Service Matters – Holy Week

18 April 2011

Holy Week


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   Matthew 26:14-27:66

Then Jesus came to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.   Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.  Remain here and keep watch with me.”  


Readers can easily guess that I am a big fan of the new community garden at 6th and Grant, one block from DSW.   First, since childhood I have loved digging in the dirt, and plants taking root and growing to maturity never stop amazing me.  Beyond that, it just a good thing that one dusty, trash-strewn plot of ground on our planet will be green and healthy.


One surprise participating in this project, is how much the garden already serves as a catalyst for people coming together in the neighborhood.   We have met so many people just by being out there.  There are dozens of examples of interactions—everything from requests for blessings, to sharing of memories about how the parish helped a family get established in this new country, to expressions of gratitude for the work, to questions about how to get a vegetable plot.


The most moving has to be the many times neighbors, with very few resources, offer us refreshment and hospitality.   One example is Virginia, a Latin woman in her 80s who has made soup for Ken and me twice and brings us sodas often.  She is a talkative woman who often forgets that I understand very little Spanish; conversations start in English but quickly slide over her native tongue.  Like so many people here, she clearly has nothing, but that does not stop her from sharing.


There is so much here in Camden to cause sorrow and distress and to make people lose faith.   Watching with Jesus helps us see the other side—all the goodness and hope amid the ruins of this city.


-Can you make the various prayers of Jesus from the Gospel passion accounts your own: 

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass; yet not as I will, but as you will”

from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Father, forgive them…”

St. Francis de Sales’ favorite: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

-How do you remain and keep watch with the Lord—in you prayer, service, daily living?

-What serves the role of a garden for you—either Gethsemane or community?


2. Last Week in Camden

Two more Sallies groups served here last week.   Lead by Hopeworks and the Camden Children’s Garden, we joined neighbors putting up the fence and grading the lot preparing for the truckloads of soil for the new community garden.


3. Upcoming Events

Tuesday completes all Salesianum day-long service retreats for the school year.  Sallies has a weekend retreat here May 27-29.   Visitation Academy young women come for three days this week.   And we will host a group from a high school in Maine stopping in Camden for a day of service as part of a larger East Coast educational trip.    Holy Name Scholars are rescheduled because of the rain to Holy Saturday morning.


The Cathedral parish began Holy Week with energy and beauty Palm Sunday.   The Easter Triduum begins Thursday with Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00, continues Good Friday with Stations at 1:00 and Liturgy at 3:00.   Easter Vigil is 8:00 Saturday night, followed by Masses at the Cathedral Easter Morning.   Everyone is welcome—of course.    Have a great week.


4. Links

Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.     Read an article about the new community garden.


Peace, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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