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
Oct172019

October 20, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

The “Parable of the Dishonest Judge” that we hear in today’s Gospel (Like 18:1-8) never fails to raise the question in some listener’s minds: “Is Jesus really comparing God to a judge who is a horrible example of what a judge should be?” Of course not - but it’s an understandable question to ask, particularly if one reads the parable quickly or listens to it while distracted by other things.

The real point that Jesus is making has to do with God’s attentiveness to our persistent prayer. The Lord uses the example of a judge who “neither feared God nor respected any human being” BUT who, in the end, brought about justice for the widow who was driving him crazy with her persistence. Jesus says that - if the judge, with all his flaws, will render a just decision to a persistent widow – how much more will God, who is just and loving, respond to our persistent prayer?  By telling this parable, Jesus is “incentivizing” his disciples to not become discouraged in prayer. 

It’s a fairly common human experience to hear people say “I prayed for such-and-such, but God just wasn’t listening.” Oftentimes those prayers are just offered once – and then the person quits praying when he/she feels that God is ignoring them. Or, a person prays for a situation to get better… and it only gets worse, stressing the faith of the one who is praying. So, they stop praying – and possibly even grow distant from God.

Instead, the Lord indicates that it’s necessary for the disciples “to pray always without becoming weary.” To me, this has a two-pronged meaning: none of us is in a position to literally pray from the moment we wake until the time we go to sleep, but each one of us has the ability (with a little practice) to weave a knowledge of – and thanks for - God’s presence throughout our day. This is what has been called “practicing the presence of God” – and it’s one way that we can approach the ideal.  The second meaning I see imbedded in this statement of Jesus is that - by lifting whatever is burdening us in prayer over and over throughout the day – we deepen out trust in God, our faith in God. We can then come to a sense of peace that God is at work in the situation and answering our prayers. We come to grasp that God DOES answer our prayers (maybe not exactly in the way we would want him to answer them – but if nothing else, God can give us additional strength or a greater perspective about a particular cross in our lives that we may be praying about.  After all, the best known Christian prayer is the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father… in which we pray “thy will be done,” not “my will be done.”

God’s presence is in all things that surround us and, as St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us, our goal is to recognize God’s presence in all things. We can then “weave” those moments of awareness of God’s presence into our daily routine, using them as opportunities to once again lift a persistent prayer to God in a spirit of gratitude for God’s great love for us.    

The final verse of today’s Gospel is haunting, and in some ways seems disconnected from the parable: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” If we do all that we can in order to practice that awareness of God’s presence throughout our day – and persist in raising our prayers in trust to our loving God - we know what the answer to Jesus’ question will be.

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Oct102019

Reflections - October 13, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Last Sunday, in a packed St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, our Holy Father Pope Francis created thirteen new Cardinals of the Church. In his homily, he made clear that this was a message not only for those 13 new cardinals from 11 countries, dressed for the first time in their scarlet robes, but for the entire College of Cardinals, most of whom were in the basilica for this colorful ceremony. By extension, it is also a message for all of our Church leaders – and for the entire Catholic Church, the People of God, throughout the world. In today’s hurting Church - rocked by scandals involving cardinals who have been complicit in sexual abuse as well as cardinals who have publicly and quite vocally opposed the Pope, splintering the unity of our Church – I think it’s important for you and me to take to heart the words of Francis, the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ. We can reflect on some of the highpoints of the Pope’s homily… not only for the sake of our expectations of what a cardinal (or other leader in our Church) should be, but also how each of us in his or her own way can embody these qualities in our own discipleship, no matter what our state of life might be. 

Pope Francis emphasized compassion and loyalty as being two essential qualities for a Cardinal, emphasizing the intimate link between being compassionate and “the ability to be loyal in one’s ministry.” He reminded all those present that “compassion is a key word in the Gospel. It is written in Christ’s heart; it is forever written in the heart of God” and “the more we read [the Gospels], the more we contemplate, the more we come to realize that the Lord’s compassion is not an occasional, sporadic emotion, but is steadfast and indeed seems to be the attitude of his heart, in which God’s mercy is made incarnate.” The Holy Father reminded everyone that “this compassion did not appear suddenly at one moment in the history of salvation. No, it was always there in God, impressed on his paternal heart.” The pope continued, “God’s love for his people is drenched with compassion, to the extent that…what is divine is compassionate, while, sad to say, it appears that what is human is so often lacking in compassion.” Referring to the Gospel, he recalled that the disciples of Jesus “often show themselves lacking compassion, as in this case, when they are faced with the problem of having to feed the crowds.  In effect, they say: “Let them worry about it themselves…”

Francis noted that “this is a common attitude among us human beings, even those of us who are religious persons or even religious professionals.” Looking at the hundred or more cardinals seated in front of him, the pope said, “We can ask ourselves: are we conscious — we, in the first place — of having been the object of God’s compassion?” He put the question more directly: “In particular, I ask this of you, brother cardinals and those about to become cardinals: Do you have a lively awareness of always having been preceded and accompanied by his mercy?  Do we have a lively awareness of this compassion that God feels for us?”

