Author: josephhouse (page 1 of 7)

Newsletter: November 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?

Reflecting on this can help us see all the things we take for granted: a place to live, a warm bed, food, clothing, our health, family and friends… the list goes on and on. It’s easy to forget that often we have more than enough, and that there’s a difference between our wants and our needs. If we are lacking anything it’s a sense of contentment.

Before eating Thanksgiving dinner, millions of people across the country will bow their heads and do what our national holiday is named for: give thanks. Oh how our lives become enriched when we make this an everyday activity! Taking a moment to be thankful at every meal is one of the best ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”

The Jewish table blessings have always appealed to us in a certain way. They invoke God as the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, reminding us that the entire universe is needed for us to have even a slice of bread. The rays of light streaming from the sun, plus the water, minerals and elements of the earth, all come together to make the simplest morsel. No matter who we are, our existence depends on so many things that are just given to us. How can we not be thankful?

A humbling aspect of our work at the Joseph House is meeting people who will gladly take what would otherwise be thrown away. But people deserve more than scraps. Through God’s grace we are united with you in being drawn to those in need. God has opened our ears to the cries of the poor, and if we each do our part then others will have, at the very least, their basic needs met. No one will have to shiver in the cold, face an empty refrigerator, or endure the perils of being homeless.

Celeste, 33, knows how hard it is not to have a home, and unfortunately so do her four children. They became homeless after Celeste lost her job. For eight long months they did not have a fixed address. A friend took them in, but when the landlord found out he ordered them to leave. Celeste now has a new job and works 30 hours per week. The possibility of additional hours is in the near future. To help Celeste and her family get settled off the streets, the Joseph House contributed $225 toward the security deposit for an apartment.

Duane, 26, was also homeless. He was renting a room in a house that burned to the ground. He lost everything, and two weeks later he was laid off from his job because of a seasonal slowdown (he works in a shipyard). We paid $150 for another rental so Duane can get back on his feet.

Bryan is only 25, but his heart has already given out and he needed a transplant. He is a veteran and he thinks his service in Iraq has something to do with it. After being on disability Bryan recently returned to work. He is married and has three children. Bryan doesn’t earn much at his job, and paying the bills is a struggle. We paid $200 toward a delinquent electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Pat, 53, is disabled after multiple surgeries on his neck, shoulders, and back. He receives a monthly check for $576. His wife of 30 years has been treated for breast and colon cancer. The cancer has spread, but she still works full-time—she has no choice—and brings home about $1000 per month. Pat needed help paying an overdue electric bill. We contributed $200.

About a year ago, Jerome, 62, began a downward spiral because of breathing and lung problems. He was hospitalized several times and could no longer work. At first, his landlord overlooked the unpaid rent, but when the amount reached $5,000 he sent Jerome packing. With the last of his money Jerome moved into a motel room. He came to our Crisis Center when he had nothing left. We sent $300 to the motel to give Jerome the time he needs until he receives his first Social Security check. A destitute person in such poor health must not be homeless.

Your donations are a lifesaver!

Thank you for all the ways you show your support for us and the poor. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with abundant blessings throughout the year. You are always in our prayers.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


HOLIDAY HELP NEEDED

We need donations of food and toys, which can be delivered to our convent at 411 North Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury.

Please help us to make the holidays brighter for hundreds of families.

Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 18. Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 16. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns. Please call us at 410-742-9590 or send a message if you have any questions.

Salute to the Magi Choral Festival

Since 1994, the Magi Choral Festival has delighted audiences in Salisbury each November with concerts that herald the holiday season. This year marks the 25th anniversary, although organizers have announced that the upcoming performances will be the last (November 17 and 18, 2018; visit www.magifund.com for tickets).

The concerts have been the primary fundraiser for the Magi Fund, an all-volunteer nonprofit dedicated solely to raising money for the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter. The Magi Fund was started by Bonnie Luna, a very dear friend of the Little Sisters. The inspiration came to her one Christmas Eve: “I realized the season was almost past and I never stopped to enjoy it. I cried out to the Lord and God spoke to my heart.”

It really was a miraculous inspiration. Plans for the first concert developed, and it was so successful it became an annual event. Over the years, the Magi Choral Festival has grown phenomenally, thanks to Bonnie’s tireless efforts and her ability to involve a breathtaking number of people.

The concerts feature literally hundreds of performers and require the help of countless volunteers. Corporate sponsors underwrite all expenses so the two designated charities receive every penny from ticket sales. The amount of money raised is always exceedingly generous.

A full year of planning and practice are needed to prepare for the concerts. It definitely shows: the quality of the music is outstanding and of the highest standard.

Bonnie Luna and Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, founder of the Joseph House and the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary.

Words are inadequate to express our gratitude to Bonnie and her small army of goodwill ambassadors. Special thanks also go out to the music directors, the renowned National Christian Choir from Washington, D.C., the Magi Festival Orchestra, the Magi Festival Choir, the Magi Children’s Choir, Symphony 21, and all the local and church ensembles that have participated. They created something beautiful for God and the poor.

We don’t have space to list everyone, but we also wish to thank the Magi Fund Steering Committee, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, and of course all of the patrons who purchased tickets. Our heartfelt gratitude lies with each person, organization, and corporate sponsor that made a contribution in some way throughout the past 25 years.

When the curtain falls on the last concert it will be sad, although we agree it’s good to end on a high note, so to speak. The music will fade to a happy memory, but Bonnie has promised that the Magi Fund will continue to assist the Joseph House. She said before, “I don’t take credit for any of this. This is a testament to what can happen when a group or individual just gives selflessly of their time and talents.”

To that we say, “Amen.”


Magi Grand Finale Performances
November 17 at 7pm & November 18 at 2pm
Wicomico High School Auditorium
www.magifund.com


Program from the first Magi Choral Festival in 1994:


A few newspaper photos about the Magi Choral Festival through the years:

The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), September 1, 1995.

The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), November 6, 2001.

The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), November 21, 2001.

The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), November 21, 2010.

Newsletter: October 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

You’ve heard the adage, “All the flowers of all of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

This brings to mind the question: what seeds have I planted in the course of my day? Of my words and actions, what has taken root? Will something beautiful grow?

And who will do the harvesting? Have I tilled a field for my own benefit, or have I scattered widely for the sake of others? Some people walk through life like Johnny Appleseed, dropping little seeds of goodness—smiles and kind words and helpful acts—wherever they go. These can blossom in unexpected ways and make a big difference to people we don’t even know.

Our garden patch is what we make of it. If we’re not satisfied, we can always plant something new.

Pope Francis often speaks of the importance of starting a new process, those that result in people-building and not the possession of power: “What we need is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.” (The Joy of the Gospel)

In other words, do we want more love? Plant kindness. More unity? Cultivate understanding. More peace? Propagate justice. Start a new process.

One thing is clear from the lesson of the seed: our hope for a better tomorrow begins with what we do today.

At the Joseph House, your generosity and fidelity grow into marvelous things for the poor. We’re not just talking about the bills that get paid and the food that gets served, as vital as those things are. We mean the family life that gets supported and the human dignity that is affirmed and upheld. In the busy rooms of the Crisis Center, we see a preview of heaven where the less fortunate are honored guests. And you’re a part of all this.

Not that long ago Malia came to see us and she was feeling exhausted. She and her four children were living in a car. She said her children had to wash in a gas station bathroom before going to school. Malia and her family fled to our area from another state. They had to leave because Malia’s fiancé was physically abusive. She has a restraining order against him, but she was afraid he would ignore it and come after her.

Malia was down to her last $25 in cash when she arrived at our Crisis Center. She was able to transfer her subsidized housing voucher to Maryland, but there was going to be a wait until she and her kids could move into an apartment. We paid $500 so they could stay in a motel in the meantime. We also washed three bags of laundry and gave them plenty of food they could microwave in their motel room.

Beatrice and John were also living in a car, and their situation was becoming even more desperate. They were leasing the car and had missed two weekly payments. Beatrice said they had to keep the engine running at all times because if it stopped, the car dealership would use a remote device to keep it from starting up and then repossess the vehicle. Beatrice and John had been out of work for three weeks. They were lining up new positions, but without their car those job prospects would be lost. We wrote a check for the two missed lease payments ($261) and had it delivered to the dealership.

Following open-heart surgery, Gilbert, 58, was out of work for 12 weeks. He has returned to his job, but he was so far behind in his rent that his landlord had to give him an eviction notice. We paid $300 to keep Gilbert from becoming homeless.

Kaylee, 22, works in a chicken factory. Her daughter was born prematurely and has ongoing medical issues; sometimes she needs to be hospitalized. This causes Kaylee to miss work, and it doesn’t take much for her to fall short on a rent payment. To prevent Kaylee from being evicted, we sent $200 to the landlord.

Odelle’s smile was hiding a terrible tragedy: a few months ago her husband was shot and killed in their neighborhood. She feels unsafe where she is living and is haunted by the memories of what happened. Odelle is receiving a monthly benefit of $389. That is the only income she has for herself and her two young sons.

