20 January 2014
Second Week in Ordinary Time
Rev. Martin Luther King Day
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales,
DeSales 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 Matthew 4:12-23
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Holy Name Scholars, graduates of the Cathedral Parish grade school, in a program that offers support as they continue on to Catholic high schools, had their monthly service day Saturday. During a break in the work, five of them got to sit down with a newly arrived young adult group from Oblate parishes in Northern Virginia.
The high school students talked about Camden, debunking the one-sided impression that their hometown is only a land overshadowed by death. Part of their preparation for discussion came because had read an article from Rolling Stone magazine for their youth group. The title gives clear impression of the article’s point of view: “Apocalypse New Jersey: A Dispatch from America’s Most Desperate Town.” Flores joined two other freshmen girls talking about loving Camden and they spoke with pride about her immigrant parents’ hard work and vision.
A senior, Paul goes to St. Joe’s Prep, a well regarded Jesuit school in Philadelphia. He spoke about how the neighborhood where that school is located has the same problems you see in Camden—but does not get portrayed as exclusively dark and defeated.
The conversation brought light for all sides to understand the more complicated reality. The most powerful illumination didn’t come from the students’ reasoning or from their passion for their community, but from themselves. They are clearly kind and impressive young people who regularly see the dark side, but resolutely choose the light. And they are not alone making the choice; they have family, peers, Church (in the form of Latino culture, parish, school, and youth ministry), and faith as support and guide.
2. Last Week in Camden
Saturday two groups from University of Wisconsin overlapped in their time in Camden. Badger Catholic campus ministry’s group shared their energy for service with a new U. of W. group. They were joined for the day Monday by a group of Sallies students. Thursday, an Ireton group arrived. Friday a second Salesianum group joined for the day working at sandwich ministry and at Joseph’s House.
Saturday both the Badgers and the Ireton Cardinals went home, but Holy Name Scholars took up the mission. They overlapped for work and lunch with a group made up of members of the young adult groups of both Northern Virginia parishes staffed by the Oblates, St. John Neuman and Our Lady of Good Counsel.
3. Upcoming Week
The young adults finish up Monday. I will be at Cristo Rey and Bishop Ireton this week for their St. Francis de Sales celebrations. Friday students from Bishop Guertin High School in New Hampshire arrive for the weekend.
Friday is the feast of St.Francis de Sales. Celebrate with gentleness, strength, humility, patience toward yourself and others. “Be who you are and be that well.”
Joseph’s House shelter will finally open January 24th. Take a look at the renovated building: Joseph’s House of Camden. Director Jon Klein has done a great job of raising funds from foundations and individuals; the mission and our approach is something people want to help. I want to mention that donations are very welcome—particularly at this time when we need to pay for the physical building and for actually putting it to use—beginning operations.
Our three previous years we have been open only during the winter season. Going forward now we intend to be open all year. Whether we can do that depend on funding. It is a huge issue since our employees need to have dependable jobs. And of course, Joseph’s House can do more than simply offer stop-gap, emergency shelter if open all year. We can more effectively build relationships and offer a way out of homelessness for our guests. The website lays out these goals and our overall plan with St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society as a partner for permanent supportive housing, and with assistance dealing with the root causes of homelessness.
Consider starting 2014 off with a gift to this impactful effort.
God bless you,
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS