Service Matters – First Week of Lent

18 February 2013

First Week of Lent

Presidents’ Day


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

…   they saw his glory and the two men standing with  him.

As  they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, 

“Master,  it is good that we are here;

let  us make three tents,

one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But  he did not know what he was saying.

While  he was still speaking, 

a  cloud came and cast a shadow over them, 

and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.

Then  from the cloud came a voice that said, 

“This  is my chosen Son; listen to him.”


So much of life  seems like going forward with only with faith.   Vision into the future  has to be somewhat unsure—like entering the cloud.     Initiating a project, beginning marriage or a family, making a career switch,  starting studies, looking deeply at your life, leaving behind drink or  drugs—all can be unsure journeys.  As the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton  prayer puts it, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going…”


The sure thing  is God’s voice, the example of Jesus, and the life to which God  calls us.   The Transfiguration’s “mountain top  experience” stays with Peter, James, and John as they make their  way as followers of Jesus.


Merton’s  prayer sums up so well:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.   I  do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following  your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the  desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire  in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that  desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road  though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though  I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you  are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”   ― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude


-Do you have  any “mountain top  experiences” of faith or clarity guide your way down on the ground?

-Are you able  to feel God’s care and guidance even in the darkest cloud?

-What are  some ways you offer direction and support for people in your life?



2. Last Week in Camden

Great News!

In the last  newsletter, I mentioned that the effort to address homelessness in Camden,  Joseph’s House, had found an ideal building for a secure home for this  ministry.   On Ash Wednesday the board met and voted to purchase that  property and to locate the program there.   We are in our third winter  season of sheltering people who have no where to  go, and have learned so much by entering the “cloud” of  this service—and of raising funds and support to help make it happen.


High school  groups from Salesianum, Father Judge, Ireton, and Visitation served here last  week. All the students pushed themselves beyond their usual comfort zones to  serve our neighbors.


I lead a 8:00-2:00 Lenten Day of reflection with the faculty of  Our Lady of Victory school on Friday.   They were great.   Each  spring their graduating students come to Camden for a few days to cap off  their Catholic school experience with service, prayer, and reflection.


Camden welcomed  our new bishop last week and got a clear sense that he is personally  committed to the needy and to new Americans.   Bishop Sullivan spent  most of his ministry leading an inner city parish.    We also got to  honor and thank retiring Bishop Galante, who gave  the Oblates a warm welcome to south Jersey.



3. Upcoming Events

Judge and  Salesianum will be back two days this week along with several groups  converging Saturday for a great service day.   Students from Immaculata University outside Philadelphia will begin  their stay here Friday.


DSW Reunion at Live  Jesus

Camden DeSales Service  Works Live Jesus REUNION!


You are invited to a CAMDEN REUNION




Morning Retreat with  outstanding presenters, including Oblate provincial, Fr. Jim Greenfield.




12:30 Lunch

1:00 Update projects  & people  

with Ken & Barbie and DSW Volunteers.

1:30 “What did you  take back home with you?” Reports from your neighborhood.


Join us for all of LIVE JESUS   or join at 12:30 for the CAMDEN DSW REUNION.



Live Jesus Speakers

Father James Greenfield, OSFS

Father Kenneth McKenna, OSFS

Seminarian Jeffery Edmonds, OSFS

Deacon Brian Zumbrum, OSFS

St. John Neumann Parish, 11900 Lawyers Road, Reston,  VA. 20191




4. Links

Read past  reflections at the archives of Service Matters.


Have a good week,

Mike McCue, OSFS

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