26 February 2013
Second Week of Lent
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
1. Service Word Luke 13:1-9
And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’”
It is not unreasonable for the owner to want results from his tree.
But his sole focus on production of fruit means he misses other aspects of the situation. We do not see him ask why there is no fruit or what could be done to build success. In addition, while fresh figs are delicious, the trees also have beautiful bark and shape, and their leaves have various, attractive designs.
The gardener has the right idea: work with the plant, give it time, watch, observe, cultivate, learn. Jesus shows his gentle strength in this parable—and his patience and wisdom.
This illustration has clear applications in a community with so many seeming intractable problems. In Camden, or anywhere, it can be tempting to give up on difficult people, neighbors with addictions, no home, mental illnesses, no safety-net, no job, or limited education.
Catholic Volunteer Network made a video that features DSW men Mike Morgan, Tim Gallagher, and me. Students from Villanova University who created the film also interviewed Ethan Stortz, but his insights did not make the final cut for the four minute documentary. (The sign from his service placement “Project Hope” is featured, however.) Check it out; it also explores the issue raised by the gospel. Ministry of Presence.
– Can you look at success in your endeavors in a different way?
– Have you expeienced someone bearing fruit, after your giving them another chance?
– Have there been times when patience and other chances did not lead to good?
2. Last Week in Camden
Fr. Judge High School and Salesianum were here last week for service and reflection.
Saturday students from St. Joseph’s and Rowen University, Cristo Rey High School, and Teens, Inc., a youth program In Philadelphia, converged Saturday for service. They joined a group from Immaculata University already here for a Friday to Monday stay. Everyone worked together with Holy Name 7th graders for their confirmation retreat. The rainy weather kept us inside, but the volunteers did a lot of behind-the-scenes work, sorting clothing, making fresh fruit salad for Joseph’s House, and giving the sandwich ministry an (early) spring cleaning.
Sunday the women from Immaculata got to work with another confirmation group—this one from Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Philly. It was great to work with friends from my old parish; I was the priest at several of the kids’ baptisms back in the early 2000s. Oblate Rudi Schwarzkopf, deacon for six months at OMC, was one the adults on the trip.
3. Upcoming Events
Salesianum will have homerooms here Tuesday and Thursday. A group from Bishop Ireton arrives for three days beginning Thursday afternoon.
They leave Saturday and students form James Madison and Rivier Universities arrive for their alternative spring breaks. These two will begin their stay with another confirmation retreat—this group is from the Cathedral Parish religious education program.
Camden DeSales Service Works Live Jesus REUNION!
You are invited to a CAMDEN REUNION
Morning Retreat with outstanding presenters, including Oblate provincial, Fr. Jim Greenfield.
1:00 Update projects & people
with Ken & Barbie and DSW Volunteers.
1:30 “What did you take back home with you?” Reports from your neighborhood.
Join us for all of LIVE JESUS or join at 12:30 for the CAMDEN DSW REUNION.
St. John Neumann Parish, 11900 Lawyers Road, Reston, VA. 20191
Read past reflections at the archives of Service Matters. Pope Benedict retires this Thursday. America magazine offers several thoughtful reflections on the topic.
Have a good week,
Mike McCue, OSFS firstname.lastname@example.org