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
Apr202018

Reflections - April 22, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Once again this weekend, the St. Theresa Community celebrates the completion of Christian Initiation of many of our young people through their reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.  Most of these (now) fully-initiated Catholic Christians are in the third grade; a few of them are older. These young people are confirmed and receive their First Eucharist during the course of a single Mass; we celebrated that Mass here at St. Theresa at 11:00AM on Saturday.

This approach to administering these final two Sacraments of Initiation (the first, of course, is Baptism) continues to come as a bit of jolt to many Catholics who were used to children receiving First Holy Communion in the second or third grade… and then waiting until high school to be receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. What’s going on here? Why the change on timeline?

For those of you who have participated in the Easter Vigil celebration, the First Mass of Easter on Holy Saturday night, you’ll recall that – among other things – adult catechumens are baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time. They receive all three Sacraments of Christian Initiation in the span of under two hours, all within the context of the Easter Vigil Mass and in the order described above. This “order,” or progression, of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, followed by Confirmation and completed by the reception of Holy Communion) is the order that was practiced from the earliest days of Christianity: the order in which Christians were initiated into the Church beginning nearly two millennia ago!

In 2005, Bishop Olmsted – after considerable consultation – determined that the Diocese of Phoenix would join a growing number of dioceses both in the United States and internationally that would follow the “restored order” of the sacraments: the order that was followed by the early Church.  So, we continue to baptize infants (as well as children and adults), but only in the case of infant baptism is Confirmation and First Holy Communion celebrated at a later time and in that order (once the child reaches the “age of reason”).  Those who are to be baptized as children at or above the age of reason and adults receive all three sacraments at one liturgy.  

You might be thinking “How can a third-grader make a commitment to the Church in order to be confirmed?”  Well, that’s not the point of confirmation! For years, the theology of the Sacrament of Confirmation was somehow skewed to make it seem like the young person (e.g., in high school) was confirming his/her faith in God and the Church: committing themselves to live as “adult Catholics.”  But that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what Confirmation truly is all about: it’s about God confirming his love for us by pouring forth the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – so that we can receive the full strength of our Christian faith and the life of God’s Spirit within us so as to be able to face the challenges of living as a disciple of the Risen Christ.  We’re not “confirming” our commitment to God in this sacrament; rather God is confirming the Divine commitment to us as his chosen daughter or son.

The restored Order of the Sacraments of Initiation is a great gift to our Church… as well as to our young people who receive God’s manifold graces and gifts as they prepare to move into adolescence and beyond!   

 

Easter peace and joy,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Apr202018

Reflections - April 15, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

It’s hard to imagine the range of emotions that the disciples were feeling as we reflect on the Gospel reading of today’s Mass (Luke 24:35-48). We’re back to the evening of the first Easter Sunday; most of those closest to Jesus are in the upper room, trying to piece together the events of the past few days.  The Last Supper, the “trial” and passion of Jesus.  His agonizing death on the cross, shattering their hopes that Jesus would be the one to free Israel from the bondage of Rome.  Then, that very morning, the discovery of the empty tomb… and now, two of their number had just returned from the village of Emmaus, breathlessly telling the others how they had encountered a stranger on the road who walked with them and finally was revealed to them in the breaking of bread to be the Lord Jesus himself.  There they were, saddened, amazed, trying to process all of this behind locked doors while scared out of their wits out of fear of the Jewish authorities.

And suddenly Jesus is standing in their midst, greeting them with “Peace be with you.”

I think I would have dropped over in a dead faint if I were one of those disciples!  My brain would definitely have been on overload… what’s going on?  Is this some type of apparition, a ghost?  Am I hallucinating?

But then, to help calm the disciples and reassure them that he was not a ghost, the Risen Christ asks for something to eat.  He is given a piece of baked fish that he consumes in their presence.  This might seem like an odd, random detail that was inserted in the scripture passage – but it’s actually quite deliberate.  People in the first century Mediterranean cultures believed in ghosts and spirits; but because those ghosts or spirits had no substance, they wouldn’t – and couldn’t – eat.  If they did, anything that a ghost would put into its mouth would simply drop to the floor as there would be nothing there to hold it inside the ghost.  So, Jesus is proving the reality of his risen state – a bodily, real resurrection – as he takes and eats the baked fish, demonstrating to the disciples that indeed he is not a ghost.

Once that’s out of the way, the Gospel describes Jesus giving the disciples a preview of the mission that they would have – to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem (spoiler alert: as he ascends into heaven on the Fortieth Day of Easter, that “mission preview” becomes a full-on commissioning of the disciples by the Risen Christ: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Even two millennia later, we present-day disciples often struggle to believe that Jesus Christ is truly risen, is truly alive here and now.  The idea of bodily resurrection quite simply boggles the mind. 

I suspect, though, that those first-century disciples were guided by the Holy Spirit through their conflicting emotions and doubts as they began to grasp the fact that Jesus was truly risen and that they were to continue what Jesus had started – proclaiming the love and forgiveness of our God that is made available to all.

