Service Matters – 4th Week of Easter

16 May 2011

4th Week of Easter

St. Brendan


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 10:1-10

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.


Oblate artist Mickey McGrath has painted four pictures for our Cathedral.   The Blessed Mother, Mary, is the subject of all four.  Each image comes from one of the four main immigrant groups who are part of this parish: Nuestra Senora de Alta Gracia for the Dominicans, N.S. de Providencia, for the Puerto Ricans, Our Lady of Guadelupe for the Mexicans, and Our Lady of (a place in the Philippines that I cannot pronounce or spell) for the Filipino community.   After the procession and blessing lead by Bishop Galante, we will place the paintings in the shrine of the Blessed Mother—now consisting of a statue of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, installed by Americans with Irish, Italian, Eastern, African, and German backgrounds earlier in the parish’s history.


These are all paintings of Mary.  Why don’t we just have a simple, accurate picture of this first century, Jewish lady from Nazareth?   Not a one of the portrayals of this woman in the church would match a photograph of her, if we had one.  So you could look at this Catholic custom as complication and distortion of the truth.


I would like to suggest that the many titles and images of this first disciple, instead, carry rich and poetic meaning.   God uses all means available to call his own by name and lead them out.   The Virgin Mary is one Christian who works wholeheartedly with God in that effort.   So the Lord calls our name, speaking the language of our concrete human culture to teach and to connect.


It is also important to note that no single icon or name captures the whole of the Blessed Mother any more that any one snapshot or nickname can completely portray any one of us.  Some capture us pretty well, while some need other portrayals to give a balanced picture.


-Is there a specific image of Jesus that helps you connect with him?
-Do you have any pictures of Mary, or of the other saints, that help you connect with them?

-Can you pay attention to how a particular icon appeals to you—-on a feeling level, perhaps, or with subconscious connections and associations?   —or how one does not ring true to you?


2. Last Week in Camden

This year’s last freshmen homeroom from Father Judge served here Tuesday.   It was great hosting the young guys and working with campus minister, Deacon Steve Glackin.

Sunday the women’s basketball team from King College in Bristol, Tennessee, got here after a very long drive.   They are staying at the volunteer house for the week.


Ever since Joseph’s House closed for the season, we keep meeting people who made it their home during the bitter, winter months—now out on the streets again.   Some people have progressed to better situations, but too many are back, camped out in the Cathedral parking lot, and all around downtown.   I want to let you know that we are actively moving forward to make the program both year-round and able to address deeper needs.   The board is exploring a couple possible sites to house these services—and of course funding to help make it happen.


3. Upcoming Events

The King College women will work with a service agency called Urban Promise all week and then with DSW on Friday.  It is great to cooperate with other groups doing good things in our community.

At 7:00 PM Tuesday, the parish will dedicated paintings that Brother Mickey McGrath has painted for the Cathedral.

Guadelupe Family Services has its main fundraiser Thursday, at the Seaport Museum in Philly.

Bill Slaven is one of the people behind Joseph’s House project: he will be ordained a deacon this Saturday.   Congratulations Bill!


4. Links

Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.

Writer, Kathleen Norris, offers some great insights into the Mother of God from her background as a Protestant, a poet, and a woman deeply attracted to Catholic spirituality.   Check out this article: .



Our Lady of Camden, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Mike McCue, OSFS

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