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

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
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
Saturday, 9:00AM to 10:00AM
Wednesday, 5:00PM to 6:00PM and by appointment


Rev. Charles G. Kieffer

Parochial Vicar 

(Associate Pastor)

Rev. Joachim Adeyemi

Rev. J.C. Ortiz

Assisting Priest

Rev. Paul Peri


Colin F. Campbell

Mark Kriese

Ralph Ulibarri


Saint Theresa Catholic School
5001 East Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018

(602) 840-0010 School Office
(602) 840-8323 School Fax




Reflection's - November 4, 2012

My Brothers and Sisters,

If you commit no other scripture passage to memory, the one that we hear proclaimed in this week’s Gospel (Mark 12: 28b-34) should be the one. Why? Because it is the absolute epicenter of our discipleship in Jesus Christ!  The words of Jesus are words that each of us should remember – but they give us the ultimate guideline for Christian life (and are the “reason” for every other precept and teaching of the Church)… all other teachings, precepts, guidelines, commandments and laws of our faith are oriented to help us fulfill this central of all commandments:

 “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord your God is Lord alone! 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,

with all your mind and with all your strength…

(and) you shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

There is no other commandment greater than these.”

This “Greatest Commandment” is an echo of the sacred Sh’ma (Hebrew for “listen”) that we hear in our first reading from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:2-6).  These words of Deuteronomy were (and are) so important for the Jewish people that they were mandated to be worn on the forehead (“keeping the law ever before your eyes”) and the wrist of the devout Jew, and posted on the doorposts of every home (even in our own day, you will often see a mezuzah at the door of a Jewish home: a small container containing this scripture passage).  Jesus quotes the Sh’ma word-for-word, calling for belief in one God and an undivided love for God… and then adds its complement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” pointing out “There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Amazingly (or perhaps not so amazingly, since Jesus infers this in his response to the questioning scribe of today’s Gospel), if we truly keep this passage “before our eyes” – in other words, at the forefront of our consciences – we really don’t have to worry about the details of all the other laws! Think for a moment… if I concentrate on putting this Greatest Commandment into practice in my life (and am successful in doing so), how can I possibly break any of the Ten Commandments? How can I possibly do anything contrary to the teachings that guide us as Roman Catholics?

So simple… yet so challenging!


Grace, peace and joy in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer, V.F.




Reflection's - October 28, 2012

My Brothers and Sisters,

In light of the Dads Club Halloween Party celebrated here at St. Theresa Friday evening and the fact that the “big night” for all the little ghosts and goblins is coming up this Wednesday, I thought a “clearing of the air” with regard to Halloween might be in order. My thanks to Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Catholic theologian and speaker, for the following insights:  

“We’ve all heard the allegations.  Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American.  Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on Oct. 31 — as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints or "All Hallows" falls on Nov. 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to Nov. 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland. The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe’en." In those days, Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory? What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Eve to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland, at least, all the dead came to be remembered — even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the Church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday centers around dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague — the Black Death — and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls’ Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality.

We know these representations as the "Dance Macabre" or "Dance of Death," which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people — popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. — into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls’ Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades and even more macabre twist.

But, as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did "trick or treat" come in?

"Trick or treat" is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween, and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.

During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.

Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against their oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on Nov. 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.

Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!

Guy Fawkes’ Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But, by the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to Oct. 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics.

The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the Unites States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.

But what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already "ghoulish," so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed. So, too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o’-lantern. They thought that Halloween was druidic and pagan in origin.  Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.

The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Eve and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.


Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer, V.F.




Reflection's - October 21, 2012

My Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel (Mark 10:35-45) gives us a bit of an “insider’s look” into the dynamics among the first disciples and Jesus – and how Jesus has to, gently but firmly, offer his disciples correction. (I guess things really haven’t changed too much in that department in the course of the past 2000 years!).

James and John approach Jesus with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, hoping to gain the places of honor in the Kingdom of God. I’m sure that the two brothers feel like they’ve “paid their dues” as followers of Jesus, and they sense that they are already considered part of the inner circle, having (a chapter earlier in Mark’s Gospel) accompanied Jesus and Peter up the mountain where Jesus was transfigured in glory.

And so, they no doubt felt that they had every right to put in their request to “sit one at your right and the other at your left” when Jesus comes into glory.

Jesus’ response to them is interesting. He first lets the brothers know that, in order to enter the Kingdom of God, there will be suffering involved (not all of discipleship will be a “Transfiguration on the mountaintop” experience). James and John seem to readily accept this piece – but then Jesus goes on to remind them that, essentially, they are judging by human standards and not by God’s:  “You know how those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be the same with you.”

I think I can imagine the lump in the throats of James and John at this point… but Jesus doesn’t stop there.

He goes on to say: “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for the many.”  Probably the brothers’ heads are spinning by this time. Yikes! This conversation with Jesus had definitely gone in a direction that they did not anticipate! 

I think that this exchange between the brothers James and John gives us some great food for thought as present-day disciples of Jesus. It’s not a bad thing to periodically ask ourselves questions like “What does my discipleship look like?” “Do I feel that I’m just doing things (attending Mass, etc.) in order to get my place in heaven?  Or is my discipleship in Jesus Christ really centered on serving others, as well as prayer and worship?”


Blessings and peace in Christ,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer, V.F.




