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
Friday
Mar222019

Reflections - March 17, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this Second Sunday of Lent, we hear the marvelous story of the Transfiguration in Luke’s Gospel (9:28b-36).  Jesus takes his disciples Peter, James and John with him “up the mountain to pray.”  And pray they did!

During their prayer, the disciples witness Jesus being transformed – his face changes in appearance, and his clothing becomes dazzlingly white.  Peter, James and John were dumbfounded – they never saw that coming.  Essentially, they were given a great gift by God – as this whole mountaintop experience would become for them a “snapshot” of the divinity of Jesus, who until this point was simple yet compelling teacher whose company they were keeping as he made his way around the countryside. The experience goes on, and we hear how Moses and Elijah appear in glory and begin conversing with Jesus, speaking of “his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem” – i.e. his passion, death and resurrection.  Peter is so caught up in this experience that he suggests they set up camp with Moses and Elijah so that this incredible experience can continue.  Then, as if anything else could happen, a cloud (a sign of God’s presence in the Hebrew Scriptures) comes and engulfs them – and the voice is heard from the cloud: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”  

Can you even begin to imagine how Peter, James and John could have felt following this encounter with the Divine – and this validation of the divinity of this man Jesus, whom they had regarded as friend, teacher and mentor?  Jesus wasn’t the only one who experienced a transformation on that mountaintop – the three disciples did as well!  They were transformed by the experience of Jesus’ divinity.

The divinity of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God – and the ancient and consistent Christian teaching that our One God is Triune: a Trinity of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is something that many of us, I’m sure, simply take for granted. I know that this is true for me, perhaps due to 21 years of Catholic education (from Kindergarten through graduate school) and nearly 40 years of priesthood.  Of course Jesus is fully God and fully human, just like us in all things but sin.  That’s just “a given,” in my mind.   

The problem with “givens,” or those things that we’ve come to accept just reflexively, is that they can lack the “awesomeness factor” that was present for those first-century disciples on that mountaintop. Without that awe, it can be more difficult to be transformed as Peter, James and John were transformed as a result of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

Lent is a time of transformation, a time of “metanoia:” changing direction in our lives (with God’s help) to conform ourselves more completely to God’s will for us, loving God and loving neighbor as self. This is the means by which we ultimately find fulfillment, not only in the life to come but also in this life.

Perhaps a good exercise for each of us would be to take some time to contemplate the fact that, while Jesus can relate to us fully as he is fully human… Jesus is also the very presence of God in our lives.  When we receive the Eucharist, we are truly bringing the “body, blood, soul and divinity” of Christ into our own bodies – with all that is implied by that!  The healing power of God’s love becomes physically present within is, to be absorbed into our own flesh and blood.  If we allow ourselves to reflect in this – how can our reception of the Eucharist not be transformative for us?

Yes, Peter, James and John enjoyed a personal transformation when they witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus… but we too can be transformed if we open ourselves to truly believing in the Divinity of Christ revealed to us under the appearance of bread and wine.  Perhaps, as we allow ourselves to fully and deeply believe this, we too can feel a similar awe – and experience similar transformation – as did those disciples on that mountaintop so many years ago.

Happy Lent!

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Mar082019

Reflections - March 10, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, we have entered that season of the Church Year known as Lent. Many of us grew up with the understanding that Lent was solely a time of deprivation and sacrifice: no meat on Fridays, doing various penitential practices and attending special devotions like Stations of the Cross. In grade school, I can remember times when it seemed like the “question du jour” from friends and classmates at the beginning of this season was “What are you giving up for Lent?” Of course, we tried to outdo one another coming up with impressive answers: movies, TV, candy, ice cream or whatever. The whole idea was to do without something you really liked for forty days – and then, when Easter came, you could return to the “same old same old.”  This was thought to be pleasing to God.

