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 - August 18, 2019

My Brothers and sisters,

At first glance, today’s Gospel (Luke 12:49-53) is a bit jolting.  What Jesus tells his disciples about halfway through the passage seems so out-of-character: “Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you – but rather division.”

This doesn’t sound like something we’d expect from the mouth of the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace.  Not peace, but division?  Jesus goes on to describe how households – families – will be divided on account of him.  Somehow, this seems antithetical to the message of the Gospel… particularly if we recall the joyous proclamation of the angels at the birth of Jesus, as described in the second chapter of Luke: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Lk. 2:14).  

What are we to make of this statement of Jesus in today’s Gospel?   You may recall that the Gospel passages of the past two weeks have dealt with the necessity of the disciple trusting in God, and not in material possessions or wealth.  We heard about the wealthy farmer who builds new warehouses to store him many possessions, thinking he can then sit back and “eat drink and be merry” – only to have God tell him “This night your life will be required of you; to whom will all your possessions and wealth go?”  Last week, we heard Jesus telling his disciples: “Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”  This week’s Gospel passage follows directly on last week – in fact, in these three weeks, the Church has given us a continuous reading of the twelfth chapter of Luke.  The “undercurrent” of this entire chapter is that the disciple of Jesus cannot rely for ultimate support on those things that so many others rely on: wealth, possessions, power… and now this week, even family.  The disciples trust must ultimately be on God – and God alone.

Does mean that money, possessions, success and the closest human relationships are somehow bad?  Of course not – unless they eclipse the place of God in our lives.  For the person who commits to truly following Jesus Christ, all of these blessings must take their place only after God – who is central and most important in the disciple’s life.  The disciple is called to prioritize her or his relationship with God over all else, trusting that everything else will then fall into place according to God’s will.

No one says that this is easy – and, for most of us, it’s something that we have to strive for day by day.  Some days, we will be more successful at keeping God at the center of our lives than other days.  It’s particularly challenging when we run into those situations where – as the Gospel describes – our living a life of discipleships puts us at odds with those who are “nearest and dearest,” because they follow a path incompatible with the one we’ve chosen.  But that’s exactly when we can take strength in what Jesus tells his disciples a little earlier in this chapter: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom” (Lk 12:32).  


Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer




Reflections - August 11, 2019


I had just returned from Target Monday night. I only went to pick up a couple of composition notebooks in which to make lists in an effort to be more organized. The place was packed. Literally, it was crowded at 9:00 at night. The school supply aisles were unnavigable, filled with exhausted moms & dads with their children. I came home and thought I had better lie down & “veg” in the cool house and read the scriptures for the week. Then, I was hit with the Sunday Gospel! This weekend’s Gospel periscope always makes me squirm whenever it is proclaimed or I read it. I can feel eyes staring through me.

It is August. It is hot! We are getting tired of the heat (don’t get me wrong; I would much rather put up with the heat than the cold!). Nevertheless, the heat along with the humidity makes many of us weary if not downright lethargic. Many of our Saint Theresa Catholic School parents are rushing home from vacations and trying to get their children ready for a new school year (Some of them were at Target!). All we want is to rest a bit from the heat and all the activity that is being demanded of us at this time of year. Then, to top it off,  we hear that line, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much...”  

I was in seminary, and I was called in by Fr. Richard M. Gulla to his office. Yes, that Fr. Gulla—Reverend Richard M. Gulla, SS, PhD, Professor of Moral Theology. Fr. Gulla, the  author of “Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers”, “Reason Informed by Faith”, Moral Discernment: Moral Discernment Guide”, “The Way of Goodness and Holiness: A Spirituality for Pastoral Ministers” just to name a few of his many books. He taught in the seminary I attended and he called me to his office one hot August. “JC, I do not see your name on the list for students taking the Masters Program.” “Ummm, no Father. It’s just too hot,  too hot here and, well, why? I mean with all my other courses & activities, all the responsibilities I have...” Then those words came, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” Those eyes... He stared right through me. “JC, in our tradition, when we don’t use our God given talents, we call that sin. You may go.”

We are blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, and  it is expected that we use these well to glorify God and benefit others. We have been entrusted with certain things, and faithfulness requires that we manage those things wisely and unselfishly, even if it is hot and we are tired. The basic truth is we have all been given much. We have been granted the abundant grace of God, the Word of God, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Each of us should use whatever gift we  have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. God gives us resources such as finances and time, talents such as culinary skills, athletic or musical ability, and spiritual gifts such as encouragement or teaching, and great gift of the ministry of parenthood. We should ask God for wisdom on how to use those resources and commit ourselves to expending them according to His will so that He may be glorified and we continue to build His kingdom. 