Odelle saw a glimmer of hope when she was approved for subsidized housing. She wants to use this as an opportunity to move to a safer neighborhood. The rules require that she still pay a security deposit, however. We contributed $200 so Odelle and her family can begin to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Fifty-three years ago, on October 15, 1965, Sr. Mary Elizabeth started a new process when she opened the Joseph House. The tiny seed she planted was her love for the poor, and she cared for it with her faith in God. Over the years the Joseph House has grown and developed, even after being transplanted from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore. It has always followed the plan of “letting the work build itself through the needs that were expressed by the people in the area.”

Today, the Joseph House Crisis Center—which offers Financial Assistance for emergencies, a Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Hospitality Room for the Homeless—and the Joseph House Workshop—which provides comprehensive services 24/7 to help homeless men get back on their feet—still depend on private support to stay in operation. That’s a tall order, but we know the goodness and charity of people like you are a match for it. May God bless you in abundance.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Relying on volunteers was always part of our founder’s plan. Sr. Mary Elizabeth wanted to keep operating costs low so more of your donations could go directly to the poor. She also understood the value of getting people personally involved. She once said:

Whenever I get the least bit discouraged about the state of the world I only have to think of our volunteers and I am filled with hope. Joseph House could not exist without our volunteers. It’s that simple. The entire Joseph House organization runs almost exclusively on volunteers. That’s the way it’s always been. People need the opportunity to give back to the community and to help their fellow man.

The vision and example of Sr. Mary Elizabeth are the treasures of the Joseph House. We remember her and pray for her every day. She departed this earthly life 14 years ago this month, on October 27, 2004.

A PRAYER FOR VOLUNTEERS

Heavenly God,

Holy Scripture says that if my brothers and sisters have no clothes and no food, and I say to them, “Be blessed! Stay warm and well fed,” but I do nothing to meet their needs, what good is that?

Do not let my heart grow so cold that I turn to empty words. Do not let me keep saying, “Someone else will help.” Let me be the one who steps in.

I offer You everything You have given me: my abilities, my talents, and my capacity to love. Direct me to where I can be of service to someone who needs what I can offer.

With a cheerful smile and a compassionate heart, let me be the one who lends a hand. Right now someone is praying for help. Include me in the answer You give.

Amen.

Newsletter: September 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Last month we mentioned Catherine Doherty, the founder of Madonna House. She lived an extraordinary life and in many ways was a kindred spirit of our own founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth. We’d like to bring up another aspect of Catherine’s spirituality for this month.

When asked about her philosophy of life, Catherine replied, “To always do the will of God as revealed by people, things, and events… to do it as expressed in the duty of my state, and of the moment. For the will of God is my sanctification.”

“The duty of the moment” was one of her favorite expressions. She often expounded on it, as in this example from her writings:

The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a hobo at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don’t just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child. Do you do it like that? You can see Christ in that child.

Or your duty of the moment may be to scrub your floors. Do you scrub your floors well? With great love for God? If not, do it. If you see to it that your house is well-swept, your food is on the table, and there is peace during the meal, then there is this slow order that is established, and the immense tranquility of God’s order falls upon you and your family. Yes, there is order, because while we keep thinking of others, things get clear in our hearts. Then we can forget ourselves….

There are plenty of good things you can go out and do, programs and such, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God. Tired, untired, sick, well, whatever your state, do the duty of the moment. It’s what God calls us to do. And if we do it, people follow us. We don’t have to preach by word of mouth. We preach by living. We preach by doing. We preach by being….

When you do the duty of the moment, you do something for Christ. You make a home for Him in the place where your family dwells. You feed Him when you feed your family. You wash His clothes when you do their laundry. You help Him in a hundred ways as a parent. Then, when the time comes and you appear before Christ to be judged, He will say to you, “I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was sick and you looked after Me.” (Mt 25:35-36)

A long quote, but one worth sharing. We were reminded of “the duty of the moment” a few weeks ago when the doorbell rang at our convent as we were about to say grace before dinner. A haggard-looking woman was on our front porch with her daughter and two young grandchildren. They were homeless and had been outside all day in the blistering heat.

Our meal was paused as we attended to the needs of this family. We listened to their story, made some phone calls, found a place for them to stay, called a taxi, offered them cold drinks and packed sandwiches for later. The little granddaughter came into our kitchen with her grandmother and told us about the “light-up” shoes she wanted to get for school. Smiles and laughter ensued. A really bad day was turning into a much more hopeful one. Attending to the duty of the moment with love and patience can do wonders.

As Catherine Doherty said, not everyone has a needy person knocking at the door. We do, if not at the convent then certainly at the Joseph House Crisis Center. We can invite people in and care for them because of you. Your prayers, donations, and financial support bear fruit every day.

