WONDERFUL RESPONSE TO THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

04-02-2016AllFr. Steve

Dear STA Family,

I am heartened and gratified by the wonderful response to the capital campaign since our kick off weekend! It is awesome to see things moving so quickly — and to see how the very specific skills and talents we need at every stage and phase arrive exactly when we need them! On that note, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this critical effort thus far. I further want to share a perspective on “fundraising” that you may not have considered before. A renowned theologian, whom I greatly respect, describes it simply like this:

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Happy Easter!

03-26-2016AllFr. Steve

Easter Sunday is the greatest of all feast days in the Church! It is from this day that all other Sunday celebrations takes their origin becoming “mini Easter Sundays”. This celebration is marked most especially by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is this crucial event that changes everything. Without the Resurrection, Jesus is just a man with some interesting teachings. With the Resurrection, He is Lord and God. As Saint Paul says, “without the Resurrection we are the most pitiable of all people”. The Resurrection of Jesus breathed life into the Christian Church and still breaths it into each of us today!

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Mercy and Forgivness

02-21-2016AllFr Steve

As we celebrate this year of mercy I can't help but think about forgiveness! Something which is so difficult for many of us to do but so necessary for the followers of Jesus. Over and over again we here Jesus speak to us about forgiveness. In the Lords Prayer we here hear Jesus say that we must forgive the sins of others if we want God to forgive us. “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus goes on to say quite directly that if we do not forgive others than God will not forgive us either! So forgiveness is necessary for the disciple of Jesus!

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FOCUSING ON “THE LOVE” DURING LENT

02-13-2016AllFr. Steve

The forty days of Lent in the Catholic tradition revolve around the three pillars of fasting, prayer, and alms giving. Because these all require a bit of sacrifice on our part, it is often difficult to get excited about the Lenten season. Many actually begin the season of Lent with a huge Mardi Gras celebration in “preparation” for the sacrifices ahead. What I am proposing today is a purposeful shift in your perspective on Lent that could actually change your outlook. Instead of emphasizing the sacrifices we are making, we should focus on the LOVE that inspires it!

During the Lenten season we retell the story of God’s love for us. We remember the passion and death of Jesus and the fact that He loves us so much He was willing to suffer and die for us. The main thing we are called to do in return is to love Him back. The three pillars of fasting, prayer and alms giving are specific “acts of love” that we can engage in to show God that we do indeed love Him back!

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Important Rites for Adults “Becoming Catholic”

02-05-2016AllEric Westby

During Lent our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) candidates participate in important ceremonies that bring them ever closer to realizing their Catholic dream. This is the time when the unbaptized catechumens and previously baptized candidates enter into immediate preparation for the Easter sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. This period focuses on purification and enlightenment, and is characterized by deep prayer and turning away from sin.

To highlight this important formation, the Church gives us specific rites (public ceremonies) to mark the progress of the candidates. Those already baptized will participate in the Penitential Rite on February 21 at the 11am Mass. The community is lead by the priest in prayer for the candidates and their deliverance from evil. For the unbaptized catechumens, Lent is abundant with rites. 

The Rite of Election is the first ceremony when, based on the declaration of their sponsors, the catechumens receive a change of status in the Church. No longer are they catechumens (receiving intensive catechetical instruction); they are now “elect”, affirmed by the Bishop to receive the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist). This ceremony takes place in two parts. The first is a “sending forth” from our community that will occur at the 11am Mass on February 14. The second part is the actual Rite of Election, later that afternoon, presided over by Bishop Olmsted at the Saint Simon and Jude Cathedral. This ceremony includes catechumens from all around the Diocese of Phoenix. 

Finally, a version of a Penitential Rite called Scrutinies, will be offered for three consecutive Sundays (2/28, 3/6 and 3/13) at the 11 am mass at STA. The Elect will be held up for public prayer so that they can be released from the power of evil.

 

We ask that you keep our catechumens and candidates in your prayers during this important time, as they prepare to be fully initiated into the Church, the living body of Christ, at the Easter Vigil Mass.

In Christ,
Eric Westby
Director of Catechesis

Becoming a True Disciple of Christ: A Practical Approach to Everyday Life

01-30-2016AllFr Steve

This mission of the Church includes encouraging us all to do “good works” in service of others. Our involvement in service projects; participation in church activities and ministries; and, donating to charitable causes is good, necessary and pleasing to God. However, these actions alone do not encompass true discipleship.

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Making the “Year of Mercy” Real in Our Lives

01-24-2016AllFr Steve

Pope Francis called on Catholics around the world to use the ongoing Jubilee Year of Mercy to “open wide” the doors of their hearts, to love, to forgive and to share unbounded generosity! In his Announcement of the Year of Mercy, the pope emphasized that we are called as individuals and as a Church “to be a witness of mercy”. So, the next obvious question is… what does “a witness of mercy” look like? We can simply look toward the Church’s teaching on the Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy as our guide:

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Making the “Year of Mercy” Real in Our Lives

01-23-2016AllFr. Steve

Pope Francis called on Catholics around the world to use the ongoing Jubilee Year of Mercy to “open wide” the doors of their hearts, to love, to forgive and to share unbounded generosity! In his Announcement of the Year of Mercy, the pope emphasized that we are called as individuals and as a Church “to be a witness of mercy”. So, the next obvious question is… what does “a witness of mercy” look like? We can simply look toward the Church’s teaching on the Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy as our guide:

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What Is a Christian Identity?

01-12-2016AllFr Steve

As baptized members of the Church, that is the body of Christ, we are called to live lives different from others in the world, to be a people “set apart”. In Hebrew, holiness literally means “to be set apart.” So, our call to holiness means we are called to live according to our identity as members of Christ’s Church, following Christian laws and modeling Christian ideals. The Greek word Ecclesia, which today we use to refer to the Church, translates literally as “to be called out of”. What we literally are “being called out of” is the world and all worldly things: sin, greed, lust, hatred, anger, un-forgiveness, untruths, adultery, attachments and fixations. It is Jesus himself who taught us exactly how to do this, and it is He who calls us still today!

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Merry Christmas and Welcome to Saint Thomas the Apostle!

11-17-2015AllFr. Steve

We are so happy and blessed to have each of you join us for this celebration marking one of the holiest days of the year and, arguably, the most impactful event in human history – the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Throughout history, man has searched for God in countless ways, in varied lands and through numerous religions. Christmas is about a different search - God’s search for man. And, through the birth of His son Jesus Christ, God has found us! Saint Augustine documented how he searched for God for years and years before finally realizing that he had to open up his heart and allow God to find him. He wrote “My heart was restless until it rested in you my Lord!”

For me, Christmas invokes memories of family, wonder, beauty, good food, and love. My hope is that you and your family are filled with God’s blessings; that you can lift up your prayers and praises with us; that you can know the God who loves us all so much that he became one with us! I pray that we may all be touched by Christ's love this day and always.

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