14 January 2013
First Week of Ordinary Time
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, in Camden, NJ,
DeSales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join
in service, prayer, and learning in our struggling neighborhood.
- Service Word
- Last Week in Camden
- Upcoming Events
1. Service Word John 2:1-11
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.
One of the best experiences of service with DeSales Service Works is interaction with kids at our grade school, Holy Name School. Everyone benefits. You have to love our kids; they are funny, affectionate, and eager for the attention the youthful volunteers give them. Nearly all of them come from very modest backgrounds—some have difficult home lives; other families are supportive. Many parents speak little English, many work multiple jobs. Some kids have a parent in prison or who sell drugs. Some families frequently move from apartment to apartment. Others live with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins packed in a narrow row home. Others have moved away from North Camden but still attend Holy Name School because they like teh education there.
Seven students and two staff from Niagara University, along with Tyler Hinnendael from University of Wisconsin, got to work in school this week past. They did a great job getting involved right away. Students and teachers loved having them. Some got to work as aids in two classes (including the fourth grade who are missing Raphaël). Everyone got to help with lunch and recess. After school the very strict and serious Ms Jahira approved of the group’s positive effect on the students joining her with focus on homework and calm behavior.
Their last day, Friday, volunteers all talked about how hard it is to leave after connecting so well. I offered a thought that does not make it easy to go, but offers a context. Any group who comes here to work is part of a larger community of everyone who serves with DSW. Each individual does good, makes connections, gives generously. Then each goes, but hands off the mission to the next volunteers—a kind of relay race for the good of this community, for the building of God’s kingdom. Part of the reason the school kids welcome volunteers so readily and warmly is that they have had good experiences before and have come to expect good from their guests.
Three iconic gospel scenes transition the church year from the Christmas Season to Ordinary Time: Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, and this gospel—the Wedding Feast of Cana. Each shows the reach of God’s revelation in Jesus extending to ever widening circles for greater impact for good, truth, and beauty.
In our time and place, we extend the impact of the Incarnation by our belief and our faith-in-action for charity and justice. DSW Volunteers take their Camden experience back to their ordinary world to reveal God’s glory. Our kids and all our neighbors experience the signs that God is really present among us through service, kindness, respect, and fun.
-If you have served here, how has the experience stayed with you? How has it stayed with neighbors in Camden?
-What are some ways your ordinary life shows forth the real presence of God?
-Who reveals God to you?
2. Last Week in Camden
The Niagara group had a great week. They brought humor and generous work to each task.
It was great having Tyler back for a third visit. He brought a generous donation for Joseph’s House.
Juan Santiago is doing OK dealing with the loss of his Dorothy—getting lots of support. The funeral will be this Thursday at the Cathedral.
3. Upcoming Events
Another Salesianum homeroom will be here Thursday with service director, Zach Ryan. Father Judge and Cristo Rey will serve here Saturday.
This week an exhibition of Oblate Mickey McGrath’s art portraying Camden will open at Rutgers University here in downtown. The works highlight how beauty is found everywhere—even in this often broken down, post-industrial city.
Last Thursday Oblate communication director, Kevin Nadolski, launched an e-mail publication entitled DeSales Weekly. He hopes it will connect Oblate friends and coworkers, our various communities and ministries for the good of all. He will send it to everyone on DSW’s Service Matters mailing list within the next few weeks. We think readers will enjoy this new newsletter. Let us know what you think.
Note that the gospel reflection above in “Service Word” looks at next Sunday’s readings rather than yesterday’s. I have made this change to get us in sync with DeSales Weekly which has a feature that looks the upcoming Sunday.
Read past reflections at the archives of Service Matters and on DSW’s Facebook page.
Have a good week,
Father Mike McCue