Reflection's - October 14, 2012

My Brothers and Sisters,

Well, just in case you’ve lost sight of the fact (hard to do with the interminable ads and “reminders” that we hear day after day)… Election Day is just around the corner. Hopefully, all voters in our parish are prepared to participate in this great exercise of democracy – and that all of us have had the opportunity to form his or her conscience in preparation for casting their vote. Both the printed copies of Bishop Olmsted’s booklet Catholics in the Public Square and a summary of the U.S. Bishop’s document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship remain available near the church exits. The full document of the U.S. Catholic Bishops (as well as other worthwhile materials) can be found online at If you’ve not had the opportunity to do so already, it’s well worth your time to visit this website.

The Catholic Church never places itself in the position of “telling” U.S. Catholics “who to vote for.” Rather, we as a Church try our best to help individual voters enter into the election with well-formed consciences – knowing the “ins-and-outs” of issues considered important in Catholic Christian teaching – so that each voter can exercise his or her God-given gift of free will when voting for candidates and propositions.

To this end, I’d like to once again remind parishioners that the distribution of any materials (other than those noted above which have already been made available by the parish) is strictly prohibited by law.  Those who attempt to place flyers on car windshields while parishioners are at Mass, for instance, are trespassing on private property… and are in no way authorized by me or by the Diocese of Phoenix.  If you happen to encounter anyone distributing political materials anywhere on our parish campus, please inform them that they are trespassing – and then let a parish staff member know so that the police can be called.   Should you discover any flyer or materials on your car after Mass, kindly drop it in the nearest trash receptacle or (even better) in the paper recycling bin south of the Msgr. McMahon Center.  [Specific citation of law for the above, as provided by legal counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is as follows: “Under the rubric participation in or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of or opposition to any candidate for public office, section 501(c)(3) prohibits a range of activities, generally including: statements, in any medium, of support or opposition for any candidate, political party or political action committee (“PAC”); providing or soliciting financial support to or for any candidate, political party or PAC; providing or soliciting in-kind support to or for any candidate, political party or PAC; distribution of voter education materials biased with respect to any candidate, political party or PAC; conduct of public forums, debates or lectures biased with respect to any candidate, political party or PAC; and conduct of voter registration or get-out-the-vote drives biased with respect to any candidate, political party or PAC”].

In considering our plan to vote early, by absentee ballot or at the polls on November 6th, we as Catholic voters are reminded in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (§13): “In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” May God guide each one of us in exercising this obligation, privilege and responsibility! 


In Christ’s peace,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer, V.F.




Reflection's - October 7, 2012

My Brothers and Sisters,

This weekend we celebrate a wonderful tradition here at St. Theresa… one that underscores the incredible diversity, the awesome beauty and the power of God’s love and wisdom revealed in the world that God has created. The celebration is the Annual Blessing of the Animals, taking place in Our Lady of Guadalupe Courtyard (between Father Feeney Hall and the Convent) at one o’clock Sunday afternoon. Many faith communities (Catholic as well as others) celebrate a blessing of the animals at this time of year as in conjunction with the October 4th Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most recognized and beloved saints of our Church: the founder of the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) and a model of recognizing the presence and glory of God in all of God’s creation.

Saint Francis (and, in a real way, the Blessing of the Animals) calls us back to something that is easy for us – in our plugged-in, online, over-scheduled lives – tend to take for granted or overlook altogether: the presence of God revealed in the wonder of created things. It’s not uncommon to hear people “I just can’t seem to find God in my life” or “I’m not sure I believe in God – I haven’t yet come across a proof of God’s existence.” While I can empathize with anyone’s struggle to “find God,” I’m tempted to respond “Open your eyes, your ears and your heart as a first step in finding God!” Signs of God’s presence – and God’s love for us – are all around us in the created world. How could all the plants, animals, beauty of creation just have “happened” without there being a Creator? How could human beings just have “shown up” without a Creator to form them in God’s image and likeness (yes, with the gift of free will, which also brings sin and selfishness into the world). Some will say that there was a “big bang” that started it all… and that humans evolved from lesser life forms. Believe it or not, the Catholic Church doesn’t “oppose” those theories – but only asks “What caused the big bang to happen in the first place?” “What did the elements of the big bang have as their source of origin?” As for the theory of evolution, human beings may certainly well have evolved from other life forms – but at a particular point in the evolutionary process, the Church would say that God endowed humans with a soul – and the gift and responsibility of free will – making them (us) in God’s image. The stories of creation in Genesis are not necessarily to be taken literally, but rather as fact and reality explained in the vivid and symbolic terms that the ancients could understand: that God created all things, that all creation is good, that God created human beings in his own image and likeness, and that – through their flawed use of free will – humans brought sin and its effects into a perfect world. For all the “hot air” expended in claiming an irreconcilable conflict between “science and religion,” when it comes right down to it, there really is no conflict at all… if one simply acknowledges, in faith, that God “started it all!”

Whether you are a pet-owner or not, you might want to take a little time to reflect on the following prayer:

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. On the fifth and sixth days of creation,

you called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call

them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless the animals and all living creatures. By the power of

your love, enable them to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty

in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures!  AMEN.


May we always praise God for his glory and wonder revealed all around us in the gift of creation!


with love and prayers,

Rev. Charles G. Kieffer, V.F.