Service Matters – 25th Week in Ordinary Time

20 September 2010

25th 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. 215-582-1666



  • Service Word
  • Last Week in Camden
  • Upcoming Events
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog


1. Service Word

Jesus said to his disciples: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.   If therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with real wealth?   If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? 

No servant can serve two masters.   She or he will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.   You cannot serve both God and mammon.”


This newsletter is named Service Matters in line with two other weekly Oblate communications, Prayer Matters, and Discernment Matters.   These titles all play on  meanings of the word “matters:” first as things that fall under a general topic and second “matters” as a verb, something that has value.  Oblate communication man, Kevin Nadolski, started Discernment Matters (as he puts it: “discernment matters—because it does.”)    I always thought Kevin coined the phrase.   Sunday’s gospel shows that Jesus did: “Small things matter,” Jesus reminds us.


On the negative side of things: small lies, cutting corners, some over-eating or a little over- drinking, impatience and anger expressed here and there, holding back insight or valuable critique, a bit of lust, small disrespects and disregard of others, moments of selfishness and laziness— probably no big deal.


But it is so important to pay attention to where they might be taking us.   Small things matter because they can add up; they can take us in a direction—a trajectory— for our development as people.   Positive things do this as well: small kindness and thoughtfulness, patience, forgiveness and loyalty, truth telling and insight sharing, gentleness, humor—all small things—but they add up.  They add up to form our character, to form who we are.    And from who we are, flows how we act in the world.


St. Francis de Sales takes this theme up in his promotion of little virtues.   I like to share his phrase, “Nothing is small in the service of God,” with groups who come to Camden.   Our service and our treatment of our neighbors, and each other, matters.


2. Last Week in Camden

Tuesday and Thursday groups of seniors from Salesianum School in Wilmington, Delaware, began coming to Camden for DSW service retreats.   They encountered poor people and homeless people in our neighborhood.   They made an impact just by being here, and by the work they did, and by the attitude of respect they conveyed to the people served.

Brothers, thanks for your generosity and openness in working with our neighbors!


Tuesday, Kevin Moran, director of New Visions day shelter, organized a gathering of the post-college service groups in Camden for Mass and dinner.   There are four groups: Franciscan Volunteers, LaSallian Volunteers, Jesuit Volunteers and us.    Three SSJ volunteers from across the Delaware River in Kensington, Philadelphia joined us as well.


3. Upcoming Events

Our schedule for service retreats is developing nicely for this school year.  Soon the full schedule will be posted and updated daily on our web site.



-20 Monday Holy Name Scholars organizational meeting

-Salesianum seniors continue service retreats Tuesdays & Thursdays in Sept. & Oct.

-24 Friday Holy Ghost Prep Father/Son service day 9:00-12:00.

-DSW participates in Georgetown’s Holy Trinity parish retreat in the mountains of south west Virginia.

-Sunday September 26 we celebrate the inaugural Mass of the new merged parish in central Camden with the Cathedral building as our new, unified home.

The feast of St. Vincent DePaul is Monday, September 27.   He was friends with Francis and Jane has an fascinating life story—rags to riches to rags.

-McCue travels to South Bend to promote DSW at a service fair at Notre Dame University on Wednesday, September 29.   10% of NDU grads give a year of service after graduation, (and I have a free plane ticket).



6 Wednesday the first group of Father Judge freshmen come for a service retreat.

8 De Sales University comes for a long weekend at their “Pacer Break.”

18 Monday-Wednesday Camden Diocese Convocation: “Preaching the Just Word”


4. Peace and Justice Blog

My second reflection on Islam appears this week on the Oblate Peace and Justice Blog.   I have to warn you that I cannot claim that this one is a masterpiece, but the blog is not about having all issues completely thought out.   It is about conversation and thinking out loud in our tradition.   Consider offering a written comment to share your thoughts and insights in this forum.




Students working with Ken Beckmen and Mike Morgan on our “Peace Garden.”   Members of the Class of ’09 began the cleanup; the project has passed on to members of the Class of 2010.   Others, including the Garber family and friends, have done great work on it.  What was overrun with weeds and garbage is becoming an ordered, beautiful space able to lift people’s spirits.


Sandwich makers with half of Salesianum’s campus ministry team, Pat Kennedy, OSFS.   We give food to anywhere from 60 to 260 people each week day at the Cathedral in downtown Camden.   The other half of the team, Patrick Kifolo, OSFS, was with other students at New Visions day shelter for the morning service period of their DSW retreat.  



 Thanks, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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