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
May102019

Reflections - May 12, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

This weekend of the Forth Sunday of Easter is also an important one on the secular calendar, since we also celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Mother’s Day has a fascinating history (and, in case you didn’t know, I’m a bit of a history buff!). Most Americans attribute the beginnings of Mother’s Day to Anna Reeves Jarvis, a resident of Grafton, West Virginia. Ms. Jarvis had, in the years immediately following the Civil War, spearheaded efforts to bring the mothers of both Confederate and Union soldiers together – along with their ex-soldier sons – to promote reconciliation in a “Mother’s Friendship Day.”  This effort provided the seeds of a memorial held for her own mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton in 1908: this is commonly seen as the “birthday” of Mother’s Day. The idea caught on – and, in 1914, Mother’s Day became an official holiday in the United States.  Interestingly, Anna Jarvis became disgusted by 1920 with the commercial excesses that began to be associated with Mother’s Day – and spent much of her later life trying to have the holiday removed from the calendar! But, as we all know – and are no doubt grateful for – Mother’s Day survived, to be celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday of May each year. Yes, the day has become somewhat commercialized in our country – but at its roots, it’s still a day to honor and give thanks to God for our own mothers, living and deceased… as well as for all mothers in our community.

With all due respect to the various efforts of Ms. Jarvis, part of what’s really fascinating about Mother’s Day is that the idea of honoring mothers with a special celebration had already been thought of “a few” years earlier…   

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced all the way back to the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, where festivals were held in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele (and, by extension, “human motherhood” was honored). The clearest precedent, though, to the modern celebration of Mother’s Day is a Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday,” which began in the United Kingdom as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connection to mothers at all. The word "mothering" referred to the "mother church", which is to say the main church or cathedral of the region. It became a tradition that, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, people would return to their mother church for a special service. This pilgrimage was apparently known as "going a-mothering", and became something of a holiday event, with domestic servants traditionally given the day off to visit their own families as well as their mother church. 

Despite its long existence in British culture, Mothering Sunday eventually fell out of fashion at the dawn of the 20th Century. This is where a lady named Constance Penswick-Smith enters the picture. The daughter of a vicar, she thought the loss of Mothering Sunday was a great shame, and worked hard to rekindle interest in the holiday. Her determination paid off, and the fading festival was restored to the culture of the country in the 1930’s and 40’s, only now with much more of a focus on celebrating motherhood - due to the influence of the American celebration of Mother’s Day.  

Some version of Mother’s Day is now celebrated pretty much worldwide, on different days in different cultures.  Why?  Probably because it’s hard to deny that every human being has a great debt of gratitude to his or her mother – for bringing them to term, giving birth and (more often than not) nurturing them, loving them and forming them into the adults they eventually become. 

Thank you, mothers, for answering the call to motherhood!

 

Easter peace and joy,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
May032019

Reflections - May 5, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Many of us fondly remember Father Frank Fernandez, a priest who served our community of St. Theresa Parish a few years ago and who was called to the Lord on April 8th at the age of 80. He was a unique and wonderful character: he loved God, he loved people and he loved animals of all sorts. His homilies were most insightful, often bringing together his spirituality, his amazing life experiences and his ongoing Twelve Step journey of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. We were blest with Fr. Frank’s presence in our community and the love he freely gave – so I wanted to share with you a “gift of inspiration” that appeared on the worship aid at his funeral, which was celebrated at St. Joseph’s Parish. A friend of Fr. Frank’s, Larry Yee, captured these paraphrased gems from Fr. Frank’s homilies over the years:

 

“God truly and profoundly loves us unconditionally and finds us irresistible in his eyes. God wants to be part of our lives to help us with the decisions that we constantly make.”

“Each of us is asked to do God’s work here on earth, by our service to others. Pray for wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit to serve and to be a proper instrument of God. Pray also to open your awareness to see the presence of God in others and in yourself.”

“We are created to be relational. The greatest human need is the feeling of connectedness; the greatest tragedy is when a person is alone not loved or not giving love.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference. Treating others as if they do not exist is the harshest act in dealing with others.”

“One of the greatest sins a person commits is when one gossips and destroys a person’s reputation.  We need to appreciate the power of the spoken word and how we can unintentionally harm a person or their reputation if we are not careful with what is said. Our tongue can be a dangerous weapon.”

“On Judgement Day, we are all judged by how we handled four key relationships in this life: with God, with ourselves, with others and with all of God’s creation.”

“Instead of growing old, the spirit matures. The more we as individuals let go and let God take control of our life, the more our spirit matures.”

“In times of difficulty or indecision, look to the Cross – for everything else is smoke.”

 

Lord, you chose our brother Frank to serve your people as a priest and to share the joys and burdens of their lives. Look with mercy on him and give him the reward of his labors, the fullness of life promised to those who preach your holy Gospel. Amen!

