Service Matters – 17th Week of Ordinary Time

25 July 2011

St. James

17th Week of Ordinary Time


A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,

De Sales 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  1 Kings 3:5-12

God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”


What would it be like to have no one—no family, no friends?   So often talking to homeless people and addicts, young and old, it becomes apparent that they really have no one.  Frequently people hang out together or form loose communities looking out for each other and sharing what they have.  You can observe edifying kindness and loyalty.  But when I ask, “Is there anyone you can call, anywhere you can go to get off the streets?” the answer so often is “No.”  Many times parents are deceased or long out of the picture.   Often it is clear that family and others who might have been close finally gave up after broken hopes, endless addiction, untruths, constant crisis and neediness.


Solomon asks God for an understanding heart.   He could have asked for anything, but his request has real wisdom, because we have what is inside, no matter what else comes our way in life.  The Oblates invite people to come to Camden to learn and serve, to encounter our  neighbors here—in all the complexity of this struggling community—to let God enlarge our hearts.


-What is the state of your wisdom and understanding heart?

-Whatever stage in life you are—are you still learning?

-Give thanks to God for the people in your life.  (And make sure they know you are grateful.)


2. Last Week in Camden 

Dan Gallagher finished his time here with a visit to Barbie and Ken’s new apartment

bearing housewarming gifts with his Mom and sister.   He plans to shape the photos he captured here into a Camden slide show.


The Bishop Verot High School group arrived very early Thursday—1:00AM—from Fort Myers, FL.  Later that morning, we began service in the heat, giving out sandwiches and assisting improvements in Northgate Park.  The first job in the park that morning involved salvaging bricks from the site of one of Camden’s recent fires.   We collected four truck loads from a huge, old factory site.  Back at the park, we arranged these in new beds of native plants.  The group repaired a wooden fence that again enables the community to control access to the park.   Students noted that in every activity: at the park, community garden, sandwich ministry, neighbors took the time to thank and encourage them.


One highlight took place at Sunday Mass when the students sang a hymn after communion for the community.   It was great to hear young people singing out together, without self-consciousness.


One of the adult leaders, Zach Ryan, offered a very significant insight from Tom Hagen, the very dynamic Oblate who works in Cite Solet, Haiti.   This is a paraphrase that conveys the insight: “Do not come to Haiti ready to save the world, come here to learn.”


Sr. Kathy Nally, and Andy a recent grad, came from Immaculata University midweek.  The original plan to lure incoming freshmen from their midsummer activities for service together in Camden did not get any takers.   However, Sister Cathy still wanted to come to experience a service retreat and to plan for other times for the university community to connect with our program.


3. Upcoming Events

Verot will finish up and fly back south after accomplishing many good things and connecting with many Camden neighbors.   Tuesday I drive to north Jersey to pick up a large donation of food from Dole Food Co.    Thanks to Susan Mackey and Bob Cavanaugh making connections in all directions to get food donations!  And this weekend, the volunteers and I head to Star of the Sea Parish in Cape May for the final service year retreat.


4. Links

Check out the DSW website    Also read essays on a range of topics from the Peace & Justice Blog.


Have a good week, Mike McCue, OSFS

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