When two parishes closed in Camden a few years ago, they merged with the Cathedral parish downtown. This is now where the church worships together, and today we went to a bilingual Mass for Pentecost Sunday. The spanish mass choir was its usual vibrant self, and afterwards we joined for a post-mass celebration. Later that evening, we were blessed to be invited to the home of the Duffy’s, a family that is very involved with Hopeworks and the neighborhood. They live in a nearby suburb, and the drastic change of setting was evident- their quiet, peaceful neighborhood is only a few miles from inner city struggling Camden.
Happy Memorial Day! The group spent the morning helping Tim on the mosaic mural at Esperanza Community Garden, finishing out the dragonfly design and working more on the butterfly. In the afternoon we enjoyed the holiday by relaxing at Cooper River Park, followed by cheering on the Camden Riversharks at the stadium on the waterfront!
Another great morning was had serving at New Visions Day Shelter. The Interns spoke with the homeless, played games, and were a gentle presence in the lives of others for the morning. In the evening, we all attempted to find a local Geocache at Wiggins Park along the waterfront on Camden. Sadly, despite a lengthy search, we did not find the micro geocache in that location. We then were invited to the studio of William Butler, an artist who moved to Camden last year from Des Moines. He was called to move here with his wife and two kids and have been a gentle Christian presence in all they do. It was incredible to visit his studio and see his paintings, and especially Tim, our intern muralist, got alot out of the visit.
Wednesday saw some of the same activities as before, flyering for Hopeworks in the morning and each intern went to their ministry site in the afternoon. Passing out flyers, being on the streets and meeting people, brings a huge potential for immediately visible success. One good conversation with a youth on the streets can bring him into the Hopeworks program. At night, Father Joe, a frequent visitor to Desales Service Works, led us in Adoration and directed meditation at the Cathedral. It was quiet, reflective, and a peaceful experience allowing us to recenter ourselves. He reminded the interns that this service journey will not always be easy, and that they are ‘disciples in training’ and each experience while they are here is a lesson along the way.
In the morning we flyered for Hopeworks again, and it was a more challenging morning than usual as we were in a rougher neighborhood of Camden. But we passed out flyers nonetheless, and as a surprise, this neighborhood was more receptive than others about Hopeworks. The contrast was evident- this area, which was visibly more blighted than others, was also more hopeful and eager for news of an organization which educates the city’s youth. At dinner we were joined by a priest and nun relatives of intern Alex. We then were fortunate to have author, carpenter, and Camden resident Chris Haw come and speak to the group about his Camden experience, how he got here, and about his faith journey through the years.
Interns served at the Cathedrals Sandwich Ministry, a daily service of the Cathedral downtown. They helped serve 205 people on Friday, which was significantly less than other days since it was the beginning of the month. On busier days they have served near 500 people. In the evening we helped out briefly with the DCCB’s First Annual Hall of Fame Gala. The event honored many people who have impacted Camden over the years- included were former and current mayors, the Tarantini Family, Father Michael Doyle, and many others who were born in Camden or were positive influences.