2 July 2012
13th Week in Ordinary Time
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 Mark 5
While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
About a year ago I met Robert, a guy in his late twenties, in our alley at dusk. That evening he acted very confused, kept flailing his arms as he talked; he had clearly taken something. He describes himself as “little,” and he did seem and skinny—and alone—not safe in the city. It was getting dark, and he needed to get out of Camden. Could I help? —He just needed $3.50. It would be no good to use my phone to call anyone, he said; friends and family were afraid to come to Camden; no one was going to drive here after dark. When I suggested he could walk across the bridge to Philly where his brother might have less fear driving, he changed the topic back to needing just $3.50. I asked how he made it to this point in the day without a plan for getting back home.
This Saturday evening he showed up near the Cathedral equally anxious, this time needing to connect with his parole officer within the next twenty minutes. It meant just getting to Mt. Ephrem Ave.—a quick car ride—but too far to walk in just twenty minutes. If he did not connect, he would have to go back to jail. So I gave him a ride. No surprise, the officer was not there—so Robert left a note. Now the desperate need became calling the officer from his dad’s house. This would lead the official to believe he had a place to stay and was not on the street—another situation that would land him back in jail.
We drove to a typical suburban neighborhood of lawns, garages, and cul-de-sacs. I got to meet his stepmother briefly; his dad was sick in bed, unable to come downstairs. All I could think was how his family must feel—to have gotten to the point over the years where they allow him be homeless rather than trouble their home—and likely suck them down into his world of addiction and “truths” shaped by a quest for drugs and highs.
Parents raise their kids so they can depart with what they have been given and make a life for themselves. And this guy, old enough to know better, has a life tangled and confused. The gospel scene shows us a father with a daughter close to the ultimate departure desperately coming to Jesus. The Lord, face to face with a parents love and dread of death, counsels do not be afraid; just have faith. That level of faith is possible if we see that God is troubled by our fears, losses, and mistakes because we belong to him always and forever.
-Can you see God troubled by your struggles and missteps and cheering for your good?
-How do you do letting go, navigating “necessary losses” as you travel through the stages of life?
-What do you feel about the Lord’s advice: do not be afraid; just have faith?
2. Last Week in Camden
Young women from Georgetown Visitation served here from Monday until their departure Friday morning. Highlights included working with Susan, Irma, and Rita at sandwich ministry, talking with guests and New Visions Day Shelter, and playing with kids in the park. —Two afternoons we just arrived at Northgate Park with chalk, hula hoops, jump ropes, and balls; kids came out to play in the shade of the soaring sycamore trees. Everyone bonded, especially with Mariellis (an angel, rising second grader at Holy Name School) and Javier, AJ, Nani, and Julz (whose house is close to the park). Friday night A.J and Javier were back in the park for movie night and kept asking for the girls by name. I told them to expect mail from their new friends from Washington.
Monday afternoon a group of college women in a program for the Holy Family Sisters visiting Oblate Mickey McGrath’s art studio joined the Visitation group painting over graffiti in south Camden.
Sunday the second session of summer 2012 interns arrived to a welcome by many from the first group of interns. DSW community member Mike Morgan hosted old and new interns, family, and Camden co-workers and friends for a kick-off picnic. Despite the heat, it was a very good time.
3. Upcoming Events
The five interns begin their three weeks here with orientation Monday.
Friday two guys from University of Wisconsin will arrive for a week of service.
Mike Morgan’s blog has pictures and shares insights about life in this city. And if you have some time also watch interviews with a range of Camden neighbor http://capturingcamden.tumblr.com/ recorded by Mary Anne Hayden, one of the interns from May/June. They offer a thoughtful glimpse into the complex community that is Camden, NJ.
Mike McCue, OSFS