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-Noon

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
Thursday
Mar022017

Reflections - March 5, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

A number of you are aware that I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador in late February with my good friend Fr. Mike Straley (who was a member of St. Theresa Parish in 1979 when he entered the seminary; he now serves as Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale). Fr. Mike has been deeply involved in the organization Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) and has been asking me, for quite some time, to accompany him on a trip to one of their facilities. NPH was founded by Fr. Bill Wasson, a native of Phoenix, and now manages a number of children’s homes/orphanages in Mexico, Central and South America as well as Haiti.

My week in El Salvador was nothing short of amazing. We flew into the capital San Salvador (the airport there is named for and dedicated to the memory of Monseñor [Archbishop] Oscar Romero, who in March 1980 was gunned down at the altar by a government sponsored “death squad” while celebrating Mass. His assassination took place in the midst of the Salvadoran Civil War that killed and “disappeared” over 75,000 lives between 1979 and 1992).  We then had a drive of approximately 3 hours to the rural area of Texistepéque, just outside the city of Santa Ana, where the NPH compound is located. The NPH compound is an oasis of tranquility and joy, lush with tropical foliage, surrounded by high-security walls, fencing and a fortified gate with armed guards for the protection of the children living there. The friendliness and joy of the pequeños (children) was contagious – there they receive food, housing, medical care and one of the best educations available in El Salvador. We attended a karaoke night, soccer games, had meals with the pequeños and their tíos (“uncles” – young adult staff, many former pequeños) and spent lots of time simply hanging out with the pequeños when they weren’t in classes. Somehow we were able get through the communication barrier with my rudimentary Spanish and their developing English, learned in the classroom. One 17 year-old pequeño, Jefferson Ruiz, touched me deeply when he invited me to attend his upcoming graduation in November. Two days later as I came to know Jefferson more and more, I decided to become his padrino (godfather or sponsor) – which involves me offering him support, correspondence and a monthly contribution to help the costs of NPH. Fr. Mike has thirteen ahijados (godsons) in Mexico and El Salvador, so I have some catching up to do! 

On one of our days there, Fr. Mike and I were driven into San Salvador and had the privilege of celebrating Mass in the hospital chapel where Archbishop Romero was murdered (Pope Francis recently beatified Oscar Romero as a martyr) – we also visited his small home on the hospital grounds, and then went on to his tomb in the crypt of the San Salvador Cathedral – then finally visited the Jesuit University of Central America, where six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter were assassinated by government forces’ machine gun fire in November 1989. It was a grueling, emotionally exhausting but incredibly inspiring day.

What a blessing it was for me to experience El Salvador – and one more reminder of the abundant blessings I so easily take for granted here in the United States. Please remember in your prayer all the pequeños of NPH… may this Lent be one of God’s blessings and joy!

 

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Feb162017

Reflections - February 19, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Sometimes I fill this space with things of a spiritual nature, other times items of a more temporal (or “housekeeping”) nature. Today’s is one of those “latter” times.

Those of you with “eagle eyes” may have already noticed something different about the stained glass in the choir area – something’s blocking part of the window. The same is true in the northeast confessional nearest the choir – much of that window is blocked – actually, both windows are boarded up and will be until late May.

The reason – some enterprising vandal decided to throw rocks at both windows. Fortunately, they only knocked out a couple of “chunks” of stained glass – which I initially thought would result in a fairly simple repair. But, because our windows are fairly unique works of art (chunks of stained glass embedded in an epoxy and sand base, I learned that fissures have been created in the epoxy/sand medium… requiring both of the entire window panels being removed and taken to a specialist, who will chip out all the stained glass pieces and reset them in a whole new epoxy and sand base. It’s hard to believe that 2 rocks have caused an estimated $14,000 worth of damage (thankfully our insurance will reimburse us for all but a deductible). It’s also been recommended by our insurer’s risk prevention agent that we install clear polycarbonate shields on the outside of each window to protect the windows, which are among the two best examples of this type of stained glass artwork in the State of Arizona. We are currently obtaining bids for the polycarbonate shields.