All I’m saying, is, yep it’s hot, yes we can get weary, but together we can keep building the kingdom. Together it seems easier. Together we can keep supporting each other. Together, together, together…


-Fr. JC



Reflections - August 4, 2019

Is This Meant For Me?

After last weekend’s Gospel where the disciples ask, “Lord, teach us to pray...” I was reading online (!) where Pope Francis had remarked that social media was creating a “Culture of Insults”.

The Pope speaking in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican said, the more we use social media, the less social we are becoming.” The Holy Father decried the increased use of social media as creating a “culture of insults.”

“Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults,” Pope Francis said. The Pope also said that social media is creating a gap in real social interaction. Pope Francis said that in “the age of the computer, distances are increasing.”

I thought that he is totally correct! However, I thought his pronouncements were just going to fall on deaf ears. It would take a lot more to have the world turn away from social media. I really didn’t want to give up my intersections on the net, I’m not ready to do that. There are advantages to texting. It can be a quick way to communicate to many at one time. I thought of an experiment that I wanted to try. At the “Midnight Mass” on Monday morning I asked those gathered, to begin to change the world. I said we need to change the world! I received the usual blank stares. I went on to say it was possible. We could change the world one person at a time. I included the Pope’s words in my homily and asked those gathered to use their devices (the ones to which we have become so addicted ) for good. To pick one person out of the blue and send to that person something nice or encouraging. 

I asked if sending Oscar Wilde’s quote,  “every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future” might be interpreted as a backhanded compliment? Mass concluded and a young man came to the sacristy and said he had always liked that quote and asked if he might go to confession. Hummmmm... Maybe, just maybe, something I said had been heard. I sent the quote when I was back at the rectory to several people. After all it is easy and fast to do. I immediately received back the replies to my texts, “True”, and “So True”, along with “Some more than others, Right JC?” Well, maybe I provoked a bit of thought. I had asked the folks at mass to lift the spirits of another, so perhaps a better quote was needed or something more from the heart? I then sent “♥ To my eyes and many others… YOU are definitely one of the most remarkable people here! ♥” 

I received, “I am not sure this was meant for me?” “Are you doing what I did last week and accidentally send this to me when it was meant for another?” and “Oh my goodness . If you meant this for me I’m deeply touched thank you , if this was meant for someone else ... I still thank you for lifting my spirits after a very long day.” and “That means the world - having a little rough spell and trying to just trust in His plan...” Most people thought it could not have been meant for them! They thought  it was a mistake. A few with some trials and obstacles in their lives were thankful. Changing the world was not going to be as easy as I thought. I was now not going to give up. I was going to keep sending positive thoughts and lift people’s spirits. Later that day, I read that Pope Francis said that rather than responding to insulting words and trolls on social media with further insults, he suggested to instead respond “to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.”

Ok, I still believe that we can change the world one person at a time using social media & technology. I know now that before pressing the send button I should actually pray for that person. I know that His will be done. He is in charge.

And, YES, IT IS MEANT FOR YOU! Why? Well, because ♥ To my eyes and many others… YOU are definitely one of the most remarkable people here! ♥!


-Fr. JC



Reflections - July 28, 2019

Teach Us How to Pray!

I need to pray; we need to pray... but how? That is exactly the question the disciples ask in today’s Gospel. The disciples are not so out to lunch as we might want to label them. The disciples are more like us than we want to admit. We need prayer. We all need to pray. We need to pray fervently. We need to pray persistently. We must pray frequently. 

The one aspect of prayer that I have down is my “request” prayer. This is the one category of prayer in which I have years of experience and many hours that have gone into perfecting this prayer form. The second aspect of prayer in which  I’m excellent about is “Get Me Out of this MESS” prayer.

Both of these types of prayers have ME as the focus. Insert an embarrassing emoji here. When everything is going well I tend to get lazy about prayer. Can anyone relate to this?

It is true (although it has taken years to develop!) that I do actually have a list of people and things for which I pray. I have a written list or else I forget to pray for others when asked. My list seems to grow longer everyday! My list gets lost frequently and I have to go looking for it. With a prayer to Saint Anthony, it is usually found. The entries get moved around depending on the severity of the request. The list never seems to get shorter.

