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-Noon

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
Wednesday
Apr122017

Reflections - April 16, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

“Christ the Lord is Risen!  Alleluia!”  That joyous and ancient Easter cry of the Church, echoing down through the centuries, signifies the victory of the Lord Jesus over the darkness of sin and death.  Death has no power over the Crucified One – and through him, sin and death have no power over us who believe.  This is the mystery of new life, the mystery of God’s unfathomable love for us that we celebrate at Easter.  How could God possibly care so much for us, that God’s own Son takes on human flesh – one like us in all things but sin – and then that Son, Jesus Christ, freely sacrifices himself for us on the cross, dying for our sins to save us, and then is raised to new life three days later by the Father?  How could this possibly happen? 

One could equally ask the question “how can this possibly not happen?” We are told (more than once) in scripture that “God is love” (e.g., see 1 John 4:8).  If the very essence of God is love, than  anything contrary to that would contradict who God is… and so, God cannot help but love – fully and unconditionally – because to do otherwise would be untrue to God’s nature.  And we all know that God is Truth itself.  Thus, the fact that God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16) should not be a big shock to us, as this is behavior consistent with a God who loves unreservedly and without limit… since that’s exactly “what God does.”

But even though these scriptures about our loving God are well-known, they present an incredibly difficult concept for us to get our minds around.  “How can God love me – after all the sinful things I’ve done?” we might ask.  “No, this idea of an unconditionally loving God is too good to be true.”  But it is true!  

In a certain sense, God’s unconditional love for you and me is almost more difficult to accept than the Resurrection of Christ from death!  Jesus being raised from the tomb is but one sign – indeed, the ultimate sign – of God’s compassionate, merciful drive to love us. 

Throughout his four years of ministry as our Holy Father, Pope Francis has – over and over again – stressed the theme of God’s loving mercy and readiness to forgive, telling us that “The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never!  We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness.  Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us.”  The Holy Father, after making the above remark on God’s ever-present willingness to forgive, then speculated: “Have you thought about the patience that God has with each of us?  God's face is that of a merciful father who is always patient…”  Seems that God’s “patience” may be directed to those of us who might doubt God’s unconditional love or untiring forgiveness... and yet, as we celebrate Easter, God is saying to us “Believe me – trust in me and my love for you.  The sign of my unconditional love for you is the death and resurrection of my Son Jesus – which opens for you the path to new life!”

What an incredible gift; the gracious gift of God’s own boundless love and forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  May we truly accept this gift, be grateful for it (and all of the gifts that God gives us)… and then be signs of God’s love in the world through our own goodness and tenderness as disciples of the Risen One.

 

Easter peace and joy,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor 

 

Friday
Apr072017

Reflections - April 9, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today, with the celebration of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, we have entered the most solemn and beautiful time of our Church Year: Holy Week. Our “high holy days” as Catholic Christians are the three days of the Paschal Triduum – beginning with Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continuing with Good Friday’s Celebration of the Passion of the Lord and climaxing Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil, the first Mass of Easter.  Spread over the course of three days, the Triduum (pronounced “trih-doo-um”) is actually one continuous liturgy highlighting the core mysteries of our faith: the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Then, we have the Fifty Days of the Easter Season (culminating the Solemnity of Pentecost) to help us “unpack” these mysteries of our faith.

If you have never had the opportunity to do so, this might be the year to make a commitment to attend the Liturgy of the Paschal Triduum on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, all services beginning at 7:30PM.  In a real way, the Triduum enables us to walk in the footsteps of Christ, though the principal mysteries of his life-giving passion, death and resurrection.  Holy Thursday’s 7:30PM celebration begins with the welcoming of the Holy Oils blest at the Chrism Mass by Bishop Olmsted (these oils will be used sacramentally throughout the coming year) then moves on to a two-fold focus: first, on Jesus’ mandate to his disciples to “serve one another as I have served you,” as ritualized by the Washing of the Feet and second, on the institution of the Eucharist.  Both of these events, as recorded in the Gospel, took place at the Last Supper prior to Jesus’ betrayal by Judas.  After Communion, the Holy Eucharist is transferred by procession to Fr. Feeney Hall for a period of quiet adoration and prayer – commemorating Jesus’ vigil of prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.  On Good Friday at 7:30PM, the celebration begins by recognizing our need to surrender ourselves to total dependence on God (as symbolized by the prostration of the clergy before the altar).  We hear the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord according to John, we pray extended intercessions for the needs of our world, we venerate the wood of the cross (recognizing the cross as the instrument of our salvation) and we receive Holy Communion before leaving the church in silence.  [Additionally on Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross are prayed in church at Noon].  Then on Holy Saturday, we gather again at 7:30PM for the Easter Vigil: listening to the Hebrew Scriptures that foretold our salvation on Christ, lighting the Easter Fire, listening to the chanted Easter Proclamation, hearing the Gospel of the Resurrection, experiencing the baptism and confirmation of the Elect, renewing the vows of our own Baptism and celebrating the Eucharist at the first Mass of Easter. 

The liturgy of the Paschal Triduum constitutes the high point of our Church’s liturgical life, summarizing the great mysteries that make us who we are as a People of Faith. I hope that you can plan to join in these celebrations!

Our Easter Sunday Masses are scheduled for 6:00, 7:30, 9:00, 9:15 and 11:00AM. The 6:00AM “Sunrise Mass” and 9:15AM Mass are celebrated in the School Courtyard; a change this year is that the Children’s Liturgy will be celebrated in church at 9:00 (rather than in the Courtyard at 9:15AM).  Please note that the final Mass of Easter Sunday is celebrated at 11:00AM (there is no evening Mass on Easter Sunday).   Weather permitting, additional parking will be available in the school field on Easter Sunday – please be sure to give yourself a little extra time and be particularly welcoming as we expect lots of friends and visitors on Easter morning! 

Finally, because the Triduum is of such importance, we do not celebrate any other Masses on Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday – nor will there be Confessions offered on Holy Saturday.

May God bless us and fill us with the Holy Spirit as we enter this most sacred time!

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Mar302017

Reflections - April 2, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear the third and final Gospel of three consecutive Sundays primarily oriented to our Elect – those who are journeying to their baptism at the Easter Vigil – but are, of course, meant to remind each of us who are already baptized of the graces that we too already share in as members of the Body of Christ.

As we listen to today’s Gospel passage (John 11:1-45), we are drawn into the remarkable story of the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus, the brother of Martha and Mary, who had taken ill, died and was entombed before Jesus arrived in Bethany – after a seemingly inexplicable two day delay by Jesus before traveling there.  The reason for Jesus’ delay becomes evident as the story unfolds: it was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  Part of that “glory of God” was the strengthening of Martha’s faith, initially frustrated by Jesus’ delay in coming to heal Lazarus, but then trusting – first, saying to Jesus “whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Subsequently, Martha is moved to profess faith in Jesus’ statement: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

All of this precedes the incredible scene at the tomb of Lazarus.  Jesus – along with Martha and Mary – joins the crowd of mourners at the entrance to the tomb.  Jesus weeps over the loss of his friend Lazarus, then after a time, directs that the tomb be unsealed – against the advice of Martha, who reminds Jesus that the stench of decomposition would surely be strong since Lazarus had been dead for four days (this seems like an odd addition to the text, but it underscores the fact that Lazarus was truly dead). The stone blocking the entrance to the tomb is rolled back… Jesus turns to his Father in prayer, and then calls for the dead Lazarus to come forth from the tomb. The unthinkable happens: Lazarus emerges from the tomb, still bound by his burial shroud.  Jesus then directs the onlookers: “Untie him and let him go free.”

Jesus has proven to the crowd that he is indeed “the resurrection and the life.”  He has proven to them that God has power even over death, the most ultimate force known to humankind.  Even two thousand years later, all we can do is just soak all of this in with a sense of wonder and awe.

But – interestingly – Lazarus’ restoration to life is only temporary. He doesn’t walk the earth forever, he has not yet achieved the eternal life or immortality that each of us is called to at the end of our lives on earth. Lazarus, like Martha and Mary, like each of us, will ultimately end up (back) in the tomb – awaiting the resurrection of the just to eternal life on the last day.

What Jesus has brought about, though, is a renewal of life for Lazarus. Lazarus has been freed from his bonds through the power of God and compassion of Jesus. Yes, Lazarus stands as an example of Jesus power over death and the darkness of the tomb – but perhaps in our own lives we can see this miracle as being not only a promise of eternal life for the Christian, but also a reminder that Jesus is ready and willing to restore and renew our spiritual lives, to free us from the darkness of sin, to unbind us from our ties to harmful habits and selfishness.  We can experience this new life through the healing, restorative grace of

the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). We can experience this manifestation of God’s mercy as often as we care to (see the front of the bulletin for our regular schedule for this healing sacrament).  Additionally, this Monday April 3rd we are offering a Lenten Evening of Reconciliation here in church from 6:30 until 8:30PM.  Seven priest-confessors will be available during that time to bring us God’s healing love and freedom from the bonds of our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I hope that you will take the time to come to Confession anytime between 6:30 and 8:30PM Monday!

 

Grace, peace and new life in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Mar232017

Reflections - March 26, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters

Today’s scriptures are filled with images of light and darkness, blindness and sight… once again, preparing our Elect to receive the Easter sacraments, but also reminding us of these realities in our own lives and the light, insight and life that we have received in Christ.

