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-12noon         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

Priest in Residence

Rev. Kevin Grimditch

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
May022017

Reflections - April 30, 2017

He is Risen! Alleluia!

He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I answered the phone yesterday with, “He is Risen! Alleluia!” expecting to hear the traditional  response of “He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!” Instead, a good friend responded, “How long does this Easter thing last?” My initial thought was that this friend went through 12 years of Catholic Education and then went to a very well-known Catholic university for his Undergraduate and Masters degrees. I wanted to blurt out “Really!” However, I had said in my Homily, on the Second Sunday of Easter, that my use of “really” was my modern way of responding to something with doubt and unbelief, much like the doubting response of Thomas in last weekend’s Gospel. I was going to attempt to have more faith and trust and refrain from using “really”.  I was going to trust more. So, I just replied, “50 days”. 

There are 50 Great Days of Easter! This is the  season to highlight Baptism, new beginnings and newness of life. Easter is a festival season of fifty days whose first day is Easter Day, the Sunday of the Resurrection The of the Lord, and whose last day is the Day of Pentecost. The period from Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday after Easter is an especially joyful time. The Catholic Church refers to these eight days as the Octave of Easter. Every day in the Octave of Easter is so important that it is treated as a continuation of Easter Sunday itself. But the Easter season doesn't end after the Octave of Easter: Because Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar—even more important than Christmas—the Easter season continues on for 50 days, through the Ascension of Our Lord to Pentecost Sunday, seven full weeks after Easter Sunday! The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead means that Christ has overcome death and in his victory, has opened to us everlasting life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). The Lord’s new life in which we share is the message of this season. A message to be proclaimed with Alleluias for 50 days.

As the sacrament of new life, baptism is an Easter theme; as baptized Christians we take time during Easter to ponder the meaning of membership in Christ’s body, the church. We look at events in the church’s life, the sacraments, the accounts of resurrection and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to discover their meaning and what they tell us about how we as a community are to live the life of the Risen Lord. 

Like the two who walked the Emmaus road with Jesus, we can know Christ in the sharing of the word and in the breaking of bread at the Eucharist. The Great Fifty Days of Easter are the time when those who have reaffirmed their baptismal vows or have been baptized at the Easter Vigil reflect on the meaning of their baptism. Through the lectionary texts they explore the “mysteries” of their faith. The early church called this period of the process mystagogia. Today the whole church enters into this period of uncovering anew the mysteries of faith expressed in sacrament, word, and life lived for others. Each time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist using the Eucharistic Prayer acclamation, we pray, “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again”. Easily said,  but how does this play out in our daily lives? How is this Easter joy reflected in the way we live our lives, especially during the Great 50 days. 

Easter is pure gift, but it takes some discipline to live that gift. First we need to receive the gift, which requires more than restoring some Alleluias into our lives, or celebrating the return of baseball, and basking in the blossoms of Spring. We are given fifty days – which, tellingly, is longer than Lent – to allow the Easter gift to be absorbed into the depth of our souls. Absorbed deeply enough so we can get beyond merely proclaiming the words of Easter to be more completely transformed by the new life that Easter brings. It does indeed take practice. I perused the internet, read the current newspapers and latest magazines, went to the scriptures for ideas and concrete examples of how to do this. I came up with 12 ways that I thought could help me in continuing the Alleluias, 12 ways that could contribute in further conversion, 12 ways that might help me to be a better proclaimer of Easter joy. I could be a much better evangelizer. Some were just plain fun, some require some study or reflection, but all required action. I challenge all us of to continue proclaiming with our lives the fundamental yet awesome truth that He indeed has risen. So even after Easter Sunday has passed, and the Octave of Easter has passed, we keep on celebrating and wishing each other, friends,  and everyone we meet a Happy Easter! As St. John Chrysostom reminds us in his famous Easter homily, read in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on Easter, Christ has destroyed death, and now is the "feast of faith."

He is Risen! Alleluia! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

~Fr. JC Ortiz

 

Tuesday
Apr252017

Reflections - April 23, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

As we move through the fifty days of the Easter Season, we have the opportunity to savor different facets of the incredible gift of love that God has given us in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus his Son.  On this Second Sunday of Easter (also known as Divine Mercy Sunday), we are invited to reflect on the merciful aspect of God’s love for us. 

