Service Matters – New Year’s Eve

31 December 2012

New Year’s Eve

Seventh Day of Christmas


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  Luke 2:41

After three days they found him in the temple,

sitting in the midst of the teachers,

listening to them and asking them questions,

and all who heard him were astounded

at his understanding and his answers.


When his parents saw him,

they were astonished,

and his mother said to him,

“Son, why have you done this to us?

Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

And he said to them,

“Why were you looking for me?

Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth,

and was obedient to them;

and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor

before God and man.


Happy New Year!

When people ask how I like living and ministering in Camden, among the things I say, I always sum up saying, “I learn something every day.”

Whether that comes from talking to a cop, or an addict, or homeless guy or woman;

or sitting as the only English speaker in a living room with thirty new Mexican-Americans December 12 at 6:00AM;

or listening to students reflect on their faith encountering Camden—seeing the effect this place has on them;

or sitting with guests at Joseph’s House shelter, observing acts of sharing from people who have nothing;

or seeing the interest and generosity of people who come here, read this newsletter, send donations our way, travel to Camden, and give up precious time to be here;

or standing in Church with the best music you could imagine, the Cathedral full of people singing;

or bringing kindness and attention to people who need that, but also jobs and so much more;

or praying together for 67 people who met violent deaths in one year;

or observing the efforts of people to sit in the midst of the teachers with questions and answers life has given them.


Life—that is to say, God—has so much to teach us.   So we can assert with the gospel writer, we “advanced in wisdom and age and favor… .


Even this gospel scene illustrates this for me.   In the past reflecting on this story, I was not able to get beyond wondering how the parents could have lost track of their Son.   Preparing to preach this Sunday, I encountered a simple explanation for that. (The pilgrim group traveled with men and women segregated.   Jesus at 12 was at the transition age where he might be with the children who traveled with the women, or he might be with the young men with the men’s group.   Perhaps Mary and Joseph each assumed he was with the other’s group.)   One way or another, the story’s rich symbolism has much wisdom to offer.


God bless you this year on your pilgrim journey.


-What teachers from the Catholic tradition can you sit with and share your questions and your answers?

-Is there any area of your life where Mary’s prayer, “why have you done this to us?” applies?

-What do you ponder and keep in your heart as you enter a new year?



2. Last Week in Camden

At the end of each year Guadalupe Family Services (GFS), headed by Sister of St. Joseph Helen Cole, sponsors a vigil to pray for peace and for the victims of deadly violence in Camden.  This year’s began in the Cathedral at 7:00AM Saturday and continued until 11:00 each night, until New Year’s Eve when it concludes at 7:00PM.   Most hours two or more family members are present.   Sometimes there is a crowd.   Sometimes no one comes, but Sister, Tim Gallagher and the rest of GFS staff and supporters are there to keep vigil.  Some loved ones keep to themselves.   Others want to talk, and the setting is right for support and compassion.


This is the prayer that begins each hour:

We gather at this hour to pray for ____and for her/his family and friends.  We remember the life of ___.  We pray that the family and friends of ___experience comfort and support in their grief and sorrow.   We honor the life  of ____.  We know that her/his life ended too quickly.   We know, God, that you are with us in our sadness.

We ask that you give us hope and peace in the future.  Help us make choices that will help Camden to be a safe place to live.   You are with us, God.   You are always with us, now and forever.   Amen.


This year various media were here to report on the vigil for homicide victims; these include Channel 6 News and CBS.



3. Upcoming Events

I will be at Cristo Rey High School in Philadelphia for their faculty and staff Mass to open the second semester.   The school has been in operation only since August, but it is going strong.   They already have a service component, and DSW is a part of it.   In the fall we hosted two service Saturdays; more are planned for the second semester.

Saturday eight students from Niagara University begin their week of service.



4. Links

Read past reflections at the archives of Service Matters  and on DSW’s Facebook page.


Bob Killian, OSFS, has produced a great new video to convey the faith that inspires the Oblates to work here and offers insights about what DSW is trying to do in Camden.   Check it out.



Happy New Year,

Mike McCue

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