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

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
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
Saturday, 9:00AM to 10:00AM
Wednesday, 5:00PM to 6:00PM and by appointment


Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Parochial Vicar 

(Associate Pastor)

Rev. Joachim Adeyemi

Rev. J.C. Ortiz

Assisting Priest

Rev. Paul Peri


Colin F. Campbell

Mark Kriese

Ralph Ulibarri


Saint Theresa Catholic School
5001 East Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018

(602) 840-0010 School Office
(602) 840-8323 School Fax




Reflections - September 2, 2018

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




Reflections - August 26, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

It’s hard to believe that the students of St. Theresa Catholic School (along with students of many other schools) have now completed nearly three weeks of this new school year!  Classes began for “new” students of STCS on August 6th and all students were “on board” and in class on the 7th.  I have to admit that I am just not used to the school year starting so early… when I was an elementary and high school student back in Washington, DC, we would typically begin the school year right after Labor Day and then start summer break sometime around June 10th.  It would seem that such a schedule would be good for Arizona students and teachers, given the fact that August is usually a much more “uncomfortable” month than June.  Be that as it may (since “wisdom from on high” at the Catholic Schools Office dictates the start-date for the school year), I’ve got to say that it’s wonderful to have our students and their families back on campus!

Last year, we began to periodically share insights on life as a St. Theresa Catholic School student, from the perspective of a young man who is in the junior high section of our parish school.  He wishes to remain anonymous, but has offered to continue sharing his thoughts – so that St. Theresa parishioners can learn how our parish school is helping to guide our young people on their spiritual journey, particularly through their participation in the weekly school Mass.  Here is the first of these “insights from a junior high student of St. Theresa Catholic School” for the 2018-19 school year:  

“As we all returned to school, it was fitting that we had our first Mass on the second day back.  The main message Fr. JC emphasized was to do good deeds and be kind, even when it isn't always easy or the first thing that comes to mind. The Gospel reading was about Jesus curing the daughter of a woman who he recognized for being very faithful. I believe that if we are faithful and try to follow the actions of Jesus, we can also "heal" others by being kind to them. Even a smile goes a long way to lift someone up. If we treat others the way we would want to be treated, then we will know even better how to be good and kind. Being a student at our Catholic school helps us live this out every day.”

Wisdom from the youth of our community!

Incidentally, our weekly Mass with the students and faculty of STCS is typically celebrated at 8:30AM on Wednesdays (in additional to our usual 6:30AM weekday Mass).  I say “typically,” at the school Mass is automatically moved to another day of the week if a Holy Day of Obligation happens to fall on another day of a particular week.  Also, we don’t celebrate the 8:30AM Mass when the school is on break.  Quite a few parents, grandparents and other adults attend this Mass.  Parishioners are certainly welcome as well; just know that you may have to shift position from where you normally sit, as the various classes have assigned sections to occupy when they come into church.

Whether or not you’re able to participate in a weekday Mass with STCS students, I ask that you keep the students, their families, faculty/staff and administration of our parish school in your prayers throughout this new school year!


Grace and wisdom in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer




Reflections - August 19, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

For a long time, it’s been thought by many that being a “pro-life Catholic” focused exclusively on opposing the taking of life in the womb: abortion.  But somehow, one could oppose abortion but accept capital punishment – the death penalty – with the rationalization that the Church’s teaching only pertained to the taking of “innocent life” (not “all life”).  Those who were found guilty of certain crimes could be put to death by the state… but somehow that was okay for many “pro-life Catholics.”

On August 2nd, our Holy Father Pope Francis clarified the Catholic Church’s teaching with regard to capital punishment (the death penalty).  For centuries, the Church had accepted – with increasing limitations over the years – the use of the death penalty in certain situations, e.g. when there was absolute certainty of a criminal’s guilt and there was no adequate way of protecting society from that person.  Now, however, our pro-life stance is truly a “seamless garment” (to quote the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago)… in all circumstances, “from the womb to the tomb,” every human life is to be cherished as a gift from God that no human being can take away. 

Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.

The catechism's paragraph on capital punishment, §2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.

Announcing the change August 2nd, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, "The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes."

Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life") was St. John Paul's 1995 encyclical on the dignity and sacredness of all human life. The encyclical led to an updating of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he originally promulgated in 1992 and which recognized "the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty."

At the same time, the original version of the catechism still urged the use of "bloodless means" when possible to punish criminals and protect citizens.

