Service Matters – 3rd Week of Lent

12 March 2012

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


Service Word  John 2:13-25

He made a whip of cords and drove then all out of the temple area, with the sheep and the oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers seated there, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”


When the Oblates first arrived in Camden, people would come to the rectory door any time, day or night, for a sandwich, for money, for a blanket—for all sorts of needs.    Word quickly got around, and more found their way to us.   It soon became clear that there would be no way we could continue to live in the city unless we set up some reasonable boundaries.    And after agreeing, it became important to stick by the rules.   This means saying “No” to poor people.    Most understand the need for rules and adapt.   A few accuse us of being un-Christian; “This is a Church?”  Some say, “I thought you were supposed to help people.”


I imagine, for most of us, driving the traders out of the temple is not how the Lord is supposed to act.   Perhaps we might more readily associate him with kind of “soft” virtues: gentleness, patience, kindness, love, compassion, understanding.    But he clearly is able to say, “No,” and to use the full range of human action—for good.   Jesus does not act out of any malice or ill intent; the people he confronts in the temple need honest and direct communication.


Too often there seems to be the impression that Christian moral behavior boils down to being “nice”—un-offensive, even passive.   But that is not the case at all.    I put quotation marks around “soft,” because there is nothing easy about real gentleness, love, or patience, etc.—or about honesty and difficult confrontation.  Substantial Christian morality requires commitment and strength.


Also “No” is not the same as rejection.    We ask neighbors to come during the times we are open for sandwiches and clothing, or to other places open when we are closed, or to Joseph’s House, for anyone with no where to stay in the bitter cold winter.   And all our interactions take place in a context of respect and faithfulness—the Church is not going anywhere.   We offer our best effort; God does it perfectly well—here for us always and everywhere.


-Is there any area in your life where the Lord may have a firm message to you?

-Are you able to shape your difficult encounters within the spectrum of Christian virtue?

-How do you do keeping the markeplace from overtaking the temple—the awareness and centality of God in your life?


2. Last Week in Camden

Student groups from Rivier College in New Hampshire and from Temple University had great weeks here full of encounters, insights, and work.


Saturday’s San Francisco wedding was fun and meaningful.  (Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Maxwell!)  The next day I volunteered for the 7:30AM Mass at the parish where the wedding took place and met a young woman who knew all about Camden and is considering DSW for a volunteer year.   What are the odds that this would happen all the way across the country, at a particular church, so early on a Sunday morning?


DSW welcomed two groups working with Urban Promise who are staying with us for the week.


3. Upcoming Events

DSW is sponsoring an internship program this summer.   See the plain-formate flyer below for more information about this great program.  Session 1: May 20-June 10 and Session 2: July 2-July 22.   There is a well-designed flyer on the DeSales Service Works website



Post-wedding, I am spending the beginning of the week in Berkley, CA, at a Camaldolese Benedictine monastery with an awe inspiring view of San Francisco Bay.   


Back in Camden, Friday the entire faculty of Salesianum, the Oblate high school in Wilmington, DE, will come for a day of recollection.    All the school’s juniors and seniors have served here; it is great that the teachers will all get to have the same experience.   


Joseph’s House board meets this week to determine if we have the funds to stay open until the end of April or close in March.   As a start-up we still exist hand to mouth.   Last season Jon Bon Jovi’s foundation gave us a grant to pay for the whole of April.  


4. Links 

See what’s new on the DeSales Service Works website or our  Facebook page- or on Mike Morgan’s blog


God bless you,  Mike McCue, OSFS

DeSales Service Works 2012 Summer Intern Program 

Session 1: May 20-June 10 


Session 2: July 2-July 22 


“Nothing Is small in the service of GOD!” St. Francis De Sales 


We work together for a better Camden and the city works on 

us to help see  beyond differences and dangers.  

Eye opening and rewarding life experiences:  

  • Sandwich ministry for the hungry 
  • Holy Name School  
  • Plan and run events in Northgate Park and Esperanza community garden  
  • Home blessings  …and much more! 


* Live in a community of service and social justice minded young people 


* Experience a vibrant culture and community in the people of  N. Camden 


* Community Service credits towards your school 


* Life changing experiences!!! 


For an application or more information  contact us at: 


Must be 18 or older 

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