Service Matters – First Week of Advent

28 November 2011

First Week of Advent


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
  • Links  


1. Service Word    Mark 13:33-37  

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert!”  You do not know when the time will come.


Last spring I became aware that the street in front of the DSW volunteer house was very dark.   Looking around, it was clear that all but one of the street lights on our block were out.   Whether driving or walking, I usually come into the house via the alley—which, ironically, is well lit—so the lamps could have been out for months before I personally noticed.


We began an effort address the issue, first calling the city and then our power company.   Week after week we got assurances that workers would be out soon.  (Once on a Friday, the person on the phone said they will get it done before Monday, even though that would mean working on the weekend).  Eventually, we reached a man directly responsible for light in Camden who leveled with us, saying that the lamps had been repaired multiple times only to be disabled shortly after.  They could not keep fixing, only to have wires cut again and again.   He demonstrated a knowledge of our block, aware that wires were cut, not removed for scraping of the copper.   Clearly some people want darkness rather than light—or at least one person with wire cutters does.


We realized that others were also making efforts to deal with this public safety issue.  So we shifted gears from the official level to talking to neighbors about turning on their porch lights.   Volunteers gave out new compact light bulbs to encourage that.


I recount this saga to share the good news that last week our mayor announced that our street and another in South Camden will get new lights.


In addition, I can’t pass up drawing on this experience in a season situated where it is in the year because of light and darkness.   We mark the birth of the Light of the World right after the longest night, as light moves minute by minute toward dominance.   And the poetry of this season admonishes us to renew our living in the Lord’s light.   Be aware and awake, see, know, understand, and be ready—“Watch!”


-What are some ways you watch the earthly life of Jesus for guidance in your actions and for increasing your affection toward him?

-In what ways are you ready for final judgement by our all-seeing, all-understanding, and all-loving Judge?

-How do you do watching for the presence of God here and now—graces, opportunities, challenges?

2. Last Week in Camden

Monday Salesianum sophomores and Tuesday Judge freshmen got to assist channeling the abundant food that came our way in the days before Thanksgiving.


3. Upcoming Events

Friday young women from Visitation Academy in DC will serve here for the day.

Hopeworks’ residence for college students, the CRIB, has its third fund raising dinner—for a trip to Mexico to assist with a project there.  They prepare a great dinner, and proceeds go for a worthy cause.   It is great that kids from Camden are so devoted to helping needy people—in situation more desperate than their own.

Friday I will be over in Philly at Temple University Newman Center.  A group from Temple has a service trip early in the new year, so it is good to make connections beforehand.


4. Links

Check out the DSW website  and the Peace & Justice Blog.    Also see other resources: Facebook page- and Mike Morgan’s blog-

  Have a good week, Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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