Service Matters – 8th Week in Ordinary Time

28 May 2012

Monday of the 8th Week in Ordinary time

Memorial Day


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

  1. John 20:19-23 

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.


Twice recently I got the chance to see “before pictures” of two homeless guys we know pretty well, Brian and Charles.   In each case it was so strange to see them before life on the streets: healthy, clean, posing with loved ones, smiling.   Brian carries two dozen photos of his old life carefully wrapped in plastic bags.   He was probably 30 pounds heavier, pretty put together, and he just looked normal.   Now he looks homeless, weather beaten, muscles gone, walking like someone twice his age.


I met Charles’ daughter on Market Street, downtown where she was trying to find her father.   She showed a picture of him from his normal life, his face and body is filled out, smiling, and looking carefree.


It was startling to see these pictures; I have only seen these guys locked in their room, looking for peace in all the wrong places, unable to break out of the desperate condition of just getting by each day.   Sins, poor choices, broken relationships, regrets weigh down anyone’s days.   Here addicts, dealers, aimless teens, women on the streets all have individual stories and situations, but each longs to breathe in the peace and forgiveness of their creating God—the forgiving, breathe in the the life of the recreating God, the Lord of second chances (of seventy times seven second chances).    May we all be an effective sacrament of Jesus in our midst breathing out life, peace, meaning, and grace.


– How does the Lord’s peace and forgiveness come to your life?

– Are there areas of life where you are stuck—in a locked room?

– What are some ways you are sacrament of Jesus in our midst?   How are others sign of that reality to you?



2. Last Week in Camden

The interns had a great week under the leadership of Mike Morgan and Rachel Allen.   They worked together during each morning service period, something different each day.   Each afternoon they worked on individual projects.

Friday was a movie night in Northgate Park.   It was a perfect summer night, warm but with lots of movement in the air.   There were loads of kids there, refreshments, and guests from the NJ Aquarium, two starfish and a horseshoe crab.

Saturday Holy Name Scholars, grads of our grade school who have a monthly service day; with Tim Gallagher they joined the interns on a mural project at the community garden.   A number of neighborhood kids also joined the effort.

Sunday the whole Cathedral parish gathered for one beautiful Mass for the feast of Pentecost.    The air conditioning did not work, but we celebrated well despite the heat.



3. Upcoming Events

Today a group from Our Lady of Victory Parish in DC arrives for three days of service.

The interns are here for their week two.  Tonight after a full day, they will be cheering for the River Sharks at a home game in Camden’s stadium on the Delaware River front.



4. Links

Check out a Bishop Ireton video that talks about the impact a service retreat in Camden has had on student and teachers from this Alexandria, VA, high school.

I also want to highlight an article in Commonweal magazine that brings some common sense to heated discussions of the Church with regard to current public policy issues.

 Peace,  Mike McCue, OSFS

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