Paragraph 2267 of the Catechism now will read: "Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

"Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption," the new section continues.

Pope Francis' change to the text concludes: "Consequently, the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide." 

In his statement, Cardinal Ladaria noted how St. John Paul, retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis had all spoken out against capital punishment and appealed for clemency for death-row inmates on numerous occasions.

The development of church doctrine away from seeing the death penalty as a possibly legitimate punishment for the most serious crimes, the cardinal said, "centers principally on the clearer awareness of the church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: 'Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.'"  Pope Francis takes this insight to the next level, saying that the death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor."

Our Holy Father notes that, in particular, Catholic opposition to the death penalty is based on an "understanding that the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes," a deeper understanding that criminal penalties should aim at the rehabilitation of the criminal and a recognition that governments have the ability to detain criminals effectively, thereby protecting their citizens.  In past writings, the Holy Father has observed that capital punishment is “cruel, inhumane and degrading" and said it "does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge."

Furthermore, in a modern "state of law, the death penalty represents a failure" because it obliges the state to kill in the name of justice, the pope had written. On the other hand, he said, it is a method frequently used by "totalitarian regimes and fanatical groups" to do away with "political dissidents, minorities" and any other person deemed a threat to their power and to their goals.

In addition, Pope Francis noted that "human justice is imperfect" and said the death penalty loses all legitimacy in penal systems where judicial error is possible.

The bottom line: God is the giver of all human life, and only God has the authority to bring a human life to an end. Human beings usurp God’s role when they determine when a human life “should” end: whether through abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, murder or the imposition of a death sentence.

May the Holy Spirit strengthen us as we Catholics work to uphold the dignity and inviolability of all human life, “from the womb to the tomb.”


Grace and wisdom in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer




Back to School Blessing - August 12, 2018

Back to School Blessing


God of knowledge and wisdom, bless all students young and old, as they begin a new year.

Help them discover and develop the gifts you have given. As they grow in knowledge, help them to also grow in kindness and compassion,

learning respect for themselves and others.


We ask your blessing on parents, teachers  and

all those who care for students.

Strengthen them to surround our students

with encouragement, support and love.


Remind us that wherever we go,

you are always with us.

Fill us with the joy of learning so that we may be better equipped to be your servants.





Reflections - August 5, 2018

First I should “set the stage”. Most of you have heard this “b”efore. I  just hate the “B” word! It drives me crazy! It makes me nuts! Just to hear the “B” word, gives me agida. If I’m honest, I know it is because I don’t have it in my life. If I’m “B”eing genuinely honest (especially with myself), I really know it is just that (another!) area of a my life that I should be working on. The  “B” word?  Dare I speak it aloud and give it life? “B”ALANCE!  When I hear that word I start feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, yes even guilty.  I actually get a flutter in my gut and not the good kind of flutter. My father used to tell me that if something makes you react with that kind of energy, then “you better confront it son”. Ok then, I’ll start. I’ll name it - BALANCE - there it is. The “B” word actually spoken (typed).  The state where everything is in the correct proportions. Now, here I am feeling that agida again. But why should I  feel agida?

I already know that I’m an all or nothing type of guy. I want it all; everything all at once at the same time! And if that can’t be, then I don’t even want it. I don’t even want a piece of it. All or nothing. I don’t think that I'm alone in this dilemma. It is pretty much a characteristic of modern Americans. Look at many of our youth; they want it all! They just don’t want to work for it. Haven’t we been told “you can have whatever you want, if you work hard enough for it? 

But wait... A thought flows into my thinking for a quick second. I am going to have it all! Everything I want, everything I hope for, everything I need. I don’t even have to work for it, as it is freely given. EVERLASTING LIFE for all eternity will be mine! The agida begins to ebb. However (here comes another thought), out of appreciation for such a great gift, I should be grateful. Gratitude can be shown though the use of all my God given gifts, talents and blessings by using them to help others. It seems so simple and so easy. No need to get all worked up. Instead of placing the focus all on me and beginning to think of others some “B”alance begins to take place. The correct proportion of me in conjunction with another/others is that “B”alance that I thought that I didn’t have. That area of life I think I need to work on doesn’t seem so daunting. Putting God into the equation, takes the entire focus off of me and the focus begins to become Us. God, others, myself... The “B”alance might just be happening after all. Dad was right, “just confront it, son.”

Now to confront my love/hate relationship with my iPhone... next week…


Love, Fr. JC