Service Matters – Second Week of Lent


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
  •  Links


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.


DSW Reunion at Live  Jesus

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.




12:30  Lunch

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



4.  Links

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

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