As we enter into this next week of the Fifty Days of Easter, perhaps each of us can call upon the Holy Spirit, asking for the wisdom and grace of God so that our faith in the Risen Lord may deepen and that we may continue his mission in our world!

 

Peace in the Risen Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Monday
Apr092018

Reflections - April 8, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter today, we celebrate the day that Pope St. John Paul II officially designated as our Church’s annual “Sunday of Divine Mercy.” The theme of God’s incredible mercy is dear to the heart of our Holy Father Pope Francis as well – recall the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy that he proclaimed for our Church just a couple of years into his own papacy. 

It’s no accident that this Sunday was chosen as a focal point of Divine Mercy; a focus recognized in the Church as early as the fourth century. After basking in the almost-intoxicating glory of the resurrection for the first several days of Easter (known as the Octave of Easter), we hear readings in today’s liturgy that begin to open up for us the “difference that the resurrection of Jesus makes for us” as his disciples. In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (4:32-35), we hear how “the community of believers was of one heart and mind…” owning everything in common, caring for others (particularly the poor) such that “there was no needy person among them.” Those first believers were, in a very real way, a community of mercy: moved by the spirit of the Risen Lord to be disciples of compassion – unafraid to make real the love of God in their day-to-day lives.    

Nothing less than God’s unfathomable mercy is at work here, in the lives of those first century disciples. On Divine Mercy Sunday, this passage from Acts – and the powerful description in our Gospel (John 20:19-31) of Jesus’ post-resurrectional appearance in the upper room to the cowering, frightened disciples bringing them peace, deeper faith and the ability to forgive sins though the power of the Holy Spirit – vividly demonstrates God’s love and mercy at work from the first days of the Church. All is made new for Thomas and the other disciples; Thomas has come to believe and the others who had once cowered in the upper room have become powerful instruments of evangelization – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Those first disciples and the early Christian community described in Acts were recipients of divine mercy – and as a result of their openness to this expression of God’s love, their lives were transformed. In turn, their preaching transformed the lives of those who made up the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. Today as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, we too are invited to have that same openness – and to be transformed by God’s boundless love. Each of us, like all Christians who have come before us, struggle with sin, with brokenness, with weakness of faith. We experience Divine mercy when God’s love meets us and helps us in the midst of our suffering and sin, empowering us to become instruments of mercy in the lives of others.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), a Polish nun who was canonized by Pope John Paul II as the “Apostle of Divine Mercy,” spread the message of Divine Mercy in a whole new way in the twentieth century as a result of mystical visions she had in which the Lord appeared to her (a rendering of the image that St. Faustina described to an artist hangs in our church next to the tabernacle). Divine Mercy devotions and prayers flowed from St. Faustina’s experiences and writings. To learn more about these, you may want to go to www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/mercy/ where you’ll find a history and overview of Catholic practices centering on God’s merciful love… a reality for us not just today as we celebrate the Sunday of Divine Mercy, but every day! 

 

Grace, mercy and Easter peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Wednesday
Mar282018

Reflections - April 1, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

I confess to you that this is my favorite time of year: Holy Week and Easter.  This Solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Sunday, is the pinnacle of our faith – and also the height of all our hope as disciples of Jesus.  The days leading up to Easter that we have celebrated in this past week (Palm Sunday of the Lords’ Passion, Holy Thursday, Good Friday) and indeed the entire forty days of Lent lead us through darkness to light, guilt to forgiveness, death to new life – all of which culminate in the Gospel story that we hear today of the discovery of the empty tomb (John 20:1-9).  The immensity of this hope, this victory and new life won for us in Jesus Christ is impossible for us to pack into one Sunday’s worth of Easter celebration – and so we have Fifty Days of Easter, from now until Pentecost (May 20th this year) to drink deeply of God’s mercy and love as we contemplate the impact in our lives of Jesus’ rising from the tomb.

All around us, nature echoes the joy of Easter – new leaves cover the trees that were bare several weeks ago, flowers are blooming, we’re surrounded by the song of birds.  Then, as we partake of the Easter brunches or meals with family and friends, the chocolate bunnies and the jellybeans… and perhaps we’ll even have the chance to witness the joy of a children’s Easter Egg hunt… it’s hard not to feel the overwhelmingly positive, optimistic nature of our Easter celebration.

Being caught up in this optimism, this joy of Easter is – for many of us – not hard to experience on Easter Sunday and perhaps even for the fifty days of the Easter Season (sometimes referred to as “the Great Easter”). But where will we be six months from now?  Where will our level of joy and optimism be on, say, October 1st

We can certainly choose to allow ourselves slide back into the ordinariness of a “post Easter existence” – distracted by the pressures and demands of or day-to-day routine, maybe even becoming pessimistic or cynical in the exercise of that routine – or we can choose to take a different path.  We can choose to live as “Easter people” – people of hope, people of compassion, people of new life – year ‘round.  We can choose to allow Christ’s resurrection, the promise of God’s saving love for us, to truly make a difference in our lives for more than one day or even fifty days. 

Yes, making the choice to live in the joy of Easter 365 days a year takes some effort, it takes some planning.  It involves regular prayer; calling to mind that the Risen Christ is with us at every step of our life’s journey.  It involves a willingness to reach out and ask His help when times are stressful or challenging.  It involves a concerted effort on our part to continue living consciously as Christ’s disciples: treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated, reaching out in compassion to those around us as we would to Jesus himself (see Matthew 25:34-40).

Can we live the joy of Easter throughout the year?  The choice is up to you and me.  Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

 

Grace and peace in the Risen Lord,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar272018

Reflections - March 25, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today, with the celebration of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, we enter the most solemn and beautiful time of our Church Year: Holy Week.  Some of you have heard me mention in the past that a seminary professor of mine referred to this week as “the Church’s Annual Retreat” – and for good reason.  In the course of this next week, we re-visit and experience anew the mysteries which form the very core of our Catholic Christian Faith.  In the words of the Roman Missal used at the beginning of our Mass today, we are reminded that “since the beginning of Lent we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works.  Today we gather to herald with the whole Church the beginning of the celebration of the Lord’s paschal mystery, that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection.  For it was to accomplish this mystery that he entered his own city of Jerusalem.  Therefore, with all faith and devotion, let us… (follow) his footsteps, so that – being made by his grace partakers of the Cross, we may have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.”

“Let us follow his footsteps!”  What a marvelous invitation the Church gives us to enter fully into the rites of these coming days, up to and including our Easter celebration of the Lord’s victory over sin and death.  Holy Week is indeed our Annual Retreat as Catholic Christians, that time when we can allow ourselves to be renewed by the profound gift of God’s love made real for us in the gift of his Son – given to us for our salvation and eternal life.

If you have never had the opportunity to do so, this might be the year to make a commitment to attend the Liturgy of the Paschal Triduum on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, all beginning at 7:30PM.  These three services are actually one continuous Liturgical celebration, beginning with Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continuing with Good Friday’s Celebration of the Passion of the Lord and culminating with Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil.  In a real way, the Triduum (pronounced trih-doo-um”) enables us to walk in the footsteps of Christ, though the principal mysteries of his life-giving passion, death and resurrection.  Holy Thursday’s 7:30PM celebration begins with the welcoming of the Holy Oils blest at the Chrism Mass by Bishop Olmsted (these oils will be used sacramentally throughout the coming year) then moves on to a two-fold focus: first, on Jesus’ mandate to his disciples to “serve one another as I have served you,” as ritualized by the Washing of the Feet and second, on the institution of the Eucharist.  Both of these events, as recorded in the Gospel, took place at the Last Supper prior to Jesus’ betrayal by Judas.  After Communion, the Holy Eucharist is transferred by procession to Fr. Feeney Hall for a period of quiet adoration and prayer – commemorating Jesus’ vigil of prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.  On Good Friday at 7:30PM, the celebration begins by recognizing our need to surrender ourselves to total dependence on God (as symbolized by the prostration of the clergy before the altar).  We hear the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord according to John, we pray extended intercessions for the needs of our world, we venerate the wood of the cross (recognizing the cross as the instrument of our salvation) and we receive Holy Communion before leaving the church in silence.  [Additionally on Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross are prayed in church at Noon followed by quiet meditation until 3:00PM].  Then on Holy Saturday, we gather again at 7:30PM for the Easter Vigil: listening to the Hebrew Scriptures that foretold our salvation on Christ, lighting the Easter Fire, listening to the chanted Easter Proclamation, hearing the Gospel of the Resurrection, experiencing the baptism and confirmation of the Elect, renewing the vows of our own Baptism and celebrating the Eucharist at the first Mass of Easter. 

These three services of the Paschal Triduum constitute the high point of our Church’s liturgical life, summarizing the great mysteries that make us who we are as a People of Faith.  I hope that you can plan to join in these celebrations!

Easter Sunday Masses are scheduled for 6:00AM (“Sunrise Mass” in the School Courtyard), 7:30, 9:00 (Children’s Liturgy), 9:15 (in the School Courtyard) and 11:00AM.  Please note that there is no evening Mass on Easter Sunday; also those who attend the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening are not obligated to attend another Mass on Easter Sunday.  Weather permitting, additional parking will be available in the school field on Easter Sunday – please be sure to give yourself a little extra time and be particularly welcoming as we expect lots of friends and visitors on Easter morning! 

Finally, because the Triduum is of such importance, we do not celebrate any other Masses on Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday – nor will there be Confessions offered on Holy Saturday.

May God bless us and guide us as begin our “Annual Retreat!”

 

Grace, mercy and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor