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
Dec042018

Reflections - December 2, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this first Sunday of the new Church Year – the beginning of the Season of Advent – we are confronted with a “scary” Gospel reading (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36) in which Jesus uses quite a bit of apocalyptic (end-times) imagery. It’s something like the Gospel from two Sundays ago, Mark 13: 24-32, that spoke of the end of the world being accompanied by the darkening of the sun and the moon, stars falling out of the sky and “the powers in the heavens being shaken.” 

While most Catholic Christians are familiar with the fact that we hear readings about the end of the world and the final judgement towards the conclusion of the Church Year… it may be startling to hear that theme continued in the Gospel of the very first day of the new Church Year. Wouldn’t you think that the Church would start its new year with a more upbeat, positive reading?

Actually (and perhaps unsurprisingly) this Gospel selection is very deliberate. Many of us are aware that Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. Often, though, we think that this season is all about our preparation for Christmas: the coming of Christ in history, or his “first” coming.  But in fact, Advent has a two-fold nature in helping us prepare for Christ’s coming: in the first part of Advent (up until December 17th), we focus on our preparation for Jesus Second Coming – that moment, that no one can predict, when he will return in glory at the end of time.  Hence, today’s apocalyptic Gospel passage. Then, from the 17th until the 24th, Advent focus us on our preparation to celebrate and commemorate Christ’s First Coming: in the manger at Bethlehem on Christmas Day, when “God became flesh and dwelt among us.”

So, what are we to make of today’s Gospel reading? While the images sound terrifying (“People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world…”), as Christ’s disciples we are invited to focus ourselves on the pivotal verse of this passage: “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Lk. 21:28). You see, if we make our best effort to live out our discipleship each day, we will be able to stand erect and raise our heads – rather than cowering in fear – when the Lord returns in glory at that time no one can predict. How exactly can we make our best effort to live out our discipleship each day? Well, Jesus gives us what can be considered the ultimate standard of discipleship in the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, all your mind and all your heart… and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). To see some very practical applications of the Greatest Commandment (a “how to list” of living out this commandment), check out Matthew 25:31-46.

As we begin Advent, we rely on God’s grace to be our strength so that we can practice our discipleship each day – preparing joyfully for that time when we shall behold our God face-to-face.

 

Advent blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Wednesday
Nov212018

Reflections - November 25, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

A “wise elder” of the parish recently mentioned to me how he thought it might be helpful for me to share a brief catechesis (religious teaching) on Holy Communion – specifically, what the Church teaches about the reception at Communion of the Body of Christ as well as the Blood of Christ. He has, over the years, heard from people who wonder if they are receiving “all of Holy Communion” if they choose to receive the Host while abstaining from the Chalice – or, are they only receiving “partial Communion?”  

Well, to answer this question in a word: No. One receives the entirety of the Body and Blood of Christ when one received under one species (form) of the Eucharist – i.e., under the form of bread alone or under the form of wine alone. Either way, the “all” of Jesus Christ is received. To receive both the Body and Blood of Christ is a “fuller sign” of the Sacrament (keeping in mind Jesus’ words to his disciples at the Last Supper “Take and eat, this is my Body… take and drink, this is my Blood) but the person who receives under both species is not receiving “more Jesus” than the one who receives only the Host, or only the Cup.

To place all of this in an historical context: according to the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds (as found as an appendix of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal), “From the first days of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion consisted of the reception of both species in fulfillment of the Lord’s command to ‘take and eat… take and drink.’  The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds was thus the norm for more than a millennium of Catholic liturgical practice” (§17).  “The practice of Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass continued until the late eleventh century, when the custom of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful under the form of bread alone began to grow.  By the twelfth century theologians such as Peter Cantor speak of Communion under one kind as a ‘custom’ of the church.  This practice spread until the Council of Constance in 1415 decreed that Holy Communion under the form of bread alone would be distributed to the faithful” (§18).  But, in 1963 – in the document Sacrosantum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council – the Church authorized the extension of the faculty to receive Communion under both kinds to all the faithful, teaching “Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds” and “at the same time, the faithful should be instructed to participate more readily in this sacred rite (receiving under both kinds), by which the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is made more fully evident” (§20).

While the practice of the faithful receiving under both species has been restored by the Second Vatican Council, this “does not represent a change in the Church’s immemorial beliefs concerning the Holy Eucharist” (§21) – i.e., one who receives Communion under one species alone is still receiving the entire “Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.”

Sometimes, you might note a person receiving only from the Cup – while not receiving the Host.  Most often this is due to a wheat or gluten allergy that a communicant might have. It should be noted that low-gluten Hosts are available for those suffering celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity; a person in need of such a Host is asked to simply stop in the sacristy ten minutes or so before Mass and the procedure for reception of the low-gluten host will be explained by a priest deacon or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. 

God is so good to us, nourishing us with the very Body and Blood of his Son… so that we may live fully and joyfully as Christ’s disciples!