Now I don’t want to imply that all sacrifice or fasting is displeasing to God… only that we have to be careful to ensure that any sacrificing or “giving up” that we do during Lent (or any other time) is not an end in itself, but rather that it leads us to some type of spiritual growth. In other words, we don’t give up meat on Lenten Fridays simply because the Church says that it’s a requirement, or because there’s a little fish printed on our calendar… but rather (hopefully) as we’re making the sacrifice to take a simpler meal without meat, we can recall and give thanks to God for the blessings we enjoy in our ability to be able to eat practically anything we want, anytime we want. We can also lift in our prayer, as we make our sacrifice, those people in our world who suffer regular hunger or who have limited access to good, healthy food. In that way, our “giving up” can lead us to some spiritual growth – rather than simply being a hoop that Catholics are expected to jump through each Lent. That’s what I mean by a Lenten discipline not being “an end in itself.”

We do well to recall the words of the Prophet Hosea who writes “For it is loyalty I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos. 6:6). Some translations of scripture render this verse as follows: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”  In other words, what God is ultimately looking for is our love and our thirst to get to know God more deeply. If “giving something up” can lead me in this direction, that’s well and good.  For many of us, though, this isn’t enough to assist us in the journey of loving God more deeply and growing in our intimacy, our relationship, with God. I might find that taking some time each day to reflect on a few blessings or points of joy in my life and taking the time to feel gratitude for God’s love may lead me to a deeper love of God in return.  Maybe in coming to Mass on a daily basis (or even a few times a week) to hear the scriptures proclaimed and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, I can deepen my intimacy with God. Or perhaps taking on an extra project to help another person or “stretching” to be additionally generous can help me practice my living the Greatest Commandment, to love God and to love my neighbor as self.

You may have heard me observe in Lents gone by that the root meaning of the word “lent” comes from the Old English word “lencten” – which means “springtime.” In these forty days of Lent, we are not only in “seasonal springtime” in the Northern Hemisphere – but we are more specifically in a “spiritual springtime:” a time of growth, of blossoming, of new life in our “steadfast love” and intimacy with our loving God. Maybe this is why the Church refers to these forty days as “the holy and joyful Season of Lent.” How blest we are to once again be on our Lenten journey!

 

Lenten joy and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor      

 

Thursday
Feb282019

Reflections - March 3, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Last Saturday I had another of those unexpected experiences/opportunities that seem to have been a fairly regular part of my journey of priesthood: I was joined in celebrating our usual, low-key Saturday morning Mass by two members of the hierarchy of the Church: Cardinal William Levada, retired Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, and Archbishop John Vlasny, retried Archbishop of Portland, Oregon.  The Cardinal presided at the Mass, gave a wonderful reflection on the Gospel of the day and then led us in prayer – particularly for the Holy Father and the heads of the world’s Bishops Conference (some 190 cardinals and bishops), who were concluding that day their unprecedented summit to address the issue of sexual abuse and cover-up that has plagued our Church. Afterwards, we all went to the Ranch House Grill down the street for breakfast… and, over a delicious and relaxed meal, had an animated discussion on a variety of topics, including the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church, the “summit” that was winding up in Rome. It was interesting to hear the frank and candid perspectives of a cardinal and archbishop on the topic of the scandal, its effects and the sincere efforts that Pope Francis is taking to guide the Church prayerfully and practically forward out of the current storm of scandal in collaboration with Church leaders representing countries around the world.

One of the points that was made in our conversation is that it’s so important to realize that – in any effort of this magnitude - the formulation of any response or policy affecting the Church throughout the world must take into account every different culture in which the Catholic Church is present (which is quite a bit broader that the “First World,” industrialized cultures of America or Europe). For instance, how can the Universal Church best address the issue of the protection of minors in a way that would apply not only to the US and Australia but also in countries where child brides, or sex tourism, or child soldiers, or genital mutilation is commonly accepted?  Adequately and comprehensively addressing this issue of sexual abuse of minors by clergy (and others) is not something that can be concluded in a course of several days spent at a summit meeting of Pope Francis with a representative group of the world’s bishops. But, it’s a great start. All of the participants in the summit understand that there is much work ahead.

Some key points that surfaced in the discussions at the Vatican include these: that there must be universal norms and standards that can be applied at all levels of the Church and in all countries to do all that is possible to avoid future incidents of abuse and to prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law when those incidents do happen; that there must be a commitment of Church officials to work cooperatively (and not defensively) with journalist and law enforcement in addressing incidents involving clergy; that we have to recognize and address root causes of abuse and cover-up in the Church: i.e., clerical privilege and power across cultures, inadequate human formation in seminaries and novitiates, respecting appropriate boundaries in relationships; that care must be taken not to blame or “scapegoat” any particular group (e.g., homosexually-oriented clergy) for the scandals; that the healing of victims must always be a priority and the presumption of innocence must be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven.  Ultimately, the goal will be to set universal norms and standards that can be applied at all levels of the Church and in all countries to do everything possible to avoid future incidents of abuse and to prosecute offenders (no matter what positions they may hold) to the fullest extent of the law when those incidents do happen. The Church must also be actively engaged in protecting children and eradicating abuse wherever it may occur: not only within the Church, but anywhere that acts of physical, sexual or emotional violence are perpetrated against minors. In his concluding address on the final day of the summit, Pope Francis noted that “the Church’s aim will be to hear, watch over, protect, and care for abused, exploited, and forgotten children, wherever they are.” To achieve that goal, he continued, “the Church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by little ones.”

We pray that God will bring to fruition – not only for our Church, but for the world – the good work that has begun at the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church.

 

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Monday
Feb252019

Reflections - February 24, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel (Luke 6:27-38) has to rate as one of the most difficult for a disciple to follow day in and day out. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you... pray for those who mistreat you.” Turn the other cheek. Be merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” 

If you’re anything like me, this is extremely hard advice to put into action. How am I to forgive the unforgiveable? How can I possibly not judge?

Just a week ago, the world learned of laicization (sometimes known as “defrocking”) by Pope Francis of the former Cardinal Archbishop of my home town of Washington, DC – Theodore McCarrick. The Holy Father had carefully weighed all the evidence of sexual misconduct/abuse, McCarrick’s manipulation of children, seminarians and priests for his own sexual gratification by means of his power and authority as one of the highest-ranking churchmen in the United States. As the horror stories began to come to light, Cardinal McCarrick was demoted to become Archbishop McCarrick and was ordered by the Pope to remove himself from public ministry and begin a life of prayer and penance in a monastery. Sadly, as story after story piled up, the Church sustained serious injury as the result of not only the McCarrick scandal as well as the other accounts of sexual abuse and power abuse by clergy around the world. It also became known that all-too-many bishops were complicit in efforts to cover up the abuse or even worse, were abusers themselves. As all of this continued to unfold, McCarrick went to trial under Canon Law (the legal system of the Church) and following the trial verdict based on credible evidence, Pope Francis dismissed Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood. The Holy Father discerned that this difficult action was necessary to help bring healing to survivors, to set an example of a “no tolerance” policy for abusers (no matter what their rank) and bring new hope to a battered Church.  McCarrick is the most senior Catholic figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times. Now 88 years of age, Mr. McCarrick (as he is now known) will spend his final years in disgrace. Due to the statutes of limitations, he cannot be criminally charged with abuse of minors.  

As a priest of nearly 40 years, I have a hard time comprehending how this ordained man carried on a sexually abusive relationship with a teenager (among others), all the while rising to the heights of power in our Church. I have to admit that my emotional response to all of this – and the other stories of abuse by clergy – has been a source of sadness and shame, a source of anger… and yes, a rush to judge and condemn Theodore McCarrick and other clergy offenders.

But then the words of today’s Gospel slap me across the face and call me to stretch in ways I’d rather not. Leave me alone so that I can simmer in my anger and resentment, pointing a finger toward those who have demeaned the priesthood and the Church. Jesus, though, has other plans. His words in our Gospel passage challenge and confront me (as they generally tend to do!)  Let go of the judgmentalism, the condemnation… even when I’m feeling personally wounded. Whether it be a woundedness as the result of the scandals, or a betrayal by a family member or a friend, or feeling judged by others… the Lord is calling me (actually, you and me) to follow him. To pray for those who have harmed us. To let go of the anger. (The two go hand-in-glove: have you ever noticed how difficult it is to be angry with someone for whom you’re praying?) How difficult… but how rewarding and healing. Only by God’s grace is it possible to follow Christ’s path of self-giving love… letting go of resentment, venom and anger… even when it seems humanly impossible.

“Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

 

Grace, peace and hope in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

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