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

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
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
Saturday, 9:00AM to 10:00AM
Wednesday, 5:00PM to 6:00PM and by appointment


Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Parochial Vicar 

(Associate Pastor)

Rev. Joachim Adeyemi

Rev. J.C. Ortiz

Assisting Priest

Rev. Paul Peri


Colin F. Campbell

Mark Kriese

Ralph Ulibarri


Saint Theresa Catholic School
5001 East Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018

(602) 840-0010 School Office
(602) 840-8323 School Fax



« Reflections - September 22, 2019 | Main | Reflections - September 8, 2019 »

Reflections - September 15, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

There was a brief notice at the bottom of last week’s Reflections column, asking for your prayers (and assuring you of mine) during my annual priest’s retreat.  I mentioned that you wouldn’t see me last weekend due to my being on retreat.  Well, lo and behold, as I was preparing last week’s column two weeks ago… I was looking at the wrong week on my calendar.  So, some of you did a double-take when you saw me last weekend – but now I’m away on retreat (I’ll be back in the office on Friday the 20th), and so would appreciate your prayers.  I’ll be lifting the St. Theresa Community in my prayers as well.

More than one person has asked me “What do you do on an annual priest’s retreat?” – so, realizing that this could be a bit of a mystery to parishioners (who may be familiar with “corporate retreats,” “spa retreats” and the like) – I thought I’d explain a bit about what my retreat experience is like.

According to Canon Law (the Church’s legal system), the pastor of a parish is expected to make time each year for a spiritual retreat.  This time is separate and distinct from continuing education, vacation and other time away from the parish.  Many pastors/priests take advantage of a “directed retreat” in which a retreat master, or guide, gives talks to the group of retreatants a few times each day; the participants then take time to reflect and pray.  Another type of retreat is a “private retreat,” in which the priest goes individually to a retreat house, monastery or other place of quiet and reflection – and (perhaps in consultation retreat house staff, monks or fellow priests) takes time to read, reflect, pray and participate in the liturgy. 

For the past several years, I have made my annual retreat at St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California – a Benedictine monastery in the highlands of the Mojave Desert on the eastern slope of the San Gabriel Mountains.  While Los Angeles is on the other side of the mountains, the monastery is in a beautifully isolated location (away from cell phone reception and easily-accessible internet).  The Abbey grounds are surrounded mostly by desert, rocky outcroppings and farms – but St. Andrew’s was establish in a sort of oasis in the high desert: there is a large spring-fed pond at the center of the property, huge trees of different varieties, lots of grass and a quiet simplicity about the place.  When I’m there on retreat, I join the monks in a portion of their chanted Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds (morning prayer) at 7:30AM, Vespers (evening prayer) 6PM and Compline (night prayer) at 8:30PM.  I concelebrate the daily Conventual Mass (Mass with the community) at 11AM, and join the monks for meals (some of which are in silence with a monk reading aloud from the lives of the Saints or other spiritual work).  Grand silence begins right after Compline (around 9PM) and extends until after breakfast (usually around 8:30).  The times between prayer and meals I devote to catching up on spiritual reading, quiet contemplation, meeting with a monk for Reconciliation/spiritual direction or simply walking the grounds drinking in the beauty of creation.  For me, the annual retreat is truly a time for rejuvenation as well as a time for working on my relationship with God.  I’m grateful to be afforded the opportunity of being able to make a retreat once a year… in a place where I can be “off-line,” undistracted and present to God.

I realize that most parishioners aren’t able to take time each year to go on retreat (much less as a “job requirement!”).  However, many of us can reap some of the benefits of a retreat by simply disconnecting from our devices – cell phones, laptops, etc. – periodically so as to just enjoy the presence of God all around us and in other (real, human… and not “virtual” social media) people.  Maybe we just start by resolving to “cut the technological umbilical cord” once a week for an hour or two, setting aside the time to just “be” present to ourselves, God, others and creation. 

Seems to me that by taking a step like this – and maybe even allowing it to grow into more than one day per week – we can feel some of the refreshment of a retreat in a slowed pace, a less hectic schedule and increased mindfulness of the world around us.


Grace, wisdom and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer