Service Matters – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

19 November 2012

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
  •  Links


1. Service Word    Mark13:24-32

Jesus said to his disciples:

“In those days after that tribulation

the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will be falling from the sky,

and the powers in the heavens will be shaken…

…Heaven and earth will pass away,

but my words will not pass away.”


Camden has tribulation and darkness.   However, I can not say this enough: the problems are only part of the story.  People are good; much good goes on here.


But there is acute darkness this year with sixty lives lost to homicide this calendar year in our small city.  Grassroots groups, government, police, churches are all seeking ways to address this open wound in our community.   People are praying, walking together; a group has planted crosses at City Hall; there was a banquet for victim’s families.   There will be a four day vigil at our Cathedral with an hour set aside to remember and pray for each victim and to support his or her loved ones.   There are also long-term solutions.   Education has to be at the top of these.  Our parish grade school, Holy Name School is part of that, as is the rebirth of Northgate Park, little league, programing for kids, our CASA “youth group,” “life-skills training”—all aiming to keep young people out of trouble and directed toward positive paths.


But at this moment, fall 2012, what can we do?  What does Catholic Christianity have to offer this situation?    Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.


We have been asking people what they do to “turn down the volume” on anger or drama they encounter.   Anger, depression, loss of hope, lack of perspective are all part of life, but most people do not turn to lethal violence for a “solution.”   I have been thinking that homicide does not come out of the blue.   Likely there is a context for each of them where behaviors far short of homicide become acceptable.   These lie on a scale that has physical harm and killing, war at one extreme.   At the other end of the scale stands the “violence” of unkindness, disrespect, impatience, un-gentleness.   The continuum continues to harsh language, raised voices, intolerance, the desire to win rather than to understand, failure to see all people as neighbor and child of God.   So, anyone’s sharp impatience or dismissive tone has some connectedness on this scale to these sixty Camden deaths.   Part of addressing the violence means addressing the whole picture.


-So I ask you our question: “What helps you turn from violence—large or small?”   “What works for you to regain perspective?”   Talk of the end time and final judgement, apocalyptic literature in the Bible, with its dramatic images of the end, remind us that God takes our lives seriously.  The divine Judge is on our side calling, challenging, guiding us to take seriously all violence and and efforts for real peace.

What helps you?  Do you: step back, meditate, pray for the person, finger a rosary, watch TV, think peaceful thoughts, count to ten, exercise, write, yell, talk it out, use humor???     E-mail  your methods.   We are trying to compile a list of five simple ways drawn from experience that help to turn from any level of violence.



2. Last Week in Camden

Saturday, students and the two campus ministers from Stockton College’s Newman Club  joined  CASA  our teen group lead by Lourdes Gonzales and Tim Gallagher, in community service.    We passed out flyers and ribbons on State Street hoping to increase the peace in our community.      The college students worked in the park and got to meet kids there.


3. Upcoming Events

As Joseph’s House of Camden prepares to open for the season on December 2, we have been given the gift of two matching fund gifts for the project.

Joseph’s House will open for its third season on December 2, 2012 at 523 Stevens Street at New Visions’ Day Shelter Camden.   Anyone interested in volunteering there on a regular basis can contact Mary Beth Kohler 856-964-9777 x603.   Donations are also, naturally, very welcome.   We have been blessed with two matching grants that kick in each when we raise 15,000.00.    Pretty generous.   If you have a couple thousand or a couple dollars, donations to this much needed effort are very welcome.


Thanksgiving.    I can only begin to thank you, all our supporters, who make it possible to live, pray, learn, and serve here—-and make it possible to host groups of high school and college students and parish members.    We want especially to mention Teens Against Poverty for their generous contribution; Oblate Provincial Jim Greenfield for his leadership; Paula Riley for her skill with organization and process; all the schools and parishes for coming here, working, and helping; Ron and Adeline Mandel for great sports uniform donation; OMC Parish for food and Peace and Justice Grants; Sandra Ongaro for clothing, household items—and a piano for the volunteer house; Susan Mackey, Matt Hillyard, and Kevin Moran for guiding so many groups; Fr. Joe Wisniewski for tons of donations including ideas, power tools and patio furniture; Bill Luce for painting everything in the volunteer house; Kenny Halloman for speaking to every group; Bob Killian for a great video featuring DSW.   Thank you for reading this newsletter and for all the way you support this Oblate project.



4. Links

Read reflections at the archives of Service Matters on the Oblate website and on Facebook:

Thank you,

 Mike McCue, OSFS

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