Service Matters – 28th Week in Ordinary Time

15 October 2012

28th Week in Ordinary Time

St. Teresa of Avila


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 10:17

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,

knelt down before him, and asked him,

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…

… Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,

“You are lacking in one thing.

Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor

and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At that statement his face fell,

and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.


For about twenty years my mom, Mary McCue, worked as a nurse at a hospital emergency room where I grew up in outer D.C. suburbs.  Facing sickness, injury, life or death every workday led her to developed a sense of perspective that she could offer for the mistakes, missteps, messes, inconvenience of day to day living.   She sums up this insight saying about a situation that is causing upset: “No one died.”   The statement carries the idea that we can handle most challenges (and learn from them) if we step back to regain energy and perspective.


The rich young man comes to Jesus looking for the ultimate “big picture view”—-eternal life.  But the Lord understands that the man really wants to add eternal life as another of his treasures, part of the list of his accomplishments.   Instead, as aways, Jesus goes deeper and invites into relationship—come, follow me!

  •  What helps you maintain perspective in the face of challenges large or petty?
  •  How does faith in God’s eternal life fit into your pursuit of balance?
  •  When the Lord says, “sell your possessions,” “follow me,” to you, what does he have in mind?

2. Last Week in Camden

We want to formally welcome Ethan Stortz as part of the DSW year long volunteer community!  He is from Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic.  He graduated last spring from the University of Wisconsin and is headed for medical school after this year of DSW service.   He is putting his positive nature and medical aspirations to work at Project Hope, a medical outreach to homeless people in Camden.

He joins Tim Gallagher who is in his third year working at Guadalupe Family Services.  Tim lives as part of the DSW commuity and contributes his experience and passion to service retreat groups.   Mike Morgan is part of the community while he transitions to full-time employment in service—hopefully in Camden.   Presently he is working at two part-time placements.


Salesianum students were here to serve two Wednesdays in a row, and I was at their school recently to offer Camden reflections.   Last Tuesday Philadelphia’s Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians’ Anne O’Callaghan and Peter Gonzales and I join a discussion on immigration hosted at one of the Oblate parishes in Philadelphia, Our Mother of Consolation.   DSW supporter, Paula Riley moderated the discussion, and Rosemary McGee, who comes weekly to Camden to assist with sandwich ministry with her husband John, was one of the organizers.


The first of eight Fr. Judge High School freshmen retreat days took place Thursday with their new Oblate chaplain, Fr. Joe Wisniewski!


Wednesday, Raphaël Garagnon, a graduate from the Oblate high school in Annecy, France, arrived for a two and a half month stay in the U.S.   He will serve with retreats and in Holy Name School.  You may know that Annecy is the city where Francis de Sales lived as bishop, and he is well remembered there.    One of Raphaël’s projects will be sharing photos and insights from that picturesque Alpine city with our inner city kids.    He and I drove to Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, to pick up delicious food donations from Norwood-Fontbonne Academy Saturday.   Merci!


A great part of DSW’s volunteer year program is that our house in North Camden is located around the corner from a Jesuit Volunteer Corps community.   JVC is the Jesuit version of DSW.   Each year they have been great neighbors.   Friday I met with their regional director to talk about more ways to cooperate and support each other.


3. Upcoming Events

A group from Bishop Ireton will be here Thursday to Saturday.   As they depart, a group from Visitation in DC will arrive for a full Saturday.   Both schools, along with our own Holy Name Scholars, will be able to participate in an exciting, big step forward for our local Northgate Park.    Thursday and Friday and preparation days and Saturday is the big build day for a whole new play ground area for young kids and a dozen other renewal projects for the park.   There will be 200 volunteers working on Saturday.   The physical improvements will complement the new programing to be based there under the direction of community organizer and DSW friend, Bryan Morton.    Mike Morgan has been very involved in the project through one of his placements: Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.



4. Links

As of this mid-October weekend there have been fifty-one homicides in our city for 2012.   Generally, I do not write about the murders because, while they are real and very, very tragic, they can overshadow all the good—and ordinary, day to day life—that goes on in Camden.   Still fifty-one people, mostly young, have gone.   There are holes in the lives of mothers and fathers, families, friends and community.   I often describe Camden as having parallel worlds: one made up of regular people working and raising families, and then a second sphere of people on the wrong track, messing up.   At times the worlds interact, but mostly they go their own ways—live and let live.   But this sadness crosses boundaries.


Another thing I always say is that North Camden is not a safe neighborhood, but we are not unsafe, because people know who we are, and there is a respect for service and Church.

This comes naturally because Church has been faithfully here in good time, and bad, in sickness and health.  People have benefited directly from this concrete, eternal relationship.   To adapt my Mom’s quote: “Someone did die.”   But we entrust them to God; we comfort those who mourn, and we work hard for real peace.   Thank you for your prayers, work, and support.


Read past Camden reflections at the archives of Service Matters  on the Oblate website.   Last Monday there was no Service Matters; that’s why this one is extra long; thanks for reading.


 Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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