16 July 2012
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
15th Week in 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 Matthew 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick–
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
Today for morning prayer we blessed a newly painted statue of the Blessed Mother and installed her in a place in the alley just out of the sight lines from either end of the alley—a favorite place for drug use. Volunteer groups paint positive quotes and fence in abandoned yards—not expecting the action will end all drug abuse, poverty, addiction, and pain. But we hope that our efforts will make at least one person think, remember God and religion, cause inconvenience, be a reminder that they are not alone—even in the “no man’s land” of a North Camden alley or of a confused, intoxicated brain.
Christianity is a community venture. It has theology and ideas, clearly, but this religion is all about community and the daily incarnation of “abstract” gospel values. This gospel scene tells us that Jesus sends the followers out two by two—naturally in pairs because of the nature of the faith. Mary, the first disciple, reminds us of this: we have community, friends, parish, mentors, saints–especially the Mother of God—to teach us the way of Christ. All of these supporters and companions can remind us that Jesus pairs up with us on our journey. Mary belongs in our alley, standing with the rest of the followers of Christ, always pointing to her Son with hope and creativity.
-Who pairs with you as you respond to God’s call to serve?
-How does Mary and the rest of the Church as part of your faith journey?
-Does anyone depend on you for support and inspiration in living their faith?
2. Last Week in Camden
In their second week of three, the interns continued their daily pattern: working on a common project before lunch, then in the afternoon focusing on their individual placement. Morning projects have included sandwich ministry at the Cathedral and New Visions day shelter, our usual projects, as well as passing out flyers for Hopeworks, working at a Habitat for Humanity site, and participating in a city sponsored community clean up. The individual projects include tutoring at Hopeworks, beautifying the neighborhood via art projects, assisting with child development programing at a nearby high rise housing project, and running a camp in Northgate Park. Each evening, program director Mike Morgan, has activities—ranging from a Latin jazz concert at the river front, to a soccer game with Urban Promise interns, to dinner and conversation with local author and thinker Chris Haw.
The camp in Northgate Park has been an amazing success. Claire and Molly prepare games and art projects and promoted the project—and kids and parents have come. Past summers we tried to sponsor camps at Holy Name School, but have not gotten much participation. (Past camps were very great for the kids who were part each one!) Perhaps the more visible location has made the difference this time. And we were blessed with pretty mild weather for the first week, and huge, airy sycamore trees in the park provide great shade and seem to direct breeze our way. It has been so fun.
Friday evening ten Holy Infant parishioners arrived by train from Durham, NC. Seven of them had served here before, either last summer or in 2009. They have been able to observe changes in since their last visit—noticeable improvements. Sunday we worked in the alley; that task never ends. The group blocked off one popular drug use spot with well-secured, heavy wire and (as I wrote about above) for a freshly painted statue of the Blessed Mother inside to get addicts to think. They also painted the boarded up windows on the house—the “abando-minium”—at the end where the building faces a day care center across the alley. We want the kids to look out their windows to something colorful and positive. Hopefully it will remind addicts to behave there—within site of the kids at least.
3. Upcoming Events
Holy Infant is here until Thursday morning and the inters have their last week as well. Tuesday three professors from Rutgers Law School pro bono program will visit the Cathedral to observe sandwich ministry to further concretize plans to offer legal aid to guests who come to the here for food. These days between 300 and 550 (higher numbers as each month progresses) people come each weekday between 10:00 and noon.
I want to let you know that feedback, disagreement, insight, comment is all welcome. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good week,
Mike McCue, OSFS