Service Matters – 33rd Week of Ordinary Time

14 November 2011

33rd 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 25:14-30

But the man who had received one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.


One major concern for people considering coming to Camden for service retreats is safety.   That arises naturally, since our city has made the list of most violent places in the U.S. year after year for decades.   To address that worry, we always talk about the respect we experience here working under the umbrella of Church and service.   There is a public quality to city living and

to working together.   We enjoy a very significant measure of safety; people know who we are and why we are here.


One of the most powerful aspects of service here is that you get to meet our neighbors, work with them, talk to them, and listen to them.   You encounter individuals with histories, personalities, values, and aspirations.   Each is so much more than the categories she or he falls into: homeless, addict, prostitute, immigrant, poor, etc.    So expectations and fears that might have existed, change because of the encounter with a real, three dimensional, friendly person.


Cautious not to dampen the energy that comes that insight, we make clear that each volunteer is meeting neighbors in the context of Church and service—in a group.   So the age-old parental advice, “Don’t talk to strangers,” has a validity.   People can be desperate, and there are needy individuals who are only out for “number one” —as in any other arena of life.   We don’t want a positive experience here to lead to a romanticized attitude about life on the streets or about poverty.   We strongly encourage awareness and commitment to service—but nothing without prudence and realism.  Context and common effort makes such a difference.


The man in the gospel takes the gift he has been given and keeps it “safe.”   He thinks it is safe, but really it is lifeless.    We can imagine that he doesn’t think things through; it is possible to prudently invest.   But he lets fear paralyze the potential for good and productivity his one talent has.


-What kinds of fears or preconceived notions hold us back?

-It is often said that if you don’t any make mistakes, perhaps you are not challenging yourself, not taking reasonable risks.   Is that true in your experience?

-Take a moment to give thanks to God for your gifts.


2. Last Week in Camden 

Georgetown Visitation Academy donated a truck-load of food to the Cathedral Parish sandwich service.    We are grateful for this and for all the donations of time and food that help our us in this way.


3. Upcoming Events 

This week Sister Karen Mohan from the Visitation Monastery in North Minneapolis will be staying in Camden while attending the Catholic Volunteer Network conference in Philadelphia.   The Visitation community in Minneapolis is a great model and inspiration for DSW and the Oblates here in New Jersey.


Sallies sophomores are here Tuesday.  Students form Stockton College in NJ will be here this weekend for a service retreat, and Holy Name Scholars will be on this Saturday.


4. Links

Check out the DSW website  and the Peace & Justice Blog.    Also see other resources: Facebook page by Rachel Allen- and Mike Morgan’s blog-




  Mike McCue, OSFS

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