Service Matters – 25th Week in Ordinary Time

24 September 2012

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.



  •  Service Word
  •  Last Week in Camden
  •  Upcoming Events
  •  Links


1. Service Word    Mark 9:30

He was teaching his disciples and telling them,

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to people

and they will kill him,

and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”

But they did not understand the saying,

and they were afraid to question him.


They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,

he began to ask them,

“What were you arguing about on the way?”

But they remained silent.

They had been discussing among themselves on the way

who was the greatest.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,

“If anyone wishes to be first,

he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”


How many movements pass down the memory of their “founding fathers” the way Christianity does for our apostles?


The gospels do not gloss over their faults.   Doesn’t this reflect a healthy sense of humanity?  —–Not a one of us gets it right all the time.   We all have to contend with our “hard wired” “default settings,” some of which do not reflect our own values or bright aspirations.  Clearly, for this chosen dozen, competition, defensiveness, fear,  jealousy, envy, and compulsion to be the “top dog,” “alpha male,” are part of what they have to deal with.   —Very human; wouldn’t you agree?


Who is the greatest?  It is easy to observe that Camden is a place where the greatest is the guy with intimidating attitude and posture.   I think we are not alone in this—but it is often very obvious here.   Force, threat, and fear have a power; they can get things done.   But the power that comes from God: gentle strength, respect, kindness, humility, compassion, aim right at the heart.  The worldly power only has the ability to reach the surface, to force things.   God’s way can change people from the inside.    Some of our default settings may direct us to the dark side, but the God of Jesus Christ always calls us to share the cross and resurrection.


Are you aware of the “default settings”of your personality that take you to good or to negative?

-How would you rate your need to be “alpha male?”

-What are some ways you respond to God’s power?



2. Last Week in Camden

Sallies guys were here Thursday, and continued to serve at the day shelter, sandwich ministry, and the “peace garden.”


I was on TV.    Thursday walking back to the Cathedral from DSW, Ken and I encountered a Philadelphia Channel 6 reporter and videographer with their mobile reporting center outside Holy Name School.   They were there to get citizen reaction to a report released that day ranking Camden as 2011’s poorest city in the United States.   Twenty-four seconds of my fifteen minute interview made it to the small screen.    No one they interviewed expressed surprise at this distinction for Camden.   We talked about how poverty and the drug economy burden and hold this community back, but the negative is only part of the story here.   Our parish school offered a great backdrop for reflection on the situation; education can open up the world to kids.

You all help our school kids via your support of DSW—service, donations, prayer, awareness.   Thank you.


Twenty-five students from Villanova University served here Saturday as part of a university-wide service day.   We divided into three groups working with neighbors clearing various lots, maintaining the park and community garden.   Highlights included working with Carmine and her brother Tom, parishioners who adopted the lot next to their house.   The many energetic hands of Villanova students made the job of taming that yard so much easier than it would have been for the family alone.   Other students worked with eight year-old AJ and his four year-old nephew, Jewel, helping weed and then really excelling, refilling water barrels at the community garden.   They both managed to get completely soaked in the process.    Villanova made a good impression in North Camden.   Thank you!


Saturday in Troyes, France, the Oblate founder, Fr. Louis Brisson, was recognized by the universal Church and given the designation “blessed” in the ancient cathedral in the city where he served.    Father Brisson was simply a good priest.   He worked hard, prayed faithfully, collaborated with others, and brought his interests, talents, and common sense as an oblation to the service of God.    He showed up for work and prayer every day and made an impact for good in his world; he still offers example and prayers for us today.



3. Upcoming Events

Monday I will be in Northern Virginia for a quick trip to visit family and pick up socks and underwear collected by the youth of Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown.   Our homeless neighbors will be very grateful for this generous donation.



4. Links

Check out past Camden reflections at the archives of Service Matters  on our website.   You can also see how the calendar is shaping up for 2012-2013.



 Mike McCue, OSFS

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