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
Mar022018

Reflections - March 4, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this Third Sunday of Lent, at all Masses except the 9AM Mass at which the First Scrutiny is celebrated,* we hear the Gospel passage (John 2:13-25) describing Jesus’ “cleansing of the Temple:” the Lord throws over the tables of the merchants, vendors and money-changers and drives them all away from the Temple with a whip of cords. For those of us who grew up with a message of “it’s not nice to be angry,” or that anger is somehow “ungodly” or an unacceptable emotion… this scripture passage can come as something of a jolt.

It’s one of those rare incidents in the Gospel where we hear about Jesus’ anger.  He’s justifiably angry in that ordinary Temple pilgrims and worshippers were being taken advantage of. The Jewish tradition called for various forms of sacrifice (turtle doves, cattle, etc.) to be offered at the Temple in thanksgiving to God for blessings received.  It was also customary for those pilgrims and worshippers to make a monetary gift to the Temple treasury.  Since many of these faithful Jews had travelled some distance to the Temple, it was a convenience for them to acquire the animals for sacrifice or to change their foreign coins right there in the temple precincts. Hence, the presence of vendors and money changers on the Temple grounds. 

Now, while one could argue that the money-changing and provision of what needed for sacrifice would be a worth endeavor and a genuine service to the Temple visitors, this was complicated by the fact that many of the “businesspeople” were profiteering or gouging those who had come to the temple to pray and offer sacrifice. They were taking advantage of the visitors to make excess profits for themselves.

This is what roused Jesus’ anger – not so much that the vendors were providing a useful service to the worshippers, but that they were essentially defrauding them. Many of those who had travelled to the Temple weren’t at all wealthy, so the “gouging” inflicted by the merchants was all the more painful. 

The anger that Jesus displays is completely justified. He wasn’t just “peeved” because merchants’ tables were cluttering up the Temple precincts – he was deeply offended that these businesspeople were making excess profits at the expense of the people, many of whom could least afford it.

There are many layers of meaning in this Gospel passage, but one of which is that – by Jesus showing his justified anger when confronted by a situation where there is injustice, where people are being cheated and taken advantage of – the Lord “gives us permission” to stand up for the rights of others who are disadvantaged by the greed of others. As Jesus’ disciples, we are being reminded that “it’s okay to be appropriately angry” when we see injustice, when we are defending the defenseless or when we see someone profiting excessively at the expense of another. It’s okay to come to the defense of someone whose rights are being trampled. In doing so, we are only following the Lord’s example!

 

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor   

 

* On the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent at Masses celebrating the Rites of Scrutiny for the Elect (the catechumens preparing for Easter Baptism), the readings for Mass are always taken from Cycle A of the Lectionary.  Other Masses of the day use the readings of the lectionary cycle proper to that particular year – which is currently “Year (or Cycle) B.”

 

 

Thursday
Feb222018

Reflections - February 25, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

Those of you who had the opportunity to participate in our 6:30AM Mass this past Monday (or perhaps read or heard the daily Mass readings that day) were treated to a couple of scripture passages that – in my opinion – are absolutely focal for our Lenten journey of growth in discipleship.  Of course, this is a journey that doesn’t end on the evening of Holy Thursday as the Season of Lent concludes… but rather this journey continues until the moment we take our last breath!

The daily readings I’m speaking of were Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 and the Gospel passage from Matthew 25:31-46.

In the Gospel, Jesus shares with his disciples a vision of the final judgment.  It’s quite a dramatic picture that the Lord paints… the Son of Man accompanied by all the angels, coming in glory at the end of time and taking his place on a royal throne with all the nations of the world assembled before him. The Lord then separates them into two groups, “like a shepherd separates sheep from goats.” At that point, the “final exam” begins… an exam far more important than any of us ever took in the course of our academic careers. Jesus essentially reviews those qualities required of those who will enter the kingdom of heaven. At no time does the Lord give any significance to one’s political affiliation, who an individual may have voted for president, how one participated in any “culture war” within society or the church, how much money one dropped in the collection, how “orthodox” or “holy” one appeared or how many novenas one prayed.  Rather, Jesus says to those on his right: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”  When questioned by those chosen “When did I do that?,” the Lord replies “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” 

There it is. “The” final exam for entering the fullness of the reign of God, for “going to heaven.”  Those who passed the test, inherited the kingdom… while those who failed the test heard from the Lord “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels….” 