As some of you homeowners know, it seems like “when it rains it pours” in terms of repairs to buildings and infrastructure. Within the timeframe of a few weeks, we’ve learned of the necessity of reconfiguring a sewer connection, replacing one of the video projectors in church, and installing new garage doors in the rectory garage as the old ones are sagging and can’t be repaired. We’ve just completed trenching along the entire west wall of our school field in order to waterproof the wall’s foundation, so that our field’s irrigation water doesn’t leak through the wall and into the condominiums to our west. Another recently-completed significant project was the replacement of all the call boxes and gate-control software at our vehicle and pedestrian security gates, and we will soon be upgrading and replacing non-working security cameras around the campus.

I’m not complaining – far from it. This sort of thing is part of what makes my life and ministry interesting (it’s amazing how many random things I’ve learned about a diversity of subjects over the years of being responsible for the parish campus!). More importantly, though, I’m sharing this with you so as to give you a heartfelt “thank you” for your ongoing support of our parish! Not only can we provide the ministries and services that we must… but because of your loyal support and generosity in our regular Sunday collections and by way of special gifts, we are able to address unanticipated as well as anticipated replacement, repair and improvement needs that surface on our 60 year-old parish campus as they arise – and we’re able to do so without incurring parish debt or giving the pastor more gray hairs. Thank you!!

May God continue to bless our community in generosity and good stewardship.    

 

God’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Feb162017

Reflections - February 12, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

Choice.

The ability to freely choose is one of the most cherished gifts that we have been given by our Creator… it’s a gift that can be used to give great glory to God and lead us into a life (now and in the life to come) of great fulfillment and joy.  Yet, at the same time, the gift of free will is one which can bring untold suffering to us and to others. 

How trusting our loving God is to give the gift of free will to us who have been created in God’s image and likeness! 

Our ability to choose is a gift that the majority of us – particularly living in a nation built on the ideals of freedom – can easily take for granted. We can and often do fall into the rut of making choices almost reflexively, without any forethought.  Such reflex can become “hazardous to our health” – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The Gospel we hear at Mass today (Matthew 5:17-37) is one of those passage in which we encounter the “scary Jesus,” so to speak.  The reality is, Jesus is not trying to frighten his disciples – rather, he is levelling with us and making some very deliberate points for our own well-being.  The Lord, addressing his disciples – which as you know includes you and me – does not mince words about the necessity of our using the gift of our free will to make right choices.  Jesus spells out the consequences of flawed choices (essentially, selfish misuse of our free will) versus the consequences of right use of free will (making selfless choices in accord with God’s will and the good of others).  The consequences of the former, quite bleakly, involve a less-than-satisfying existence in this life and despair in the life to come.  On the other hand… the consequences of the latter bring fulfillment, joy and satisfaction: not only in the here and now, but for eternity.

The wisdom of Ben Sirach speaks to us from the Hebrew Scriptures in our first reading (Sirach 15:15-20) as we hear: “If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live….  Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses will be given him” (italics mine).

Relying on the grace of the Holy Spirit, the words of Holy Scripture and the guidance of the Church (which always “proposes” rather than “imposes”), may each of us as Christ’s disciples continue to grow in our ability to discern and make the best of choices!

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor  

 

Thursday
Feb022017

Reflections - February 5, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

My stepfather, who reared me as his son, was born in the Abruzzo Region of Italy in the second decade of the 20th century. When a young teenager, he emigrated from Italy virtually penniless with his mother and brothers, entered the United States through Ellis Island in New York, with the family eventually settling in Washington, DC in a neighborhood just blocks from the US Capitol building.  It must have been powerfully symbolic for this this newly-arrived Italian family to have been “greeted” by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and then to end up living practically in the shadow of the Capitol dome. As newly-arrived immigrants, one of the first orders of business was for the boys who were old enough to work to find jobs, either part-time or full time depending on their school schedule, in order to help the family put food on the table.

So, my stepfather set out to various construction sites to find work as a laborer.  He soon learned the meaning of the four-letter signs that were posted near the workers’ entrances to those sites: “NINA” = “No Italians Need Apply.”  I can only imagine that being like a bucket of cold water in the face, after enduring hardships and coming across the ocean to his adopted country only to find an anti-immigrant “pushback” when seeking employment.   Ironically, my stepfather ended up eventually putting himself through law school and, while an attorney, starting a construction company that built in the mid-1960’s the first garden apartments in Anacostia, a predominately Black section of DC then known for its tenements.  My first job as a sophomore in high school was at those apartments, helping with general maintenance and landscaping tasks.  As I look back on my stepfather’s “immigrant success story,” I am profoundly grateful for the example he gave me and the enduring lessons that he taught me.

My stepfather’s “NINA” experience wasn’t too far removed chronologically from the anti-Catholic sentiment whipped up by political cartoonist Thomas Nast in the late nineteenth century, who regularly lambasted Irish Catholic immigrants as drunkards and barbarians unfit for citizenship.  The fires of anti-Catholic bigotry were also fired by politicians and statesmen who warned about the dangers of admitting Catholics from Southern and Eastern Europe onto American shores, for fear that they were something less than civilized (and less than white).  It wasn’t unusual for respectable politicians to wonder aloud whether Catholics could be loyal to their adoptive country and to the Pope.  That question was still being asked in the time of President Kennedy.

In twenty-first century America, thankfully much of that anti-Catholic bigotry is a thing of the past; and those of Irish, Italian or Eastern European ancestry are generally not discriminated against at job sites.  In some ways, we as a nation have come a long way since the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In other ways, not.  History does have a tendency to repeat itself.

Now, immigrants and refugees from another set of countries are regarded with suspicion and, in some cases, outright hostility.  Anti-Islam sentiment appears to have largely replaced anti-Catholic sentiment.

In today’s troubled world, it is clearly necessary for any nation to carefully ensure that newcomers to that country will do no harm to their adopted nation.  Just as clearly, it is time for a radical change in US immigration policy (why should qualified, healthy, able and peace-loving immigrants often have to wait years to be admitted to this “land of opportunity?”).  Unless we happen to be of Native American ancestry, the reality is that each one of us – or our ancestors – came from “somewhere else.”  As disciples of Jesus Christ, and as Americans, I believe that we should do all in our power to support an effective re-vamping of our immigration policies so that sincerely-motivated people of any nation or faith can legally be welcomed to our country to pursue the American Dream as did our own families.  Isaiah speaks God’s word in our first reading (Is. 58:7-10), reminding us to “shelter the oppressed and the homeless.”  May God guide our legislators and policy-makers to achieve effective and compassionate immigration policies to welcome refugees and newcomers to our United States.

 

In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor

 

Thursday
Feb022017

Reflections - January 29, 2017

My Brothers and Sisters,

If I were to try to choose a “theme” for this Sunday’s scripture readings, it would probably be God is God and I am not. 

It seems that we as disciples of Jesus – indeed, as human beings – are in need of periodic reminders of this reality!

In our first reading, the Old Testament Prophet Zephaniah reminds us: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility…” (Zeph. 2:3a). 

Then, in our second reading (1 Corinthians 1: 26-31), St. Paul reminds the community in Corinth that not many of them are wise, or powerful, or of noble birth… but rather, “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world – those who count for nothing – to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being may boast before God… so that, whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”

Finally, in our Gospel proclamation (Matthew 5: 1-12a), we hear the familiar passage from the beginning of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” – that set of improbably sayings known as “The Beatitudes,” or blessings.  The Lord reminds us that those who do not appear to be “blest” in the eyes of the world are the ones who are truly blest by God; the poor, the hungry, the meek, those who mourn, the merciful, etc.

Each of these three passages seems paradoxical and illogical from a human standpoint.  Cultural and societal norms are turned on their head: the humble and those who seek justice are the real winners; the foolish, lowly and despised of the world are the ones who God chooses to shame and reduce to nothing those who think that they are above everyone else; the ones who appear to be “cursed” in worldly terms turn out to be the ones who are truly blest. What’s going on here?

The thread of connection among all the readings is the wisdom and benefit of the human being who focuses not on himself/herself, but rather on God. Rather than seeing myself as the center of the universe, around whom all things revolve, to see God as the center and focal point of my life. To be dependent on God, not self… to trust God above all else.  To know that – in those tough times of mourning, or being hungry or persecuted – I will be victorious and blest because I’ve been stripped of my ability to be self-sufficient and have to entrust myself to God… who will fill me with the love and grace that I need to make it through the challenges of life.

How good it is to be periodically reminded of the wisdom of knowing that “God is God and I am not.”

 

Grace and peace in Christ,  

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Pastor