Family & friends ask for our prayers all the time. Our Ministry groups ask for prayers. We should pray for the lost people we know or encounter along our journeys of life. We need to pray for our missionaries, for our seminarians, for our priests, for our preachers, for the sick among us, for those who persecute us, for those who are visiting our services & liturgies. We pray for those with whom we are studying, for those who have fallen away, for our own spiritual development, for our own forgiveness, for our weaknesses, for God’s providence to use us in his cause. The list goes on & on and it can get overwhelming. 

Jesus shows the disciples and us how to pray. Our confusion becomes more clear. We become more focused. This honest prayer strengthens our relationship with  our Lord & one another. This prayer teaches us about our spiritual relationship with God.

As a Christian: God is our Father. Jesus instructs us to recognize God’s nature — He is holy. Jesus wants us to focus on the plan of God — the kingdom has come. We are called to proclaim it. The Lord desires that we be concerned with the will of God in our lives. He teaches us to appreciate the providence of God, which sustains us on a daily basis. He shows us the need for forgiveness — we need it, and we need to have a forgiving disposition towards others. He reminds us of our moral responsibility to resist temptation — pray for God’s help. He teaches us that God is the only one who can save us, delivering us from the evil one. It seems simple once it is pointed out for us.

Following the prayer of the “The Our Father”, we learn that God is a willing listener, inviting us to pray and receive his blessings, as we offer up our petitions and thanksgivings to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. We begin to move from predominantly self focused to other focused. Let our prayer include Lord, THANK YOU, for teaching us how to pray.


~Fr. JC



Reflections - July 21, 2019

Martha & Mary, and Mary & Martha... and Jesus!

I have always tried to explain (at least to myself) the difference in approach between the sisters, Martha & Mary. Martha seems busy with the physical aspects of having guests and Mary seems to be focused on her attention toward their guest. Then there is Jesus... 

After pondering the two sisters this past week in preparation for a homily this weekend, my thoughts turned to a simple what can I learn from them? The two in tandem along with Jesus’ response might be trying to say something to me, to us.  What is to be learned by all of us from the three of them?

Usually when I hear that the possibility of a guest in the rectory will indeed become a reality, I tend to think about the dirty floors & the dusty furniture or the dog hair covering almost everything. Instead, I probably should be more concerned on looking at people as a gift. Seeing visitors as opportunities takes thought & practice. Welcoming people into our homes is a gift – a gift worth sharing, whether the place is pristine and decorated to perfection or not. Because true hospitality wraps a person up in grace and makes them feel special. The Gospel from last weekend asked us to ponder who our neighbor was. That Gospel periscope ended with Jesus’ line, “Go and do likewise.” As my father used to say, “Our furniture might be outdated, but TRUE hospitality is always in style!”

During my pondering about the sisters, I wondered what Martha might have prepared for dinner. I hoped she was making roast lamb with rosemary potatoes (I was hungry that day!) with pineapple upside down cake. Nevertheless, if Jesus was traveling with his disciples, there are at least 15 people Martha is serving. Mary? Well, she is in with the guests. Martha is irritated in comparing their lives.  Into my mind enters that old adage from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

Comparison is a trick, because as I learned from a wise woman in Praise for Parents, it never tells the full story. When we look at someone else’s life, we only catch a snapshot. And just like the smiling Christmas photo that never hints at the pre-pose argument or the screaming fit right afterward, we miss the rest of the story too. Our society today is caught up in social media. We only see the big, happy smiles, the “perfect” children and family, the bigger cleaner & nicer house. We don’t get to witness the energy, hours & bribes it took to create that illusion. It is true—“Comparison breeds anxiety & discontent.”

Another thing that crossed my mind, where do I turn when I'm disgruntled? Usually I look for a friendly, agreeing ear, for sympathy and a willing partner in my pity party. We can be tempted to share our problems with everyone else – prayer requests, social media, mom, dad, the bestie – when the wisest thing to do is to approach the One who can actually fix things first. Martha knew what she was doing. We can follow her example and turn to God in prayer. When we are struggling, we should remember to go to the Best Source first.

In looking at the story, Jesus reminded Martha – and us – what to be “concerned” with, where to focus, and what should take a front row seat in our minds & lives. That is a relationship with Him. When we concentrate on Jesus first, we discover that we are never truly alone or without help. We experience that His grace is sufficient for all that we face. We are able to begin to find inner peace and strength to face whatever comes our way. Those are the kinds of truth that keep us calm in even the busiest seasons of life and serving.

So, here’s to throwing the front door wide open. May we find the chutzpah and joy of inviting people in, and may we cling to the peace of the “one thing” in the middle of ordinary, crazy life from where we can derive strength-His unconditional love!


-Fr. JC