Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling started the Joseph House in Baltimore in 1965. It was her response to God’s call to directly serve the poor, whatever their needs, and to promote social justice according to the Gospel.
She developed the purpose of the Joseph House to include the following: to spread the Gospel by living it; to give witness to its injunctions in the community; to provide for the relief of the needy, distressed, or underprivileged; to aid in education; to lessen neighborhood tensions; to eliminate prejudice and discrimination; to promote unity; to fight injustice of any sort; to combat family deterioration and juvenile delinquency; to provide guidance on a family and neighborhood level to all who have need of such services, no matter where they live or what their circumstances.
Since 1978, the Joseph House has been in Salisbury, Maryland, attending to the needs of the less fortunate on the lower Delmarva Peninsula. We rely on God’s provident care as our main resource. Volunteers and free-will donations are the vital and indispensable components of this care.
Sr. Mary Elizabeth and Patricia Guidera founded the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary in 1974. As a community of Catholic women living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Little Sisters oversee the administration of the Joseph House. The motherhouse is in Salisbury with an additional house in Princess Anne, Maryland.
By rooting our lives in the Gospel spirituality of Brother Charles de Foucauld, in the authentic teachings of the Church and Scripture, and in the charism of our Foundress as expressed in our Holy Rule, we Little Sisters strengthen ourselves to live in joy a counter-cultural life.
This counter-cultural life is witnessed by our habit, our evident love and respect for the Eucharist, our universal charity, the contemplative aspect of our apostolic labors, our intense and constant love for the poor, total abandonment to God’s will, and the practice of hospitality and littleness in our daily lives.
To enable the laity to carry out their God-given mandate to share their gifts and their lives with the poor, since God considers this done to Himself, we offer them an opportunity to live with us, sharing in our works and prayers. Thus mutually supporting each other, we strengthen and promote growth in the lives of the poor, the laity, and ourselves.
The Little Sisters oversee all aspects of the operation of the Joseph House. Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, Inc. is a non-profit and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Sr. Marilyn Bouchard is Superior General of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary. Sr. Connie Ladd is Vicar General.
Sr. Marilyn is from Green Bay, Wisconsin. She entered the community in 1991. Sr. Connie has been with the Little Sisters since 1986. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware and spent many years in Baltimore.
A Board of Directors assists the Little Sisters in organizing, operating, and developing the activities of the Joseph House.
An additional Advisory Board helps to guide the Joseph House Workshop, a program of the Joseph House that provides long-term shelter and job preparation for homeless men.
The Joseph House began in Baltimore in 1965. Mary Elizabeth Gintling started alone, but under her spirited leadership the Joseph House grew to provide a variety of services to residents of the inner city.
Prior to starting the Joseph House, Mary Elizabeth belonged to the Little Sisters of the Poor for more than 20 years. This Catholic religious order operates homes for the aged, and Mary Elizabeth put her nursing skills to good use during this time.
The call to religious life never left her. In 1974, Mary Elizabeth and another member of Joseph House, Patricia Guidera, formed a new religious community: the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary. They donned blue denim habits and committed themselves to social justice and the problems of the poor.
The two Little Sisters relocated to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, establishing a convent in Salisbury in 1978. This became the site of the new Joseph House, as the services in Baltimore were phased out. The Joseph House Crisis Center was opened in 1984 on Boundary Street. This multi-purpose service center provides financial and food assistance to people in need.
The Joseph House Village opened on Lake Street in 1991 to provide transitional housing for women and children. It became autonomous in 2000 and was re-christened the Village of Hope. The Joseph House Workshop opened in 2005. It is a long-term shelter for homeless men that helps them with life skills and employment readiness.
Sr. Mary Elizabeth died on October 27, 2004. She left the Joseph House well-established on the Lower Shore as a provider of care and assistance for low-income families and individuals.