Newsletter: January 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

January is the sunrise of the year, the dawn of a new beginning. For us Little Sisters, there’s a prayer we say at the start of each day, and it seems to be fitting as we go forth into another year. It is the Abandonment Prayer of Charles de Foucauld:

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You may do, I thank You:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures—
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You with all the love of my heart,
for I love You Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for You are my Father.

We never know what the day will bring, let alone the year. Placing ourselves in the hands of Divine Providence is the only security possible in this world. We do know, however, that there will be a very joyous occasion this spring: on May 15, Charles will be canonized a saint!

We are so happy to finally share this news with you. Many people have been waiting for this, but as Scripture reminds us we often have to wait until the time is right for things to happen (see Ecc 3:1 or Eph 1:9-10). Sr. Mary Elizabeth, our founder, knew nothing about Charles when she was growing up, but one day, decades ago, she saw his picture and had a sudden inspiration that he would be important to her as she searched for God’s will in her life. That’s how it is with the saints: many times they are the ones who choose us because they know they can help us acquire the graces we need. We are thrilled that Charles is finally getting the official stamp of approval. He will become St. Charles, but to us he will always be “Br. Charles.”

As Sr. Mary Elizabeth learned more about Charles she discovered a kindred spirit. He became a guide on how to imitate Christ by living the life of Nazareth, of being open to people of other faiths and cultures, of loving them as children of God. “Cry the Gospel with your life,” Charles said, and Sister adopted that for her own work. He’s been a good friend to our community, and since you are friends of the Joseph House, he’s also your friend. You can watch a video about his life and find out why he is special to us by clicking on this link: Brother Charles Video Presentation.

Joseph House Workshop News

The Workshop opened in 2005. It is next door to our Crisis Center, and it allows homeless men to stay up to two years as they follow a comprehensive program to help them begin new lives. Attention is given to their education, health care, and personal development needs. They learn a variety of skills that will benefit them in their jobs and in life in general.

We currently have three men living at the Workshop. All were homeless and dealing with addiction to drugs and alcohol. They came directly from a detox center to the Workshop, where they will live in an environment that supports their commitment to sobriety.

Two of the residents are in Phase One (classroom-based) and the other is in Phase Two (employment-based) and has started working at one of the local poultry companies. They’re all doing great.

Thanks to your support, we were able to do some much needed improvements to the Workshop’s facilities. A new floor was installed in the kitchen along with two new refrigerators. Nick, the Director of the Workshop, explains how kitchen duties are handled:

“Each resident takes turns with cooking chores. They each cook for a week, which gives them experience in shopping for the menu they choose and how to make and stick to a budget. The dishes they prepare vary from pork chops to pizza. If a resident doesn’t know how to cook when he comes in, he will be given help by other residents. The purpose is to make each resident self-sufficient.

“The residents make their own breakfasts and lunches, but for dinner we eat together each night at the table. As for groceries, we go shopping every two weeks. The two residents that are cooking for those weeks make their menus and write out a shopping list and we go shopping on Monday mornings.

“We have students from UMES (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) teaching a nutrition class to the residents. I heard of the program where students gain credits to teach on the subject they are studying. I contacted the nutrition department, and after a lengthy conversation they agreed to come and teach a 12-week class on nutrition to our Phase One residents. The topics are how to prepare healthy foods, what to look for on packages, how to read nutrition labels on packages, etc.”

Below is a photo of the kitchen at the Workshop:

We are so proud of the Workshop and of the men in the program. Not everyone is willing to make meaningful changes in life, but our men are, and that takes tremendous strength and courage. Your support makes it all possible! Thank you for everything you do for the Joseph House.

With our prayers for blessings in the New Year,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We would like to pray for you. Please send us your prayer requests: Contact Form.

Your support keeps the Joseph House Crisis Center and the Joseph House Workshop in operation. You can learn how to make a donation here: Donate.

Our featured community member this month is Sr. Mary Joseph, who joined the Little Sisters in 1989. You can read her profile here: Sr. Mary Joseph.

Newsletter: December 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

By far our favorite Christmas decoration is the nativity scene, that representation of the birth of Christ with the Holy Family, shepherds, angels, animals, and wise men. We have more than one set up in our Salisbury convent: there’s one in the chapel, one in the dining room, and one in our basement community room. Each nativity is in a different style, but they all keep us focused on why this time of year is so special.

Most nativity sets come with a stable, but you may have seen some that place the figures in the ruins of an old building. There are crumbling stone walls and broken pillars instead of the usual barnyard structure. We always thought this was just artistic license since the Gospels don’t actually mention a stable, only a manger (a feeding trough) which became a crib for baby Jesus.