 

Joy and peace in the Risen Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Apr302019

Reflections - April 28, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter. Interestingly this Sunday is not known as the “Second Sunday after Easter” but “…of Easter.” The Church is subtly reminding us that Easter is not just a single Sunday (that we celebrated a week ago) but a feast of such magnitude that it requires a full fifty days to celebrate: the period from Easter Sunday (or one could say “The First Sunday of Easter”) through Pentecost Sunday, this year to be celebrated on June 9th. These Fifty Days of Easter are sometimes referred to as “The Great Sunday,” because we continue to celebrate the intensity and the joy of the Lord’s Resurrection throughout these days. One might think that this extended time of celebrating our Easter joy might be a bit of an overkill; after all, doesn’t it become a bit redundant or boring to be celebrating essentially the same thing for practically two months straight?  Actually, no. The wonder and the mystery of Jesus’ resurrection after laying in the tomb for three days; the paradox of death giving way to new life, the invitation that each one of us has to follow Jesus from this life on earth through death to a new, glorified and eternal life in the Kingdom of God are all mysteries that take most of us a protracted period of time to absorb and integrate into our own lives of faith as Christ’s disciples. It’s truly a blessing to repeat these Fifty Day of the Great Sunday each year so that we can be reminded on an annual basis of these central, most hopeful and joy-filled mysteries of our faith!

The Second Sunday of Easter is also known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy, as designated by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000 after canonizing Sister Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) as a saint of our Church.  In 1931, when the world was in the midst of the Great Depression and memories of the horrors of World War I were still very much alive in the minds of Europeans, Sister Faustina is said to have been personally visited by Jesus. According to her diary, an image was revealed to her of the Risen Lord, from whose heart shone two rays, one red (representing blood) and the other “pale” (symbolizing water), with the words “Jesus, I trust in you” at the bottom. (Many of you are aware that this image is displayed in our church, on the paneling just to the left of the tabernacle).   Faustina wrote in her diary that Jesus told her, “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.” The entries of Sister Faustina’s diary focus on God’s mercy, the call to accept God’s mercy and to be merciful, the need for conversion, and the call to trust in Jesus.  The celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday on the Second Sunday of Easter, then, gives us an opportunity to reflect on the theme of how God’s mercy can overcome sin and, as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states, “a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that men and women will experience in the years to come.” 

The theme of tender compassion and Divine Mercy is certainly echoed by the Gospel passage (John 20: 19-31) that we hear on this Second Sunday of Easter in which the Risen Christ, appearing to the disciples who were huddled behind locked doors for fear of the angry crowds, gently encouraged the skeptical Thomas to touch his wounds “and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” The understanding, mercy and encouraging love of Jesus is so evident in that moment.

As we continue to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ over the powers of sin and death, may we always be confident of the boundless mercy offered us by our loving God.

 

Joy and peace in the Risen Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor 

 

A (final) message from a Junior High Student of St. Theresa Catholic School’s Class of 2019

As I write my last bulletin article, I reflect on all of my years at St. Theresa and all of the school and parish Masses.  Graduating from St. Theresa Catholic School this May really brings to mind all of the school Masses and how important they have been to developing my deep faith.  Every week, every year, every priest encouraged us as students to grow in our faith by growing closer to God, Christ, and our communities.  I didn't just sit in Mass, I really participated by listening and praying.  I think we have to do both.  If we just pray, I think we are focused on what we want or need to say to God.  If we also listen, we can open our hearts and minds to what God wants to say to each of us.  This is why I have left every Mass with some new thought, and it's also why I asked to write these bulletin articles.  I believe it's so important to share how important our faith is, no matter if we are celebrating life or struggling in it.  Faith is how I have gotten through everything I have up until now.  During my nightly prayers, by giving thanks, asking for forgiveness, or asking for God to help me or others, I have taken what I have learned in Catholic school Mass outside of the "classroom" into my everyday life.  I have faith that this will help me through the rest of my life, through all of the ups and downs.  I hope you have also found deep faith and that it carries you through your journeys.  I am grateful to Father Chuck, all of the priests and teachers at St. Theresa, and most of all, to God and Jesus Christ.  May God bless you.

What a wonderful gift this student of our parish school has given us by sharing his spiritual insights with the parish community over the course of these past two years! We wish him – and all the members of the STCS Class of 2019 – God’s blessings and continued guidance as they prepare to go forth to the high school of their choice.

 

Thursday
Apr182019

Reflections - April 21, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!” This verse, from Psalm 118, is the refrain from the responsorial Psalm of Easter Sunday – and these words so well sum up the Church’s spirit as we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection today. 

We rejoice in the fact that Jesus was lifted from death by the power of the Father’s love; we rejoice in the faith of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” who – upon entering the empty tomb, “saw and believed” (John 20:8). We rejoice in what this means for all of us who have been conformed to Christ, the Risen One, through our baptism: we, like the Risen Christ, have the promise of eternal life following our own death.

Admittedly, this is “a lot” for us to get our heads around, particularly because we live in a culture that is generally based on logic and empirical evidence. Beyond the discovery of the burial cloths and the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus in death, there was no solid evidence of Christ’s resurrection when the Apostle John stepped into the empty tomb. Bodily resurrection, life after death was a totally illogical and preposterous concept for the first-Jew, and yet something clicked inside of John. Through faith, he “saw and believed.”

