15 July 2013
Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,
DeSales 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 Luke 10:38-42
Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”
This is a story about balance. Christian life requires work—but with direction and purpose. Connection with the Lord through reflection and prayer can bring us to a balance. Anxious and worried about many things, Martha has the good sense to share her feelings and thoughts with Jesus. Talking to him, she has really stopped for prayer. We can hope the time spent with him will help her bring a mindfulness—her best motives, attitudes, and purpose–to her energetic service. Without that, Martha could spend her generosity spinning her wheels in resentment headed to exhaustion.
Tyler is a guy we first met a couple years ago. Doing legitimate business in North Camden, he stood out: dressed in jacket and tie, healthy, good looking. I’m not sure if he was using drugs back then, but now addiction has him out of work, homeless, his muscular build wasted away, sun burnt, and sloppy. He says he doesn’t really eat, busy about many things, stuck chasing money to get high—or to fend off “dope’s” miserable withdrawal symptoms.
I use his real name because, when NBC’s Brian Williams visited in late winter pointing the camera at Camden’s troubles, our police chief, Scott Thompson, drove the reporter around the city. They came upon Tyler, and the chief stopped him for his ID and asked him to roll up his shirtsleeve, revealing fresh needle marks. He was caught on national TV as Tyler, a Camden intravenous heroin addict.
He was not at all happy about the attention this brought. In fact for two months after the show, Tyler wore dark glasses and a knit cap in a poor attempt to go unnoticed. This made him look laughable and actually more visible. I kept hoping the embarrassment would provide a push toward getting some help. Not yet.
Last week I greeted him across the street and checked in on how things were going.
I was at my car, and he asked for a ride to the bus stop a couple blocks away, on my way. He never asks for anything.
Settling into the passenger seat, he said, “Addicts are not completely bad people, you know.”
I said, “That is one thing I have learned being here. I’ve also seen how hard it is to break out of addiction.”
“It’s so hard.”
An addict is powerless over the substance that has hold of her/his spirit. The Higher Power calls us to take time to stop and to sit at his feet and dream, change direction, be wrong, apologize, surrender, turn away from self to others.
-How do you do you do dealing with people who are good—but make harmful or “stupid” choices?
-Do you apologize?
-Is there anything you are stuck chasing?
2. Last Week in Camden
The first week for the four DSW interns went great.
Three Father Judge students and Oblate Fr. Joe Wisniewski served a festive cookout to thank DSW for hosting thousands of hours of Fr. Judge High School service. Joe had the exact number of hours—something to be proud of.
I met with Oblate pastor Joe Brennan and Salesianum service director, Zach Ryan to talk about extending DSW into Wilmington. We had creative and practical conversations.
3. Upcoming Events
The interns continue their service this week with Evan and Emma working alongside Mike Morgan and me sponsoring camp activities in Northgate Park each afternoon.
Students from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Cinnaminson, NJ, will serve here Tuesday.
Pope Francis continues to communicate the gospel message with outstanding effectiveness. Maybe we can invite him to North Camden when he comes to Philadelphia in 2016.
Please pray for Tyler and all those who are addicted. For Juan who is in a rehab program. For all our kids. For Gary, Mark, Angel—and all camping out around the Cathedral this summer. For our parish, school and neighbors—all doing so much good. For Joseph’s House.
Pax et Bonum,
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS