25 April 2011
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
1. Service Word John 20:1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
People sometimes ask if it gets discouraging in Camden, for decades the poorest and most violent U.S. city. There are times when graffiti on a wall volunteers recently painted, or more litter in the park we keep cleaning, or fresh syringes in the alley bring me down. And those are just obvious, physical examples. The experience of people with few options for progress, or of kids who have so much stacked against them, or of individuals so deep in a hole that it is hard to imagine a way out—all deflate hope.
“Discouraged” must be the way the disciples felt before Jesus’ resurrection—discouraged, defeated, despairing, without direction. Mary Magdalen’s initial interpretation of the empty tomb is so darkly earthbound. But soon she and the other disciples’ hopes soar on a new realization of the power and goodness of God. No one has taken the Lord; God’s love, more powerful than any evil, and has raised his Son from the dead. We are all the disciple Jesus loved, so we have no evil to fear. Faith standing on that reality offers a positive perspective for facing discouragements of Camden—or of any situation. Our efforts do not magically end negatives. But in practical ways they bring the light of resurrection—contributing to the good here and now, and promising fullness and completion in the world to come.
-Does any part of the imagery and rituals of this past Easter Triduum have particular meaning for you this year?
-How do you bring the events of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection to your situation.
-Can you understand yourself as disciple whom Jesus loves?
2. Last Week in Camden
Salesianum’s last day-long service retreat for this school year was this week; so now fully one half of the school has been here! Students arrived at the Cathedral in time to assist with a Food Bank delivery and jumped into the work. Tuesdays are our “sandwich service’s” busiest day each week, and last Tuesday also featured eggs and meat. So, students got to help a lot of people. We always say that just by showing up in this neighborhood, volunteers give witness to the value their school places on service —to free them and two faculty members for a day in Camden. I always say it—and it it true. We are very grateful for the presence and work of the Salesianum young men!
Friends from Our Mother of Consolation parish in Philadelphia, Paula Reilly, and Jeannine and Jim Mazarelli and their crew of eight kids (most under the age of 10) prepared and served food. One highlight was all the kids, sharing with the adults about what we commemorate at Holy Thursday and how it relates to service.
The community celebrated Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Day with great music and energy. Young women from Georgetown Visitation Academy, St. Bernadette’s, and their leaders joined the Holy Thursday liturgy after very full day of service and reflection. They formed garden beds from a mountain of top soil at the community garden. Again neighborhood kids came to join in the fun/work and neighbors and people passing by gave encouragement. They also visited tent city and make and delivered soup for Joseph’s House. Visitation grad, Pilar Hogan, director of St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society, spoke to the girls from her experience as director of a Camden version of Habitat for Humanity. This was Visi’s fifth trip here this school year; we are grateful!
We hosted a group from a high school “Trekkers Program” from Maine here as part of their larger East Coast educational trip.
3. Upcoming Events
Holy Name Scholars are rescheduled for this Saturday. And a group of young adults from Holy Family Parish in Newark, Delaware will be here Wednesday through Friday.
Read past Service Matters at the DSW web page or essays at the Peace & Justice Blog.
Happy Easter, Mike McCue, OSFS