20 August 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
20th 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
1. Service Word Ephesians 6
Watch carefully how you live,
not as foolish persons but as wise,
making the most of the opportunity… .
Phil is still in county jail in downtown Camden; he thinks he may get out in about a month—depending on court dates and on how the judge rules. I continue to visit him (and also Alex from Tent City) each Friday, the clergy visiting day.
Over our four years in Camden I’ve experienced him foolish: manipulative, homeless, high, beaten up, sleeping in our parking lot. He could also be grateful and just a decent guy. But seeing him in this setting has been very moving. I can directly quote St. Paul and say he is “making the most of the opportunity.”
Drug and drink clouded his mood, perception, and wisdom since before he was ten years old, but now in jail he has been clean for the longest stretch in his life. It simply amazes me that he demonstrates such a realistic peace and hope. Wisdom’s grip is fragile, and the transition to the outside unsure, but he really treats this as opportunity. Inside the walls he reads, goes to Twelve Step meetings, works out, sleeps, and stays away from trouble. And he prays—something he never really did before. But here, it just comes very naturally.
He has taken on an attitude that is central to Christianity: uniting ourselves to God’s will. Another way to put it is, finding God in all things—whether they be pleasant, painful, or neutral; obviously “religious” or seemingly “secular.” The question to watch carefully is “Where is God in whatever I am experiencing at this time?”.
-Are you able to see God in your present situation?
2. Last Week in Camden
As we approach September, college groups and high schools are connecting for service retreats in the upcoming semester. We look forward to a great year.
People often ask if we see any progress in Camden over the four years we have been here. I always answer by taking a deep breath and by trying to say how that is a big question, that it is hard to measure success, and that with the huge issues this community faces, every instance of good is good—even if the over all direction of things is stagnant, or worse.
One movement we can point to that has clear, unmissable success is the rebirth of North Camden Little League. Community organizer Bryan Morton is the man behind getting so many citizens involved in this effort to get our kids into healthy and wholesome alternatives. It is about so much more than baseball!
Bryan has just taken a new position that involves direction programing in our neighborhood’s two parks. We can look forward to working with him.
3. Upcoming Events
This is a week to work painting in the DSW house—-look for photos (next week) on the Facebook page.
America magazine has a helpful article about Congressman Paul Ryan’s use of two terms that are central to Catholic Social Teaching, “solidarity” and” subsidiarity.” He does not use them in the way they are typically understood in standard Roman Catholic moral teaching.
The Catholic bishops have a new webpage that deals with topics of poverty and justice. It looks helpful: http://www.povertyusa.org.
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS