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
Thursday
May302019

Reflections - June 2, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter. It’s a significant solemnity of our Church, ranking in importance on the Church calendar only after Easter (the “highest holy day” of our Church). Four solemnities rank right behind Easter: Christmas, Epiphany, As-cension and Pentecost.
The day on which the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated can be confusing to Catholics in the United States. Those of us “of a certain age” grew up always celebrating Ascension Thursday; the forti-eth day of the Easter Season. Some areas of the United States - and some 55 nations in our world – continue to celebrate the Ascension on Thursday… while in many parts of the world (including most of the US), the Ascension has been moved to Sunday. In our own country, this past Thursday was a holy day of obligation in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Omaha. (An ecclesias-tical province is a geographical area “led” by an Archdiocese with a group of dioceses,” usually surrounding the Archdiocese. We are part of the Province of Santa Fe – which, in addition to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, includes the Dioceses of Phoenix, Tucson, Gallup and Las Cruces).
Why exactly did the Church allow entire countries or ecclesiastical provinces the option of continuing to cel-ebrate the Ascension on Thursday or transferring the solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter? In the 1980’s and 90’s, bishops in many places of the world became concerned that the Thursday celebration of the Ascension kept many Catholics from a “full adherence” to this holy day of obligation – again, one of the four most important solemnities ranked just behind Easter. “Full adherence” involves both a mandatory participation in Mass and “a contemplative removal from the world of work and other routine obligations.” The Solemnity of the Ascension is important to Catholics as an integral part of the redemptive work of Christ, beginning with His betrayal, suffering and death, followed by the Easter celebration of his resurrec-tion and concluding with the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. So that it may be celebrated on Sun-day, "the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church" [Code of Canon Law §1246], the Holy See allowed the feast to be moved from Thursday to the following Sunday. In the United States, approval to transfer the feast was obtained in 1999. By decree of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, au-thority to implement the change was granted to the ecclesiastical provinces. Provinces in the western part of our country were among the first to move the feast to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. This change has also been made in many countries around the world.
In a nutshell, the transfer of the Solemnity of the Ascension to Sunday gives a greater number of Catholics the opportunity to truly celebrate the Ascension of the Lord – not only with Mass attendance, but by taking a day of rest (which is hopefully “standard operating procedure” for most of us on a Sunday!) It’s interesting to note that – at least for the ecclesiastical province of Santa Fe – only one of the Church’s primary holy days is not celebrated on a Sunday: Christmas. The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, though, does not “need” to be moved to a Sunday in order to underscore its specialness – December 25th is already a holiday/non-work day across most of the world and so is a day when “full adherence to the holy day of obligation” is readily possible for the majority of Catholics. (Many countries still celebrating Ascension Thursday actually observe this fortieth day of Easter as a national holiday, giving their people a “day of rest” on this solemni-ty… as well as the ready opportunity to attend Mass. Hence, in these places, there is no need to transfer the solemnity to Sunday).
One of the many blessings of our Catholic Faith is that the Church continues to recognize the needs of the People of God in various times and places, and adapts where possible to ensure her people a “full, con-scious and active” participation in the Liturgy that celebrates the mysteries of our faith.
In Christ’s peace,
Rev. Charles G. Kieffer
Pastor

 

Thursday
May232019

Reflections - May 26, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

He said, ‘I am but a messenger from your Lord, [come] to announce to you the gift of a pure son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste.’

It may surprise you to know that the above quote – referring to the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, the mother of Jesus – is not found in the Gospel of Luke, but rather in Islam’s holy book, the Qu’ran (Sura 19, 19-20).  The Qu’ran actually contains two stories of the Annunciation: the other is in Sura 3.  Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an and has an entire chapter named after her (Sura 19, “Maryam”) and is honored by Muslims as the Virgin Mother of Jesus.

It seems to me that, in an era when Islamophobia is on the rise, it seems particularly important for Catholic Christians to realize that – in addition to sharing our belief in the one God (Jews, Muslims and Christians alike profess belief in the “God of Abraham) - Muslims also share a reverence for Mary.  While contrasting ideas about Jesus have long been a dividing line between Christianity and Islam (Christians call Jesus the Son of God, while Muslims call him a prophet), his mother Mary can more easily be seen as an interreligious bridge.

This is exactly how she is viewed in the Second Vatican Council’s document on the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Christians, Nostra Aetate, which explicitly mentions Mary as a point of agreement between Catholics and Muslims: “[Muslims] also honor Mary, [Jesus’] Virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion.”

