24 October 2011
30th Week of 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 Matthew 22:34-40
… with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Peaches is a woman we see a lot around the Cathedral. It is hard to tell the age of people on the street, especially women, but she must be 40 or 50, an addict, stuck in her situation. She makes a point to look out for us—giving alerts about odd behavior near church buildings. I first got to know her working on our garden with friends from Chestnut Hill and their teenage kids and kids’ friends. She noticed a group of young men up to no good out of our sight but very close to where we were. Her concern and her demand for respect for church and for the teens made a big impression—particularly since she is small but gave the addicts a fiery scolding.
Last Sunday she was around, and I asked about her injured foot. I mentioned that Mass was starting; “The language is Spanish, but it is very uplifting”—I told her—“plus it’s warm inside, and you could rest your foot.”
After Mass, again outside, I saw Peaches from a distance. It seemed like she was holding something in her hand, pointing to show me. It looked like a white host, and as I got closer I saw that it was a host. She said, “See, I went.” I explained that we eat communion so that the Lord becomes a part of us, and explained about first communion. She very readily gave me the host.
God gives himself to us in the sacrament and in all of life. He entrusts us with the greatest commandment as a means of bringing his real presence in to every aspect of our living. In one sense it was careless and unfortunate that Peached had a host out on the streets, but in another sense, what could be more appropriate?
-What are some ways you love your neighbor who lives in extreme situations?
-How do you understand the part of the command asking for our whole heart, mind, and soul?
-Do you think God is wise to entrust himself and his mission to you?
2. Last Week in Camden
Tuesday, after a day with Father Judge freshmen and Salesianum juniors, Ken, Barbie, and I set off on our road trip. First stop was the Oblate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. Rachel met me there for a meeting with the Oblate finance officer. While there Barbie wanted to move in because of the fireplaces in the old house and because of Oblate, Kevin Nadolski’s, hospitality. At this first stop we learned how much she loves coffee.
We got to Washington, spent the night at our seminary, and (after coffee) set out in the morning as tourists. Ken wanted to see the new MLK memorial, so we headed in that direction, stopping also to visit President Obama at the White House, and the National Gallery to look for a “last supper” print. Kenny gave a great after school presentation to girls at Georgetown Visitation organized by students who have been to Camden. We ended the evening with a fun and delicious dinner in Silver Spring with the Dolsons, great DSW supporters.
Thursday we got to Bishop Ireton for first period, and we spoke to religion classes in the chapel. Students received Ken’s presentation very well. After 4th period, we headed to Visitation for their Founders’ Day Mass that ended up also being a reunion and photo opportunity with girls who knew Barbie and Ken from Camden trips.
Spending so much time together, I got to observe their gratitude, and their not being used to things middle class people might take for granted: space, abundance, security, and gifts.
Joseph’s House preparations are coming together for this season. However, we hit a significant snag this week with some last minute “push back” about our additional location from some officials—including one government functionary with responsibility for people in need. Prior to this week, he had given every indication that he is on our team. Crazy! No one should be homeless in this country—or anywhere.
A group from Bishop Eustace High School in near-by Cherry Hill, NJ, began their service retreat Thursday afternoon. They worked with our school kids, with Holy Name Scholars, with Hopeworks students, with Ken. We are grateful for their presence and the energy they brought to the work.
3. Upcoming Events
Wednesday the last group of Sallies Juniors for this school year will be here. Sophomores will be here Tuesday and Thursday. Visitation will be here for the day Saturday.
Beginning with weekend Masses and continuing until Tuesday night, I am preaching at a 40 Hours Devotion in Ocean City, NJ, sharing insights from life in our neighborhood, honoring the Blessed Sacrament in church to increase our devotion to loving God in our neighbors inside and outside church.
The DSW website www.oblates.org/dsw. features pictures from recent service retreats as well as insightful essays on a range of topics from the Peace & Justice Blog. Also see other resources: Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/DeSalesServiceWorks. Mike Morgan’s blog- http://camdenchronicles.wordpress.com/.
Have a good week! Mike McCue, OSFS