26 December 2011
Second Day of Christmas
St. Steven, Deacon and First Martyr
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
1. Service Word Luke 2:1-14
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all.
9:10 on the 24th I stopped by Joseph’s House with socks and underwear and a large tray of Puerto Rican rice mixed with small green beans. More than forty-five people were waiting in line on the brick sidewalk to get in when doors open at 9:30. Bundled in many layers, eyes looking out between knit caps and scarves wrapped high, huddled together in the dark, bitter cold, standing against an ancient iron fence, nowhere to go on Christmas Eve; it was a sad sight.
Inside, staff readied abundant food. Mike Morgan, DSW volunteer and associate director of the shelter, was preparing a Santa suit and festive stockings loaded with goodies. Mike has a compact and trim build—not a typical Claus. But he would make up in energy and hamminess for the lack of the usual girth.
No room at the inn, but Joseph’s House is there. Not too merry—but people were doing their best. Everyone has a story: reasons they are out and alone on the holy night. —John, a sweet, devout guy who came to the 5:30 Mass with all his layers and gear and a statue of St. Jude, —Henry, a old Polish man, with broken English, leaning on a cane, —Tyree, high, on her feet only because she’s clinging tight to her new boyfriend, —Tom, impossibly handsome, back on the street, hooked by heroin, —Bob, the nicest guy in the world, —George, a North Catholic grad, hard working, super-friendly, says he starts drinking at breakfast, — James who asks for a ride to rehab after the holiday, says he can’t keep this up.
Thank God for this shelter—and for all the shelters, service, and love of neighbor inspired by the Savior born outdoors on another cold, lonely night. Thank God for family, health, belonging. Thank God.
2. Last Week in Camden
As Christmas approached, parishes, schools, companies, and individuals brought us food, clothing, and toys to channel to neighbors in need. I want to mention in particular socks and underwear from St. Mary’s Inter-Parochial School in Old City Philadelphia,
food from Our Mother of Consolation and gifts from Norwood-Fontbonne Academy both in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, six boxes of tee shirts from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA, a truck load of gifts from Visitation Academy in Georgetown, DC, multiple gifts from Holy Family Parish in Newark, DE, dozens of notes and checks from friends.
3. Upcoming Events
Tuesday two interns who will work with Kevin Moran at New Visions day shelter will begin their stay with us at the DSW volunteer house.
Wednesday we will work with Joseph’s House staff in preparing the site for an additional shelter. This will open by January 1 in the hall of a busy Protestant church in the Parkside section of Camden. Unfortunately it is not downtown, where most homeless people are found. None-the-less it will provide another place to get out of the cold, to be a part of a caring community, and to find aid getting out of the deep hole of homelessness.
Oblate provincial superior, Jim Greenfield has a great Christmas message on the OSFS website; you will enjoy it.
Christmas, and the end of 2011, both provide an opportunity to thank you for the ways you have supported the Oblate project of DeSales Service Works here in Camden. If you have been here recently, or read these weekly newsletters, you may agree that DeSales Service Works is flourishing in its mission to bring diverse groups together in this struggling neighborhood to foster understanding —and to improve conditions for the people of this city.
This good is possible because of the generosity and prayers of people like you. We invite you to consider a gift to DeSales Service Works for your year-end giving. Your gift will go a long way in helping us welcome high school, parish, and college groups to serve in this community. Additionally, you can help us make necessary repairs to the DSW House where many of you may have visited, stayed, and prayed.
Needs are great, and we are confident that your ongoing support and friendship, especially your prayers, and efforts at serving here and spreading the word of our good works, will bear tremendous fruit. In advance, I thank you for any donation you are able to give.
Donations to DSW can be made on-line through our web site. In order to ensure that your gift is directed to this project, please enter “DSW” in the box for Prayer Intentions. Of course, you are also welcome to add your prayer intentions for the Oblate Community to remember. If you prefer to send a check, please send it to: Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, 2200 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806.
Father Mike McCue, OSFS