So many people are desperate for help. Alan and Cecily walked several miles to the Crisis Center in the hopes of receiving rental assistance. When they arrived, Alan was ready to pass out—he had pneumonia and was very short of breath. Our dedicated volunteers made sure he was OK and did everything they could to make him comfortable.

We learned that Alan’s health has been impeding his ability to work as a machine operator. Cecily’s income is not enough to cover their basic expenses. We sent $170 to their landlord to give Alan time to recover and return to work. No one should be homeless, especially the sick. We also sent Alan and Cecily home via taxi.

A veteran of the Navy, Merle, age 80, is used to taking care of himself. That’s not the case anymore. He is being treated for lung cancer and his medical co-pays have been high recently. His electric bill became delinquent and a cut-off was forthcoming. We were able to pay the bill in full ($303), enabling Merle to be enrolled in the utility’s budget plan.

Francesca, age 72, is recovering from a stroke. She has difficulty with her speech and gait and seems to be a little mentally confused. The electricity in her home was turned off, but fortunately a neighbor took her in—we don’t know if Francesca would have survived the heat and humidity without air conditioning. She’s home now with the power back on, thanks to your support which allowed us to pay $300 toward the bill.

Natalie, 42, had to leave her job as a motel housekeeper because of shoulder pain; it appears to be a rotator cuff issue. She’s looking for another job where she won’t have to move her shoulder, but that’s not an easy task. In the meantime, Natalie is falling behind in her bills, including the rent, and she received an eviction notice. Natalie did not want to become homeless with her three children. She appealed to the Joseph House for help. We offered the landlord a payment of $200, which was accepted.

When we choose not to be passive and neutral in the face of another’s pain, we feel energized. It’s the power of love. Thank you for everything you do to keep the Joseph House going forward. Your love for the less fortunate is the boost we need!

After a hot and sticky summer, we are ready for some cooler autumn air. We hope pleasant days are in store for you. And may God’s love be near to you always.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


As Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, we profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, united as a community in the love of Jesus, ready to cry the Gospel with our lives.

Please join us in praying for an increase of vocations to our community:

Loving and gracious God,

Look kindly on the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, whom You have blessed with the mission of serving the poor in all their many needs and cries for help.

As a sign of Your favor, send them new Little Sisters, to join them in being a witness to Your goodness and provident care.

Open the hearts of those You are calling to this life of faith, love, and simplicity, so they may respond with courage and generosity.

With a humble and trusting spirit, we ask this through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Only For Today

A plan of life is helpful for keeping us on course, not to be perfect, but simply to be a little better than we were before.

Pope John XXIII followed a simple 10-step plan that he had written. Its focus is just on today, because that is all anyone has. Perhaps one or two of the steps will resonate with you and provide inspiration for making a change in your life.

1). Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2). Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3). Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4). Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5). Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6). Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7). Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8). Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9). Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10). Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Newsletter: August 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

How many times a day do we look in the mirror? Some people more than others perhaps, but we all need to check our appearance now and then. Catherine Doherty, the founder of Madonna House, realized these are opportunities to help people see so much more:

At Madonna House, we paint these words onto all our mirrors—”God’s image”—so that when anyone looks in the mirror, they see that they are God’s image. I think the greatest work that we have to do in this civilization, this country, is to accept ourselves as lovable.

Catherine’s idea stems from the fact that we need to accept we are loved by God, and worthy of receiving love, before we can authentically show love to others. She understood that many people don’t always feel lovable. Her creativity found a way to help them gently change their self-understanding.

There’s an easy way we can share Catherine’s example with those around us, and it doesn’t involve any painting: we can be the mirror for other people by how we treat them. We can show them that they are made in God’s image and affirm their dignity by treating them with kindness and respect.

You may remember the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” It meant you could buy a consumer product with confidence. Well, every human person has something far greater than that. As the image of God, we have God’s pledge that every human life is sacred, unrepeatable, the possessor of equal dignity, and destined for eternity. Remembering that should change how we view ourselves—and each other.

Sometimes life is hard. People feel beaten by their circumstances. That’s when it’s important for us to be a reflection of hope. This happens all the time at the Joseph House with the men and women we greet. We look at the world from their perspective, and we look at them from God’s. Our response is love, a love made manifest in the simple, concrete actions of welcome and acceptance. And through your support of our ministry, we show them that hope is real and not in vain.

On a sweltering day a few weeks ago, Trisha walked to the Crisis Center seeking help for her family. She and her husband and their three children (ages 2, 4, and 6) were living in a tent in the woods. Trisha was desperate for housing, and she had a note from a landlord stating that Trisha and her family could move into an efficiency apartment as soon as they paid $250.

In our busy Crisis Center we found a quiet space to talk. Trisha said she works at a fast food restaurant; at times, she has held jobs at two of them, trying hard to support her family. Her husband has had cancer for more than a year. He has good days and bad days. Trisha thought his health was improving at the moment. Their six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder that impedes a person’s ability to communicate. So Trisha was not only the family breadwinner, but the caregiver as well.

This was not her family’s first time being homeless. They had to leave a previous rental because it was infested with bugs. A motel room provided a temporary refuge, but that became too expensive. Trisha would love to have a clean, safe, affordable place to live with her family. It is a simple dream shared by many, many poor people. We contacted the landlord and agreed to pay the $250. Hopefully the dream will come true for Trisha and her family.

Patti and Justin were also homeless and living in a tent (there are more people doing this than we realize). They came to our area from another part of the state. The house they were living in was over-crowded, and then a shooting occurred in the neighborhood. Patti and Justin saw the writing on the wall and knew it was time to leave. After making their way to Salisbury, they set up camp behind a shopping center. They were invisible, just a stone’s throw from shoppers and traffic. Displaced and hungry for food and work, like characters from The Grapes of Wrath.

Patti heard about the Joseph House and contacted us. We helped her and Justin with their immediate needs: showers, food, and cab fare. Justin was the first to find a job. When he and Patti found an affordable rental, we agreed to pay $200 (half of the first month’s rent) so they could move in after weeks of being homeless.

Doreen, 57, is disabled and has stomach cancer. Her monthly SNAP benefits (“Food Stamps”) amount to $15, but fortunately she lives close to our Food Pantry. Another thing in her favor is that she has subsidized housing. Without it, she could not afford to live anywhere on her disability check.

Recently, Doreen was distressed because she could only make a partial rent payment one month and no payment the following month. Other necessary expenses consumed her check. Before the month was over, she received an eviction notice. The Joseph House paid $200 and Doreen the remaining $24 that was due. She was extremely grateful not to lose her place to live.

Nathan, 44, is devoted to his children, both his own and two step-sons he took in to protect them from an abusive environment. Eager to provide for his family, Nathan has a temporary job harvesting watermelons. When the season is over he hopes to work in a chicken factory. His summertime electric bill was too high for him to pay all of it. We sent $150 to the power company to help prevent a shut-off.


We remember you daily in our prayers. Send us your prayer requests.

We depend on your generous hearts and loving concern for God’s poor to serve those in need. Every donation, no matter the size, is gratefully received and makes a difference. You can make a donation here.

Please let us know if you prefer not to receive a written acknowledgement through the mail for your donation. Of course, we will gladly send a receipt at the end of the year for tax purposes.


Every mirror needs to be cleaned periodically. Dust and smudges can cloud what we see. We need to polish ourselves, too, and an excellent way of doing so is by spending a little time with the Gospels. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), and by looking at what He said and did we learn the truth about what it means to be made in God’s image.

Thank you for your prayers and support! Life becomes so pleasing when we give in to our instincts for being good. May God bless you.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

The Madonna House Apostolate is a family of Christian lay men, women, and priests, striving to incarnate the teachings of Jesus Christ by forming a community of love.

Someone once asked Catherine Doherty, “What is Madonna House?” She answered:

What is Madonna House? Madonna House is a very simple thing. It is an open door. It is a cup of tea or coffee, good and hot. It is an invitation to work for the common good.

Madonna House is a house of hospitality. It is a place where people are received, not on their education, not on how wonderful they are as painters, or whatever they have to do; they are received simply as people. They are loved.

www.madonnahouse.org

Newsletter: July 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Some people have a goal to be a big success. Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, wanted us to be little nobodies.

Sister worked hard to establish the Joseph House: she gave her life to it. But she used to say that if it all disappeared she’d be happy to sit on the corner and just talk to people. That’s really what she liked to do.

Being content to be little — the way Sister wanted us to be — does more than keep you grounded (which is important in itself). It helps you to notice the other people the world considers to be nobodies. People get tossed aside for a number of reasons: too old, too feeble, too poor, too addicted, too uneducated, too sick…. We label them with one defining characteristic and think we know them, but we know nothing.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth accepted people and listened to them. She recognized that each person’s life story, no matter how mundane it seems to be, is precious to that individual. She was drawn to the “nobodies” because of a basic motivation: belief in God’s presence among them. That’s not easy when there’s no outward sign of it.

Seeing with the eyes of faith opens up new vistas. When we spend time with someone who is lonely or feeling broken, we do more than offer comfort. We engage in the life of the Body of Christ. St. Paul’s powerful insight can still shake us from our complacency:

But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.

