10 October 2011
28th Week of Ordinary Time
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,
De Sales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join
in service, prayer and learning in our struggling neighborhood.
- Service Word
- Last Week in Camden
- Upcoming Events
1. Service Word Philippians 4
It was kind of you to share in my distress.
Students and teachers here from Walsingham Academy in Virginia, joined the parish for our 11:30 Spanish Mass Sunday. The Church was full, with everyone singing strong, lively music and offering warm welcome to these 22 English speaking guests. Students even got to assist with religious education classes and to ring the bell in the Cathedral tower. The Liturgy was an uplifting—even fun—experience.
However, after Mass in the parking lot, the group encountered a man who had just come to the rectory door asking for a sandwich. I had told him our policy: that we do not give any food or money, but we give out sandwiches each week day and food bags on Tuesdays. That did not satisfy him at all. So when the group met him, he was angry and gave everyone a hard time. “You go to Church, but won’t help me—I’m hungry.” He said people were laughing at him. I tried to explain again our system and to let him know about Sunday dinner at an Episcopal Church a couple blocks away.
Kenny lead the Virginia group away to a local cheese steak place. I stayed for a couple minutes to try to calm him down, but there was no talking to him, and he kept repeating his couple of points, at a high volume.
We share distress when we see people in pain, or people clearly messing up. While the man was making an ugly scene in front of the group, I thought, “Why didn’t I just give the guy a sandwich?” But there is a reason we developed our rules. Also, as real as hunger is, there is more going on with the man. We hope kindness and our ongoing presence and relationships, sharing and witnessing the trials of people here, will address the deeper hunger.
-How do you deal with your distress about pain or
in our world?
-What are some ways others support you, sharing your burdens, challenges, and crosses?
-Are you able to turn situations and people in trouble over God?
2. Last Week in Camden
Sunday Rachel and I went to Barbie and Ken’s apartment for dinner. Rachel brought beef stew for dinner. Our hosts were very entertaining and proud to share their home.
Father Judge freshmen were here Tuesday the first of about ten groups spread out over the school year. Two Sallies groups were here this week, serving in all the usual ways. In addition, part of the group continuing progress on the rain garden and others worked on the alley, filling in depressions in the paving with salvaged bricks.
A fun group from Wallsingham Academy in Williamsburg, Virginia, advanced the paving project and packed many other tasks and experiences into their three, full days here. Saturday those not working with bricks participated in a tree planting at the area around the community garden. They and about 20 other volunteers and neighbors planted 35 trees. We fenced up another abandoned yard in the alley, traveled with supplies to “tent city,” and worked in the park. The warm weather made work outside very enjoyable.
3. Upcoming Events
Monday we meet with two other service groups in Camden (Romero Center and Center for Transformation). They also host groups that come and work, pray, and reflect in Camden. The intent will be to to check in about possible collaborations and support.
I’ll be in Virginia at the end of the week for my niece Natalie Rose Thomas’ first birth day! Bishop Ireton is having an open mic Friday evening to benefit the work of the Oblates in Camden, so I will get to go to that late and express our gratitude—and hear good student music.
Joseph’s House opens for the season All Saints’ Day so we are gearing up, raising funds and hiring this season’s staff. We will open November 1st and go until the end of April. We will have locations both at near-by New Visions and also at an unused Catholic Church in the Woodlynne section of Camden.
Salesianum seniors will be back this week Thursday to take up the work of the last group. Our program is very much a team effort: one group works here and then turns their projects over to the neighbors and to the next group. We are grateful for all who make this project work!
Check out the DSW website www.oblates.org/dsw. and to read essays on a range of topics from the Peace & Justice Blog. Also see other resources: Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/DeSalesServiceWorks. Mike Morgan’s blog- http://camdenchronicles.wordpress.com/.
Have a good week, Father Mike McCue, OSFS