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
Nov012018

Reflections - November 4, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Recently, a parishioner who had attended our Evening of Prayer and Discussion regarding the current crises in the Church and listened to my follow-up homily sent me a copy of an article that focused on the supposed role of an abuser’s sexual orientation in crime of abuse in the Church.  Specifically, the author of the article surmised that the abusers were largely homosexual, since the clergy abuse had occurred primarily with other males.  The solution to the abuse?  Don’t ordain anyone with a homosexual orientation.  As a priest who served for over six years as Diocesan Vocation Director, responsible for the recruitment and training of seminarians, I can say that the author’s proposed solution is about as logical as only ordaining brown-eyed men.

Whatever one’s orientation might be, a critical aspect in the recruitment and formation process for priests is the man’s psycho-sexual and emotional maturity.  Overwhelmingly, the number of priests (homosexually or heterosexually oriented) who successfully live their commitment to celibacy far outweigh those who struggle with that commitment.  Maintaining healthy, loving relationships with members of both sexes and keeping appropriate boundaries are marks of psychosexual and emotional maturity – and these are important factors in maintaining a successful commitment to fidelity in marriage or in celibacy, along with an openness to God’s grace.  Further, any attempt to link homosexual orientation to pedophilia is statistically disproven in a number of studies – in fact, most abusers are married men.

So why have most of the victims of clergy sexual abuse been males?  Likely a few reasons: first, the peak years of clergy sexual abuse, according to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, were between 1970 and 1979.  Incidents of abuse began to steeply decline beginning in the 1980’s.  The most common decade of birth of the abusing priests was the 1930’s.  The average year of ordination for abusers was 1961.  Back in those days, what groups of young people did priests have most access to?  Altar servers, Boy Scouts, boys who had jobs around the parish, to name a few.  In those days, if a priest took a group of boys on a camping trip, no one would have a second thought.  If he took a group of girls… well, that wouldn’t happen.  It might be worth mentioning here, too, that most crimes of sexual violence are more about the abuser exercising power/dominance over the victim and are often opportunistic… rather than being motivated by sexual gratification.  Based on the substantial number of studies I’ve read, the key factors noted regarding the typical clergy abuser were: a sense of power, domination and the notion that he could “get away with it” (clericalism) as well as a lack of psycho-sexual and emotional maturity: many, if not most, of these abusers had stunted emotional growth.    

Thankfully, the screening and seminary formation of candidates for ordination has radically evolved since the mid-1970’s… helping men build upon healthy attitudes toward sexuality, intimacy, emotional maturity – with the goal of ordaining men who have the capacity to live their celibacy as fulfilled and well-balanced ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This goal is just as achievable with men with homosexual orientation as it is with men of heterosexual orientation. 

I’m happy to say that the great majority of priests that I’ve known and worked with have been well-formed to live healthy, holy and productive lives as celibate priests – no matter what their sexual orientation might be.  Of course, any group of human beings (whether celibate or married) will have those few who are not 100% successful in being faithful to their vows.  The sexual abuse of children or young people, though, has far more to do with the abuser’s level of psycho-sexual and emotional maturity than anything else – including his or her sexual orientation.  

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Oct252018

Reflections - October 28, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old(er), but it seems like time is flying by!  In just a few days, we will leave October behind and enter into the month of November – traditionally a significant month in our Catholic Church to contemplate the passing nature of this world and the life we live in it. 

In much of the Northern Hemisphere, November is a time when the weather turns colder, leaves fall off the trees, grass goes dormant and daylight decreases while darkness increases.  It’s a natural time, then, for our faith to turn our thoughts to the end of our lives on earth and the new life that awaits us following our earthly death.  

The month begins with the Solemnity of All Saints, which in our tradition is celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses will be celebrated this Thursday, November 1st, at 6:30 and 8:30AM as well as at 6:00PM.  On this day, we remember those who have gone before us and have given us an extraordinary example of living an earthy life dedicated to loving God and serving others in the name of Jesus Christ.  These are the holy ones we honor on our Church calendar, those who have served God with distinction (like our recently-canonized Pope Paul VI) or who have shed their blood in the witnessing of their faith and their pursuit of justice (such as Archbishop Oscar Romero, canonized with Paul VI just two weeks ago).

On November 2nd, we celebrate the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Soul’s Day), on which we remember and pray for all those who have gone before us, affirming our belief that – though they have physically died – they continue to live in a new way and in God’s care.  While this annual remembrance may bring us a sense of longing and tears for the one who has gone before us in death, hopefully it can also be an opportunity for us to grow in the hope of our own resurrection to new life… and our ultimate union with all those we love.  On that note, I’d like to share with you a special prayer that is offered by the monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, CA – the monastery I often go to for my annual priest’s retreat:

Prayer for the Departed and for Those Who Mourn

O God, we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection

which knit us as one throughout or lives do not unravel in death.

Give us confidence that you always remember and welcome our departed loved ones,

acknowledging the good they have done and forgiving their sins.

Turn the darkness of death into the dawn of new life.

Be our refuge and our strength to lift us from the darkness of this grief

to the light and peace of your presence, where every tear will be wiped away.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,

And let perpetual light shine upon them.  Amen.

