9 August 2010
St. Edith Stein
19th Week in Ordinary Time
- DeSales Service Works
- Service Word
- Last Week in Camden
- Upcoming Events
- Peace and Justice Blog
1. DeSales Service Works
DeSales Service Works is a project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ, that welcomes volunteers join us in prayer, work and reflection in our struggling neighborhood.
2. Service Word
Many people are hungry not for bread only, but they are hungry for … love. Many people are not only naked for want of a piece of cloth, but they are naked for human dignity… Homelessness is not only not having a home made of bricks, but homelessness is being rejected, unwanted, unloved, uncared for. People have forgotten what the human touch is, what it is to smile, for someone to smile at them, somebody to recognize them, someone to wish them well. Mother Teresa
Sunday mornings before 10:30 Mass I generally walk out into the parking lot to wake up the homeless guys sleeping late around the Cathedral. I am not exactly sure why I do this. I think I feel embarrassed that we live with people so close to us who have to live so roughly. Possibly I want to keep our church-goers from feeling bad and responsible —in a impotent way—because this situation continues Sunday after Sunday. Then, on the other hand, I think people should see what goes on here. Bottom line: I think it must because it can’t be good to sleep most of the day and, presumably, then be up all night and, again presumably, to get into no good.
Just now, one young man whom I tried to wake apologized for not getting up. He was not trying to be disrespectful, he said. He just got to sleep late, and it is hard to sleep out side with all the noise. I added that it must be awful trying to sleep on a flattened cardboard box.
DSW is part of a Camden group that has been meeting since the early spring to develop a service from the Catholic Church to help people sleeping and living on the street in our city. We have settled on a model called a “homeless café.” This is a no-frills set-up that we learned about from successful programs in Philadelphia, Bethesda Project www.bethesdaproject.org and Project Home www.projecthome.org. A café provides an overnight environment that is basically one step up from being on the street; it gets people inside and away from many of the dangers and hardships found there.
Teach a Person to Fish
Our discussions have gone back and forth about how to really help people advance vs. simply enabling them to continue to live on the streets. To play with the common saying: “teach a person to fish,” yes—but some people are never going to fish, for so many, various reasons. So is it still important to give fish to those people. We expect to have the café in place for this winter season to be able to offer people something that enables them to simply to live and perhaps to move forward. We are networking with social workers, medical professionals, addiction counselors to help address underlying issues.
My Commandment Is This
There is no one, single way to fulfill the command to love neighbor, to reach out to those in need. Jesus tells us to love, but really leaves it up to us to find effective ways to do this. It seems that many of us make errors and take missteps —but it is important to do our best, to learn from others and to “just do it.” Mother Teresa picked one direction in leading her sisters to care for the needy. It is not the only way, and she is not without her critics. But clearly the key thing is to get out and do it.
3. Last Week in Camden
Seven young women and two chaperones from Georgetown Visitation High School were here serving this week. We served sandwiches at the Cathedral and visited with people at New Visions day shelter. We helped garden over at Sacred Heart in South Camden and painted at Holy Name School. They brought great energy and generosity to these works. I think everyone’s favorite activity was playing with kids in the neighborhood and at Wesley Housing Project. Jump rope, baseball, chalk drawing were all fun activities each day. The volunteers even ended up a hot day cooling off with kids in a corner fire hydrant. GREAT GROUP! THANKS!
In last Service Matters I talked about Catholic Network of Volunteer Services, CNVS, but I did not offer their website www.cnvs.org for further information. Check out the variety of volunteer groups. See if you agree that DSW’s listing is the best.
4. Upcoming Events
8-10 August a couple from Good Shepherd Parish in Alexandria, Va.
27 August DSW year-long volunteers arrive in Camden
Tuesdays and Thursdays in the fall Salesianum seniors and juniors in small groups.
5. Peace and Justice Blog
Pat Kennedy’s blog is back with a steady flow of postings. Check out gospel reflections on the environment, nuclear war, as well as more DSW & Camden experiences.
Thanks, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS