Service Matters – Third Week in Ordinary Time

24 January 2011

Third Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of St. Francis de Sales



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
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog


1. Service Word  Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard the John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.   He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:

“… the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light,

on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death a light has arisen.”


Camden was in the national news last week because our police force was cut in half and firefighters were cut by a third.  So 168 police officers and 67 firefighters—professionals who regularly risk their lives for this community—have lost their jobs.  Loss of police has to be bad for a city known for crime and violence.   There are people who live here or who visit Camden who need help “playing by the rules,” who won’t be good citizens on their own.   The Isaiah quote from the gospel sums up the situation: Camden walks in darkness and is overshadowed by death.


So where is the great light?  The majority of people here have the faith and maturity to self-police—and to do far more than that—actively to do good and, in that way, to hold the light of Christ against the shadowy night.  Sr. Helen Cole, SSJ, who has worked on State Street for two decades, puts it this way: 80% of the population is held hostage by the 20% who are doing bad or whose will for good is distorted by addiction.   So the Great Light can be found in all the good works that go on here, ordinary and extraordinary.   And, even in the most hardened, under-developed, distracted, or self-focused heart, God is at work.


-What are some of the darkness you encounter outside or within?

-How are you light for the world?

-Can you believe God is at work, even when you can’t see it?


2. Last Week in Camden

Joseph’s House, a homeless initiative of Camden’s parishes, held training for the fulltime staff and volunteers last week.   DSW volunteers participated in training on Thursday and Friday.   The overnight shelter will be housed in New Visions Day Shelter facility, will give shelter to 30 people, seven nights a week for the three remaining months of harsh weather.   Three staff members will serve there each overnight, 9:00PM to 6:00AM.  DSW volunteers have signed up for a weekly shift assisting from 9:00 to midnight.


Sunday two families from Our Mother of Consolation, the Oblate parish in the Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, came for Mass and sandwich making.


3. Upcoming Events

January 24th is the feast of St. Francis de Sales, a great friend and communicator, patron saint of writers and of the deaf.   He is known for his optimistic, practical good sense—the best of Catholicism.

First thing in the morning, prepare your heart to be at peace; then take great care throughout the day to call it back to that peace frequently, and, as it were, to again take your heart in your hand.  If it happens that you do something you regret, be neither astonished nor upset, but having acknowledged your failing, humble yourself quietly before God and try to regain your gentle composure.  Say to yourself: “There, we have made a mistake, but let us go on now and be more careful.” 

When you are inwardly peaceful, don’t miss the opportunity to perform as many acts of gentleness as you can—and as frequently as you can—no matter how small these acts may seem; for, as our Lord says; “To the person who is faithful in little things, greater ones will be given.”


Thursday I will join Bishop Ireton High School community at Mass for “Feast Week” celebrating the patronage and inspiration of our saint.   Students who have been to Camden will meet to discuss plans for ongoing support for our neighbors.


Joseph’s House opens Wednesday, January 26th!  (This is a reschedule from our plan to open earlier in January; staffing and training required the delay.)


The Oblate “Winter Carnival” at Knowlton Mansion gathering takes place, Friday, 11 February 7:00 to 10:00.   It will be a fun time to gather Oblate friends and supporters.


4. Peace and Justice Blog

The blog is on a hiatus until our Peace and Justice Committee decides where to go with it.   Past Peace & Justice Blog essays can be found at the DeSales Service Works section of the Oblate web site.

Happy feast day,

Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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