2 May 2011
Second Week of Easter
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 John 20:19-31
… the doors were locked where the disciples were for fear, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Camden is a place where you remember to lock doors. Media share all sorts of stories about our neighborhood that might make people expect a lawless, Old West-type environment. And we have topped rankings of dangerous cities for decades. Volunteers who come here are often afraid at first. Fear can be a healthy thing—maybe “prudent’ is a more precise word. It is just smart to be aware in any urban environment. But fear can be disabling and can blind us to the fuller picture. Clearly that is the state of the apostles, locked in the upper room.
The Lord is still in our midst —in the least of our sisters and brothers; in his challenge and inspiration to serve; in the true, beautiful, and good found even in the most unlikely places.
-Are there fears that are not healthy in your life, that hold you back from fuller living?
-Can you hear the Lord telling you, “Do not be afraid.” as he does so often in the gospels?
-What sort of peace does Jesus offer you?
2. Last Week in Camden
Teens from Holy Family Parish in Newark, Delaware, served Wednesday through Friday of their spring break. Their youth leader, Mary Draper, and associate pastor, Joe Wisniewski, were both here as well. With them was Dan Hoover, former Oblate associate and graduate of Oblate Lumen Christi High School in Jackson, Michigan. Daniel serves in Delaware as part of a program of Notre Dame University training lay ministers. While building the community garden, about 15 neighborhood kids and adults joined in the efforts. This project is having the effect we hoped; the volunteers also went out of their way to welcome all who came by to observe or help. The group visited Joseph’s House Thursday and sat down to talk or to watch TV with the guests there for the night.
April 30th was this season’s last night for Joseph’s House “cafe style” overnight shelter. The planning board will regroup to begin again in the fall on November 1st. Several regular guests have talked about plans going forward; others clearly do not have concrete plans. This project got 40 people off the street each night, helped some move to more stable situations, and cultivated a sense of community. I have to believe that the respect and dignity shared there had to have a positive effect on each person who found a home there. It was great how many supporters came together to make this project happen: weekly volunteers, donors of money and material, parishes, individuals, foundations, a rock star, and DSW volunteers. THANK YOU!
Friday we helped Barbie get organized about keeping funding for housing. The city social worker assigned to the case was firm but very helpful, as was New Vision’s Kevin Moran, in laying out the steps needed to go forward. The system is confusing for her and Ken, and often they approach it with fear and a bit of paranoia that goes hand in hand with lack of education and resources that are part of poverty.
Holy Name Scholars worked Saturday on the community garden, having fun planting donated seedlings and making more vegetable beds with top soil. Fr. Joe Wisniewski drove up from Delaware to donate more plants for the garden and a table & chairs for DSW’s patio.
3. Upcoming Events
Father Judge freshmen will be back this Tuesday. Friday I get to update representatives of the various Oblate communities on what we are up to in Camden at a meeting in DC.
Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.
Happy Easter Season! Father Mike McCue, OSFS