Service Matters – 21st Week of Ordinary Time

22 August 2011

Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother

21st 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 16:13-20

… upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


This is such a familiar promise from the gospels, but looking closely at it last week I noticed for the first time that the image has the forces of good actively taking on the gates of hell.   Perhaps it is most typical to think of the Kingdom of God having gates—with St. Peter and his keys welcoming in people and keeping out darkness and negativity.This closer look at the Lord’s image fits our project here in the “extreme environment” of Camden.   Negativity abounds.   It is tempting to put a fence around the good and to forget about the negative.


Recently that has been literally happening with Northgate Park, our nearby park.   An individual who has served as caretaker with the keys has been keeping it locked much of the time.   This keeps out drug dealers, addicts, drinkers, and litter bugs.   So the park is beautiful and safe—-but use of it has become very restricted.   Another strategy to keep the park safe and usable—sponsoring events, keeping it clean and in good repair, and encouraging people doing good to prevail over the drug activity seems more in line with the vision of this gospel.


-How does your time in Church & faith provide a solid foundation for you taking on the world?

-Are there any situations where you are tempted to “lock the gates?”

-What in your life falls into the category of “gates of hell?”


2. Last Week in Camden 

Newly professed Oblate Bob Killion was here Wednesday and Thursday meeting with people in Camden, laying the ground work for his video project.  Film is such a powerful way to convey the realities of life in this complex community.   We are grateful for his interest.


Repairs and upgrades to the DSW house continued last week.   We are making improvements to the kitchen area and fixing leaks in the big, old house.   Thanks to Dennis Taggart and John Hall for their work.


I preached at the five Masses at Resurrection Parish in Northeast Philadelphia over the weekend. Each parish in the U.S. has a visit from a missionary each year to raise funds and to foster awareness that each local community is part of the larger, far flung Church.   I represented Catholic Volunteer Network the umbrella organization for almost 200 groups like DSW doing good work in the U.S. and overseas.   “Reso” is a huge, stone Philly church from the 1950s; the parish gave a great welcome.


One of the highlights of last week’s family vacation was a visit to Ken and Barbie’s house with my sister, Ann, Mom, and niece, Rachel.   During this visit Kenny did what he has refused for three years—he let someone photograph him.   Ann got a picture!


3. Upcoming Events

This is a week to get organized in the office.   Salesianum retreat days begin September 13.


Plans for expanding our effort to help homeless people in Camden, Joseph’s House, are continuing with weekly meetings and assistance from a local development director.


4. Links

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


Have a great week, Mike McCue, OSFS

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