 

Peace and hope in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Oct182018

Reflections - October 21, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel (Mark 10:35-45), James and John come across as being very “cheeky” (to use my grandmother’s term) in approaching Jesus and saying to him “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  Even in today’s culture, for a student/disciple to make such a request of a teacher/master would be considered brash, maybe even disrespectful.  But, James and John appear to be on a roll… and they go on to say to the Lord “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”  These two upstarts are asking for the primary places of honor in the reign of God!

I could think of many ways that Jesus could have replied to James and John… none of which would be altogether pleasant.  But Jesus, as always, takes the high road and patiently addresses their impertinence.

Essentially, Jesus reminds James and John (along with each of us who try to live as Christ’s disciples) that our focus should never be on having places of honor… not only in the life to come, but in this life as well.  He points out first that – if we are truly Christ’s disciples – we have to be willing to share in the sufferings of Christ (drinking “the cup” that Jesus drinks of, being baptized in “the baptism” with which Jesus has been baptized).  Not only that, our focus – like the focus of the Lord himself – must be on selfless service… and never devolve into lording it over others or flaunting authority: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”  I think James, John and the other disciples (who were “indignant” over the initial request of the two brothers) heard the Lord’s message, loud and clear.

Of course, this message applies equally to us in the twenty-first century as it did to those first-century disciples.  It’s easy in our world to get caught up in seeking honor and recognition, or even expecting it as an entitlement for who we are or what we do in our careers or social life.  Then, when we don’t receive the pat on the back, the promotion at work, the applause of a spouse or the upgrade to first class… we can feel “indignant” like the other disciples in today’s Gospel story.  It’s healthy for us (and probably good for our blood pressure!) that Jesus reminds us where the true rewards are: imitating him who came “not to be served but to serve,” putting others first, trying our best to respond lovingly to the needs of those around us and not seeking or expecting special recognition.  

 

In Christ’s peace,  

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Some food for thought from a student of St. Theresa Catholic School…  The Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer, Luke 11:1-4) is the center of our Catholic faith.  During our school Mass last week I reflected on Father Joachim’s homily.  Jesus gave this prayer to his disciples to help them pray to God and to help them spread this prayer to the world to also teach others how to pray. God sent Jesus to the world to save us from sin and to lead us into eternal life.  Jesus had to die on the cross to save us.  As Catholics who accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we are his disciples.  The main idea of the Our Father is for us to first ask for forgiveness for our own sins.  Just like Jesus, we need to forgive others who have wronged us or sinned.  It can be hard to admit our mistakes, but we are humans who are not perfect.  It can also be hard to forgive others when we feel hurt.  We should pray the Our Father every day so that we can be the best people we can be, focusing on love. ~ A Saint Theresa Junior High Student

 

Monday
Oct152018

Reflections - October 14, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

As I have expressed to you previously, one of the top recommendations made by parishioners who gathered for our Evening of Prayer and Discussion on September 24th was the desire (and the necessity) of receiving regular updates about the Church’s response to the current crises surrounding sexual abuse and the abuse of power in our Catholic Church. I had planned to write about an entirely different topic this week, but reconsidered when a very significant “Open Letter on Recent Allegations against the Holy See” was released by the Vatican News Service just this past Sunday.  It was a letter authored by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops (the Vatican “department” responsible for advising the Pope on the appointment and management of bishops/archbishops throughout the world. The prefect is the “head” of that “department”).

Please go to our parish website, www.StTheresaPhx.org, and take the time to read the letter of Cardinal Ouellet posted on/linked to the home page. It is most enlightening. You can also find there a copy of the homily that I preached at all Masses two weeks ago, as a follow-up to our Evening of Prayer and Discussion.    

Cardinal Ouellet writes on October 7th with the express permission of Pope Francis in responding to various accusations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Papal Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the United States. You may recall that Abp. Viganò released a lengthy “testimony” to right-wing media outlets a few weeks ago that – among other things – alleged various conspiracies by Vatican cardinals and bishops, the promotion by Pope John Paul II of Archbishop McCarrick to Cardinal and the failure of Pope Francis to take action against the retired McCarrick.  In his testimony, Abp. Viganò also called for the resignation of Pope Francis, leading to division and scandal in the Church and in the wider world. Evidently the Archbishop then “went into hiding” following the release of his testimony to the media and is unreachable. Sadly, much of the Archbishop’s testimony appears to be politically motivated (yes, there are “politics” in the Church) against the Pope.

Our Holy Father has pledged that, in investigating all the allegations raised by Abp. Viganò, “We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.” Pope Francis stated categorically that “both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.” The investigations into the allegations made by Archbishop Viganò are ongoing – and the Open Letter of Cardinal Ouellet appears to be an initial part of the “much fuller response” to the allegations that the Holy Father has promised.

To quote Cardinal Ouellet’s closing words: “It would please God that this injustice be quickly repaired and that Pope Francis might continue to be recognized for who he is: an eminent pastor, a compassionate and firm father, a prophetic charism for the Church and for the world.  May he continue his missionary reform joyfully and in full confidence, comforted by the prayer of the People of God and by the renewed solidarity of the entire Church together with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary.”

 

Peace and unity in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

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