St. Theresa’s youngest Catholics to be served by new center

The sprinkling of holy water sanctified the St. Theresa Little Flower Early Childhood Center — and a few of the altar servers who processed through the building with Auxiliary Bishop Nevares at the blessing ceremony Oct. 1. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)
The sprinkling of holy water sanctified the St. Theresa Little Flower Early Childhood Center — and a few of the altar servers who processed through the building with Auxiliary Bishop Nevares at the blessing ceremony Oct. 1. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)

A new preschool building in east Phoenix blessed and dedicated on the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux not only bears her namesake, but serves to emulate her “little way” of spiritual childhood.

Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of the Diocese of Phoenix celebrated Mass with the student body of St. Theresa Catholic School along with its littlest members enrolled in the new St. Theresa Little Flower Early Childhood Center (ECC).

The 10,000-square-foot energy efficient ECC, located adjacent to the elementary school, rang the victory bell in honor of the occasion, Oct. 1.[quote_box_right]

St. Theresa Catholic School

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“Everything you do, do it with great love. That’s how we become great saints,” Bishop Nevares said in his homily.

He went on to emphasize that studies, chores and helping others are “little flowers” we offer God in gratitude of life.

“Her teaching is a sure way to get us to heaven — that’s why she’s a doctor of the Church. In all things, do it for the love of Jesus,” the bishop said.

Former principals, committee members and special guests were among those attending the festivities that opened in prayer with principal Patrick Reardon.

MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent of Catholic schools, said the new building is a testament to Catholic values.

“It’s wonderful to be here and watch St. Theresa rebuild and grow,” she said. “Catholic education is alive and well.”

The ECC is the culmination of a three-phase capital campaign started 15 years ago known as “Vision 2000: Building Our Future.”

It was launched to renovate, expand and improve the parish and school campus.

The first phase included renovating and adding air conditioning to the school.

The second phase was the renovation of Fr. Feeney Hall, the original church, creating an adjoining Our Lady of Guadalupe Courtyard, installing a new baptistery in the church and a new commercial kitchen and renovated meeting room off the gymnasium.

The third and final phase was building the ECC, located on a former date and citrus grove. The old preschool building, which was the original ranch house, is named St. John XXIII House and will be maintained and used for offices and storage.

Vision 2000 donors Al and Peg Frei said the new building is “a sign of hope.”

“It’s a completion of prayers and it’s the finest building on campus,” Al said, adding, “except for our beautiful church.”

The couple, whose youngest two children of eight attended St. Theresa School when they moved from California, said they are excited to see the preschool continue to offer quality instruction in a new building.

“It’s nice to see this beautiful space for the little ones,” Peg said. “It’s a wonderful place to learn.”

The ECC, which showcases mission-style architecture mimicking the design of the school established by the Sisters of Charity in 1957, is one of 40-plus preschools operating throughout the diocese.

The new building houses two 4-year-old classes, one 3-year-old class and one 2 1/2-year-old class along with one extended care and two kindergarten classes.

Pastor Fr. Charles Kieffer, VF, thanked donors, school families, parish members and diocesan staff for their support but focused his gratitude on the heavens.

“And so we give all praise and thanks to God for making possible these campus improvements that will serve generations of St. Theresa parishioners and members of our surrounding community for years to come,” Fr. Kieffer said.