Service Matters – First Week in Ordinary Time

10 January 2011

First 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  Matthew 3:13-17

After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.   And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son with who I am well pleased.”


There are times when I feel self-conscious always talking about Camden.  Of course, it is natural that I would have a Camden focus since this is where I live and work.  And my specific job, DeSales Service Works, is a project supported by the Oblates, mandated by our governing plan.  But often I worry that in writing and speaking I may give the impression that I think this place has some kind of monopoly on problems and poverty.   Camden has statistics that set us apart in many negative categories, but I don’t need to tell you that there are challenges and poverties in every neighborhood.  In fact a key reason the Oblates host service retreats here is so participants commit to finding ways to serve in their ordinary times with renewed vision and dedication.


Of course, it’s not numbers or abstract issues that make anyone passionate about service; it is the people we encounter and the difference we make for good.  The gospel scene at the Jordan River offers an important image for service encounters.  With Jesus we hear the words, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”  It is easy to imaging that Jesus treasured that statement and made it a prayer that he brought to each moment of his life.  Without question he lived aware of the Father’s life-giving love and treated each person he encountered as beloved.


-What helps you treat others as “beloved” in service and in daily life?

-How firm is your belief that God sees you as “beloved” at each moment?

-In what ways do you offer service to God in what you do with your ordinary days?


2. Last Week in Camden

Oblate vocation director, Don Heet held a weekend for reflection, community, and service for Oblate Associates, (Associate Program).  It was a great retreat; one highlight was Don, and associates Chris Allen and Joe Conte dressed as magi and distributing gifts to 170 kids at Sunday school.


Saturday the Oblates sponsored a gathering, Hope for Haiti, to mark the one-year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake.   Our Provincial Jim Greenfield and Salesianum School principal, Chris Beretta, spoke with insight about their visits to Cite Solet and Port-au-Prince.  Junior Nelson, a young man from Haiti who is a senior at Salesianum, spoke about his native land and about his family’s friendship with Oblate Tom Hagen, (Hands Together).   Media attention comes and goes, but the need for believers to be committed to our neighbors—especially those in acute need—does not fade.


Two college students, Jared Utley and Billy Kurzenberger, gave part of their Christmas break on heir own for service here.


3. Upcoming Events

The men’s basketball team from Chestnut Hill College will be serving Wednesday; Father Judge freshmen Thursday, and the Beta Club of Bishop Ireton will serve Thursday to Saturday. Saturday they will overlap with Holy Name Scholars and with a group organized by Jacqueline Dolson from DC.


I want to again invite you to our Oblate Knowlton Mansion gathering 11 February.   It will feature music by the Cathedral’s amazing choir.   E-mail me if you are interested,  (McCue).


4. Peace and Justice Blog

Pat Kennedy served for several years as Oblate peace and justice advisor.  During that time he began and maintained our Blog and developed “Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching,” Salesian Themes.   I am sad to report that he has chosen to leave the Oblate formation program.   I was proud to be an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales with someone with so much vitality, fun, and talent.  Patrick did good work for justice and for the kingdom of God during his seven years with the community.  He shared his love of language and Scripture, his love of sharing a good time, his clear-sighted challenge and frankness, his grasp of Salesian spirituality.   We are grateful.


We can be happy for the peace he finds following his vocation, continuing to listen to the Lord’s call, sharing his gifts in his ongoing commitment to God, friendship with the Oblates, and service in the Church.   Pat, God bless you.  Thank you.



Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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