Service Matters – Last Day of the Christmas Season

9 January 2012

Last Day of the Christmas Season

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord


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 2:1-12

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it stopped over the place where the child was.


Christmas has impact.   No one present in the United States from October to late December could miss the “holidays.”   Whether the season comes as cause to shop, party, think of others, decorate, have a couple days off from work—or brings focus on family and the beauty of the Christmas—it is impossible to miss.


But the most profound impact can be found at the heart of Christmas, the experience that God entered our world as the infant Jesus, via Mary, in a particular time and place in this very human world.   This historical reality shines light on the character of God.


Without taking anything away from our national celebration, Christmas really wants to reach our core and challenge us to be who we are—the image of God who is love.   The love of the Christian God will not be domesticated to warm feelings or a contained circle of like-minded people—we are created for this loving.

The Magi’s star is a great image for this.  How did these searchers see this one, particular star among all in the night sky?    How did they keep it in sight?   How did they let it lead them far from home?   Why were they not disappointed when it lead them to a poor infant, with migrant parents, homeless in the cold, winter night.   This is not a promising scene.   Yet it challenges us to see promise and Divinity.   A star in the sky shines above us whether we are paying attention or not.

What help you remember what is most important?

Are there practices or habits that keep you focused?

How does fun and delight play a part in your religious experience?



2. Last Week in Camden

Tuesday through Thursday Oblate Vocation Director, Don Heet, and two guys considering an Oblate vocation, Chris Allen and J.J.Stinson, were here for a great service retreat.    One highlight was watching the movie Of Gods and Men that tells a powerful story of people trying to live a life of peace, understanding, and God’s love in a very hostile environment.   The movie lead to an insight-filled discussion.


Wednesday our guests from upstate New York, the interns for New Visions, joined the Associate group for a visit to “tent city.”    We brought brownies the women had made and candles.   That evening our local Public Radio station, WHYY, aired a concise NPR report about that encampment.


Sunday 15 students from University of Wisconsin in Madison arrived.   There first action was napping; they had driven through the night to get here at 10:00AM.   Refreshed, they headed to service in the alley, leveling out gravel hills and valleys, picking up trash and sealing up two abandoned backyards frequented by addicted men and women.


Within three minutes of our finishing and heading into the house, two guys hopped over a cinderblock wall—where we had just secured the gateway with a fence panel.    And this morning we discovered that someone had removed the long chain we had used to “stitch up” a gash in a chain-link fence—again to get into an abandoned backyard for drug use.  There are no quick fixes; living here requires patience and persistence.


3. Upcoming Events

The UW is here until Saturday.   Judge freshmen will be here Tuesday.   Saturday Holy Name Scholars will have their monthly service at New Visions preparing and serving a delicious lunch.

After that I head to Reston, VA, to speak at Masses at St. John Neumann Parish.


4. Links

This is the last day of the Christmas Season, so you can still listen to Oblate Provincial, Jim Greenfield’s great Christmas message on the OSFS website.    Jim was just re-elected last night for four more year of service as the Oblate leader.   Congratulations and prayers!



 Mike McCue, OSFS

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