This is quite a sobering passage – a “wake-up call” for each of us as we pursue our growth in discipleship. God, speaking through Moses in the passage from Leviticus, tells the children of Israel what true holiness is… summarizing the description of holiness with the words “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

It really couldn’t be more clear, could it? We are hearing from both the Old and the New Testaments what is required of us. Each of us would be well-advised to review and reflect on both of these scripture passages, cited above, as we enter this Second Week of Lent. 

 

Blessings and Lenten peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Friday
Feb162018

Reflections - February 18, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent, we hear a familiar call from Jesus in today’s Gospel:  “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:1-12).

Every year on the first Sunday of Lent, we hear a variation of this story of Jesus going into the desert for forty days… after which he issues the call to repentance and belief in the Gospel. 

We heard these words as we were signed with blessed ashes this past Wednesday: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” What can this really mean to us in 2018… particularly as we begin this Season of Lent?

The English word “repent” doesn’t ordinarily come up in social conversation… many people, I think, presume that “repent” pertains to those who are hell-bound through their sinfulness.  Sort of a “do-an-about-face-from-your current-way-of-life-or-else.” Actually, though, the word in the original Gospel text that’s translated into our language as “repent” is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia). There are a few things that significantly differentiate metanoia from our common understanding of “repent.”  First of all, metanoia is not a one-time thing… it’s an ongoing process that is lifelong.  Secondly, metanoia more literally means “a change of direction or course; a change of mind.”  

So, one can argue that what Jesus truly means by “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” is to be open to ongoing, lifelong changes of direction and changes of mind as we continue to deepen our belief in the Gospel. This makes sense: we evolve gradually in our understanding of – and belief in – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We evolve in putting the ways of Jesus into action in our lives as his disciples… and this ongoing conversion, ongoing growth – God willing – goes on ‘til we’re lowered into the grave. In essence, if we’re going to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be open to constant course corrections, constant adjustments in our lives in order to remain “on track” as ones who believe in – and follow – the Gospel. New opportunities present themselves constantly in our lives… opportunities that call forth new responses from us. Do we simply say “I’ve always done it this way” and address the new situation or new opportunity in the “same old, same old” way – or does the new opportunity lead us to a response of applying a Gospel teaching in a fresh way?

It has been said that change is difficult – and so it can very well be. Some of us grew up in a Church that we were told was “never supposed to change,” but in reality the Church has made changes and course adjustments over and over again throughout our history of two millennia to address new situations in life from a Gospel perspective. This is what metanoia is… changing course to more fully live the Gospel life that we are called to live. This is our call this Lent and for the rest of our lives!

 

Lenten blessings and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor    

 

Wednesday
Feb142018

Reflections - February 11, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

This coming Wednesday, February 14th, is Ash Wednesday – the beginning of what the Church, in its prayer, refers to as “the holy and joyful Season of Lent.” Holy and joyful… this might stretch our childhood notions of Lent as a time of “giving up” things that we enjoyed… candy, movies, etc. But in reality, when we focus on a healthy approach to spiritual self-improvement through prayer, fasting and almsgiving (the traditional “big three” disciplines of Lent), we find that these 40 days can be a time of renewal and deepening of our discipleship – and therefore, ultimately very fulfilling. Taking a bit more time to focus on or relationship with God each day, cutting down on excesses and giving of ourselves for the benefit of those less fortunate is a wonderful annual exercise for us as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. To enter into Lent with a spirit of renewal and new growth is far more positive that to enter Lent exclusively focused on our particular shortcomings.

