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
Apr052019

Reflections - April 7, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Last week I learned from Fr. Nelson Libera (a fellow Judge on the Tribunal and Pastor of St. Matthew Parish and School in West Phoenix) that he and his parishioners had spent the prior Sunday (March 24th) assisting 37 migrant families seeking asylum in the US (90 people in all) who had been “dropped off” by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. These families were bused from the border and simply left at the bus terminal to fend for themselves. They had no resources, no place to sleep, no food, water and only the clothing on their backs.

Parishioners of St. Matthew’s, members of their parish and school staff were joined by other volunteers from a network of Valley churches to provide medical care, food, water and showers.  Many of the asylum-seekers shared their experiences with Fr. Nelson, who was moved by the stories of the conditions in their own countries from which they were fleeing along with stories of their long journey to seek asylum. Having had a week-long stay in El Salvador the year before last related to my involvement with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), I have some appreciation of the economic and other hardships of many Salvadorans, the prevalence of gang violence and even the corruption of many police and other government officials. Currently, the US Department of State classifies El Salvador as a “Level 3/High Risk” country for danger, noting “Violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics and arms trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”  Honduras and Nicaragua are also Level Three countries (only Level Four countries, mostly found in war zones, are considered more dangerous). Three out of the seven nations are considered “high risk” by the State Department – and these countries are the ones that many Central Americans are fleeing in search of asylum. Frankly, if I lived with my family in a Level Three country with little hope of change or improvement there, I too would be seeking asylum. And, traditionally, the United States has been considered a refuge for those seeking asylum. (Note: the asylum-seekers are not “undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants. These individuals and families have presented themselves to US authorities at the border in order to begin the process of being granted asylum. It’s at that point that our government buses them to places like Phoenix, so that they can then find their way to family members or friends around the US until such time their asylum cases are settled). Unfortunately there is a gap between the asylum-seekers being dropped off by ICE and their being able to make it to wherever their destinations might be. This is where communities like St. Matthew’s have stepped in to assist the asylum-seekers. I am pleased to let you know that St. Theresa Parish has assisted St. Matthew Parish in their efforts to assist the asylum-seekers with a grant of $1200 from our parish tithing budget. It’s just one small way that we can help an already economically-disadvantaged parish community as they respond to the Gospel challenge to “welcome the stranger.”

Our Holy Father Pope Francis, in addressing the people of Morocco on March 30th upon his arrival there noted that the migration crisis throughout the world is “grave” and that it is an “urgent summons for concrete actions.”  The pope went on to urge global governments to see migrants as "persons, not numbers" and to acknowledge "their rights and dignity in daily life and in political decisions."  He said that many would not have left their home countries "were they not forced to do so.” 

May our Lenten journey challenge us to be grateful for the blessings that we enjoy (and easily take for granted) as we grow in our sensitivity toward those seeking hope in new lands.

 

Lenten grace and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor    

 

Friday
Mar292019

Reflections - March 31, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

At this weekend’s 11:00AM Mass, we have the privilege of celebrating the Second Scrutiny of the Elect.  This is part of the Church’s ancient tradition surrounding the initiation into the Catholic Faith of those who have never been baptized.  The “Elect” are the individuals who have neared the completion of their journey toward the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist that they will soon receive.  They have already participated in classes leading up to the Rite of Election, and now they are moving through the three Scrutinies… all of which prepare them for their Christian Initiation that will take place at the Easter Vigil on April 20th.

The Rites of Scrutiny – which contain prayers of minor exorcism to drive out anything within the Elect that is not of God – are always accompanied by readings from Cycle A of the Lectionary (even though all the other Masses use this year’s Cycle C readings). The reason for this is that the Gospel for each of the Scrutinies contains special instruction for the Elect. The rather long Gospel passages of the Samaritan Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind and the Raising of Lazarus are chosen by the Church very deliberately so as to strengthen the Elect on their faith journey (as well as to remind each of us who are already baptized of the faith journey that we continue on!)

Today’s Second Scrutiny presents to us the story of the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41).  It’s a fascinating account of Jesus’ healing (on the Sabbath) of a man who was born unable to see… and the resulting consternation of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees became fixated on the fact that Jesus had violated the Law of Moses by healing on the Sabbath (the Pharisees considered healing to be “work”).  They grilled the now-healed blind man mercilessly over how Jesus, whom they considered a sinner because he had violated the Sabbath traditions by healing, had brought about this healing.  Frustrated by the healed man’s answers, they threw him out – refusing to listen to him as they gave him answers they didn’t want to hear (e.g., that if Jesus were not from God, he would not have been able to give the blind man his sight).  Amazingly, the Pharisees were so caught up in the “how and when” of the healing (and how they could use this incident against Jesus) that they were completely blinded to the miraculous healing itself.  The fact that, in the words of the formerly-blind man, “It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind” did not move the Pharisees in the least.  The more important thing to them is that their rules had been violated. 

The Gospel story ends with a great reversal: the formerly-blind man whose eyes had been opened by Jesus had his sight restored and was able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah; yet the Pharisees, while they were physically able to see, were revealed to be spiritually blind.  “There are none so blind as those who will not see” is an old    proverb that can readily be applied to these Pharisees.  In being so mired in a religion of rules and regulations, they failed to see the wonder of God at work in giving sight to a blind man.  The Pharisees had become blinded by their own self-righteousness.

Today we pray that our Elect will freed of any spiritual blindness so that they may clearly see the glory of God in our world.  We pray too for each of us – may we be freed of self-righteousness and any spiritual blindness that might afflict us – so that, with renewed spiritual insight, we may live joyfully and effectively as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

 

Lenten grace and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor         

 

Friday
Mar222019

Reflections - March 24, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Our journey through the holy and joyful Season of Lent continues – and, as we’re a little more than halfway through these forty days of transformation and spiritual growth as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery in Holy Week and Easter, it may be a good time to ask ourselves the question “How well am I doing with that Ash Wednesday invitation to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel?” Maybe I’ve been diligent with certain Lenten practices (abstaining from meat on Fridays, taking on some extra devotions and prayers, being more generous than usual in giving alms and feeding the poor) – but – is my behavior changing at all?  Am I deepening my relationship with God, becoming any less “self-referential” or self-centered?  Are the changes that I’m experiencing during Lent the sort of change and spiritual improvement that can continue beyond Lent and through the remainder of the year?

Recently, I came across a posting online that “struck me” as a few very practical suggestions that can lead us to experience a more fruitful Lent and are practices that could easily be sustained during the Easter Season and beyond. These “Take 5 for Lent!” suggestions are simple, yet potent daily aids in our journey of discipleship in Jesus Christ:

1) Read Scripture for 5 minutes

2) Name 5 things that you are grateful for

3) Smile at 5 people today

4) Take 5 minutes for silence

5) Pray for 5 people.

Also, as we continue our Lenten journey, it’s natural for Catholics to use this forty day time of “turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel” to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we approach Holy Week and Easter. Now may be a good time to note this on your calendar:

  • · Our Lenten Evening of Reconciliation will take place in just over two weeks on Monday April 8th from 6:30 until 8:30PM

 

  • · Our . Please note that Confessions are NOT offered on Holy Saturday (April 20th), the day before Easter – as “the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and his Descent into Hell, and awaiting his Resurrection” (from the Roman Missal   

 

May this Lent be a time of fruitful spiritual growth and an increase in works of mercy for each of us!

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

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