Service Matters – 1st Week of Lent

14 March 2011

1st Week of Lent


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
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog

(Service Matters is late this week because of computer issues Sunday—loss of hard drive.)


1. Service Word   Matthew 4:1-11

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”


A common question among Catholics this time of year is, “What are you giving up for Lent?” or “What are you doing for Lent?”   These are good and natural questions.   But a more basic question is, “What is God doing for Lent?”


The short answer is that God is very much at work in the events, challenges, and people of our lives.  The traditions of this season intend to help us put aside things that stand in the way of our cooperating with his work and receiving his grace.


In Matthew’s vivid gospel scene, the devil tempts the Lord with power.   But in reality, the evil one has no ability to deliver what he promises.   He has illusion of power; Jesus in his faithfulness and love has real strength.  Christian practice aims to help us to root our lives there.

This week I had an exchange with an addict in a deep stairwell near school; I was up at ground level.  “We have been asking people not to shoot up—with the school and church here.”   He replied, “I’m not shooting up; I’m smoking.”   Despite his smart reply, he stopped and came up the stairs—embarrassed, frustrated, and stuck.   He had to pass by, so he showed me the crack pipe. “See, I told you, crack; I’m addicted.”   He apologized and said he wished he could stop.


In the extreme environment of Camden, it can be easy to see something blocking the work of God’s friendship on individuals.   But he is very clearly at work—in every setting.


– How is God at work in your life?

– What sorts of things clutter and complicate your attention to God and the values you share?

– Are there any illusions and untruths you hold on to?


2. Last Week in Camden 

Students from Rivier College in New Hampshire, along with individual volunteer Billy Kurzenberger, spent their spring break here doing great service.   They got to serve in the usual ways here, but also got to work with Holy Name kids in small groups for standardized testing. They also patched holes in the playground’s cinderblock walls and painted a positive message next to the mural created by last year’s Rivier group.


Salesianum juniors were here again, but Thursday recess was indoors because of the rain.  This was a blessing since Sallies was on a losing streak against the grade school kids in playground football.


Saturday, Tim Gallagher, his Aunt Kate, her husband Muhammad, and seven teens from the neighborhood worked in Northgate Park, located in the block across from the school.  The park would be a gem, except that it is over run with trash, fallen leaves, evidence of drug use.   DSW is involved in restoring it and keeping it in a state so that it can be a resource for the neighbors.


Three college seniors were here this week to check DSW out in person as they consider a year of service after graduation.


3. Upcoming Events

A group from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, near the Canadian border arrived last Saturday afternoon.  They have a full week ahead.   Sallies juniors are here Tuesday and Thursday.  And I travel to DC to participate in an homelessness awareness event Georgetown Visitation on Saturday morning.


For the holy day this week, check out a reflection posted on 18 August 2011 St. Patrick.  He is much more than a mascot for mid-March merrymaking


4. Salesian Peace and Justice Blog

Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.



Peace, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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