That being said, we receive the sign of blest ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday to signify our acceptance that we are far from perfect and that continuous change is needed in our lives in order to continue on the path of discipleship. We are constantly invited to turn from those behaviors that can distance us from God and from one another; Lent is a time to particularly focus on this life-changing growth.

Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation – but is a day when many Catholics like to begin their Lenten observance by receiving the Eucharist and the sign of ashes. Masses with the blessing and distribution of ashes are celebrated on Ash Wednesday at 6:30 and 8:30AM as well as at 6:00PM. The 8:30 morning Mass will include the students and teachers of St. Theresa Catholic School. Please note that ashes will only distributed within the context of Mass on Ash Wednesday (exceptions are made for the hospitalized and the homebound).

Over the lifetimes of many of us, there has been substantial change in the norms concerning fast and abstinence for Catholics. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the current norms/expectations are as follows:

“Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin (Roman) Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.”

“Abstinence” refers to the practice of refraining from eating meat (and yes, chicken is considered a meat). It’s worthwhile, too, to note that “Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.”

As we enter into Lent 2018, may we open ourselves to being transformed by the Holy Spirit into more effective disciples of Jesus through our discipline of prayer, fasting and almsgiving!

 

In Christ’s peace, 

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Tuesday
Feb062018

Reflections - February 4, 2018

My Brothers and Sisters,

It seems like we “just” concluded the Christmas Season… and now Lent is ten days away!  Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th this year (somewhat ironically, this is also Valentine’s Day… for those of you who might want to begin planning meatless romantic dinners…)

As we prepare to enter Lent 2018, we’re going to offer an exceptional prayer opportunity at St. Theresa next Saturday evening, February 10th.  We will host a Mercy Night beginning at 7:00PM and concluding at 9:00PM.  These “Mercy Nights,” sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit (who primarily provide ministry to the Native American reservations in our diocese as well as to the newly-formed Newman Center at Grand Canyon University) began being offered in various locations around the Diocese of Phoenix during Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy… but since “mercy” is not a quality of our Church to be confined to just one year, the Mercy Nights continue periodically.

“What is a Mercy Night?” you may ask.  The evening provides participants the experience of a variety of Catholic spiritual devotions and practices – including Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, praise and worship music (contemporary Christian music), time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and individual healing prayer for those who might want it… all centered around a theme of forgiveness and mercy.  Franciscan Fr. Ignatius Mazanowski will offer a reflection, our own Coordinator of Youth Evangelization, Mary Castner, will provide the praise and worship music for the evening, Franciscan priests as well as our parish priest will serve as confessors and trained prayer teams will offer the individual healing prayer (which is actually an ancient Christian tradition stretching back to biblical times).  We will also have a free-will offering/collection to support the ministry of the fledgling Newman Center at GCU.  The Mercy Night, then, brings together a wide spectrum of Catholic prayer and devotion from the traditional (Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction) to the charismatic/contemporary (praise & worship and healing prayer).  For those who are unfamiliar with these different prayer forms, the Mercy Night provides wonderful opportunity to observe and experience them – yet there is no pressure to participate in, for instance, being prayed over for healing if this is outside of one’s “comfort zone.”  

I hope that you’ll plan to join us next Saturday evening, February 10th, at 7PM for this Mercy Night.  It seems to me like a great way to “prime the pump,” so to speak, so that we can enter into Lent four days later with hearts open to God’s great mercy in our lives… and an openness to being vessels of mercy and forgiveness in the lives of others.

I might also add that the Saturday evening Mercy Night does not take the place of our annual Lenten Evening of Reconciliation, which is scheduled for Monday March 19th (the Monday prior to Palm Sunday).  At this time, nine priest-confessors have committed to be available in the church for the Sacrament of Reconciliation between 6:30 and 8:30PM on March 19th.  You may want to mark your calendar!

 

Grace, mercy and peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

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