Service Matters – 24th Week in Ordinary Time

13 September 2010

24th 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
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog


1. Service Word Luke 15:1-32

‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep’   I tell you in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.


This spring Sr. Claire organized the rosary in four different locations in the neighborhood for each Friday of May.   I attend one that took place in a house on one of our streets that looks like it was lifted from a battle zone in the Third World.    I arrived before anyone else, and family members welcomed me warmly.  I used my limited Spanish vocabulary to make sure that I was in the right place, that we were going to ora el rosario and that Hermana Clara had set this up; gracis a Dios. Every bit of space in the tight living room had a chair—and not one matched another in the room.    A parish leader arrived, and we prayed the rosary.   At the completion of the prayer, a couple of the women of the house left the room for the kitchen and brought out two platters piled high with something tasty wrapped in a kind of tortilla.   I do not know the name of any Latin American food, but I can say that it was fresh and delicious. The hosts did not have much, but they had a strong sense of hospitality and sharing, preparing a meal and making room in their home for all of us.


This type of thing happens very often in so many ways and always illustrates the reality that service is not a one-way thing.  Middle class people who visit poor neighborhoods often end up receiving much from the experience.   “Poor people” are not passively waiting for “us” to light their world.   Without romanticizing literal poverty and hunger, or minimizing the struggles of our Camden neighbors, can’t we say that different kinds of poverty and need are found in every neighborhood, in every home— and in every life?


As long as we live, the words, “people who have no need of repentance,” will not apply to us.  At its root, the word “repentance” means re-think; the Gospel asks us to think, to look at things differently.  There is so much to learn.   The Good Shepherd guides and prods us, so we never settle for a self-satisfied “righteousness,” but learn, think, and look at situations and people from different perspectives.


-Can you imagine where the Lord may be leading you to repentance—re-thinking?

-Is there any area in your life where you have 99 and are willing to write off a single lost sheep?

-What gives you reason to rejoice?


2. Last Week in Camden

Saturday ten Villanova students joined us for service.  They were part of the university’s day of service that starts off each school year near the feast of St. Thomas of Villanova.   We all joined 50 other volunteers and residents to shape a small park from what for decades had been an overgrown vacant lot.    The NJ Tree Foundation sponsored the event that involved planting trees, shrubs and cool weather vegetables, painting a mural, putting up a wire fence and a brick walk.    We had a perfect day to be outside.

The Villanova group, members of “Business Without Borders,” continued their service Saturday at Holy Name School clearing out two backstage junk closets, organizing one for athletic supplies and the other for arts and crafts.    4000 students and staff of this Catholic university participated in service across the greater Philadelphia (and Camden) area.    It was great to work with these very generous women and men.    Thanks!


Sunday morning Oblate Mike Murray guided the year-long volunteers in a reflection on ten key points of Salesian Spirituality.   His presentation gave us the opportunity to focus on this essential element of DSW by considering Francis de Sales’ insights in the midst of our Camden experience.   Check out Michael’s summary of the tradition.


3. Upcoming Events

This week seniors from the Salesianum School in Wilmington, Delaware will begin coming in groups of about 25 to Camden for DSW service retreats.    Lead by campus ministers Pat Kifolo and Pat Kennedy, they and will be here Tuesdays and Thursdays in September and October.  Each group will begin by working at one of three service projects: sandwich ministry, extending our peace garden, or New Visions day shelter.  After lunch, they will work with Holy Name School kids on a mural project, basketball drills, or one of several other recess activities.


12 September: Budget meeting in Wilmington.   Thanks to Pat Kennedy and Georgiana Hoffman for their guidance with financial matters.     Thanks to everyone who is able to contribute treasure to our project in Camden.


14 September: Feast of the Holy Cross

15 September: Feast of our Lady of Sorrows


4. Peace and Justice Blog

Read the Oblate justice and peace blog.    Comment, contribute, sign-up to be an official “follower.”   Also, check out another update to the web site.   On the Oblate home page, click on “Service Works” and a colorful, new menu will appear.   Thanks, IT man, Ed Cody!

 Thanks, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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