Service Matters – 18th Week of Ordinary Time

1 August 2011

St. Alphonsus

18th 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  Matthew 14:13-21

They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full.   Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.


The experience of Jesus multiplying loaves and fishes clearly was an important memory for the earliest Church.  All four gospels record it, and each recounting uses the same verbs the community used in the weekly celebration of Eucharist.   The last phrase of the story as Matthew’s Gospel articulates it, not counting women and children, has always jumped out at me.   The phrase must come from a time and culture that took for granted that men counted in a different way from others.   It is just a passing, descriptive comment, but it stands out as deeply ironic, because the story (and all of Jesus’ life)  communicates that everyone counts.


Every time and culture has blind spots and takes some attitudes for granted, but the good news of Jesus always works to widen and extend our vision, makes us question assumptions.   As we often say, we hope coming to such a strange and extreme place as Camden widens hearts, minds, and perspective.     There are so many ways God does that in our lives.


-Who are people in your world who “do not count?”

-How has serving in Camden, or any challenging experience, broadened your compassion and understanding?

-Can you identify any blindness in yourself, in the church or our leadership, or in 21st century American culture?


2. Last Week in Camden

Monday morning the Bishop Verot group served at sandwich ministry and cleaned up at the DSW house.  Then they began their journey back to Fort Myers.   We are very grateful they came all this way and put up with the many flight delays in order to serve here.


Friday, the volunteers and I met up at Star of the Sea Parish in Cape May for the end of the service year retreat.   The Oblate community there, Frank Danella, Tom McGee, and Ed Fitzpatrick, gave us a great welcome.  The seven Salesian themes of Peace and Justice

provided a structure to look at the service year as a whole.   We also got to enjoy the beach and the cooler temps of the Jersey shore.


3. Upcoming Events

A group from St. John Neumann Parish in Reston, VA, arrived Sunday afternoon.  They have brought a vacation Bible camp done at St. John’s here for Camden kids.   They got to experience some Latino culture in the late afternoon while setting up the school hall—sharing the space with a rehearsal for a “sweet sixteen” party that involves some very elaborate dancing.


4. Links

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

Have a good week,

Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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