In 2019, however, Pope Francis wrote a beautiful exposition on the meaning of the nativity scene and set us straight:

More than anything, the ruins are the visible sign of fallen humanity, of everything that inevitably falls into ruin, decays and disappoints. This scenic setting tells us that Jesus is newness in the midst of an aging world, that He has come to heal and rebuild, to restore the world and our lives to their original splendor (Admirabile Signum).

It’s good to know the meaning of this symbolism. What comes to mind is a quote from Thomas Merton’s journal; addressing God after a bout of self-examination, he writes, “Yet, ruined as my house is, You live there!” Christmas is astoundingly good news. The world is in disarray as it always has been, and the difficulties of life never end. But in the midst of creation, subject to all manner of corruption, “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). God is at home—even in the mess. Does anything else bring us such hope?

Yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate, but it calls for more than just warm sentiments and consumer excess. At Bethlehem, in the mystery of the Incarnation, Christ took upon Himself our poverty and embraced our littleness. To welcome Him at Christmas is to encounter Him in the mystery of the poor, where He promised to be (see Mt 25:31-46). Look for Him in the faces of the homeless and the hungry, and you will find what is essential in life.

Dear friends, we can’t thank you enough for your support of Joseph House. Your prayers and contributions give life to our ministry. You enable it to bear fruit. You make a difference to so many people in need. We can serve them with love because of you.

Our dedicated volunteers also enable us to respond to the many cries for help we receive. It can get busy, but the work is joyful.

Sara, 61, lives alone on one of the many back roads of the Eastern Shore. Her gums have been infected for a long time, and she needs to have most of her remaining teeth removed and replaced with dentures. For many months she has been saving up for this badly needed dental work, but it was beginning to seem like an impossible goal on her fixed income. The Joseph House was able to contribute $400 so Sara can get the dentures and healing treatment she needs.

Home for Wanda, 62, is a little house not much bigger than a storage shed. She doesn’t mind the size because she is frail and must use a walker. Over the summer Wanda suffered an aneurysm and was hospitalized. While she was away, a thief had no trouble breaking into her home and stealing the money Wanda needed to pay her rent. We supplied the missing funds of $425.

Randall, 63, is a widower. He has advanced cancer and is unable to work. He started receiving a small Social Security check and food stamps, but his basic expenses are overshadowing his resources. We paid $335 toward his past-due electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Jordyn, 24, was working in a chicken processing plant, but the physical demands of her job were too much for her and she had to stop. She lives in Virginia, in a sparsely populated area, and there are few other options for employment. Before Jordyn could find another job, she missed a rent payment, and her landlord served her with an eviction notice. Although Salisbury is more than an hour by car from where she lives, Jordyn made the trip, looking for help. We called her landlord and made arrangements to assist with $400 to stop the eviction, which was scheduled for that day.

Tammy, 51, and her husband were homeless and living in their car. They both have serious health problems, but only Tammy receives a disability check; nothing is left over after the car payment, insurance bill, and buying food. Fortunately, the couple received a subsidized housing voucher, but they could not move in for several days. With the weather turning colder, we gave Tammy and her husband five nights in a motel ($350).

Coming Soon: We currently have three residents in the Joseph House Workshop, our job-preparation program for homeless men. An update on their activities will be forthcoming. Please visit our website to learn more about our ministries, What We Do, as well as Donate Online.

Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. We are grateful for everything you do to help us in our mission to uphold the dignity of all people, especially the poor, and to assist them in their times of need.

Our prayers are with you for a blessed Advent and a happy celebration of Christmas. May the New Year bring you peace and good health.

And may your hearts rejoice always in God’s gift of love for you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


As we prepare to welcome Christ with faith reborn, we offer you the gift of prayer. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ document on the nativity scene:

https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20191201_admirabile-signum.html


The First Nativity Scene

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with setting up the first nativity scene to help celebrate Christmas. In 1223 he was visiting Greccio, a small hilltown in Italy, where the caves reminded him of the Bethlehem countryside. Francis felt inspired. According to his first biographer, Thomas of Celano, the saint decided “to bring to life the memory of that Babe born in Bethlehem,” to see as much as possible with his own eyes “the discomfort of His infant needs, how He lay in a manger, and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, He was laid upon a bed of hay.”

Enlisting the help of a local friend, Francis set up an altar inside a rocky niche. A manger was brought in along with a borrowed ox and donkey. Friars and townspeople arrived for Midnight Mass, bringing flowers and torch lights.

St. Bonaventure, in his life of Francis, writes, “The man of God [Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His Name for the tenderness of his love, he called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.”

