Service Matters – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

15 November 2010

33rd 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 Luke 21

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?


This gospel made me think of our temple, the Cathedral in Camden.   For one year and a half, scaffolding surrounded the Cathedral.  The building is over 150 years old; so its brownstone blocks have been exposed to rain, wind, heat and cold for all those years.  Masons replaced stones that had not weathered well and were damaged or crumbling.   This week the reconstruction is finished!  Two thoughts:

I often marvel at how these costly physical repairs signal the Church’s commitment to being in Camden—a place where so much is neglected and in poor repair.  The building stands as a sign of God’s presence in the midst all the downtown activity—business, police headquarters, City Hall, welfare offices, people headed to the riverfront.   It also stands as an invitation for all our needy neighbors to come for assistance, for Christian love put into practice in this extreme neighborhood.


Of course, the building is just cold “stone upon another stone” without the people who make the church warm and alive.   So my second thought is gratitude for you all who join us here in reaching out to the needy.   It is possible to look at the stone Cathedral—like the people in Jesus’ time looked at their temple—and think it is there finished, strong and tall.   But Jesus reminds us that all of life is in process: there is no “once-and-for-all,” “auto-pilot” on this earth.   So your service here is so important.  Equally important, for us all, is the service we take back to our “non-extreme world”—family, friends, school, and work.


How does Christian service fit into your life?

What ways do you find to translate experiences of service in places like Camden into awareness and service in your usual environment?

What serves as sacrament of God’s presence in your daily life?


2. Last Week in Camden

Georgetown Visitation Academy donated a U-Haul truck full of canned goods collected by students.  On Saturday, Holy Name Scholars unloaded and arranged the food.  They proved again that service can be fun; it’s all about the attitude you bring to the work.    Special thanks to Jacqueline and Ed Dolson who did so much to get the food to Camden and to Kathleen Looney at Visitation for organizing the collection.


3. Upcoming Events.

-Students from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA, will be here for their three-day service retreat.  They arrive by Chinatown bus around noon on Thursday.

-DSW volunteer Mike Morgan runs in the Philadelphia Marathon Sunday— 26.2 miles.

-Our parish will celebrate the Puerto Rican feast of Our Lady of Providence on Sunday with a procession, Mass, and food.   Students from a Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, neighborhood youth group “Teens, Inc.” will join in the fiesta and will serve all afternoon in North Camden.

-This week we remember two of my favorite saints: St. Roque (Rock) Gonzalez and St. Hugh of Lincoln.  Watch for blog reflections on these men.

-As we approach Thanksgiving, the parish again becomes a conduit for holiday food for so many: it is great to be a part of this effort.


4. Peace and Justice Blog

Again, I am serious in encouraging replies and dialogue on my ponderings on the power of little virtues in our “un-gentle” world.   If you have time, comment via the blog—or easier, e-mail any feedback to


Thanks! Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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