Francis added, “on this lively awareness also depends the ability to be loyal in our own ministry. This also holds true for you, brother cardinals. The readiness of a cardinal to shed his own blood — as signified by the scarlet color of your robes — is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn. Otherwise, one cannot be loyal. So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one’s gaze, the habit of indifference.”

Following the homily, Pope Francis listened attentively as the cardinals recited the creed and read their oath of fidelity to Christ and obedience to the Successor of Peter. The pope then placed the red hat on the heads of the 13 new cardinals, and afterward put rings on their fingers and gave them the title to a church in the diocese of Rome, in accord with ancient tradition.

Let’s continue to pray for our Holy Father, the cardinals and all the leaders of our Church. In praying for Pope Francis and embracing the Holy Father’s words, perhaps we – along with our leaders – can progress forward in healing our Church, wounded by the pain of sin and division.

 

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Oct042019

Reflections - October 6, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

At last weekend’s Annual Conference of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, I came to realize that I was unaware (as is, I suspect, the average American Catholic) of some troubling statistics concerning the plight of Christians in the Holy Land. Yes, we hear news clips of the Arab-Israeli conflicts… and, if we think of these conflicts in any religious or sectarian sense, it’s likely that we consider the tensions to exclusively involve Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims.  

But there is another significant group that does not receive much news coverage or publicity: the Christians of the Holy Land – who have lived in the area since the dawn of Christianity. It might even be said that the Holy Land is the “cradle of Christianity.” Jerusalem, in particular, is revered as a holy city by all three Abrahamic Faiths - i.e., the faiths that believe in the One True God of Abraham: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.  Jerusalem is the center of the Jewish Faith, being the site of the ancient Temple of Solomon. Muslims revere the shrine called the Dome of the Rock – built in 7th century on the site of the second Jewish Temple, it covers the rock from which the Prophet Muhammed, the founder of Islam, is believed to have ascended into heaven. In Jewish tradition, this same rock is considered to be the place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac before God intervened. For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where some of the most significant events in the life of Jesus took place: he was dedicated and later taught in the Temple; it was in Jerusalem that he suffered his passion and death on the cross – and ultimately was victorious over sin and death when he was raised up from the tomb. Because Jerusalem is such an epicenter of holiness for three of the world’s major faiths, conflict is bound to occur… while sadly, cooperation and mutual support (rather than conflict) should be the norm for people of faith.

Christians are the definite minority in the Holy Land – and growing more so: currently, the population of Israel is 8.8 million, of which 160,000 are Christian – including 80,000 Catholics (1.8%). Palestine has a population of 4.8 million, of which are 46,000 Christian – including 22,500 Catholics (under 1%). These statistics are part of a sad trend: in 1948, Jerusalem was 36% Christian; today it’s 1%. Bethlehem in 1948 was 84% Christian; today it’s 18% Christian. The Christians in the Holy Land are primarily Orthodox and Catholic. With the exception of Jordan (where Christians are welcomed and appreciated by the Royal Court and supported by laws like tax exemptions for churches and state assistance for Christian charitable works), Christians in the Holy Land face discrimination, oppressive taxation and persecution both overt and subtle. As a result of difficulties faced in their homelands, Jordan has welcomed Christian refugees from areas in which they have lived and flourished for nearly 2000 years. As one example, some 17,000 Iraqi Christian refugees now call Jordan their home. 

What can our response be to the plight of Christians in the Holy Land? I think it can begin with an awareness of the realities that our brothers and sisters face in their native places, the very places that we consider “holy.” Prayer for present-day disciples of Jesus in the Holy Land is crucial. Any way that we are able to support the Church in the Holy Land and the people, Christians and non-Christians alike, whom the church serves is also important (one small way that we do this here at St. Theresa is by annually hosting the sale of olive wood items carved by Christian craftspeople in Bethlehem – this year, that is scheduled to take place the weekend of October 26th and 27th).

May God continue to bless us – and all people of our world, particularly those in the Holy Land – with the freedom to practice religion openly and in peace, cooperating with those of all faiths.   

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Sep272019

Reflections - September 29, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Over the course of the past several years, I’ve been fairly “quiet” about my being a member of a special Order of the Church, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre (more formally known as the “Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem”). However, due to the fact that I am absent from the parish this weekend attending the Annual Meeting of the Order taking place in Scottsdale, I thought that this would be an appropriate opportunity to share with you a bit of how I became involved in the Order, and a bit of what this Order is all about.