But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. (1 Cor 12:20–27)

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. Sr. Mary Elizabeth lived by this, it was a guiding principle, and one that is embodied in the ministry of the Joseph House.

There are many parts, yet one body. The human family is so diverse, it is truly a wonder. And yet we are linked to each other by a profound unity that transcends all of our differences.

If our little toe hurts we don’t say, “That doesn’t concern me because it’s not part of me.” How then can we turn away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters? If we could only see the blinders and armor we carry around to shield ourselves from their pain.

Damaris, 72, is invisible to practically everyone. She is a widow and has the care of her disabled son. Keeping a place to live has been difficult for her: stress and a limited income take their toll. Damaris and her son have been homeless periodically. They stay in a motel when she has the money.

Damaris came to the Crisis Center after she found a rental that was going to cost only 52% of her monthly income — a bargain for the poor. We sent $200 to the landlord to help secure the place for Damaris and her son.

Ann Marie’s life has not been the same since she lost everything in a house fire two years ago. She is 64 years old and has severe respiratory issues, including asthma and COPD. She told us she is in a constant state of discomfort. Ann Marie lives very frugally but is still being overwhelmed by her bills. The Department of Social Services and other agencies referred her to us because they had no funds to help her. We’re the last resort for many people. We paid $200 toward Ann Marie’s electric bill so the power would not be cut off in her home.

The least visible in our community are the most vulnerable. Together with you, we give them hope.

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE: We are sad to note the passing of Dave MacLeod, who died peacefully at his home on June 9. Dave had a long career as Director of Addiction Services for the Worcester County Health Department. He was very generous with his time and served on the Planning Team for the Joseph House Workshop. Dave’s expertise helped to set the program on a solid foundation.

We also mourn the passing of Rheba Fletcher, the mother of Sr. Jennifer, who died on June 18. Rheba was a resident of Gainesville, Texas. May Dave and Rheba rest forever in the loving hands of God. Our love and prayers are with their families.

ANSWERED PRAYERS: We are very grateful for our donors who enabled us to purchase a heavy-duty pickup truck for our Food Pantry. As we mentioned last May, our previous truck was ready to give out after 300,000 miles of service. Our new truck is “gently used” and will help us continue our mission of feeding the hungry.

This generosity means so much to us. And also to the many people who will benefit from the food carried by this truck. May God’s blessing be upon them, our volunteers, and our benefactors.

What would St. Paul have to say about the spirit of this age? We seem to be a far cry from being one body with no division. But all things are passing.

When we stop and consider the number of people who contribute to the Joseph House in some way, it is incredibly heartwarming. So many people with a unity of purpose, directed toward the good of others. We can never lose hope.

Thank you for being part of our family, just one little family in the greater family of the Body of Christ.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


SUMMER APPEAL: Our finances are typically low during the summer, and this year more than usual. The Joseph House Crisis Center is busy year-round, there’s no off-season, as we respond to the many requests for food and financial assistance. Over at the Joseph House Workshop, we maintain a therapeutic residence 24/7 for eight formerly homeless men to help them get back on their feet. We reach out to your generous hearts and loving concern for God’s poor. You are a vital source of our support. Every donation, no matter the size, is gratefully received and makes a difference.

Make an online donation.

A Good Foundation in Life

Without a good foundation, nothing will stand.

Buildings crumble and arguments fall apart if they lack the necessary support beneath them. Human societies also need to rest on something — something that is solid but flexible, dynamic yet enduring. That something is the family.

Families are the foundation of society because they create people, not just in the biological sense, but in terms of forming the whole person. And this applies not only to children, but adults, too, since we never stop growing. The family is the school of charity where we learn our identity and mission, both of which are found in God, and both of which are defined by one word: love.

Members of a family protect, care, and provide for each other. An essential part of our ministry at the Joseph House is to support each of these functions of family life. For the single mother who wants to protect her children from the chaos of the streets, we pay past-due rent bills to forestall an eviction. For the elderly couple in failing health, we pay for medications so one spouse can care for the other. For the man who is looking for a job so he can provide for his wife and children, we pay for ID cards and work uniforms.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, grew up in a loving and supportive family, and like many people she considered it the fundamental blessing in her life. With her keen memory she loved to tell stories of when she was young:

My mother always wore an apron and would take the apron off before my father came home. She would make sure her hair was combed and everything was neat. And she would have his bedroom slippers out for him sitting beside the rocking chair where he could lean down to put them on, and the newspaper was on the table beside it for him when he came in.

You know it’s very nice to learn to be respectful like that as a child.

My father was a very non-threatening person…. When we were sick in bed, at night in the evening after work he would come home and bring our supper upstairs to us, and after we were finished with our supper he would sit under the gas lamp in the hallway on 23rd Street in Baltimore and he would read to us.

