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
Jun132019

Reflections - June 16, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today we celebrate a “doctrinal feast” of our Church – one that’s central to our Catholic Christian Faith: the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. In celebrating this solemnity, we affirm our belief in something that ultimately cannot be fully understood through the use of human logic or reasoning: the fact that we have One God who is revealed to the world in three different ways (as three “Persons”) – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the Preface of the Holy Trinity in the Second Edition of the Roman Missal (the Sacramentary) so well put it “Father, all-powerful and ever-living God… we joyfully proclaim our faith in the mystery of your Godhead” (i.e., divine nature). “You have revealed your glory as the glory also of your Son and of the Holy Spirit: three Persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one Lord, one God, ever to be adored in your everlasting glory.”

One God… three Persons. How can we even begin to understand this? In ancient Greece, theatre reached its high point some 500 years before Christ. In Greek society of the time, only men were allowed to be actors – or members of the chorus in a play. So that the audience could keep track of what actor was playing which character in the play, the actors would wear masks with exaggerated features so that all the audience could clearly see the character being portrayed. These masks were known as πρόσωπον (prosopn) in Greek – translated into Latin as persona and into English as person. Interestingly, the literal meaning of πρόσωπον is “who I am seen to be.”

So, in considering the concept of “Three Persons in One God,” it’s important that we try to avoid understanding the word “person” in the contemporary sense of “an individual.” We’re not talking about three different “people” in one God… rather, the ancient Church drew heavily on Greek concepts in defining Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity, then, refers to one (of one substance, or “consubstantial”) God who “is seen to be” Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God, three “persona.” 

Okay. If we can begin to get our heads around that, the next logical question is “Why would God do that?” In studying Sacred Scripture (both Old and New Testaments), we see that God has different “attributes” – or functions – depending on the time and circumstance. These “attributes” are seen to be integral with each “persona” of God: the Father has the principal attribute of Creator, the Son has the principal attribute of Redeemer, the Holy Spirit has the principal attribute of Sanctifier. All one God, but three different ways of revealing Godself. We can also see in Scripture that the Three Persons are in relationship with one another: the Father calls Jesus his “beloved Son;” Jesus prays to – and does the will of – the Father; the Risen Christ ascends to the Father’s right hand so as to pour forth the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to be our Advocate and wisdom for the Church. This interrelationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit underscores the value and importance of relationship in our own human lives.  In fact, a great theologian of our Church, Karl Rahner, postulates that – as the Father “spoke” the Word of God into the world, and “the Word became flesh” (the Son, as we learn in the Prologue of John’s Gospel) – the love between the Father and the Son was so intense that that love of Father of Son and Son of Father actually “became” a third persona of God: the Holy Spirit. 

All of this is, of course, mind-boggling (as it should be) – after all, the Trinity IS a mystery! But, as we celebrate a God who loves us more than we can comprehend, hopefully we can just revel in the mysterious ways of our God!

 

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Jun112019

Reflections - June 9, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today we celebrate the fiftieth and final day of the Easter Season as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost.  This day is sometimes referred to as “the birthday of the Church,” for it was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit – that “power from on high” referred to in last week’s Ascension Gospel – was poured out upon the disciples, to empower them in their mission to continue the work of Jesus’ ministry in the world.

The Holy Spirit – God - the Third Person of the Holy Trinity was not simply “given” to the disciples at Pentecost like some sort of tool to be used in their ministry – rather, the Holy Spirit come to the disciples to dwell within them… in other words, to be the very presence of God with them for all time… dwelling within each of them to guide them, to empower them to be able to live the way of the Gospel and to proclaim that Gospel “to the ends of the earth.”  In other words, the Holy Spirit was not some temporary gift, or a gift that could only be used at particular times but not at other times.  The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples in that upper room to be God’s presence with them always.

Now, I think that there are several points of great significance for us to reflect upon as we celebrate Pentecost 2019. The first is that the outpouring and indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not restricted to those first disciples in that upper room two millennia ago – each of us, as baptized Christians, receive the Holy Spirit first at our baptism, and then at our confirmation, that gift of God’s love for us is reaffirmed and strengthened as the Holy Spirit is called down upon us in this special sacrament. Think of it: God dwells within each one of us who is baptized and confirmed, filling us with the Spirit’s gifts (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, reverence, right judgement, courage and wonder and awe in God’s presence). These gifts of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit are always with us – in all circumstances, places and situations of our lives. Yet God, ever respectful of the gift of our free will that he has endowed all human beings with, never “forces” us to utilize these gifts.  Rather, God gives us the discretion of choosing to call upon the Holy Spirit or a specific gift within us to assist us in our lives – or not. Like any other gifts we are given, we can choose to allow the gift to gather dust – or we can put the gift to good use. It’s up to each one of us to call upon and use the Spirit’s gifts – but the choice to do so remains with each individual, as God will never compromise our free will.

As we celebrate the beginnings of our Church, this Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit, may we remember that God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, dwells within each of us to empower and guide each of us to live fully and joyfully as disciples of the Risen Christ. One more way that we are reminded that God’s love and care for you and me is unfathomable!

 

God’s peace and blessings,    

Rev Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Many of us have come to know and love Sister Carol Fleming, O.P. who – for some twelve years - has been a parishioner of St. Theresa. Over the years, Carol has served as a valued member of our Parish Pastoral Council, our Liturgy Committee, as a Lector and an advisor in many other capacities. To some, she was known fondly as “the flying nun” – keeping up with her many commitments of service across North America. In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, Sr. Carol was a true servant-leader in our faith community and in her religious community, the Adrian Dominicans. Carol recently relocated to the community’s “headquarters” in Adrian, Michigan.  For those who would like to send her a note or keep in touch, her new address is:

Carol Fleming, O.P.

1269 East Siena Heights Dr.  Apt. 431

Adrian, MI 49221

May the Spirit of God continue to accomplish wonderful things in Sr. Carol’s life and ministry!

 

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