Service Matters – 29th Week of Ordinary Time

17 October 2011

St. Ignatius of Antioch

29th 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
  • Links

1.  Service Word   Matthew 22:15-21

“Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”   Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?   Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”   Then they handed him the Roman coin.   He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”  They replied, “Caesar’s.”   At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”


I’m not the biggest fan of tattoos.  Markings on faces are the worst.   Yesterday I was talking to Paul who has been sleeping on our front porch for the last two or three months.   He’s there with his cousin, Jason, who is a veteran of the Afghanistan war, and is sometimes joined by a girl friend from a affluent family from Philadelphia suburbs.   They are cooperative, neat, and polite, but two guys have a heroin addiction.


Paul was talking yesterday about reaching out to his mom; he cannot take it any more—simply surviving out here.   Most of the day is taken up looking for meals, he lamented.   His mother has been giving him “tough love” as he put it, but he is going to call and finally request her help. Among his abundant markings, Paul has a tear drop below his left eye.   It must commemorate a loss, just as the writing and cupid heart scrawling up his neck must memorialize his affection for this girlfriend.


As we talked, I imagined the heartbreak his mother must have for his state.   She may or may not have tattoos, but the anguish has to be inscribed on her heart.    The Roman coin in the gospel has Caesar’s image and inscription, but we bear God’s image and God’s inscription to the core of our being.   So mere survival, just numbing pain with drink or drugs, or settling for pleasures will fail to satisfy our hearts made in the image of the God of truth and love.


Can you read God’s inscription (so to speak) written on your core?

-Are there habits or behaviors that mask or distract you from the call of God?

-What belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God in your life?


2. Last Week in Camden 

Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA, under the direction of teacher Tom Hild, hosted a coffee house evening to support the Oblate mission in Camden.   The event raised over two thousand dollars and provided a relaxed forum for students to share talents.    I got to enjoy the music and am very grateful for the generosity.


Salesianum juniors were here Thursday.   Their new president, Mr. Brendan Kennealey, came for the day and joined a student group working on the rain garden.


Sunday the Oblate superior general from Rome, Fr. Aldino Kiesel, and an associate from the Oblate German speaking province, Fr. Konrad Eßer, visited the Oblate community in Camden.   They joined the parish at our 11:30 Mass, enjoyed a brunch, and then went for a typical DSW walking tour from the Cathedral to North Camden.   They met volunteers & neighbors, saw our various projects, and heard me talk all about our efforts to build bridges across racial, language, economic, educational background gaps.


3. Upcoming Events 

Monday year-long volunteers from all over Camden will come together for Mass and dinner.  New Visions’ Kevin Moran, the support person for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps house has crosses for everyone from a recent trip to Central America.   Last year everyone received a Salesian Service shirt.


Tuesday after a service retreat with Father Judge freshmen and Sallies juniors, Ken, Barbie, and I will drive to Washington, DC.   Wednesday and Thursday Ken will visit with students at Visitation Academy in Georgetown and at Bishop Ireton.   We are all looking forward to the travel adventure; Ken has never been outside the Camden/Philadelphia area.


Thursday evening a group from Bishop Eustace High School in near-by Cherry Hill, NJ, will begin their weekend service retreat.   They will be joined by Holy Name Scholars on Saturday and will have some great projects to participate advance.


4. Links

The DSW website features pictures from a recent trip as well as insightful essays on a range of topics from the Peace & Justice Blog.    Also see other resources: Facebook page-    Mike Morgan’s blog-


God bless you!  Mike McCue, OSFS

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