Service Matters – 4th Week of Easter

30 April 2012

Monday of the 4th Week of Easter


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

“I am the good shepherd.

A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

A hired man, who is not a shepherd

and whose sheep are not his own,

sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away… .


It would be hard to miss the Church in the news this week for a report one Vatican department issued regarding a leadership organization of Catholic sisters, LCWR.   Media usually does not get everything accurate when reporting about Catholicism.   How could it, since, in effect, journalists need to be expert on every topic they report—clearly an impossible task.    So it is best to read for yourself the actual statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


One thing the report critiques is the sisters’ organization not using regular gatherings and publications to explicitly articulate belief in the sanctity of human life “from conception until natural death.”   It seems to me that views on this topic are so ossified, emotional, and readily utilized for political advantage, that words are not heard.   There are too few conversations focused on understanding—too many debates trying to prove points and defeat opponents.


Actions speak more clearly than words, and American sisters can be found in every corner of this nation asserting the gospel of life by concrete acts of charity and justice.


Frequently here we meet women who are pregnant—and homeless, or addicted, or very young, or clinging to a male who appears unable to offer much security—material or spiritual.   We give them lots of food, connect them to agencies, and we pray.   But each time, I feel deep sadness, imagining what the likelihood is that a “good life” lies ahead for the unborn child.   Again, a good life is possible without material security, but some people seem so unsuited to bring children into this world.


This winter talking to one homeless couple, their bodies wasted away from heroin use; they shared about the loss of baby in a miscarriage.   Despite thier tragedy, I silently prayed, “thank God.” —I think it was a prayer.    The situation is so sad; what kind of life would any child of theirs have?   How would their community have enough wisdom, strength, or patience to help?

Jesus as good shepherd offers a powerful image for understanding God.   Despite the fact that few of us have much first-hand experience of sheep, being guided or helping to shepherd, being lost or found, touch real human experience.   The Good Shepherd does not give up on a single one of us.   He doesn’t need any quick fixes or big solutions, Jesus is there for the whole journey through life—leading, guiding, challenging, and blessing.    Don’t we all join the Lord in shepherding: educating, feeding, building up spirits, channeling sexuality for good, being faithful so people choose life?


– How does your service to young or old communicate the sanctity of human life?

– Are there ways the Good Shepherd is leading, challenging and/or blessing you presently?

– Have there been any sisters or nuns who have taught you the faith by actions or words?


2. Last Week in Camden

Beginning Thursday afternoon and ending Saturday morning, a group of 16 students and 3 chaperones from Bishop Ireton High School were here for service and reflection.    They got to work right away playing with kids at the after school program.   In addition to all the usual great service projects, the group got to work with several homeless guys reclaiming lots that are next to Northgate Park in our continuing effort to rehab that space in the neighborhood.


Ireton has made Holy Name School its “sister school” in Camden.   They also have that relationship with a school in Haiti called Louverture Cleary School.    Friday and Saturday nights Ireton had an arts forum that featured one-act plays, poetry reading, videos, music, and displays prints, drawings and paintings.   There was a basket at the door for donations ear-marked for Holy Name School arts education.  We are very grateful.


3. Upcoming Events

Freshmen from Father Judge will be here Tuesday for a day of recollection.


4. Links

Here are links to more discussion on the CDF’s open letter regarding  American sisters and nuns.    By Washington pastor Jim Wallis of Soujourner’s Magazine.     Jesuit Fr. James Martin,  And historian Scott Appleby.


Easter Peace,  Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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