Service Matters – Fifth Week of Easter

28 April 2013

Fifth Week of Easter

St. Catherine of Siena


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
  •  Links


1. Service Word   Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain

and showed me the holy city Jerusalem

coming down out of heaven from God.

It gleamed with the splendor of God.

Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,

like jasper, clear as crystal.

It had a massive, high wall,

with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed

and on which names were inscribed,

the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.

There were three gates facing east,

three north, three south, and three west.

The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,

on which were inscribed the twelve names

of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.


I saw no temple in the city

for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.

The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,

for the glory of God gave it light,

and its lamp was the Lamb.


The description of gates: north, south, east, and west, connects with our neighborhood’s Northgate Park which plays a big part in DeSales Service Works.   So many service groups have worked to restore and maintain this public space in the heart of our community.   The Book of Revelation uses layers of symbolic language and extravagant imagery to communicate hope to believers undergoing setbacks and persecutions.    The radiant beauty, unimaginable wholeness and justice of the heavenly Jerusalem are the destiny of this world.    God shares the vision to help believers persevere through the often broken, unfair, and incomplete world we see around us.    That applies to the first generations of Christians in the Mediterranean world, to the often dysfunctional city of Camden, and to every place we find ourselves.


Saturday our neighbors, DSW community, and Father Judge students serving here for the day experienced of the same vision of renewal and completion.    We gathered to celebrate the rebirth of Northgate Park.   If you have been here, maybe you can picture the scene: a perfect spring day, crystal blue sky, tree leaves like gems in the sunlight, faces radiant with joy.   Children, old people, addicts, community leaders, families—hundreds of people filled the park with life and positive spirit.


Trials, sin, terror, injustice have so much influence in this world, but we can never forget that they are only part of the story.  Now and in the end, the ways of God, and God’s love itself, prove more powerful than any darkness.

-What keeps you hope-filled even in your most trying situations?

-Are there images that help you picture the fullness of God’s kingdom—in heaven and on earth?

-Have you gotten glimpses and hints of heaven and God’s reign in family life? in community? in sports, art or nature?



2. Last Week in Camden

The last two Salesianum School homerooms served together here Wednesday.   As always the young men demonstrated Salesian generous spirit and willingness to try new things and meet new people.


Saturday Oblate postulant, Fr. Joe Wisniewski, brought forty students from Father Judge High School to Camden for ten hours of Christian service.   Five students from Cristo Rey Philadelphia were also here in the morning.   We divided into groups and worked either in Northgate Park, the overgrown backyard of St.Luke Medical Center, or at a spring cleaning at the community garden.   The weather was perfect for all the outdoor work.


Responding to a challenge by their life-skills teacher, Tim Gallagher, 8th graders from Holy Name School joined the Judge guys for afternoon service.


We worked on a number of projects after lunch, but the highlight was attending the spring celebration in Northgate Park described above.   Hundreds of people gathered in the park for a cookout, games, and public service booths.    A couple Judge guys joined the little kids getting their faces painted.    It was great that the volunteers got to see another side of Camden—positive people, ordinary people, in the beautiful park having fun with families.    Sometimes groups can get a one-sided, negative and needy impression.



3. Upcoming Events

Cristo Rey will be back Saturday.



4. Links

Session I May 26-June 16              Session II July 7-28.


If you or someone you know is 18 to 23, DeSales Service Works Summer Internship is something to consider: live and work for three weeks serving in community and with our neighbors.   Participants focus on one main project and also work together on other projects to get a brpoad experience of life here.  For information and to apply, contact program director, Mike Morgan, at or call Fr. Mike McCue at 215-582-1666.


I did not find any video yet of Saturday’s Northgate celebration, but here is a link to a video about Northgate Park from October 2012, another great day of renewal in the park.


Peace, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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