This Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, Oblate friends and supporters gathered for a lovely dinner dance to celebrate the mission we share and to raise funds to support our efforts. This year, Oblate Director of Development, Fr. Kevin Nadolski, OSFS, focused attention on DeSales Service Works (DSW). It was gratifying to have a chance to share what happens with this project with so many supporters who were able to gather that evening.
Father Kevin highlighted this year’s two Service Year Volunteers, Brooke Pasker and Abbey Doherty, who were present. He also talked about DSW’s recent expansion to Wilmington—-and our very beginning stages of a DSW in South Florida at a parish the Oblates staff there, serving a migrant farming community.
A seven-minute video commissioned for the gathering tried to convey the mission of DeSales Service Works. For the film critic in me, the video had much “talking head” footage. I think pictures of our neighborhoods, our people and kids, service in action have the most power to convey what goes on here at DSW. There were some glimpses of our daily “Sandwich Ministry” food distribution to the needy, kids at the parish grade school playing, images of our Camden and Wilmington neighborhoods. Perhaps what the audience didn’t see enough of was hundreds of volunteers who come to DSW to put their faith into action in these poor communities.
That being said, all who spoke on camera conveyed valuable points. I think the overall message is one that has been best articulated by an Oblate who has worked in Haiti for twenty years, Fr. Tom Hagan, OSFS. Speaking to a visitor who comes to Haiti to help, Fr. Tom says, “If you have come here to save Haiti, it would be better if you went home right now. Come here to learn.” Each of the DSW speakers on the film communicated how much working, living, praying among poor neighbors has taught us. All of us talked about the impact of what St. Francis de Sales calls “little virtues,” gentleness, humility, kindness, respect, sense of humor —-even in tough, struggling places. These virtues may actually have particular impact in tough settings, because they might seem out of place.
So, thank you for your interest and support of the Oblate effort that we call DeSales Service Works that has invited some many to work together in the spirit of DeSales for these many years—-first in Frankford, Philadelphia, now and in Camden, Wilmington, and beyond.