And in the words of Thomas, “There Simplicity was honored, Poverty exalted, Humility commended; and of Greccio there was made as it were a new Bethlehem. The night was lit up as the day, and was delightful to men and beasts…[Francis] stood before the manger, full of sighs, overcome with tenderness and filled with wondrous joy.”

People loved the way that the pages of sacred Scripture were brought to life, and the inspiration of Francis quickly spread to churches and private homes. Today, nativity scenes of all types and sizes proclaim the meaning of Christmas around the world.

Pope Francis at Greccio.

Please read this blog post by Franciscan author Murray Bodo OFM on what Greccio says to us today:

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/st-anthony-messenger/december-2018/st-francis-and-the-gift-of-greccio

Newsletter: November 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Here it is November already, and another year is flying by. It’s a special year, too, the “Year of St. Joseph,” which was declared by Pope Francis as a way to promote this saint whose example offers hope during our troubled times.

St. Joseph, of course, is very dear to us at the Joseph House. Back when she started in 1965, our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, placed her ministry to the poor under his patronage. She later explained why:

I named what we did to help the poor “Joseph House” because St. Joseph was the provider for Mary and Jesus. Also, Scripture describes St. Joseph as a just man, and working for justice has always been very important to me. That lies at the heart of Joseph House.

Our founder touches upon some important ideas here, ideas which are central to our mission. Let’s unpack them a little.

As the provider for Mary and Jesus, St. Joseph speaks to us of the dignity of human work. He earned an honest living and used his gifts to be a co-creator with God of the world around him. St. Joseph served his community through his carpentry. The lives of his neighbors were improved because of what he did.

St. Joseph’s work was also directly connected to his support of family life. Why did he work hard? The number one reason was to care for the people he loved the most. St. Joseph provided a home for Mary and Jesus and everything the word “home” means: not only a place to live and food for the table, but love, acceptance, and a sense of security. The Holy Family were refugees in Egypt and then had to resettle in Nazareth. St. Joseph the provider helped his young wife and her precious Child to believe, “It’s going to be okay.”

As a just man, St. Joseph speaks to us on how to live in society. Justice is about “right” relationships: with other people, our community, and God. It involves giving to each what is due. A just person also recognizes that some debts can never be repaid: the gift of life, for example. (Try saying to God, “We’re even.”) Thus, justice requires one to be humble, merciful, and eager to make a contribution to the common good.

Sister did a great job in picking a role model for our ministry. What we have to do is live up to his name in our service to the poor. We need the prayers of St. Joseph—and we need you.

Your generosity allows our Crisis Center to help people who are struggling to provide for their families. You enable homeless men in our Workshop to begin new lives with decent jobs. Together, we stand in for St. Joseph in so many ways.

Lillian, 39, has four children. Her husband walked out, moved to a different state, and is not paying child support. Lillian had surgery over the summer and could not work for six weeks. Her little bit of savings did not last long. When she came to see us she was penniless. Her children were hungry and the water was going to be cut off in her rental home. We paid the bill of $317 and gave Lillian bags of groceries and a gasoline voucher. Lillian’s relief found expression in tears.

Tom, 56, had to stop working at his job in food service because of his bad heart. He now has to wear a heart monitor. With his life in a free fall, Tom is hoping there’s a safety net to catch him. He has applied for government help. In the meantime, we paid his rent ($300) so he would not be evicted.

Julie, 64, lives on a fixed income. She spends about $200 per month on prescription medications. Julie calmly explained how most of her health problems began after the near-fatal complications of her knee surgery. She was behind in her rent and in danger of losing her subsidized housing, so we paid the $273 that was due.

Laura, 41, is mentally challenged and receives disability. She is the caregiver for her 100-year-old grandmother. Their guardian angels must be working overtime. Laura had a disconnect notice from the gas company. We were able to pay the amount due of $400.

CHRISTMAS CONCERT: Back by popular demand, the Magi Fund is presenting “A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS” featuring the National Christian Choir, pianist Michael Faircloth, and the Salisbury Children’s Choir. One performance only, Saturday, November 13 at 3 pm, Emmanuel Church Auditorium, 217 Beaglin Park Drive, Salisbury. All proceeds benefit the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, available at First Shore Federal Savings & Loan (all branches) and The Country House (E. Main Street, Salisbury). Call 410-749-1633 or visit magifund.com for information.

TURKEYS AND TOYS: Your donations can make this time of year a little brighter for those who are disadvantaged. Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 21. Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 12. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns.

All donations can be dropped off at our convent at 411 N. Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury. Thank you for helping us. The joy of the holiday season is made complete by remembering those who are less fortunate!

It’s a great feeling to have many reasons to be thankful. Do you know what’s even better? Being the reason that someone is thankful. You are just that for all the people who receive assistance from the Joseph House. You give to our ministry what it needs: your love and concern for others. Your prayers and contributions make our work possible, and we offer you our heartfelt gratitude. To you and your loved ones we wish a Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Do you have special prayer intentions? We would love to add our prayers to yours. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Your help is needed! The mission of the Joseph House depends on people like you. Find out how you can make a difference: Holiday Giving.

What is the Use of Proclaiming Saints?

We mention St. Joseph a lot and also Charles de Foucauld, who is set to be canonized in the near future. But why should we care about saints? Why bother with the whole process of canonization, which may seem like a relic from the past? Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has an excellent answer:

“To proclaim saints helps convince us that this vocation really exists, that the Gospel works, that Jesus does not disappoint and that we can trust in His word. . . . The saints don’t need our recognition, but when we appreciate them as such, we recognize the presence of God among us, and what can be more beautiful and comforting for a Christian than to feel the warmth of the closeness of the Lord?


“God is love and every expression of authentic charity has His fingerprints. But there are differences. While the heroes of this world show what a person can do, the saint shows what God can do. Canonizing one of its sons or daughters, the church is not exalting a human work but is celebrating Christ alive in him or her. Christian heroism proclaims God and spreads in the world His grace and blessing, which we cannot do without.”

Holiness comes in many forms, which is fortunate for us because we are all called to be saints. Let us pray for each other, and for all people, that we may reach our full stature as children of God. Since November is when we remember in a special way all the faithful departed, let us also pray for those who have gone before us. May we one day stand together in our heavenly homeland, rejoicing with all the saints, knowing at last just how good God is.

The image below is a close-up of one of the tapestries depicting the “Communion of Saints” at the Los Angeles Cathedral. Visit the cathedral’s website to learn more about these beautiful works of art: olacathedral.org/tapestries

Discovering a New Saint
Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, wrote the following in his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain:

“It is a wonderful experience to discover a new saint. For God is greatly magnified and marvelous in each one of His saints: differently in each individual one. There are no two saints alike: but all of them are like God, like Him in a different and special way. In fact, if Adam had never fallen, the whole human race would have been a series of magnificently different and splendid images of God, each one of all the millions of men showing forth His glories and perfections in an astonishing new way, and each one shining with his own particular sanctity, a sanctity destined for him from all eternity as the most complete and unimaginable supernatural perfection of his human personality. . . .


“The discovery of a new saint is a tremendous experience: and all the more so because it is completely unlike the film-fan’s discovery of a new star. What can such a one do with his new idol? Stare at her picture until it makes him dizzy. That is all. But the saints are not mere inanimate objects of contemplation. They become our friends, and they share our friendship and reciprocate it and give us unmistakable tokens of their love for us by the graces that we receive through them.”

A discovery for Merton was the sanctity of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. His autobiography contains this admission: “And not only was she a saint, but a great saint, one of the greatest: tremendous! I owe her all kinds of public apologies and reparation for having ignored her greatness for so long.” St. Thérèse became Merton’s new friend in heaven, and as a true friend she was there to help him. “It was inevitable that the friendship should begin to have its influence on my life,” he realized.

Merton entrusted to St. Thérèse the conversion of his brother, John Paul, which was successful. Shortly before John Paul departed for England during World War II, he visited Merton at his monastery in Kentucky, at which time he was baptized and received his First Communion.

Thérèse of Lisieux. “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.”

A New Friend to Discover
On October 13, 2021, during an audience with Cardinal Semeraro, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate decrees regarding eight people, advancing them along the road to official sainthood.

Of these eight, one is a member of the Br. Charles family: Élisabeth Marie Magdeleine Hutin, who was recognized for her life of heroic virtue and is now honored with the title of Venerable!

Élisabeth was born on April 26, 1898 in Paris, and died on November 6, 1989 in Rome. Inspired by the life and writings of Charles de Foucauld, in 1939 she founded the Little Sisters of Jesus. Her name in religious life was Little Sister Magdeleine.

Today, the Little Sisters of Jesus number about 1,400 women from 60 countries, living in small groups throughout the world. They are noted for their blue habits (the habit of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary is based on theirs).

Here is how Little Sister Magdeleine described the life and purpose of her community:

“The Little Sisters ask to be allowed to live as the leaven in the dough of humanity. They desire to integrate totally with other human beings, while leading a deeply contemplative life, like that of Jesus in the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth and on the highways and byways of his public life.


“The Little Sisters identify wholly with the working class, but represent at the same time a bridge between all classes, races and religions. They must be a catalyst for worker and employer, Muslim and Christian, so that each learns to live with the other, loving with a greater love and doing away with all hatred and enmity.


“Their community life should be a living witness to Christian love, ‘Jesus Caritas.’ They will not be cloistered. Their doors will always be open, so that their communities will be a meeting ground for lay and religious who will find there deeper understanding and greater love. The Little Sisters would like to live as one with the working class, in the factories and workshops. They ask for nothing more than to be thought of as ‘workers among workers,’ as they are ‘Arabs among Arabs’ and ‘nomads among nomads,’ so that the light of Christ shines out of them, in humility and silence. In the lives of the Little Sisters we must see, from near at hand, the real face of the religious life and of the Church, the real face of Christ.”

Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus. “God took me by the hand, and blindly I followed.”

In 1997, her Cause for Beatification was opened and she received the title Servant of God. All of this recognition given to Little Sister Magdeleine is not only a testament to her individual holiness, but an affirmation of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld and a sign of its vitality. The life of Nazareth leads to sainthood!

The most well-known person recognized on October 13 was Albino Luciani, who in 1978 became Pope John Paul I. Although he was pope for only 33 days, during his ministry as a priest and later as Patriarch of Venice he was known for his humility and his dedication to the poor and disabled. A miracle attributed to his intercession has been accepted, and now Pope John Paul I, “the smiling pope,” will be beatified at a future date and be known as Blessed.

Pope John Paul I had a short prayer that he recited to himself, and it is a good prayer for anyone who wants to be a saint, meaning it should be a good prayer for everyone:

“Lord, take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings,
but make me become as You want me to be.”

John Paul I. “In order to be saints it is not necessary to accomplish extraordinary things, perform miracles, or be privileged with very special graces. It is enough to perform ordinary works, though the commitment to and love of God are not ordinary.”

Confused about all of the steps to sainthood? Here is a helpful summary: solanuscasey.org/about-us/the-cause-for-sainthood/learn-more-about-the-steps-to-sainthood

Newsletter: October 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

What is the greatest sin committed against the poor?

According to Franciscan priest Raniero Cantalamessa, it is indifference.

“Unfortunately, we can get used to anything in time, and we have grown accustomed to other people’s misery,” he writes in his book, Poverty. “It only affects us to a degree, we almost take it for granted as inevitable.”

It’s easy for this to happen, given that the daily news is an endless repeat of disasters and turmoil and senseless violence. Sometimes in order to cope we build a wall around our hearts, which is very understandable. We feel a need to keep the pain of other people at a distance. But these walls don’t always protect our hearts, they just let them grow cold. It becomes easier and easier to turn away from people who are poor and suffering and in dire need of assistance. And who wants the priest and Levite from the parable of the Good Samaritan to be their role models? That’s no way to live.

To help shake off our indifference, Fr. Raniero suggests we adopt a new perspective: let us look at situations “from God’s point of view for a moment, and try to see things as He sees them.”

What would that be like? We can make some reasonable guesses. When God looks at the world He sees His children. He sees each individual person as unique and beautiful, made with love and imbued with an irreplaceable dignity. God sees our diversity and differences, of course, but these are not impediments to loving us. God doesn’t see the arbitrary lines we use to divide people into categories, the end result being, whether we intend it or not, that some people are deemed worthy of our care and compassion and others less so. From God’s point of view, we belong to one human family, and it is a family where everyone is loved and cherished.

But how can we really love everyone in the world? We should keep in mind that our love for other people is measured by our desire for their good, not the depth of our feelings. Also, even though we can’t do everything for everyone, we can always do something for someone. As Jesuit Daniel Berrigan said, “The difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”

We believe God doesn’t look at the size of our actions, just the amount of love that goes into them. Otherwise, the Joseph House would never have gotten started all those years ago. Our work continues today because people like you understand that being able to share with others is one of life’s greatest blessings.

Alyson, 27, and her three children (plus one on the way) were homeless. Alyson had been to the Joseph House before and we knew she had a difficult life. She receives $500 per month in temporary cash assistance from the state. Trying to raise a family on that amount is futile. Alyson still has a car and was hoping to get to Baltimore where a shelter was going to have an opening for her and her children in a few days. The shelter was also going to provide counseling and other forms of assistance. We gave Alyson three nights in a motel ($240), a gasoline voucher, bags of groceries, $30 cash for miscellaneous expenses, and books for her children. Her hope for a new beginning is a precious thing to keep alive.

Makayla and Owen, both in their thirties, have two daughters and a son. Their little boy is a toddler and has cancer. Makayla is also in poor health and stays home to care for him. Owen does odd jobs for their landlord. The family’s phone was cut off and their water was next. Makayla said she has applied for subsidized housing but the wait can be very long. We paid the past-due water bill of $350.

Helen, 52, and her pre-teen daughter live in subsidized housing, but it is infested with insects. We could see the bug bites on her daughter’s arm. The exterminator said it would cost $400 to clean out their house. This amount was simply beyond Helen’s reach so we agreed to pay it.

Vanessa, 61, lives alone on a fixed income. She was out of propane so she did not have hot water or a working stove. The cost to get the tank filled was almost half of her monthly check. We called the gas company and said we would pay the amount ($325).

Jane, 40, has a brain tumor and goes to Baltimore twice a week for treatment. She is only able to work part-time. Jane was behind in the rent and was worried she and her four children were going to get evicted. We called her landlord and paid the amount due ($275). Jane’s oldest son hopes to get a job soon at a fast-food restaurant so he can help support the family.

Fabiola, 30, and her five children immigrated to our country from Haiti. She is working hard at a chicken plant but still needed help paying her electric bill. We paid the balance of $240.

After a summer of oppressive heat, the arrival of “sweater weather” is a welcome change. The brisk air of early morning makes us feel renewed and energized and ready to face the day. We love being able to help people at the Joseph House, and we are so happy we can count on you as a faithful friend to those in need. You are always in our prayers.

The joy of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, was to love people who seemed unlovable. On October 27 it will be 17 years since she departed this life to be united with God forever. We hope and pray that we honor her memory in all that we do.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We have made some updates to our website. Please take a look to read profiles and see photos of the members of our community.

We pray for our friends and benefactors every day. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Contributions from people like you keep the Joseph House in operation. Learn how you can help: Donate.

The Spirituality of Charles de Foucauld

We are anxiously waiting to hear when Charles de Foucauld will be canonized. The date should be announced soon. To help you know more about our spiritual father, here are the main points of his spirituality, as written by our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling:

There are four basic elements of the spirituality of Br. Charles. The first is poverty. In order to be really free in this materialistic world it is necessary to divest oneself of that which is not necessary. For Br. Charles, that meant living a life of extreme poverty in imitation of the life of Christ and also as a sign that, for the Christian, life now is lived in expectation of what is to come, it is not an end in itself.

The second is contemplation. It is expressed specifically in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament as a direct way to seek the Lord and also in meditation on the gospels.

The third is the desert. It is in the desert that one is faced with the reality of who God is. He reveals Himself to those who wait for Him in the desert. And those who wait are made aware of their own weakness and inability to do anything without Him. So, time spent in solitude is a vital aspect of a follower of Br. Charles.

The final point of this spirituality is charity. This is expressed in being as far as possible a friend to all persons, in total availability and in hospitality.

For more information, please see the Br. Charles section of our website.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth in the Holy Land, a place Charles loved. He lived in Nazareth for several years and it filled his spirit. “Imitate Jesus in His hidden life. Be as small and poor as He is,” Charles wrote in his journal.

Newsletter: September 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

According to verse twenty-one of the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs, “Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.”

A Yiddish proverb puts it another way: “We plan and God laughs.”

We all know what it’s like. We have hopes and dreams, we make plans and get ready for what we have in mind, and then the unexpected happens. We find out, once again, that the universe is under no obligation to cooperate with us. It could be rain on the day of a picnic, or something much more consequential, like a pandemic. Despite our power and strength, there is a limit to what we can control.

That’s why wise people always add “God willing” whenever they make any sort of plans.

Coping with change and the unpredictability of life can make us resilient. But each individual can only handle so much, especially when great losses are involved. Regina, for example, never imagined the pain and difficulties she would have to face. She was married, had children, and was working as a nurse. Seventeen years ago, however, she became infected with flesh-eating bacteria. An area of her upper leg had to be surgically removed. The infection still spread and she went into septic shock. Regina ended up on a ventilator and suffered permanent lung damage. She was also paralyzed from the waist down but has since regained the ability to walk.

Now 58, Regina’s health remains fragile. She needs additional surgery for a skin graft, wound care, and an ostomy. Making matters immeasurably worse is that she is alienated from her family. She feels betrayed by her ex-husband. Forced to live on a meager disability income, Regina did the circuit of substandard housing that is the fate for many people who are poor. She lived in neighborhoods where drug deals openly took place and in houses infested with rodents and mold. She even lived in her car until it broke down in someone’s driveway. Her last stop before contacting us was a motel. It was clean and she felt safe with her two therapy cats (her beloved companions throughout her trials), but the cost was rapidly draining her money away.

The first thing we did was pay for a week at the motel to give us time to find an affordable and hygienic apartment for Regina. That was not an easy task. We contacted everyone we knew who could help us. Another week was required at the motel, and then a third. We paid the bills but we were feeling desperate, along with Regina, and we let the Lord know about it in our prayers. Finally, success! A place was found and another agency agreed to help Regina with rental assistance.

Regina later told us how grateful she was for all the help she received. She feels like it was divine intervention. She said it has been a true learning experience, both about herself and in terms of renewing her faith and trust in others. That’s really the best we can hope for when life doesn’t happen the way we planned.

Barry, 59, has had his life derailed by a bite from a brown recluse spider. He almost died, and the arm that received the bite is limp and useless. Barry thinks his livelihood as a master mechanic is gone for good. He said he just doesn’t feel right. His doctor has ordered more tests, but so far there is no conclusive diagnosis. With no income at the moment, Barry was worried about getting evicted. We sent $400 to his landlord to help cover the back rent.

Colleen, 64, is very lame with arthritis. Her house is horrible: the mold problem is getting out of hand and the windows are sealed shut. She has lived there for sixteen years. Colleen was trying to stay cool in the stifling summer heat with an electric fan, but she really needed an air conditioner. We paid her water bill ($350) to stop the impending cut-off. We also made arrangements to have an air conditioner delivered through an agency that helps seniors. Colleen will also get food from Meals on Wheels.

Audrey, 47, lives on disability. Her car (with over a quarter of a million miles on it) broke down. The repair bill was $680, which is more than her monthly disability check. Audrey has been trying to pay off this bill, but it set her back in her rent and she received an eviction notice. The Department of Social Services and another agency did not have funds to help her. We paid the amount needed to stop the eviction ($200) plus the final $80 of the car repair bill.

Leslie, 46, had to leave her job because her stomach cancer was getting worse. She has no income, although she has applied for government benefits. Since Leslie was unable to pay her rent, we sent $300 to her landlord.

Sheila, 63, is disabled and in poor health. Several weeks ago, she needed to start using an oxygen concentrator at home to help her breathe. Sheila was unprepared for the increase in her electric bill. From her $900 monthly check she already pays $600 for rent. We paid the $320 due on the electric, but Sheila will have to cut what little she can from her monthly expenses.

Delores, 39, works in health care. When she experienced flu-like symptoms she had to quarantine for two weeks. Fortunately, she did not have COVID-19, but like many working people she lives paycheck-to-paycheck. The lost pay put her behind in the rent. Delores has a young daughter. She is also a victim of domestic violence and does not receive child support. We sent $400 to her landlord. Delores is determined not to get in this situation again. She is now working a second job.

The universe may not always cooperate, but there’s no reason we can’t cooperate with each other. The pandemic is another reminder that sometimes our individual efforts are not enough—we need to work together to solve our problems and ensure the well-being of all.

The Joseph House is supremely blessed to have people like you working with us. Your prayers and support make a big difference to many people. And let us remember that, no matter what happens, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Rom 8:28).

We never tire of giving thanks for you and pray for you every day. As we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we also pray for peace in our world. May God’s love bring an end to all division and strife.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We pray for our benefactors and friends every day. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.


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Newsletter: August 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Living under harsh circumstances does not mean we ourselves have to be harsh. Charles de Foucauld is proof of that.

For fifteen years, from 1901 until his death in 1916, Charles made his home in Algeria, surrounded by the moonscape of the Sahara Desert. Famine, loneliness, exhaustion . . . Charles was well acquainted with every aspect of desert living. Over time his body withered like a dry stick, but his heart remained supple and fresh. His love for God gave him inner vitality, and he dedicated his life to the best way of showing that love, which is loving other people. Charles called himself a “universal brother” to everyone.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, considered Charles to be a spiritual role model. This passage from the first biography of Charles helps to illustrate why. It describes a time when he spent 25 days at an encampment of wounded French soldiers, ministering to their needs:

“All his time, except the few hours given to sleep—and those not every night—and the time for his Mass and rapid meals, [Charles] devoted to the wounded. He chatted with each of them, spoke to them of their country and families, and wrote their letters. When he entered one of the ambulance rooms, all the wounded called out to him with one voice: ‘Good-morning, Father,’ and each wished to be the first to receive the visit of the friend of all. They recognized one who loved the soldier and understood him. Certainly, most of these legionaries were not accustomed to speak to a priest; piety was not their dominant characteristic; but the sweetness, the affable and sprightly manner, the self-sacrifice of this priest who devoted every instant of his time to them, rapidly conquered them one after the other. The presence of this monk became indispensable to them.

