Service Matters – Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

7 February 2011

Fifth 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   I Corinthians 2:1-5

When I came to you, sisters and brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.   I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that you faith might not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God.


One thing evident in every aspect of our being in Camden has been learning by doing.   From the beginning, we met poverty, addiction, and homelessness in our neighbors, and we had to learn how to proclaim Jesus Christ, and him crucified in this setting.   At first we gave out food any time of the day or night.  Whenever someone asked, we made a sandwich.  When it started to get cold, we gave away every blanket in the house. We gave money to anyone with a convincing story.  Often we learned the bit of truth communicated in this question and response: “How can you tell if an addict is lying?” — “His lips are moving.”  It did not take long to realize we needed to channel our energies and resources in a sustainable way, especially as the numbers increased.   We got organized; and very importantly, others got involved.


Sometimes religion can come across as the place with all the answers.  I think it is better to understand religion and Church as the context to bring our questions.  The great teacher, St. Paul puts it so well: with weakness and fear and much trembling we move forward; more than with a bag full of answers.  Our goal is not to outsmart desperate, poor people, but to see our neighbors as God sees them.


Are you able to view moments of weakness, fear and trembling as “opportunity” to turn to God?

-When you think of “Church” do you include in the picture the rich 2000 year journey of human experience following Christ the Lord?

-Where is the power of God evident in your life today?


2. Last Week in Camden

Winter weather finally cooperated, so Thursday I joined Bishop Ireton High School to celebrate Mass in honor of St. Francis de Sales.   After school, students and teachers who had been to Camden met to firm up plans for their community to connect with ours.  On the agenda are fundraising events, being pen pals with Holy Name 4th graders, and a summer week in the city.  We ended the meeting loading the DSW truck with blankets, socks, and canned goods from a collection that will conclude next Friday.   The blankets went directly to grateful guests Sunday night at Joseph’s House.


The year-long volunteers, Tom, Tim and Mike met me in Bethany Beach, DE, for the quarterly retreat that is a part of their program.   The retreat took place at a beach condo lent us by great supporters, Lindagale and Peter Dube, and featured Myers-Briggs work, book discussion, prayer, and beach time.   Sunday we ferried to Cape May and celebrated Mass with Oblate Frank Danella at Star of the Sea Parish, and had lunch and conversation to end up the retreat.


3. Upcoming Events

Tuesday another group of Father Judge freshmen will be here for a service retreat.


Friday is the Winter Carnival at Knowlton Mansion that will gather Oblates and our friends from around the Camden and Philadelphia area.   The Cathedral Parish 11:30 choir will lead music for the prayer part of the gathering.


4. Salesian Peace and Justice Blog

Check out past Peace & Justice Blog essays and a couple new postings at the DeSales Service Works section of the Oblate web site.


Have a great week, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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