Bodily resurrection after death, eternal life is no more logical or empirically proven in the twenty-first century than it was in the first century. Yes, we have an unbroken line of 2000 years of believers who have trusted that the Easter message is true… but this is based solely on the free will decision of each individual to use his or her free will to believe – or not. Often, that belief took a Christian an entire lifetime to perfect.

Today we will have the opportunity to renew our baptismal promises – those promises that we made (or our parents and godparents made for us) at the time of our baptism. Two of the articles of faith that we are invited to say “I do” to are: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ… who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?” and “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?”

True belief in such intangible things as resurrection and life after death is seldom something we arrive at instantly. Most of us aren’t quite up to the standards of the disciple John who “saw and believed” on the spot. We learn in the readings of Mass over the Fifty Days of Easter that many of the disciples were comparatively slow to believe. Their faith in the resurrection of Jesus as well as “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting” was something that evolved over the course of time and involved various steps and stages. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the Church sets aside a period of fifty days – from now through Pentecost Sunday – to allow us to reflect on and grow in our faith in the Lord’s resurrection and the new life that the Risen Christ promises us after death.

As we profess our faith in the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and are sprinkled with the waters of baptism, the same water blessed and used at the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday evening to baptize those who completed their initiation into the Catholic Christian faith, may we – like the majority of those first century disciples - be open to that evolution of faith and deepening of belief that leads us to accept the reality of Christ’s resurrection and its effects on our own lives, both now and for eternity. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!”   

 

Easter peace and joy,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Apr122019

Reflections - April 14, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, we find ourselves on the threshold of the most sacred time of our Church Year – aptly called Holy Week. Celebrating Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion today, we recall how Jesus entered in triumph into Jerusalem – with crowds spreading their cloaks and strewing palm and olive branches before him, while calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” as they praised God for the mighty deeds they had seen accomplished through Jesus.

How quickly that triumphant, joyful exultation turns somber… as we listen to the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord, recounting the experiences of Jesus as the “hosannas” fade into memory and Jesus, fully God and fully human, enters into the days of fulfilling his destiny to share a final meal with his disciples, to be denied by those closest to him, tried as a criminal, led to an agonizing death on a cross and then placed in a tomb. All of this, though, is just a prelude to what we will celebrate in a week and for fifty days thereafter… death being conquered by new life and the path to eternal life being laid open to us. 

Our “high holy days” in the Catholic Christian tradition are the three days of the Paschal Triduum (pronounced “trih-doo-um”) beginning Holy Thursday with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and culminating with the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Holy Saturday. Technically this is one continuous liturgy: on Holy Thursday we begin with the Sign of the Cross (as at all Masses) and the concluding Sign of the Cross is the final blessing at the Easter Vigil. Unique annual rites take place during the Triduum: at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we commemorate Christ’s mandatum (or mandate) to serve as he served. This is ritualized by the Washing of the Feet at Mass, followed by the commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist celebrated in the Eucharistic Prayer. Immediately after Communion, all are invited to join in a procession to Fr. Feeney Hall where the Eucharist is reposed until midnight for silent adoration (commemorating Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane). On Good Friday, the Triduum Liturgy continues with the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the Procession and Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. This is a very powerful service which is not a Mass at all (the Church’s ancient tradition prohibits the celebration of Mass on Good Friday and Holy Saturday before the beginning of the Easter Vigil). At the conclusion of the Good Friday liturgy, the church is left bare and empty through Holy Saturday (even the Eucharist is absent from the tabernacle) – this commemorates the time that the body of Jesus lay in the tomb and his spirit descended to the realm of the dead. Shortly after sundown on Holy Saturday, we gather in a darkened church for the Easter Vigil – lighting the Easter Fire, blessing the Paschal Candle, listening to the Hebrew scriptures foretelling our salvation… followed by the Gloria, the singing of the Easter Alleluia and proclamation of the Resurrection Gospel. The Elect are baptized, confirmed and receive their First Eucharist at this first Mass of Easter.

This year, due to the time of sunset, the Triduum Liturgy begins at 7:30PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Triduum is an experience all Catholics should have at least once – as it is that time when we enter into the central mysteries of our faith. I encourage you to make time to join us for all three parts of the Triduum Liturgy.  It can truly be a life-giving and faith-enhancing experience!

Additionally, Stations of the Cross are prayed at Noon on Good Friday in the church and on Holy Saturday morning, the ancient Office of Tenebrae (psalms and scripture readings) will be prayed at 5:30AM. All are welcome. No Masses apart from the Triduum Liturgy are celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Confessions are not scheduled on Holy Saturday (Please note: the last opportunity to attend Reconciliation before Easter will be this Wednesday, April 17th, from 5:00 – 6:00PM). On Easter Sunday, Masses are celebrated at 6:00, 7:30, 9:00, 9:15 and 11:00AM. The 6:00 and 9:15 Masses are outdoors in the school courtyard. There is no 5:00PM Mass celebrated on Easter Sunday.

I look forward to us sharing our community’s journey through these holiest of days, in union with the Church throughout the world.

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor