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
Tuesday
Oct092018

Reflections - October 7, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Last weekend, I was glad to preach at all the parish Masses in an effort to help our community understand how the Catholic Church has been responding – and continues to respond – to issues of clergy sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the “clerical culture” of the Church that has contributed to the secrecy and past mishandling of allegations of abuse.  I shared some statistics concerning sexual abuse, some practical ways that the Church has been working to achieve a safe environment for our young and vulnerable members as well as the efforts underway by Pope Francis and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to hold bishops and other Church leaders to accountability as we – the People of God, the Church – continue to address these issues. My preaching was a follow-up to our September 24th Evening of Prayer and Discussion, at which participants asked for greater transparency and regular updates regarding the challenges facing our Church.

It may seem obvious, but one of the indispensable tools that each of us as Catholic Christians has available to help “build a better Church” is something that we may easily overlook or take for granted: the power of prayer.

Pope Francis has invited Catholics worldwide to pray the Rosary and two other prayers throughout the month of October (which, like May, is a month specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary).  The Holy Father asks that we “join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.”

Holy Father Francis asks that we “conclude the recitation of the Rosary with the ancient invocation Sub Tuum Praesidium, and with the prayer to Saint Michael Archangel that he protect us and help us in the struggle against evil” (see Revelation 12, 7-12).  With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.

For those unfamiliar with the prayers that Pope Francis requests after praying the Rosary, here are their English translations:

Sub Tuum Praesidium

We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Prayer for the Intercession of St. Michael

Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Blessings and healing in Christ,   

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Oct022018

Reflections - September 30, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

As I write this first thing Tuesday morning (to make the publisher’s deadline for the Sunday bulletin), less than twelve hours have passed since we were in the midst of our Monday “Evening of Prayer and Discussion” – an opportunity for parishioners to come together and voice their concerns, questions, frustrations and anger over the scandals of sexual misconduct and abuse of power that have recently roiled the Church. As I introduced our time of sharing and prayer, I admitted that I didn’t “have all the answers” – and also spoke of how the revisiting of the sexual abuse scandals in our Church (as well as the newly-exposed shortcomings, petty infighting and criminal behavior among members of the Church hierarchy) have left me saddened, angered and disillusioned as well. 

I feel that our time together was productive (as well as emotionally draining)… parishioners, parish staff members and clergy coming together as the Body of Christ, the People of God, in order to share feelings and insights as we make our way through the current storms of our human brokenness as we make our pilgrim journey toward its final destination: the Kingdom of God. This image of the Church as a “pilgrim people on a journey,” so eloquently used during the Second Vatican Council, speaks to me powerfully.  As we, the Church, have for the past twenty centuries learned and grown as a result of our mistakes, human fallibility and sinfulness (think of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the corruption and loss of focus that led to the Protestant Reformation)… so I truly feel that the current “storm” we are experiencing is serving to help us as a Church learn from past sinful (and criminal) behavior on the part of some of our members and leaders to become a truer and more effective community of Christ’s disciples in our world.  

Though I have not yet had the opportunity to review the notes that were transcribed during our gathering, much of the discussion Monday evening centered around questions like: “Why is sexual abuse an ongoing issue on the Church?” “What are the leaders of our Church – the bishops and the Pope – doing to address this problem?” “What’s wrong with the structure of the Church that this issue of sexual abuse comes up over and over again?” “How are factors like celibacy and homosexuality contributing to the abuse of minors by clergy?” “What is the Church doing to keep our children safe?”  Obviously, questions like these are impossible to thoroughly answer in just a few words (and will require more detailed follow-up in future gatherings like Monday night’s and other means such as through the bulletin, parish website and in Sunday homilies). For now, though, I’d like to suggest that you check out the Safe Environment Program which is required of all clergy, teachers, parish and school staff as well as every volunteer in ministry in the Catholic Church: go to www.phoenix.setanet.org to learn about how all Dioceses of the United States have, since 2002, used this mandated training for all priests, deacons, employees and volunteers. This training has made a huge difference in raising awareness and sharply reducing instances of sexual abuse in the Church.   For a good statistical overview of the progress that the Church has made in addressing the scourge of abuse (and to see the graphs that I referred to Monday evening, go to our parish website (www.StTheresaPhx.org) and click on “CARA study indicates decline in abuse reports. Is the worst behind us?”

I hope that this is helpful, and look forward to continuing to inform our community (through the bulletin, from the “pulpit” and in future meetings such as Monday’s) of how our Holy Father Pope Francis, our bishops and the entire People of God – the Church – continues to address sinfulness, scandal and problems so that we may progress on our pilgrim journey of more fully reflecting who we are as the Body of Christ in our world.

 

With faith, hope and love,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Sep202018

Reflections - September 23, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

So many of us have been left reeling by the events in the life of our Catholic Church during the course of the past several weeks.  By the time you read this (since I am writing on September 11th prior to my departure for retreat), additional time will have passed.  Perhaps the meeting scheduled at the Vatican on September 13th between our Holy Father Francis and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, will result in some “calming of the storm” that we are moving through as Catholic Christians.  As of this writing, the Vatican is “preparing the necessary clarifications that top Vatican officials including Pope Francis covered up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal” according to a statement issued by Pope Francis’ nine cardinal-advisors, who have expressed “full solidarity” with the Holy Father over the scandal.  Perhaps these clarifications will be released by the time you read this, and the accusations of the former Papal Nuncio to the US (which have already been changed by the ex-papal ambassador and contradicted on a number of levels by public record and by Pope Emeritus Benedict’s personal aide) will be seen in a whole new perspective.

Be that as it may, I can say as a priest who is in his thirty-ninth year of priesthood, that the revelations of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report (as well as other revelations of sexual misconduct both in the US and abroad by brother priests, bishops and even cardinals) have left me angry and hurt.  It’s a shame I feel deeply – especially for the victims, whose pain I can’t even imagine.  On top of it all, to have what seem to me to be power plays and factionalism dividing our church and threatening our unity under Christ’s Vicar on Earth, Pope Francis, are unconscionable and in my opinion, diabolical.

As Pope Francis himself realizes, we as the institution of the Church have much to repent for.  That process of repentance and purification continues, as we are aware, into our own day and I am sure will continue until the end of time.  For nearly two thousand years, our Church has evolved, learning from the sins of our past.  Our imperfection as human beings making up the Body of Christ, the Church, on earth is particularly evident at this time in our history.  The human brokenness of the Church was highlighted in history during the Crusades, the Inquisition and in countless other instances… yet we are told by Jesus himself that he has built the Church on Peter and his successors – and “the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.”  Only God, though, is perfect – not human beings.

Confident that God is indeed guiding us toward healing and wholeness as the People of God, the Church, I invite any adult who may be interested join me and members of the Parish Staff for an “Evening of Discussion and Intercessory Prayer for our Church” this Monday evening at 6:30 until 8:00PM in church.  Child care will be provided.  I hope that this gathering can give us an opportunity for us to simply come together to talk to one another, listen to one another, pray and open ourselves to God’s wisdom and guidance in the context of our community of faith.  I don’t promise to have answers to all questions or any “instant cure” for the pain and confusion, but maybe our coming together on Monday can be step forward in our healing process.

May God’s Spirit guide us forward on our journey of faith, hope and love as disciples of Jesus Christ, his Body on earth – the People of God, the Church. 

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Sep142018

Reflections - September 16, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

In the sixth chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus addresses his disciples in these words: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).  This passage immediately follows the account in Mark’s Gospel of the death of John the Baptist.  Jesus and his disciples have been through a lot together; they are in need of a “breather” – something that Jesus recognizes, so he invites the disciples to set aside the demands of daily life and ministry so that they can simply have some down time in the quiet company of Jesus himself.

This section of Mark’s Gospel forms an excellent basis for the Church’s tradition of encouraging the practice of “making a retreat” – something, incidentally, that is encouraged for all members of the Church (not simply for priests and religious).  As difficult as it might be – even more so for a person with family responsibilities – it’s a tremendous blessing when we are able to set aside some quiet time with the Lord, time to take up the invitation “Be still – and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).    

As you read this, I will be away on my annual priest’s retreat at St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, CA – my plan is to drive back to the parish on Thursday (the 20th).  In the Church’s wisdom, priests are required to take a retreat annually – whether it be a directed retreat, silent retreat or a combination of both forms… the idea is for the priest to set aside a period of time for prayer, reflection and “spiritual refreshment and renewal.”  To be honest with you, there have been times in 39 years of priesthood when I have considered my schedule to be too packed to allow an opportunity for my annual retreat – and so two or three years might go by until I finally realize how much I need that time to “go away to a quiet place” and spend time with the Lord.  Fortunately as I have grown older (and perhaps wiser), I’ve come to see and appreciate on a whole new level what a blessing it is to have a “requirement” of an annual retreat!    

I’m writing this column, of course, prior to my departure to the Abbey – and I confess, as much as I enjoy my life and ministry at St. Theresa, I am greatly looking forward to spending five solid days with the Benedictine monks at Valyermo – simply sharing in their prayer and liturgy, their meals and their wisdom, as well as having a chance to catch up on some rest and spiritual reading… some time to simply be still with God.