I’d like to focus for a moment on our second reading, from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (5:8-14).  Paul is exhorting the Christians at Ephesus to remember who they are.  He begins by saying “Brothers and sisters: You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” 

To understand the power of these words, we have to understand something of the role of light in the everyday lives of those living in the time of Jesus or St. Paul.  Unlike most of us – who have light on demand at the flick of a switch – the people of ancient times were very aware that without adequate light, one can see little or nothing.  For those who were solely dependent on the light of the sun and the moon (when it wasn’t cloudy) at night, perhaps supplemented by a meager oil lamp or candle, the symbolism of light and darkness was exceedingly potent.  Darkness was dangerous, light meant safety.

It’s with this symbolism in mind that we are invited to reflect on the significance of this reading.  The newly-baptized, as part of the Rite of Baptism, receive a candle which has been lighted from the paschal (or Easter) candle – that in turn is first lit in the darkness of the Easter Vigil the joyful acclamation of “Christ our Light!”  The paschal candle is lifted high in the darkened church, and all present light their small candles (representing their baptismal candles) until the entire church is bathed in candle light.  The symbolism of the light and life of Christ banishing the darkness of sin and death is unmistakable at the Easter Vigil – this symbolism is echoed with the presentation of the baptismal candle at every baptism throughout the year. The newly-baptized is given the lit candle while the celebrant says these or similar words: “Receive the Light of Christ.  This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly.  You have been enlightened by Christ; you are to walk always as a child of the light.  May you keep the flame of faith alive in your heart… and when the Lord comes, may you go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.”

We are “children of the light” through our baptism, just as Paul reminded the Ephesians so long ago.  We are called to live as such, bearing fruit in “every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth” as members of the Body of Christ.

What better words could we have to guide us as we enter into this Fourth Week of Lent?  

 

Lenten blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor       

 

Friday
Mar172017

Reflections - March 19, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Most of us are aware of the fact that the majority of the earth is covered with water – in fact, 71% altogether.  Water is essential for the existence and survival of all living things; because of this, we can say that water becomes synonymous with life as God’s gift to all creation.

Today’s readings focus us on the essential characteristics of water as something that’s crucial not only for life… but for salvation.  The readings for the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent in Cycle A of the Lectionary are particularly tailored for the Elect – those catechumens who are preparing for “rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit” (baptism) at the Easter Vigil.  This particular set of readings is used every year at the Masses of Scrutiny for the Elect;  this year – since we happen to be in Cycle A – these readings are heard at all of our Sunday Masses, and can help each of us appreciate more fully the gift and mystery and of our own baptism.

Our Old Testament reading from the Book of Exodus (Ex. 17:3-7) portrays a thirsty, angry group of Israelites ready to rebel against Moses.  Their journey to the Promised Land is not going well; it has not met their expectations.  And now they find themselves stranded in the desert without water – they appear to be destined for death rather than the land flowing with milk and honey.  In desperation, Moses cries out to God… and God tells Moses to strike the rock in Horeb, miraculously bringing forth water for all to drink.  Moses uses the same staff to strike the rock that he used to part the waters of the Red Sea when leading the lead the people out of slavery and away from the pursuing Egyptian armies.  God is with the Chosen People always, both when leading them safely through a body of water and when providing water for them in their thirst.  Water becomes a sign of salvation for these people.

Then, we hear the wonderful – and lengthy – Gospel (Jn. 5: 5-42) of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well of Sychar.  It’s an extraordinary story, in fact one of the most stunning passages in all the New Testament, for a number of reasons.  The encounter takes place in Samaria – a place reviled by the Jews, due to the perception that the Samaritans practice a form of Judaism that could be considered heretical.  Then, in his thirst, Jesus speaks to a Samaritan who happens to be a woman… asking her for a drink.  This shatters all social precedents: for a Jewish man to have a conversation with a Samaritan woman was unheard of.  Yet Jesus does this – and does so respectfully and attentively.  Jesus is showing us once again that he reaches out to all of his Father’s children, no matter where they are (or aren’t) on the social ladder.

As their conversation progresses, amazing things happen.  What began with Jesus’ need for water becomes an opportunity to reveal to the woman of Samaria the gift of living water that he comes to bring… living water that will quench all thirst and sustain eternal life in all those who drink it in faith.  Again, we hear that water means life.  As a result of their dialogue, the woman becomes an evangelist – a “bringer of the God News of Jesus Christ – as she runs to tell the whole town that she has encountered the Messiah.  She has moved from the isolation of shame (due to her state of life with “five husbands”)… to faith… to being a missionary! 

Today’s scriptures remind us that God sustains us in love as we journey through life with all its challenges and joys.  God’s loving generosity will not let us down, just as it did not let the Israelites in the desert down or disappoint the woman (who was thirsty in ways she didn’t realize) at the well.  God is just as amazing, loving and thirst-quenching in the lives of the Elect and in each our lives as God was in lives of our spiritual ancestors!

Lenten peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor