t imagine being as fulfilled doing anything else.  I can relate to what a now-deceased friend who practiced as a cardiologist most of his life before becoming a priest after his wife had passed away told me: “We are soul-doctors.”  I agree… even though to an outside observer this way of life might seem not to make sense when compared to other options.        

As I read our Gospel passage for this Sunday (Luke 5: 1-11), I was reminded of this story of my own journey.  Jesus asks a professional fisherman Simon (Peter) to drop his nets into the water “for a catch” after the fisherman had been hard at work all night and had caught nothing.  A completely illogical request (one that the fisherman could have scoffed at and refused outright).  But what happened?  We hear how, after Simon explains how they have had no luck catching fish, he says to Jesus “… but at your command, we will lower the nets.”  The next sentence of the Gospel pretty well vindicates the logic of the illogic: “When they did this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.”  It made no sense, in the opinion of the professional fisherman, to drop the nets once more after they had had hours of catching no fish – but because Jesus called them to do so, they went ahead… and were completely astounded at what happened. Two boats were filled with fish to the point of sinking. A fisherman’s reward beyond all imagining… just because Simon placed his response to Jesus above everything that told him that response was completely illogical and made no sense whatsoever.  

Doing what we know to be God’s will in our lives oftentimes involves going against what we think would be the “logical” thing to do.  Yet, haven’t we all had that experience of finding that – when we act in accord with what we discern God’s will to be – the rewards turn out to be far greater than we would have ever imagined?  This is part of the paradox, or the seemingly contradictory nature, of life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We find reward by giving; we find true satisfaction when we put God and the needs of others before our own interests; we find the fullness of eternal life only by dying to this life.

Luke himself was a physician who decided to become a follower of Jesus – and ultimately became a great evangelist, noted not only for the Gospel that bears his name – but also as the author of the Acts of the Apostles. I don’t doubt that his “yes” to the call of Jesus also seemed illogical to him at the time!

 

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Feb012019

Reflections - February 3, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

We’ve just concluded our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week across the United States, a week in which we have been able to rejoice in some very encouraging statistics about the state of Catholic education today – such as: 99% of all students in Catholic schools graduate high school; 97% of those graduates go on to post-secondary education or enter the armed forces – and, graduates of Catholic schools, as a group, rank among the foremost groups awarded university scholarships. We can indeed be proud to be part of a Church that takes education seriously – from preschool through graduate school – continuing a tradition of educating students stretching back more than 1500 years!    

Here at St. Theresa Parish, we are blest to have sponsored St. Theresa Catholic School since it was founded in 1957. In the beginning, the teachers in our school were all Sisters of Charity who lived in the parish convent and dedicated their lives to the instruction of our young people. Back in those days, it was very inexpensive to provide Catholic schooling in the parish – the sisters worked practically free of charge, the school buildings had been newly-built by parish families and the purchase of supplies like books and desks was frequently underwritten by donors. Tuition, then, was next to nothing.

Times have changed. We now have a staff of certified lay men and women teaching at St. Theresa Catholic School... all earning salaries and receiving benefits. Much of the school facility is nearly as old as I am (!) and requires regular “tender loving care.” School supplies are now radically different than they were “back in the day” – tablet computers, “smartboards” and a wi-fi, technological infrastructure that was unheard of even twenty years ago. The total operating budget for our parish school this year is right around three million dollars; tuition nearly $6500/year per student (and that’s the rate with an active parishioner discount!) Families are increasingly challenged to afford a Catholic education.

Many people don’t realize that Arizona was the first state in the USA to allow families to re-direct their state income tax liability (or a portion thereof) to help fund Catholic School students. This is in keeping with Arizona’s commitment to provide funds for whatever type of schooling a student’s family feels is most appropriate for the student. Arizona’s families can choose among public, public/charter, private or Catholic schools… and a certain amount of state funding will “follow” that student to their school of choice. The Arizona Tuition Tax Credit provides the means by with a taxpayer can designate a portion of their state income tax liability (for the 2018 tax year, up to $1107 per individual taxpayer and up to $2213 for a married couple filing jointly) to a Catholic School of their choice – such as St. Theresa Catholic School. AND THIS IS AT NO COST to the taxpayer – every dollar designated to St. Theresa Catholic School to help families afford their tuition is taken off the bottom line of the state tax owed by the taxpayer. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.  

If every St. Theresa parishioner took advantage of redirecting a portion of their state income tax liability to our parish school, we could offer a tuition-free Catholic education to all of our students! 

Please check with your tax professional to see how you can participate in taking a Tuition Tax Credit for the benefit of St. Theresa Catholic School. You can also go to the website of Catholic Education Arizona (www.CEAZ.org ) to learn more.

 

Grace and wisdom in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Jan242019

Reflections - January 27, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Following our September 24th “Evening of Prayer and Discussion” regarding the various levels of crisis surrounding the Church’s dealing with sexual abuse, I promised that I would do my best to keep the community informed of developments and/or progress made in addressing the concerns that all of us share as Catholics.  Now that the rush of the Thanksgiving through New Year’s “holiday season” is behind us, I thought it time to update you on a few developments.

Many of us are aware that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their annual meeting in November was poised to vote on adopting various protocols for how bishops and cardinals could be held to accountability for either mishandling abuse claims in their dioceses or being perpetrators of abuse themselves.  On the first day of that meeting, the President of the USCCB announced that “at the insistence of the Holy See” the bishops would not be voting on the measures after all.  Many people – including bishops – were frustrated, disappointed and felt that the Holy Father was being obstructionist or telling the bishops to drag their feet, perpetuating a sense of cover-up.  Unfortunately most media outlets only added fuel to these flames, increasing a sense of divisiveness in our Church.  However, on January 1st, the Associated Press released the “backstory” on why the Vatican put the brakes on the vote (go to www.apnews.com/bc645408ad404df3bc9797c26cfde6d2 to see a copy of the article).  Essentially, U.S. church leaders didn’t sufficiently discuss the legally problematic proposals with the Holy See before the USCCB meeting (as they are required to do).  The draft proposals to be voted on only arrived at the Vatican on Nov. 8, four days before the U.S. bishops’ meeting began.  While the Vatican is known for its slow pace, even the speediest bureaucracy would have found it difficult to review and sign off on sensitive legal documents in that time.  The Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops wrote: “Considering the nature and scope of the documents being proposed by the (conference), I believe it would have been beneficial to have allowed for more time to consult with this and other congregations with competence over the ministry and discipline of bishops,” since the Holy See has exclusive authority to investigate and discipline problem bishops.  

So – far from being obstructionist, Pope Francis had already called the US Bishops to take a decidedly un-American approach to the problem: instead of holding a knee-jerk type of vote (the subject of which apparently was already causing factions among the bishops), he challenged the bishops to enter into prayer and discernment.  He provided the services of Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household, to lead a “mandatory” retreat earlier in January for some 280 US Bishops, gathering a group of men publicly divided over a host of issues for prayer and meditation away from daily pressures.  Their reflection was guided by a hard-hitting 8 page letter from the Holy Father, received as the retreat began, in which Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the bishops during the retreat and urged them to draw on the Holy Spirit’s guidance as they reflected on how to combat the “culture of abuse” and work together with the Holy Father and all the world’s bishops toward restoring credibility to the Church.  

Pope Francis is scheduled to enter into deliberations with the presidents of all the world’s bishops’ conferences in late February, to ensure that there will be worldwide applicability in working toward healing the brokenness of our Church and bringing renewed hope to Catholics everywhere.    

Our Holy Father is bringing a very Ignatian approach to collaborating with the bishops to address the crisis:  prayer, discernment and then action.  (No doubt misguided “actions” of some bishops in the past – taken without much prayer and discernment – have been a great contributor to the mess we find ourselves in today!) 

We continue to pray for Pope Francis, our bishops, all women and men who minister in the Church and all members of the People of God as we move through this present darkness, guided by the light of Christ.   

                                                                                                                                                            Grace and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

p.s. In the spirit of continued transparency, I hope to host another open-forum discussion (like that of September 24th) for our community sometime in March, once we hear and can process the results of the late February meeting at the Vatican of Pope Francis with the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences.  Stay tuned!

 

Thursday
Jan172019

Reflections - January 20, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for your patience with today’s “alternate” Mass schedule to accommodate the Sunday morning street closures in our neighborhood, due to the running of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Some of you who have been with us for several years recall a time that we had worked with the City and the marathon organizers to figure out ways to allow members of our community to be allowed to cross the barriers on their way to and from church on Sunday morning. We tried special passes – but inevitably some of the police guarding the barriers didn’t receive word about the passes, so parishioners weren’t allowed to cross as they had been promised.  Other parishioners who were aware that there would be challenges in attempting to drive to St. Theresa on the morning of the marathon simply stayed home or went elsewhere to Mass.  So finally, we decided simply to change Mass times on the day of the marathon – a less-than-optimal solution (as it does cause confusion), but at least it prevents frustration on the part of our community members.

The very first year of what was then known as the PF Chang Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, the marathon course was set to be run along McDowell Road through Phoenix and Scottsdale. The many car dealerships that were at one time situated on McDowell Road were apoplectic because their businesses were affected by the closure of McDowell. So, after the auto dealers voiced their complaints, the marathon course was changed to what it is today. Evidently there was no consideration given to the several churches that are adversely affected by the Sunday road closures (one of which is The Bridge United Methodist Church just west of us along Thomas Road) and the small businesses (e.g., Ingleside Animal Hospital, also just west of us) that serve our community on Sundays.

The major auto dealerships along McDowell Road in Scottsdale have largely relocated or closed altogether. Other cities will accommodate marathons by closing down one side of a freeway for the runners, and change the other side temporarily to accommodate 2-way traffic (or, close the freeway altogether and divert the traffic to other freeways or city streets) –    either option allows runners and drivers to peacefully co-exist, while allowing neighborhood residents to have access to their places of worship and those businesses that serve the local community.  

Perhaps the time has come for our community to again petition city and marathon leadership for a change that will “free” our neighborhoods on the Lord’s Day. Phoenix residents can contact Mayor Williams at mayor.williams@phoenix.gov or by phone at 602.262.7111; Scottsdale parishioners can contact Mayor Lane by phone at 480.312.2433 or e-mail him at jlane@ScottsdaleAz.gov. Community relations contact for the marathon is Sage Melley (sage@sage-sports.com or 623.252.2485). The local representative for our parish on the Phoenix City Council is Councilman Sal DiCiccio (council.district.6@phoenix.gov).

Who knows? If a sufficient number of local residents make their feelings known, maybe we can return to a regular Sunday schedule on future “marathon Sundays!”

 

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor