Service Matters – 17th Week in Ordinary Time

30 July 2012

St. Peter Chrysologus

17th 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
  •  Links



1. Service Word

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;

but what good are these for so many?”


Monday through Friday, 10:00AM to 12:00 noon (or until supplies run out), the Cathedral Parish gives sandwiches, and whatever other food we have, to all who come.   Anywhere from 300 to 550 people come during that time.   The number grows as we get further into each month, and people’s resources grow thin.   All this started with a few hungry neighbors coming to the rectory kitchen door any time of the day or night.   It has multiplied into a service that moved to the parish hall and involves a couple dozen dedicated volunteers and food from a wide variety of donors.


At the heart of the effort is Cathedral long time staff member, Susan Mackey, who brings the right mix of South Philly good-natured humor and no-nonsense attitude—along with solid compassion for the needy.   She heads the ministry that, like the boy in the gospel, brings our vastly inadequate five loaves and two fish and offers that to the Lord.    We never have enough food, but with the sandwiches, bread, frozen chickens, peanut butter, cereal, and apple crisps that come from so many sources, hungry people get fed.   —9:00 every Sunday a parish family brings a box of perfect sandwiches, cut in half, diagonally, in baggies, with a packet of mustard. Susan gets donations from Dietz & Watson, Shop Rite, Dole, and Wegman’s.   Two IHM convents bring loads of PP&J sandwiches.  Parishes and St. Vincent de Paul Societies bring us canned goods, baby food, rice and beans.   Friday we got a truck load of bottled New Jersey spring water; (the label describes the contents as having a “clean and crisp taste”).


I wonder if the boy in the gospel brought the loaves and fish hoping to sell them in the crowd and make a bit of profit for his family.   But without a doubt, giving it over to the Lord took his plan in a different direction.   People have so much need—in a Camden sandwich line, in our families, at work and wherever we live.   There are hungers that food cannot satisfy.  God only asks that we offer what we have to make a difference.


-In what ways does God feed your hungers?

-What do you offer to God from you talent, skill, and accomplished abilities?

-What do you offer from your failure,“learning the hard way,” unskilled efforts?


2. Last Week in Camden  

Rachel Allen is preparing for her transition from the DSW community to what lies next for her—work, living in Philadelphia, and graduate school for social work.   All very exciting things, but we will miss her on the team at DeSales Service Works.    We can be very grateful for her contribution to this effort in Camden!


3. Upcoming Events

Members of Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown, DC, will be here for service this week.


4. Links

Bob McDermitt is pastor of another Camden parish known for its amazing ministries, St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral.    Check out a great interview he gave last week.


If you paid attention to media, you might think Camden is the Wild West or Syria.   It is much more complex, but this Courier-Post article offers a level-headed report on a current spike in targeted shootings.    They also offer a brief video of Father Stephen Siniari, an Orthodox priest with Covenant House in Camden.   He is another amazing man offering what he has to the Lord.    There is so much good going on here.




Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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