This year, the timing of my retreat (that has been scheduled for several months now) seems to be especially God-given.  Among other things, I’m looking forward to some time to reflect upon the death of my good friend Bishop Tom O’Brien and the new life that God has called him to… and also bring to thought and prayer the challenges, scandals and polarities that our Church has been experiencing.  As members of the Body of Christ, the Church, we have all been experiencing pain, confusion and anger on many different levels.  Our journey as a Church toward healing and wholeness will not be an easy one, but will be one guided by the Holy Spirit and sustained by the mercy of a loving God.

As a step in this journey of responding to the current state of the Church, I would like to invite you to an “Evening of Prayer and Discussion” – a time for us to simply come together to talk to one another, to listen to one another and to open ourselves to God’s wisdom and guidance in the context of our community of faith.  Please consider reserving on your calendar Monday evening September 24th – we can gather in the church at 6:30PM and plan to stay until around 8:00.  More information will come in next weekend’s bulletin and Mass announcements.  If you’re an adult and feel that you would like to participate, I hope that you’ll be able to join in the discussion and prayer!  Childcare will be offered.

Know that I will be lifting our parish community in my prayer while on retreat – please pray for me and for our Church under the guidance of Pope Francis in these challenging times.

 

Peace and strength in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Sep072018

Reflections - September 9, 2018

Note: Reflections of the Labor Day holiday weekend is repeated today, in light of Bishop O’Brien’s ministry as Associate Pastor of St. Theresa (1964-66) and to give those who were away for the holiday weekend an opportunity to read the following…

 

My Brothers and Sisters,

“…And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to one new person, to the extent of the full stature of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Those few verses from St. Paul’s Letter to his community in Ephesus formed the basis for the words Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien took as his motto when he was ordained the Third Bishop of Phoenix by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982.  “To Build Up the Body of Christ” was the motto that Bishop O’Brien tried his best to reflect in his ministry as he served as Shepherd of the Church of the Diocese of Phoenix for twenty-one years.

They were years of unprecedented, explosive growth in our Diocese – tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Catholics were added to the Diocese.  The Diocese of Phoenix continued to enjoy a national as well as international reputation as a vibrant, joyful Diocese rooted in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council – strengthening the role of the laity in the Church, opening the Church to welcome all (no matter what their backgrounds or personal circumstances were), accepting the fact that the Catholic Church was continuing to evolve in its ability to “Build up the Body of Christ” in many different ways.  Ecumenical and interfaith relationships were a high priority for Bishop O’Brien – he maintained and nurtured friendships with leaders in the Jewish Community as well as Protestant Christian Communities.  He had a special place for the Spanish speaking of the Diocese – for quite a while, he had weekly meetings with a tutor so that he could strengthen his ability to speak the Spanish language.  During the twenty-one years of Bishop O’Brien’s leadership, he extended the invitation to two modern-day saints to visit our Diocese, and they warmly accepted: Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Both were moved by both the faith and vibrancy of the Church of Phoenix.  Bishop O’Brien was among the first bishops of the country to issue a comprehensive Diocesan Policy on Sexual Misconduct by Diocesan Personnel in 1995 – seven years prior to the scandals emerging from Boston in 2002.  In contrast to many bishops across the nation who were closing schools and consolidating parishes, Bishop Tom established 15 new parishes and six Catholic schools, including Notre Dame College Prep.  He led the Diocesan Primavera planning process, involving laity, clergy and religious across the diocese.  He established the Catholic Community Foundation, the Catholic Sun newspaper and designed and built the new Diocesan Pastoral Center.  The list of his accomplishments in building up the Body of Christ can go on and on – but sadly, many people only remember the events leading to his early retirement in 2003: he was, I believe, the first bishop in the US to publically admit to mishandling priests accused of sexual abuse – and shortly after receiving death threats due to that admission and having to wear a police-issued bulletproof vest to celebrate Confirmations, an intoxicated man stumbled out of darkness and onto the passenger-side fender, striking the windshield of bishop’s moving car in less than a second, falling to the pavement to be struck and killed by a second car.  Due to the threats he had received, Bishop Tom thought someone had thrown something at his car and proceeded home to bed – and then used the car with the broken windshield openly for the next two days, making no attempts to hide the car.  He had absolutely no idea that he was involved in the death of another human being – but he was ultimately found guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

People believe what they want to believe – but I know that we have put to rest a good and faithful priest and bishop, who did his best to “Build Up the Body of Christ.”  Was he perfect?  Of course not – he was human, he made mistakes… and I’m proud to say that our Bishop Emeritus was a close friend and mentor of mine.  He is now relieved of suffering on many different levels, not the least of which was a decade-long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.  May the angels lead him home to the joy of our Father’s house!

 

God’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor