Service Matters – 27th Week in Ordinary Time

 4 October 2010

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

27th 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   2 Timothy 6

I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.   For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.


For the last several high school retreats, we have asked the seniors to take a few minutes to reflect in writing about their experience of a day of service in Camden.   This has assisted discussion and has offered a kind of evaluation for the program.   Reading over the reflections suggests that students are allowing themselves to be challenged by the experience here.


One paper stood out because it expressed the opposite of what we hope for.  The student wrote that there is so much need in Camden, he felt like he “did nothing.”  There is a sense in which that view could not be more correct.    It would be unrealistic to think that the many issues here could be solved or even addressed by one school day spent in the city.  However, Francis de Sales is also correct: “Nothing is small in the service of God.”   Spending four hours here, or a long weekend, a week, two years, or even a lifetime here, may not end poverty, cure addiction, replace the destructive drug economy with a healthy one, or make justice triumph.   But small things matter.    There is an incremental effect.


I once heard the actor Dick Van Dyke speak about his addiction, how for years people—close friends and even strangers— would talk to him about his drinking and its effect on his life.    For years he just shrugged off each comment or encounter.   But one time someone spoke, and the message finally got through all the deflection, defense and denial.  He said that he believed that all the conversations he apparently had ignored along the way made their impact.   So the last one was able to have an effect, because of the weight of all the other messages.   There was an incremental, cumulative effect.


So, we may do little, but the little we do “stirs the ashes,” finds the unseen embers, and helps the flame come alive.   We act in faith; we do our part; often we may never see the end result.


-Have you seen the incremental effect of  “small things” in your experience?

-How have you experienced the “power, love and self-control” that comes from the Holy Spirit?


2. Last Week in Camden

I traveled to Washington to share about DSW and Camden in junior religion classes at Georgetown Visitation Academy.   Supporters Jacqueline Dolson, Kathleen Looney met to plan GV’s five service retreats spread over this school year.


This trip gave an opportunity to visit Bishop Ireton High School in VA to check-in there.   Librarian and supporter, Linda Dube, created a great movie featuring interviews with students and teachers who shared insights gained from participating in service retreats.  The film was part of the school-wide retreat day in September.


3. Upcoming Events.


5 Salesianum School’s Salesian Spirituality Commission student induction will feature reflection on DSW and the Oblate presence in Camden.

6 The first group of Father Judge freshmen comes for a service retreat.

8-12 De Sales University here for a long weekend: “Alternative Fall Break.”


4. Peace and Justice Blog

Check out the Oblate peace and justice blog.    Pat Kennedy has an entry inspired by October as “Pro-Life Month.”  Also look for selections from the reflections of visiting students and profiles of our three year-long DSW volunteers.



 Thanks, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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