Service Matters – Fourth Week of Advent

20 December 2010

Fourth 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
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog


1. Service Word   Matthew 1

…the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.   For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.   She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus… .”


Since last spring, we have been part of a group meeting to develop a way to address homelessness in Camden.  There were times when it seemed that our weekly meetings were going nowhere as we tried to focus our dream and research best practices.  In September, we decided to borrow from a successful program in Philadelphia, Bethesda Project, and begin with a “homeless café.”   This model gives people a place to come inside and set up, as they would out in the cold with cardboard and sleeping bags.  It is one step above being outside over night.  We dream of helping our neighbors beyond this rudimentary step, but with our mentors’ encouragement we will begin in January at this level of service.


Naming the project was important in order to establish legal status and to raise funds.  After much discussion and consultation, last week we chose the name “Joseph’s House.”  This is a richly appropriate name in so many ways.  The gospel reminds us that the Blessed Mother and Joseph with the infant Jesus were homeless in Bethlehem.  And St. Joseph paid attention to his dreams.   He cooperated with God drawing him beyond hurt and anger —blind-sided by Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness— beyond a small plan of “quietly divorcing” his betrothed.  Trusting God’s word, he put his fear behind him and went forward into the unknown, confident that God sees the big picture.


Is there any anger or hurt shaping your life?

Is the advice (or command) often seen in the gospel, “do not be afraid,” a helpful prayer for your life?

What is the level of your confidence in God—especially if the “big picture” is not clear to you at this juncture?


2. Last Week in Camden

Students from Chicago worked all week preparing and delivering food to chronically ill individuals in Philadelphia.   We are also hosting two women from western NY, working at New Visions Day Shelter.  They have never encountered “homeless people” before and are very moved by the experience.  Father Judge freshmen were back, along with students from a high school in Tabernacle, NJ.


Saturday Georgetown Visitation had a very full day of service.   One highlight involved Ken and Barbie, our formerly homeless neighbors making hearty turkey soup with the Visitation girls to take to homeless people camped out all around the Cathedral.   Ken wanted to do this because, as he put it, he knows what it is like to be on the street, cold and hungry.   We also gave people warm socks, gloves, hats and scarves—all donated by Bishop Eustace High School, in Cherry Hill, NJ.


3. Upcoming Events

DSW volunteer Mike Morgan’s birthday is this week, Dec 22.   Happy Birthday, Mike!    Also we wish you all a great Christmas!


4. Peace and Justice Blog    Read the Oblate Justice and Peace Blog.   There is a great new posting by Emma Dolson, a senior from Visitation.



Peace, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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