As we celebrated the Year of Mercy as proclaimed by Pope Francis this past year, many of us came to appreciate more fully the role of God’s mercy on our lives – and how God calls each of us to be instruments of mercy in the lives of others.  We learned that mercy can be defined as “the form that love takes when it encounters misery.”  In our own lives, we have felt – and continue to feel – the healing touch of Christ, the Divine Physician in our moments of misery, those times when we are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or burdened by sadness.  When we allow it, when we open ourselves to it, the Lord will enter into those times of struggle in order to lift us up, strengthen us and heal us with his merciful love.  But that healing mercy isn’t given to us simply for our own benefit – it’s given to us so that we can in turn be merciful to others.  What a privilege this is: to be a vessel, a conduit of God’s mercy into the life of another person!  The Corporal Works of Mercy provide some examples of how we can “transmit” God’s mercy to others: when we feed the hungry, or give drink to the thirsty, or work to shelter the homeless, take time to visit the sick or the imprisoned, participate in burying the dead or give alms to the poor… we are able to make God’s mercy present to another in his or her misery.  Of course, we have to be careful to remain humble in showing mercy, which is always directed to the good of the one who is loved – true mercy never allows for condescension, or feeling some sort of superiority or pride on a spiritual or material level when we are able to help another. 

In his homily at St. Peter’s on Divine Mercy Sunday of 2016, Pope Francis pointed out the second-to-the-last verse of today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31): “Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.”  Our Holy Father went on to explain that we hold the Gospel to be God’s “book of mercy,” to be read and re-read, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of God’s mercy.  Not everything, however, was written down: the Gospel of mercy remains an open book, in which the signs of Christ’s disciples – concrete acts of love and the most effective witness to mercy – continue to be written.  Each of us, as a disciple of Jesus in our own day, is called to become a living writer of that “ongoing” or “open book” of the Gospel of mercy; we are heralds of the Good News of God’s love and mercy in Jesus Christ to all men and women of today.

What a privilege we have to receive God’s mercy – and what a joy we have in this Easter Season, being called to bring that merciful love of God to others!  

 

Blessings and peace in the Risen Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Wednesday
Apr122017

Reflections - April 16, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

“Christ the Lord is Risen!  Alleluia!”  That joyous and ancient Easter cry of the Church, echoing down through the centuries, signifies the victory of the Lord Jesus over the darkness of sin and death.  Death has no power over the Crucified One – and through him, sin and death have no power over us who believe.  This is the mystery of new life, the mystery of God’s unfathomable love for us that we celebrate at Easter.  How could God possibly care so much for us, that God’s own Son takes on human flesh – one like us in all things but sin – and then that Son, Jesus Christ, freely sacrifices himself for us on the cross, dying for our sins to save us, and then is raised to new life three days later by the Father?  How could this possibly happen? 

One could equally ask the question “how can this possibly not happen?” We are told (more than once) in scripture that “God is love” (e.g., see 1 John 4:8).  If the very essence of God is love, than  anything contrary to that would contradict who God is… and so, God cannot help but love – fully and unconditionally – because to do otherwise would be untrue to God’s nature.  And we all know that God is Truth itself.  Thus, the fact that God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16) should not be a big shock to us, as this is behavior consistent with a God who loves unreservedly and without limit… since that’s exactly “what God does.”

But even though these scriptures about our loving God are well-known, they present an incredibly difficult concept for us to get our minds around.  “How can God love me – after all the sinful things I’ve done?” we might ask.  “No, this idea of an unconditionally loving God is too good to be true.”  But it is true!  

In a certain sense, God’s unconditional love for you and me is almost more difficult to accept than the Resurrection of Christ from death!  Jesus being raised from the tomb is but one sign – indeed, the ultimate sign – of God’s compassionate, merciful drive to love us. 

Throughout his four years of ministry as our Holy Father, Pope Francis has – over and over again – stressed the theme of God’s loving mercy and readiness to forgive, telling us that “The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never!  We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness.  Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us.”  The Holy Father, after making the above remark on God’s ever-present willingness to forgive, then speculated: “Have you thought about the patience that God has with each of us?  God's face is that of a merciful father who is always patient…”  Seems that God’s “patience” may be directed to those of us who might doubt God’s unconditional love or untiring forgiveness... and yet, as we celebrate Easter, God is saying to us “Believe me – trust in me and my love for you.  The sign of my unconditional love for you is the death and resurrection of my Son Jesus – which opens for you the path to new life!”

What an incredible gift; the gracious gift of God’s own boundless love and forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  May we truly accept this gift, be grateful for it (and all of the gifts that God gives us)… and then be signs of God’s love in the world through our own goodness and tenderness as disciples of the Risen One.

 

Easter peace and joy,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor 

 

Friday
Apr072017

Reflections - April 9, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today, with the celebration of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, we have entered the most solemn and beautiful time of our Church Year: Holy Week. Our “high holy days” as Catholic Christians are the three days of the Paschal Triduum – beginning with Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continuing with Good Friday’s Celebration of the Passion of the Lord and climaxing Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil, the first Mass of Easter.  Spread over the course of three days, the Triduum (pronounced “trih-doo-um”) is actually one continuous liturgy highlighting the core mysteries of our faith: the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Then, we have the Fifty Days of the Easter Season (culminating the Solemnity of Pentecost) to help us “unpack” these mysteries of our faith.

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 services beginning at 7:30PM.  In a real way, the Triduum 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].  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. 

The liturgy of the Paschal Triduum constitutes 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!

Our Easter Sunday Masses are scheduled for 6:00, 7:30, 9:00, 9:15 and 11:00AM. The 6:00AM “Sunrise Mass” and 9:15AM Mass are celebrated in the School Courtyard; a change this year is that the Children’s Liturgy will be celebrated in church at 9:00 (rather than in the Courtyard at 9:15AM).  Please note that the final Mass of Easter Sunday is celebrated at 11:00AM (there is no evening 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 fill us with the Holy Spirit as we enter this most sacred time!

 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Mar302017

Reflections - April 2, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear the third and final Gospel of three consecutive Sundays primarily oriented to our Elect – those who are journeying to their baptism at the Easter Vigil – but are, of course, meant to remind each of us who are already baptized of the graces that we too already share in as members of the Body of Christ.

As we listen to today’s Gospel passage (John 11:1-45), we are drawn into the remarkable story of the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus, the brother of Martha and Mary, who had taken ill, died and was entombed before Jesus arrived in Bethany – after a seemingly inexplicable two day delay by Jesus before traveling there.  The reason for Jesus’ delay becomes evident as the story unfolds: it was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  Part of that “glory of God” was the strengthening of Martha’s faith, initially frustrated by Jesus’ delay in coming to heal Lazarus, but then trusting – first, saying to Jesus “whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Subsequently, Martha is moved to profess faith in Jesus’ statement: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

All of this precedes the incredible scene at the tomb of Lazarus.  Jesus – along with Martha and Mary – joins the crowd of mourners at the entrance to the tomb.  Jesus weeps over the loss of his friend Lazarus, then after a time, directs that the tomb be unsealed – against the advice of Martha, who reminds Jesus that the stench of decomposition would surely be strong since Lazarus had been dead for four days (this seems like an odd addition to the text, but it underscores the fact that Lazarus was truly dead). The stone blocking the entrance to the tomb is rolled back… Jesus turns to his Father in prayer, and then calls for the dead Lazarus to come forth from the tomb. The unthinkable happens: Lazarus emerges from the tomb, still bound by his burial shroud.  Jesus then directs the onlookers: “Untie him and let him go free.”

Jesus has proven to the crowd that he is indeed “the resurrection and the life.”  He has proven to them that God has power even over death, the most ultimate force known to humankind.  Even two thousand years later, all we can do is just soak all of this in with a sense of wonder and awe.

But – interestingly – Lazarus’ restoration to life is only temporary. He doesn’t walk the earth forever, he has not yet achieved the eternal life or immortality that each of us is called to at the end of our lives on earth. Lazarus, like Martha and Mary, like each of us, will ultimately end up (back) in the tomb – awaiting the resurrection of the just to eternal life on the last day.

What Jesus has brought about, though, is a renewal of life for Lazarus. Lazarus has been freed from his bonds through the power of God and compassion of Jesus. Yes, Lazarus stands as an example of Jesus power over death and the darkness of the tomb – but perhaps in our own lives we can see this miracle as being not only a promise of eternal life for the Christian, but also a reminder that Jesus is ready and willing to restore and renew our spiritual lives, to free us from the darkness of sin, to unbind us from our ties to harmful habits and selfishness.  We can experience this new life through the healing, restorative grace of

the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). We can experience this manifestation of God’s mercy as often as we care to (see the front of the bulletin for our regular schedule for this healing sacrament).  Additionally, this Monday April 3rd we are offering a Lenten Evening of Reconciliation here in church from 6:30 until 8:30PM.  Seven priest-confessors will be available during that time to bring us God’s healing love and freedom from the bonds of our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I hope that you will take the time to come to Confession anytime between 6:30 and 8:30PM Monday!

 

Grace, peace and new life in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor