In 1955, Bishop Daniel Gerke of the Diocese of Tucson (which encompassed Phoenix at the time) appointed Fr. George Feeney as the founding pastor of a parish on the far-eastern outskirts of Phoenix. The parish was dedicated to St. Therese of Lisieux – also known as St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, or “the Little Flower.” Date palms and citrus groves occupied the land on which the parish campus was to be built, developers were beginning to realize that the lush citrus of Arcadia provided an attractive potential for building homes to house families re-locating to the Valley of the Sun in those post-war years.
These young Catholic families with children who became the first parishioners of St. Theresa recognized the need for a Catholic School… and so, shortly after the parish church (now Father Feeney Hall) and rectory were built, work began on the convent and first classrooms of the school. St. Theresa Catholic School, staffed by the Sisters of Charity from Greensburg, PA, opened its doors to students for the 1957 school year. From then until 1968, parishioners of St. Theresa added successive classrooms, building “the quad” around an outdoor ramada/courtyard that accommodated overflow Masses every Sunday from the already-packed parish church. The Sisters were busy in the school: in the early 1960’s, the average number of students at STCS was close to 800!
Father John McMahon, the third pastor of St. Theresa, oversaw the building of the present church and parish center (now known as the Monsignor McMahon Center) in 1975. The existing church building became a social hall named in memory of the founding pastor. Msgr McMahon retired in 1991 – and I was appointed the fourth pastor of St. Theresa Parish and School. Over the years, we have continually enhanced our facilities through the generosity of parishioners: adding air conditioning to the school, remodeling Fr. Feeney Hall, the classrooms and parts of the McMahon Center, building the new St. Theresa Little Flower Early Childhood Center and renovating the church (just to name a few improvements to the campus).
Our parish community now comprises approximately 2600 families – parishioners participate in some seventy different ministries and outreach opportunities (check out the St. Theresa Ministry Guidebook for details!). We are blest by a vibrant and welcoming parish community which has continued to evolve over the past six-plus decades. St. Theresa Catholic School, as a ministry of St. Theresa Parish, has evolved as well… building on the legacy of generations of students and their families, embracing the very best standards of Catholic education in the 21st century, preparing our students spiritually, academically and socially to assume responsible and productive roles in society while living out the values of the Gospel.
It is my joy to welcome you to the community of St. Theresa Parish and School; I invite you to become actively involved in our community of faith – as so many great families have over the years!