Service Matters – 18th Week in Ordinary Time

6 August 2012

Transfiguration of the Lord

18th 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      John 6:24-35

Jesus answered them and said,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

you are looking for me not because you saw signs

but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

Do not work for food that perishes

but for the food that endures for eternal life,

which the Son of Man will give you.


A couple times a day in Camden someone will ask for money.  Very often the request is phrased as if the dollar or the 3.75—or the 300.00, or 2000.00—that is requested will be the thing needed to solve all problems facing the person.   But, of course, all parties know that that is not the case. There will be the next day, the next situation, the next need; the root issues remain.


Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, comforted the needy, and fed the hungry.   These actions had value in themselves.    But his works did not end these plagues on humanity—even in the lives of the individuals he fed, taught, or healed.   He meant these efforts to serve as signs pointing to deeper reality in human life—to food that endures to eternal life.


-Francis de Sales advises that we pay attention to the distinction between “loving the consolations of God vs. loving the God of Consolations,” as he puts it.   What do you think of his insight?

-Are there any areas of life where “quick fixes” tempt you?

-What helps you keep the eternal, divine reality of  life in your mind?



2. Last Week in Camden

Members of two families from Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown, DC, six teens and two moms, were here for service this week.  Maria, the organizer of the trip, is a science teacher; so we started the week with a project in the park that involved making “rockets” out of plastic liter soda bottles and shooting them 30 feet in the air with air pressure and water.   As you might imagine, the project attracted some attention in the park.   Other days we brought spring water to tent city, and created a beautiful mural in the school yard.    Check out some great pictures that illustrate the range of activities.   The best part was that kids from the neighborhood and their parents got involved in each project.


I preached at all five Masses at St. Philip Neri Parish outside Philadelphia this weekend.   I was there to raise awareness and funds for Catholic Volunteer Network, the umbrella organization for the nearly 200 volunteer organizations like DSW in the United States.   There were a lot of “small world” experiences with parishioners with connections to the Oblates or to Camden.    A young woman from Visitation Academy was there.  She had been to Camden with last year’s Our Lady of Victory Parish group.   A number of people were graduates of Oblate high schools and of Allentown College/DeSales University, including the associate pastor Bob Ianelli, Father Judge HS, 2003.   There were good friends of Oblate in Haiti, Tom Hagan.   An uncle of DSW community member, Tim Gallagher, was at the 9:30 Mass.   In the homily I told a story about how Tim began teaching English to three newly arrived Dominican teens—helping them feel less self-conscious by focusing on their ability to teach him Spanish.


Mike Morgan worked with a group of forty teens in North Philadelphia for the week doing service with another agency like DSW.   He learned a lot that he will share with us for our service retreats in the upcoming year.



3. Upcoming Events

This Tuesday, 7 August, marks four years for the Oblates in Camden.    The years have been full of rich, powerful experiences; so it feels like we have been here for decades.   Thank you for your part in making the time so rich and full.



4. Links

Check out the DSW web site.


I can always recommend Commonweal magazine as a thoughtful forum on arts, culture, politics, and community from a Roman Catholic perspective.   This article offers one sober and insightful evaluation of this year’s election that brings traditional and central Catholic values to the situation.



Paz de Cristo,

Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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