On Saturdays, that was pay day, he would give my mother the money for the house and then we would all stand around and he would give to us according to our age. He would give us a little spending money. He was a good daddy. He certainly was. He always provided well for us, did kind things, we could always depend on him.

Sister’s parents, Dessie and Hal Gintling.

With my father, it didn’t make any difference who needed to have a home, if we had an empty place it was alright with him. We never heard him say anything about these things at all. My mother would make the arrangements…. My father would just figure out what he should do and what he shouldn’t do and what was the right thing to do.

Sister absorbed the lessons of her upbringing and went on to start the Joseph House. Could her parents ever have imagined how their simple acts of love would bear fruit?

Never underestimate the seeds you plant today in your own family.


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Newsletter: June 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Money is a curious thing. It can buy books but not intelligence; finery but not beauty; entertainment but not happiness; luxuries but not culture; a house but not a home.

Money can give us what we want, but not always what we need. It is our servant, not our master.

Jesus advised us to ask for our daily bread (Mt 6:11). He also affirmed that we do not live by bread alone: our fulfillment is of a higher order (Mt 4:4). As Sr. Mary Elizabeth once said, “Some days we have much, and many days we have little. I tell the sisters, ‘much is better, but, much or little, we always have God!'”

We ask money from you to help those who have little. The people we serve lack the necessities required to live a basic, decent life. It is a matter of alleviating suffering and upholding human dignity. We try to keep money in its proper place and allow our benefactors to do the same. Money can be used for good or evil: it is our choice.

Money is called currency if it’s “in circulation.” It has power when it moves, and your donations supply the power to our operation. We can assist people only because of you. Thank you for everything you do for the Joseph House. Having a heart open to people in need is a real treasure.

Like many people who come to the Joseph House, Armand was not eligible for help anywhere else. He is 58, homebound, and a dialysis patient. A social worker came to our Crisis Center on his behalf. After paying 72% of his disability income on rent, Armand has about $200 left over each month. This needs to cover the electric, water, food, and miscellaneous household items. It’s never enough. Armand has nothing extra in his life like cable TV. We paid $200 toward his past-due electric bill.

Celine, 32, is a single mother with two children. She was working a temp job but then was let go by the employer. Living paycheck-to-paycheck, Celine quickly ran into trouble paying her bills, and the water was shut off. She went to the Department of Social Services and learned it does not assist with water bills. The next stop was the Joseph House, and since we are not bound by red tape and we understand that running water is essential, we paid $170 toward Celine’s bill.

Elda is 60 and had to stop working because of arthritis in her back. She can barely walk. At the moment, her only income is $185 a month in Temporary Disability. Elda has minimal bills, but $185 doesn’t go very far, to say the least. We sent $200 to the electric company so Elda would not lose power in her home.

Janet, 46, is separated from her husband. She recently had to have one of her legs amputated. Unable to work during her recovery, she has no income. We sent $175 in rent money to her landlord.

Christine, 56, recently obtained custody of two of her grandchildren. She is trying to get a third one because the mother is abusive. Family relationships have fractured and Christine wants to do what is best for the children. To proceed with the custody case Christine needs to have a larger apartment to house the additional child. Her current income is $1,059 per month and she pays $850 in rent. She found another apartment but needed to pay a security deposit. Her lack of spare funds made that impossible. Determined to provide all of her grandchildren with a loving and healthy upbringing, Christine came to the Joseph House. We contributed $210 toward the deposit.

Last year Sister Virginia’s art class at the Joseph House Workshop took on the task of designing and creating a sign in mosaic tile for the Workshop entryway. Three new residents were up to the challenge. The sign was completed in April 2018, just as the class was ending. Here is the story from Sr. Virginia:

“Mosaics are manly,” I said to Larry, Juan, and John, my art students at the Joseph House Workshop. “Glue and cement and breaking things with tools: What’s not to like?”

As new residents of the Workshop, the three men were still in phase one, the initial three months during which they learn how to cook, clean and cooperate in a small community of men. They also do volunteer work and take an array of skill-building and inspirational classes, including my art class, which I hope provides a bit of comic relief from their very challenging schedule.

The goal of the Joseph House Workshop, a residential therapeutic program, is to help homeless men transition to stable, productive living. We know the goal has been reached when a resident completes the program and has a steady job and the means to live independently.

When Rudy, the assistant director, learned that I was going to give a class in mosaics, he suggested we make a sign for the Workshop to replace one that was falling apart. It was a handsome sign, lovingly and skillfully made by a previous resident, but unfortunately the material was not weatherproof.