Like Catholics, Muslims believe Mary to be pure, courageous and faithful. They also believe that she was free from sin. The Qur’an calls her an example for believers, a woman of truth, a sign for all peoples and chosen above all women. Some medieval Muslim scholars even argued that Mary was a prophet (this was a minority position, however).  The famous Muslim poet Rumi devotes a full chapter of his magnum opus, the Mathnawi, to the Visitation—when John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s greeting in Lk 1:41. Rumi described Mary as a “woman with a silent heart” and “a lovely branch which when touched by a sweet breeze gave birth to Jesus the rose.

It’s interesting to note that there are several Marian shrines throughout the world that are frequented by Catholics, other Christians and Muslims alike. Not only in Syria and Algeria, but there is Meryem Ana Evi in Turkey, which was visited by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  In Lebanon, a Muslim-majority country with a significant Christian minority, March 25 (the feast of the Annunciation) has been declared a national holiday. The idea originated with a Muslim, who also created the day’s motto, “Together around Mary, Our Lady.” Perhaps we should look to our Blessed Mother to be a bridge-builder between Catholicism and Islam!

In this month of May – a month that has long been regarded in the calendar of the Catholic Church honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary – and, as our Muslim brothers and sisters are now observing their holy and penitential month of Ramadan (which culminates with the joyful celebration of Eid al Fitr, this year happening in early June) – may we ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary as we pray for peace in our world and a greater understanding and respect among Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Grace and Easter peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

(Many thanks to Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, whose insights formed the basis of today’s Reflections column)

 

Thursday
May162019

Reflections - May 19, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, we hear in our Gospel reading (John 13:31-33a, 34-35) an excerpt of Jesus’ farewell words to the disciples at the Last Supper. Once again, like last week’s Gospel, we are taken back to the period prior to Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. The words that the Lord shares with his disciples come immediately after his washing the disciples’ feet and the betrayal of Judas becoming evident. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

How significant these words are – particularly in that they are spoken right after Judas has left the room, setting off to betray the Lord. I’m sure that the impact of those words was not lost on those eleven remaining disciples, especially as they reflected back on them following Jesus’ arrest later that same evening. “As I have loved you, so should you also should love one another.” Even in the face of stinging betrayal. Even when confronted by the most unloving actions imaginable by a trusted one. “Love one another” – continue to love one another – even when it would be understandably reasonable to lash out, to be unloving. Why?  Because Jesus himself has given the ultimate example of loving each of us – and we, as the sheep of his flock, are called to follow (or imitate) him.

Just as these words of Jesus were significant for those first disciples who heard them after the Last Supper, so should they be for you and me… as present-day disciples of the Risen Christ.

Each day, it seems, we encounter one opportunity after another to take offense at what another person says, or we can feel ignored or rejected by a real or perceived lack of gratitude or attention from someone from whom we might rightly expect it, or we hear a bit of gossip that’s being passed about us or about someone we care for, or we find ourselves hurt by being ignored or overlooked by a person we thought was a friend.  The understandable human reaction to any of these situations is to harbor resentment, letting unspoken anger seethe inside of us.  Or perhaps we try to exact revenge of some sort, either directly or passive-aggressively.

Do any of these reactions make us feel any better? Maybe there’s a fleeting, gleeful “gotcha!” moment, but really do we feel better? Has life improved? Chances are, we still feel hurt – and the resentment continues to churn within us… corroding us from the inside out.

“Love one another – as I have loved you, so should you love one another. This is how all shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus is calling us to love one another, even when we are hurt (do you think Jesus stopped loving Judas after his betrayal?). “Love one another” – at minimum, this means “wishing no harm on another,” but hopefully we can allow God to “stretch us” so that we can actually do something positive for the other, even the other who hurts us.

Think of what a difference would be made (even in our own lives) if we consciously reject hatred of someone who has hurt, betrayed or insulted us – and instead substitute love. Loving as Christ loves us, forgiving and accepting each of us for who we are. It seems to me that this imitation of Christ would be “the” formula for us to let go of resentment and find peace, even when we are hurting.

Earlier on in John’s Gospel (chapter 10, verse 10b) Jesus says: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” The “they” he speaks of is you and me. Jesus’ will for us is to have a life of abundant joy and fulfillment in this life and in the life to come. The way to that abundant life is the way of love. Loving as he loves.

 

Grace and peace in the Risen Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

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