12 November 2012
32nd 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
1. Service Word Mark 12:38
He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”
Camden city—and our world in general—has a lot of problems that can seem insurmountable and overwhelming. In Camden we now count 58 homicides for this calendar year. Each victim is an individual with a family, with friends, with accomplishments and dreams. There are 58 murder-ers, each with damage to his or her humanity. The list does not end there: Camden has so many vacant, decaying buildings, so much trash, too few jobs, all the addiction and drug trade. With the broader world, we feel the effects of climate change, we have an on-going US war in Afghanistan with 68,000 troops still there, wars threatening in half a dozen other spots. So many Catholic institutions seem to be closing or shrinking. The lists of troubling issues goes on and on. It is very possible to feel helpless and depressed.
This gospel scene offers many layers of meaning that we can bring to the stack of heavy issues. The widow gives what she has. Her two small coins do not solve any big issues; she just offers what she has. Her faith, that enables her to trust God enough to give over everything, makes her a different person. God has touched her core, and she must be an instrument of God’s peace—deep rooted and effective.
So DSW neighbors and volunteers clean up the park or work with teens and little kids, offer the hungroy a hand. These small but real actions have the potential to reach hearts, to change us for the good, to reinforce the good in us.
-What issues weigh you down?
-If the widow offered her two small coins, what do you offer the Lord, God??
-Can you see service or reflection touching your core?
2. Last Week in Camden
Thirty Father Judge High School freshmen served and reflected Thursday. Later that day, fifteen students from Bishop Eustace High School arrived for a long Camden weekend. Saturday a group of young women from a Rutgers sorority joined them for a morning of service as part of their initiation. Our spirited 11:30 Sunday Mass was the finial DSW event for the Bishop Eustace group and the introduction for a group called Teens Against Poverty. The TAP group, about thirty young people from Westchester PA shared a lunch of peanut butter and jelly or baloney and cheese and then walked to North Camden for service. Young kids from 6th Street joined the effort and turned it from raking and sweeping to swinging and climbing on Northgate Park’s new play equipment.
Saturday night was the Oblates 17th annual Black Tie for White Collars dinner dance. The gala always brings together people from various Oblate apostolates in the Mid-Atlantic area. Hosted by development director, Kevin Nadolski, and provincial, Jim Greenfield, everyone feels welcomed and part of the Oblate mission. A highlight of the evening was the premiere of a video by DSW supporter Bob Killian. The film gives a vivid snapshot of our Salesian mission in Camden. I’ll send out a link next Monday.
DSW veteran Tom Briese was here from his home in the Midwest to check out a couple NJ medical schools and to visit with Camden friends. Regular DSW guest Billy Kurzenberger was also here for a couple days working with CJ Colton and his team on Northgate Park’s hurricane damaged fence.
3. Upcoming Events
Students from the Newman Center of Stockton College near the Jersey Shore will be here the end of the week. On Saturday they will join CASA, our teen group lead by Lourdes Gonzales and Tim Gallagher, in community service.
Look for a new blog format coming soon for Service Matters with opportunity for dialogue and ready access to past postings.
Read reflections at the archives of Service Matters on the Oblate website.
Check out Joseph’s House of Camden freshly articulated mission statement. The program will start up now the first week of December. We seem to have met the all the requirements sent our way by the city. There are so many people who need shelter.
Mike McCue, OSFS