I’m not sure what the men were thinking when they heard about the project, or what they said to each other in private, but in the class they were very good sports. As the weeks went by and we were still making preparations, I would anxiously try to assure the men that things were going to get more exciting. Larry would give me a deadpan look and say, “Sister-Virginia–I-am-very-excited-about-the-project-today.” Juan often assured me that the class did indeed make him feel “manly.”

John was a bit more serious – maybe because he had the most experience – and he quietly kept the project on track and free of major blunders. In fact, John devoted many hours of his scarce free time to preparing hundreds of mosaic tiles, which needed to be broken up into a variety of sizes.

We also received help from experts in the community. Carla Lewis, a superb local mosaicist, encouraged us and offered good advice. Erin Kenny and Daniel Winn at Acme Ceramic Tile in Salisbury generously gave their time to help us select the proper materials, and they showed us techniques for producing a harmonious and pleasing design.

Fortunately, the cost of the materials – weatherproof backing board, ceramic tiles, glue and grout – was covered by an education grant that the Workshop receives annually.

As the class drew to an end, the sign was far from complete. I was resigned to handing over the unfinished project to the next cohort of men, due to begin class in the fall.

My students were now preparing to enter phase two – the period during which they find training and employment, with the ultimate goal of becoming stable and independent. I was working at the nearby Joseph House Crisis Center, when John came up to me and said, “Sister, I have to show you something.” He led me across the parking lot to the Workshop entrance.

The sign was not only finished, it was framed and installed above the doors! John had worked day and night to lay all rest of the tiles, and he then enlisted another resident, Carl, to build the frame and help mount the sign, while swearing everyone involved to secrecy so he could surprise me. I was deeply moved and thrilled!

Rudy revealed to me later that John was initially quite unenthusiastic about the mosaic project. An experienced contractor, John said that he had always insisted on getting paid in full for his work. “But when the sign was finished and I saw the expression on Sister’s face,” he said, “it made it all worthwhile.” He had experienced something profound: the joy of giving his time and talent without any thought of material gain.

The mosaic project was for me a tremendous blessing and privilege. After every class, I would feel elated. Working side-by-side with these men to create something that was handsome and useful, in such a venerable and ancient art form, felt like a tiny sharing in the timeless and blissful creativity of God.


There are many things we can do with our time and money. Few of them compare with making the world more hospitable for those who need a hand.

To all men celebrating Father’s Day, we pray that God will bless you with an abundance of love. And may everyone enjoy a happy and restful summer.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Two Fundamentals about our Purpose in Life

Everyone has a vocation, that is, a particular calling and purpose in life. Growing up, we ask ourselves the same questions: Why am I here? Why am I alive at all? What am I to do?

We instinctively realize that our lives must have meaning. We seek knowledge, relationships, experience. Something calls us onward.

For many people, learning their vocation is a process, guided by heart-felt desires and the choices they make. We don’t always follow a straight line, but there is no law that says we must.

Over time our lives move in a certain direction. We reach a point where we have an “existential inability to be, become, and do otherwise.” *

Each member of the Little Sisters started from a different place, and the winding roads they followed led them to our community. Sr. Connie Ladd did not join us until she was in her forties. Her path led first to marriage, motherhood, and a teaching career.

Sr. Connie with Bishop Robert Mulvee, back when she was a novice.

“In the secret of my heart teach me wisdom,” we read in Psalm 51. In our heart-to-heart talks with our Creator, the journey ahead becomes clearer, or at least the next step. Sr. Connie once put into words the fruit of her quiet communion with the Lord. She wrote a prayer that expresses gratitude for her vocation, and also her hopes and aspirations.

Her prayer reveals two fundamentals about vocations. First, we are never alone in our journey. God, the Author of Life, is the One who calls. God is our collaborator and ultimately our goal. Second, our vocation is not just for ourselves, but for others too. No matter our state in life, we are called to place our gifts at the service of others.

Prayer for a Servant of God

My Lord, God of Mystery and Awe, Your choice of servants amazes me. You could have chosen from among those much more wise and talented, yet You have called upon me.

I am honored by this opportunity to be Your servant by being of service to my brothers and sisters. In Your invitation to serve, I realize that I am drawn into a special relationship with You, my Lord and my God.

May my vocation to religious life in the community of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary be for me a means of grace and of building up the Body of Christ.

May I serve with humility and honor, seeking not my own advancement or self-acclaim, but rather to give glory to You and to work for the coming of the Kingdom.

Help me, I pray, to do well – to do Your will – in this vocation with which You have gifted me.

Amen.


* Nemeck, Francis Kelly and Marie Theresa Coombs. Called by God: A Theology of Vocation and Lifelong Commitment. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992.

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