Author: josephhouse (page 1 of 6)

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.

A Community in the Footsteps of Br. Charles

Our founder used to say, “A community is not so much a group of people living together to love Christ as it is a group of people loving Christ together.”

Being together physically to form a community is not always possible. Distance can keep people apart, not to mention their commitments and circumstances.

Now, thanks to the Internet, there is a new online community called the Companions of Jesus of Nazareth. It hopes to fill a need for those who desire a community in order to “love Christ together.”

This community is open to people from all walks of life – men and women, married, single, lay, ordained, and a variety of faith traditions. What unites them is a desire to become more like Jesus through an understanding of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, who is an inspiration for the ministry of the Joseph House.

The Companions of Jesus is under the leadership of Rev. Leonard Tighe, an authority on the life of Br. Charles and a long-time friend of the Little Sisters.

The website has more information. Check it out – this may be something you’ve been looking for:

https://www.companionsofjesusofnazareth.com

It is ironic that in our age of instant electronic communication many people feel isolated. The Companions of Jesus is using that technology to bring people together, all the while each person is living his or her own “Nazareth,” the particular place where God has planted them.

A sense of belonging is such a help to our spiritual growth. Jean Vanier, a pioneer in the healing power of communities, said it well:

We have been drawn together by God to be a sign of the Resurrection and a sign of unity in this world where there is so much division and inner and outer death. We feel small and weak, but we are gathered together to signify the power of God who transforms death into life. That is our hope, that God is doing the impossible: changing death to life inside of each of us, and that perhaps, through our community, each one of us can be agents in the world of this transformation of brokenness into wholeness, and of death into life.

Look Up For A Sign

The goal of the Joseph House Workshop 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. There are also signs along the way that show hard work, commitment, initiative, and pride. Just look up!

Sr. Virginia explains why in her report from the Workshop:

This past winter and spring, I conducted an art class with three residents, Larry, Juan and John. They were in phase one of the program. I decided that we would create a ceramic tile mosaic for the entrance to the Workshop building. None of us had ever done anything like this and we had many false starts and changes of plan. The sign was still far from finished when the class ended. John, seen here, secretly completed the project and worked with another resident to install it over the entryway. Then he surprised me with it. I was deeply moved and thrilled!

Newsletter: May 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, our founder, had a vision for our ministry that continues to guide us. When she started the Joseph House, she had next to nothing apart from a few principles in mind. These principles, and the rationale behind them, were explained by her in this way:

1). Joseph House helps the poor.
We wanted to help the people who fall through the cracks of the welfare system and who cannot receive help elsewhere.

2). Joseph House uses volunteers.
We wanted to give people the opportunity to share in acts of Christian charity. We also wanted to minimize operating expenses so most of our money would go toward direct aid to the poor.

3). Joseph House depends on Divine Providence.
Through the generosity of free-will donations of money, food, and other resources we wanted to avoid government funding and the restrictions and regulations that often accompany it. We wanted the freedom of the Holy Spirit in responding to the needs of the poor.

These three points are just as relevant today as they were 52 years ago when the first Joseph House opened in Baltimore on May 1, 1966. Today we carry on the good work Sr. Mary Elizabeth started, reaching out to people in need to relieve their distress, offer them hope, and uphold their dignity.

We’d like to share with you a story from one of our volunteers that beautifully ties together what Sister envisioned. Jerry has been doing amazing work helping people find employment, whether at the Crisis Center, the Joseph House Workshop, or the Village of Hope. He goes above and beyond the call of duty. A few weeks ago, Jerry met Mary in our Hospitality Room for men and women who are homeless. Mary was definitely someone who had “fallen through the cracks.” As can be seen in Jerry’s write-up, however, her life was about to take a turn for the better:

Mary had just been released from the county jail. We interviewed her, helped her get an e-mail address, created a résumé, performed on-line job searches, wrote cover letters, helped fill out job applications and drove her to interviews with prospective employers. She recently had a second successful interview with one of the employers we helped her target, and she gladly accepted their job offer. She reported for orientation a few days later.

Needless to say, Mary is thrilled with the services we provided. Our volunteers who work in this area are equally joyous each time they help one of our clients become self sufficient.

A lot has changed over the years, but “the poor you will always have with you” (Mt 26:11). For people living in poverty, the world keeps creating new barriers for them. The latest is the digital divide — the gap between those who have access to the Internet and technology and those who don’t. That was an obstacle facing Mary until Jerry helped her get to the other side.

We are so happy that the Joseph House allowed these two individuals to cross paths. And they’re just one example. The transformations that occur are life-changing — for everyone involved!

There’s something Sister didn’t mention in her vision for the Joseph House, but it’s always been present in our service to those in need: loving personal concern. She in fact set the standard. Whether in our Hospitality Room, Soup Kitchen, Food Pantry, Financial Assistance department, or at the Joseph House Workshop, our service is never simply the mechanical distribution of goods. Everything is done person-to-person, motivated by a desire to love thy neighbor.

There are many people alone and adrift with nowhere to go for help. We are here for them because of your donations.

Sybil, 51, is coping with mental health issues and living in someone’s garage. Her income is only $195 per month (Temporary Disability). Sybil came to the Crisis Center and asked for one thing: money to see a dentist. We paid $150 so she could make an appointment.

Harvey, 63, needed to move from the house he has lived in his entire life. Badly run-down, his home was returning to the elements from which it came. Mice and insects were speeding up the process. Harvey is limited in what he can do for himself. We paid $200 toward the security deposit so he could move into a place that will be easier for him to manage.

Edwina, 62, is trying to work while being treated for cancer, but sometimes the pain from radiation treatments is too much. She’s had to cut back her hours from her job in a cafeteria. With her reduced income, the rent has been taking almost all of her money. We paid $200 toward her past-due electric bill to keep the power on in her apartment.

Margot, 28, has a four-year-old daughter and newborn twins, a boy and a girl. She took a maternity leave from her job, believing that her husband would be able to take care of the bills. He, however, is a veteran and suffering from PTSD. His violent episodes became so severe that he needed to be hospitalized. The family’s income quickly dropped to zero. Margot’s landlord said something had to be paid toward the rent or else an eviction was likely to happen. We sent $300 to buy Margot some time.

The mission of the Joseph House goes forward because friends like you have been part of it from Day One. Sr. Mary Elizabeth could not do it alone and neither can we. Thank you for your donations, financial contributions, prayers, and encouragement. Learn how you can help: Donate.

We remember you faithfully every day in our prayers. You are precious to God and to us.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


URGENT REQUEST: We need a full-size pickup truck for our Crisis Center. The truck will be used primarily for our Food Pantry and must be suitable for heavy-duty work. Our current truck is ready to be retired after 300,000 miles of commendable service. If you can help in any way please Contact Us.

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