Service Matters – 8th Week in Ordinary Time

28 February 2011

8th Week in 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
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog


1. Service Word  Matthew 6:24-34

… Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.   Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?   Look at the birds in the sky… .


One reason we can reflect on gospel scenes again and again is we hear the Word of God differently at various moments and circumstances in our lives.  Listening to this gospel here in Camden, I have to wonder how someone hustling to stave off hunger, eating church sandwiches, coming to a soup kitchen, or digging through trashcans for scraps or for a half-eaten sandwich, hears this counsel.  How does the Lord’s sensible advice: Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, sound to parents who have to send their children to school without breakfast?   How does, Life is more than clothing, come across to someone who has worn the same shirt for a week, or has no other socks than the wet, gray pair on his feet?


Very often here you can observe people fighting for survival, pushing others out of the way, bitter and angry.  It’s hard to blame anyone on the streets—maybe addicted, or with few job skills, or living day to day, with no resources, dependent on charity—for being angry or bitter.


But you also meet so many people who possess only what they can carry, but still find ways to be gracious and generous.   People who have nothing share food and clothing and look out for one another.  Whether we store our clothing in a walk-in closet, or two, or if all our possessions fit in one Hefty bag; trust in God’s power and care can lead us to choose generosity and gracious awareness of others.


-How do you handle your worries?

-In what ways does your faith impact your worrying or your peace of mind?

-How do you do trusting God, even in times of extremes and testing?


2. Last Week in Camden

The Oblate novices visited us Wednesday as part of their survey of East Coast Oblate projects.   They toured, shared dinner with the community and volunteers, and enjoyed overnight lodging at the DSW Service House.  The novitiate year is part of formation that focuses on Salesian spirituality and Oblate identity.  The touring gives the opportunity to get a sense of the concrete ways we put our spirituality and identity into practice.


Georgetown Visitation students were back Saturday and packed a lot of service and reflection into their day: painting over graffiti with neighborhood kids, serving food, and talking with homeless people.   Formerly homeless Ken and Barbie were with us for the day.   They brought with them a thick packet of legal documents all the tenants of their apartment building received Friday.   Ken was sure it meant they were getting evicted; (he can’t read English, much less legal jargon).   One of he leaders of the trip made a quick call to a lawyer friend.   She was able to assured them that their landlords are in financial trouble, not the tenants.


Year long volunteer Tom Briese was given responsibility for an exciting health initiative at his service placement, the homeless health outreach Project HOPE.  Mike Morgan and Tom ran in a race in Mike’s hometown of Williamsburg, VA, and took the opportunity to connect with faculty and students from last weekend’s service retreat.   We also celebrated Tim Gallagher’s 23rd birthday.


3. Upcoming Events

Each Tuesday and Thursday in March and into April, 20 to 25 Salesianum juniors will be here 9:00 to 1:30 for service retreats.   Sandwich ministry, New Visions Day Shelter, Holy Name School, and work on North Camden T-ball fields are all on the agenda.

Father Judge freshmen will be here Wednesday, and a group from Rivier College begins their alternative spring break Saturday.


4. Salesian Peace and Justice Blog

Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.   The essay for September 7, “Mosque at Ground Zero,” reflects on the experience of Catholic monks of Our Lady of the Atlas in Algeria, the same topic dealt with by the new, award-winning movie “Of Gods and Men”.  It has gotten great reviews for effectively portraying this story of peace and justice in an extreme environment.


Have a great week, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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