Close to ten years ago, I was surprised to learn that Bishop Olmsted had recommended me to be inducted into the Order. At first, I didn’t realize that it would be as significant as it turned out to be.  On October 3rd 2010 at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, each inductee was individually “knighted” by Cardinal Roger Mahoney, then-Archbishop of Los Angeles and Cardinal John Foley, Grand Master of the Order and papal representative, based in Vatican City. The “Mass of Solemn Investiture” was close to three hours long (and no one left early). A couple of days before the investiture, all of the inductees attended a retreat day at which the history and goals of the Order were shared. At the retreat, we learned that the Order traces its origins to the years before 1336 (which was the first written documentation of the Order) when it was seen necessary to provide protection for the burial place of Jesus and other sacred sites in the Holy Land during the violence of the Crusades. Knights (who rode on horseback – hence the “Equestrian” name of the order) were sent to patrol the significant Christian sites in and around Jerusalem to prevent them being destroyed or vandalized. From the 14th century on, due to the commitment and ideals of these Knights, the popes re-affirmed their desire that the Order remain “juridically annexed” to the Holy See – as a result, to this day the Order is the only such organization with the distinction of such a unique connection with the Holy Father. 

In the words of the Vatican’s press office, “In more modern times, the Order’s policy has been, and still is, to help the Christians in the Holy Land achieve educational and professional standards that will enable them to play an active part in the society of their own country, at a level that will give them equality with people of other faiths.  Since the end of the 19th century, the Order has financed the construction of 40 patriarchal schools in Israel, Palestine and Jordan and it now has a commitment to fund their running costs. Today around 19,000 pupils and students attend these schools, from nursery classes through elementary, middle and upper school, as well as in a number of technical schools. On average, the student breakdown is 60% Christian (Catholics, Orthodox, etc.) and 40% Muslim. The Order’s involvement with education helps to deal with a very important problem in the region: how to get people of different races and religions used to living in peace and mutual respect. If these values are encouraged from an early age they may be implanted in children’s minds, otherwise there is no hope of doing it at a later stage, for in adolescence young people are easy prey to extremist ideologies.”  

Please keep the men and women of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre – and their efforts - in your prayer.  The Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre support and underwrite the operational expenses of the Patriarchate and its 68 parishes, the 900 or so teachers and other staff in the educational establishments, the patriarchal seminary, orphanages and clinics - as well as those of the Patriarchate’s new enterprises and other ongoing projects (including the construction of housing for young Christian families).  May God continue to bring the Order’s good works success and blessings!

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Sep192019

Reflections - September 22, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel (Luke 16:1-13) is one of those passages that we can read and end up scratching our head, thinking “what was that all about?” Jesus tells a story about a dishonest steward who has made a mess of taking care of his master’s property – so the employer, intent on firing this servant, calls for a “full account” of the man’s stewardship.

Knowing that “his goose is cooked,” the steward schemes to ingratiate himself with the master’s debtors (once again, using the employer’s wealth for his own benefit) by reducing the amount each owed to the master so that - once he’s fired - the dishonest steward will be welcomed into their homes.

Now one would think, using human logic, that master/employer of the steward would be furious over how the steward has essentially defrauded his employer so that when the employer fires him, he has a chance at a job with one of the master’s debtors whose nest the steward helped to feather.  But no – instead, the parable ends with a jolt: Jesus says “And the master of that steward commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.” What? The ending of the parable is completely contradictory to what we’d expect.

So, what’s the point that Jesus is trying to make to his disciples? Actually there is probably more than one point on Jesus’ mind as he teaches using the parable.

In the verses following the end of the story, Jesus observes that “the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.” He’s saying that those who are “worldly” exercise an enterprising type of creativity when it comes to making money and looking after themselves, while the “children of light” (the disciples) typically do not. Reading between the lines, the Lord is encouraging his disciples to be every bit as clever, “enterprising” and “prudent” in living discipleship and spreading the Gospel as the steward in the parable was in saving his own skin.  The steward – in his manipulation of the master’s books – not only came out smelling like a rose, the master’s debtors also thought highly of the master, since part of their debt had been forgiven. In the final analysis, it was a win-win situation… even though the steward’s methods in getting there were a bit sketchy. Jesus also echoes the steward’s modus operandi when he tells his disciples: “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you may be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Could “dishonest wealth” mean those things (money, possessions, power) that people think are the means to ultimate fulfillment?  Jesus is telling his disciples to use earthly wealth to “make friends” (help others) in this life, so that they can find true fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.

The passage ends with Jesus pointing out that no one can serve two masters: “he will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” If there was any doubt in the disciples’ minds at that point about what Jesus was saying, the Lord makes it clear in the final verse when he states point-blank: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Mammon refers to wealth, possessions, prestige – those things that might seem to make a person “great” in this world; those things through which a person thinks that he or she can find fulfillment. Jesus reminds his disciples – you and me – that our priority must always be focused on serving God first and foremost (even though “serving mammon” is a HUGE temptation). When we prioritize following Christ, living according to God’s plan and serving God by the way in which we live our lives… it’s then we find true fulfillment, both in this life and in the next.

 

God’s peace and blessings,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor