Service Matters – 3rd Week of Lent

28 March 2011

3rd Week of Lent


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  John 4:5-42

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done.”


Jesus does not literally tell the woman at the well everything she has done; he observes she has had five husbands and is now living with someone else.  We might imagine that the various relationships carried conflict, pain, and perhaps involved sin and defeat.  It is possible to see why she might sum up her life the way she does; negative experineces often cloud over the good and the “big picture.”


The encounter with the Lord changes this woman.  She says he told her everything she had done.  But all Jesus really does is talk with her, treat her with respect, and not reject her—all this while knowing full-well the failure and pain that clearly looms so large in her life.  We witness the Samaritan woman moving from a person weighed down by bad choices, avoiding neighbors, coming for water in the heat of the day—to a person forgiven and loved, forgetting fear and sharing with her community the wonder and power of Jesus.


We frequently refer to an insight St. Francis de Sales articulates so well, “Nothing is small in the service of God.”  Volunteers here for a day, a week, or a year to join the good being done in Camden don’t usually see dramatic change from their efforts.   But everything adds up to the good—even actions as “small” as respect, listening, honesty, kindness.

  • Pick a “little virtue” to work on this week.
  • Are there any areas in your life where a negative shadows over the bigger, more realistic picture?
  • Is there anyone who could use some more respect or patience from you?

2. Last Week in Camden

The group from Northwestern University worked across the river getting food to the hungry at “Philabundance.”   They also volunteered at Joseph’s House two nights.

Tuesday thirty Father Judge freshmen brought Crusader energy to retreat and service.

Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Philadelphia continues to support us: with a generous grant from their peace and justice committee, and with canned goods and toiletries.

Friday I went to Ireton for their outstanding production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.  They also had a truck load of food, socks, and underwear to take back for our neighbors.


3. Upcoming Events

Monday Ken and Barbie are taking the volunteers and me to dinner.   They have been anxious to do this for a month; it will be fun.

A group from Bishop Ireton will be here Thursday to Saturday.

Holy Infant Parish in Durham, NC, will host me for Masses and meetings this weekend to promote the service retreat the parish will sponsor this summer.

Two more 11th grade religion classes from Salesianum, the Oblate high school in Wilmington, DE, will be here this week.


4. Links

Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.


The three DSW Volunteers were featured along with other Camden volunteers, and Oblate seminarian, Brian Zumbrum, in an article the in the Camden Diocese’s newspaper, the Catholic Star Herald.   Reporter Peter Sanchez entitled the article “Young People Come to Camden for Post-graduate Degree in Harsh Realities and Opportunities for Spiritual Growth.”  


Have a great week, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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