Service Matters – First Week of Ordinary Time

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
  •  Links


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.



4. Links

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

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