 

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Monday
Nov192018

Reflections - November 18, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

For most Americans, when we think of “Thanksgiving,” we call to mind turkey and cranberry sauce, family gatherings, parades, bowl games and perhaps Pilgrims in the early days of their settlement in what was to become the United States.  These are some of the traditions that we have come to associate with the holiday that we will be celebrating this coming Thursday.  As memorable as all these traditions are, they really don’t get to the core of what Abraham Lincoln envisioned when – in the midst of the trials of the Civil War – he proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday in 1863.  President Lincoln proclaimed not an annual observance of “turkey day,” but rather an annual day for the people of this country to call to mind God’s great blessings in their lives.

It was clear to Lincoln that the blessings of food, land, family, and freedom enjoyed by Americans are all gifts from the Creator.  But Americans, he realized, had forgotten this.  A special day was needed for us to forget our differences and remember our blessings.  This was particularly important for Americans, who were divided into Union and Confederacy, “blue and gray,” North and South, in 1863.  Remembering blessings was essential in those days of tragic loss of life, families and fellow-citizens torn apart by differing ideologies… those days when it wasn’t unusual for people to question what the future of our country would look like.  For Abraham Lincoln, remembering one’s blessings (rather than focusing on all that was painfully wrong in America during the Civil War) naturally led to giving thanks to the Source of those blessings: a loving and gracious God.     

As I look back on the “roots” of our American holiday of Thanksgiving, it seems to me that – not unlike citizens in those days of Lincoln – we find ourselves in the midst of difficult times in our country.  Divisiveness is now defined by whether one is “red” or “blue,” rather than “blue” or “gray.”  Tragedy and death is now being reported from everyday places where people are innocently gathered, rather than from the battlefields of Gettysburg or Antietam.  Families – even the family of the Catholic Church – continue to be torn by differing ideologies and disagreement.

Stepping back from all of this, forgetting our differences and taking time to focus on the blessings given to us by our God, especially the blessings that we so easily take for granted – and then, giving profound thanks to our God – is as powerful an antidote to preoccupation and worry in our day as it was in the day of Abraham Lincoln. Remembering the blessings, rather than focusing on the ills of our society and our world… and then gratefully rejoicing in the love of God that makes all of our blessings possible: this is the core of our annual celebration Thanksgiving Day. And it’s reason for celebration that is every bit as valid in 2018 as it was in 1863!

As is our custom at St. Theresa, we will celebrate our Annual Mass of Thanksgiving Day on Thursday at 9:00AM.  This is the only Mass we celebrate on Thanksgiving Day (there is no 6:30AM Mass scheduled this Thursday).  I invite all of us to give thanks together as a Eucharistic Community gathered around the bountiful table of the Lord as we begin our celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday (particularly appropriate, as the word Eucharist is derived from the Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”).

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer    

Pastor

 

Thursday
Nov082018

Reflections - November 11, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

On the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 at Compiègne, France, an armistice (agreement of cessation of hostilities) was signed by the Allies of World War I and Germany. This initial armistice expired after a period of 36 days; and although the armistice brought an end to the actual fighting, a binding peace agreement ending the First World War (the Treaty of Versailles) wasn’t signed until 28 June 1919 – exactly five years from the day that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, sparking what came to be known as the Great War. The world’s first “official” observance of Armistice Day took place at Buckingham Palace, London, on 11 November 1919 under the direction of King George V – beginning the annual tradition of remembering and honoring all those British soldiers who had served in the war.  Soon, the tradition spread throughout the British Commonwealth, as well as to the United States, France, Belgium and other countries whose citizens had served the Allied cause. In our country, an Act of Congress in 1938 made November 11th a federal holiday each year, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” 

With the outbreak of the Second World War, countries observing the 11th day of November as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day also began honoring those who had served and were serving in World War II along with those who had served in World War I. Though the date remained the same, the name of the day shifted in many countries to be more inclusive of those serving in past, current or future conflicts.  In the United States, November 11th became known as “All Veterans Day.” In 1954, the day was renamed simply “Veterans Day,” but continued to focus on honoring of all U.S. military veterans. Veterans Day in the United States is distinct from Memorial Day, in that Memorial Day specifically honors those who died while in military service.  A third military remembrance day also occurs in May (like Memorial Day) – this is Armed Forces Day, commemorating and honoring those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

By remembering – and praying for – all veterans on November 11th, we tap into a hundred year-old tradition that that began as the devastation of “the Great War” came to an end.  We ask God to bless all those who have served – and are serving – their country in the armed forces, and that God may be the strength of those young men and women who are coming home from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places of conflict with injured bodies and traumatized spirits. May God bring peace to the hearts of all veterans, and peace to those troubled regions of the world where they served… and may God give each of us the ability to envision a world that, grown weary of fighting, moves beyond war to affirming the life and dignity of every human being in all circumstances.  

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

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