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
« Reflections - October 13, 2019 | Main | Reflections - September 29, 2019 »
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