Service Matters – Christmas Season

2 January 2012

Christmas Season

St. Basil the Great & St. Gregory Nazianzen


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  Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, 

and the infant lying in the manger.   When they saw this, they made known the message 

that had been told them about this child.   All who heard it were amazed… .


I imagine the exposure most of us have to shepherds comes at Christmas when they share front row seats in nativity scenes with the three magi, well-behaved sheep and other shiny livestock, angels—and, of course, St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother.   Shepherds were often outsiders, living a nomadic existence.  The were basically homeless, sleeping outside, and not completely welcome or trusted by the more settled people in the community.


The image of Jesus as good shepherd uses contrast with other shepherds who might only work for hire and not really care for the sheep under their protection.   They surely would not lay down their lives for them.


So why is the good news announced to shepherds?   It sounds as though it is not likely they deserved to witness the angels’ message of great joy, and to see with their own eyes God’s salvation come in the flesh?   They have not necessarily merited this gift, but that reality highlights a huge reality of our faith.   God’s gift of himself to us—AKA: grace—is gift.   The shepherds, like everyone else gathered around the manger, were open enough to respond to God.


-What helps you pay attention to God’s gifts, blessing, and challenges?
-In your faith is there any trace of expectation that you can “earn” God’s favor or love?
-Do you find God in any unexpected places?



2. Last Week in Camden

Our guests, the interns for New Visions, continued their work.


DSW neighbor on State Street, Guadalupe Family Services held a powerful prayer vigil  to memorialize the 49 individuals lost to homicides in this small city in 2011.   Director, Sister of St. Joseph, Helen Cole; social worker Lourdes Gonzalez; and community outreach agent and DSW community member Tim Gallagher welcomed families and community members to keep the vigil over the three days before New Years.   Every victim got an hour dedicated to their memory and to prayer for them and those they left behind.  This took place in the Cathedral and was an opportunity to pray for God’s peace to end this senseless violence.



3. Upcoming Events 

Tuesday evening Oblate Vocation Director, Father Don Heet, and Oblate Associates will begin their three day retreat at DSW.    We have good things planned.


4. Links

Oblate Provincial Superior, Jim Greenfield has a great Christmas message on the OSFS website


This video from part of the vigil for Camden’s homicide victims gives a picture of the power of the experience.   See more vigil pictures here.


Happy New Year!

Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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