“An officer of the post, whom I questioned, said to me: ‘It is beyond doubt that his influence on their morale had a great deal to do with this singular fact: of these forty-nine wounded, of whom several were seriously injured and with many wounds, only one succumbed. I remember a certain legionary, of German origin, whom we considered a not very commendable subject. At El-Mungar he had had a bullet through his chest. Father de Foucauld took him in hand as the most seriously wounded and the least sympathetic, indeed, quite the reverse. Received at first more than coolly, with his patience and sweetness he ended in conciliating this poor man to such a point that the latter called for him at every moment, and related to him the intimate history—not always edifying—of an old African soldier.’” (René Bazin, Charles de Foucauld, Hermit and Explorer)

Charles (center) with a group of French soldiers.

Charles had a simple philosophy regarding how to interact with other people: “Be loving, gentle, and humble with all human beings. This is what we have learned from Jesus, not to be aggressive towards anyone. Jesus taught us to go out like lambs among wolves.” Many eyewitnesses gave testimony that Charles practiced what he preached. They always remembered his smile and sincere friendliness.

The circumstances of our daily lives are not as extreme as those faced by Charles, so it should be easier to be Christ-like, right? Well, we know how it is. It takes practice, self-awareness, and plenty of prayer. We need God’s grace—and God is very happy to supply it.

People who come to the Joseph House Crisis Center have been beaten down by poverty and misfortune. In the spirit of Charles, we greet them with kindness, the first step in helping them find reasons to have hope.

Glenda, 52, needed the support of her walker with a built-in seat when she came to see us. She spoke with a stutter, but her words were easy to understand. Despite her many physical ailments, Glenda is helping to care for her two young grandchildren while their mother looks for work. One of the children is just a baby and is very sick; she needs to use a breathing machine and her mother is afraid to be away from her. Glenda only receives $400 monthly in SSI. She needed help paying her overdue electric bill. The Joseph House contributed $400.

Cathy, 54, has a husband who moved out, although he continues to send her $135 each week (her only income). Cathy suffers from a mental impairment and finding work is a challenge. She has her hopes on getting a job at a thrift shop. In the meantime, we sent $300 to the electric company so the power would not be cut off in her home.

Teresa, 56, has liver cancer. She is scheduled to have surgery soon. Coping with her illness has been an ordeal, but Teresa has managed to keep working. She is also raising her fourteen-year-old child. Teresa did miss some work and fell behind in the rent. She needed to pay $1,470. Refusing to give up, she was able to raise all but $320. We paid that amount to the landlord to stop the eviction.

After she lost her job, Leanne, 31, and her three children moved in with a friend. Then her friend got evicted and Leanne and her children were homeless. Fortunately, Leanne quickly found a job paying $16 per hour. With her first paycheck two weeks away, however, she needed help with housing. We agreed to pay for a motel room ($450) so Leanne and her children would not be on the street. Leanne will then use her paycheck to move into an apartment.

Kurt, 67, lives in a house infested with insects. He receives $740 in Social Security, of which $500 goes toward the rent. From what’s left he pays for utilities and food. An exterminator gave him an estimate of $500 to eradicate all the pests. There was no way Kurt could afford that, but the Joseph House pulled together and came up with the money.

In talking about our ministry, Sr. Mary Elizabeth always said “It’s not so much what we do as the way we do it.” That’s what counts for so many things in life. What helps to guide our conduct? Remembering a sense of reverence, of being aware that the sacred presence of God is all around us and within those we serve.

Thank you for your support. You allow us to reach out with love to many people. Your faithfulness touches us deeply. With our prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Do you have a special need you would like us to pray for? Please let us know: Contact Form
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The following describes the spirit of service we strive to bring in our interactions with others at the Joseph House and wherever else we may be:

Those who are paid to serve on a nine-to-five basis can assume the appropriate attitudes during work hours and hang them up with their uniform when they are off duty. Real servants are on call 24/7; they live over the shop, as it were. Their needs and preferences are considered unimportant. That is probably why we no longer have many such people—effectively, they are slaves.

It is very rare to find a person who has sincerely internalized the qualities of a servant: hardworking, nonassertive, self-effacing, obliging. This is the quality that is designated in the New Testament by the words meekness or gentleness.

The best way to define this quality is by thinking of its opposites: harshness, violence, bossiness, imperiousness, assertiveness, heavy-handedness, and so on. To eschew such ways of interacting with others demands great strength of character. It means living by the fruit of the Holy Spirit, in the way set forth in the Beatitudes. It is not so easy to offer the other cheek when struck, not so easy to go the second mile, not so easy not to take offense when insulted. To be gentle means being very strong.

I can compel you by power, but I can draw you by gentleness. I can drive you by force, but I can lead you by gentleness. I can crush you by arrogance, but I can nurture you by gentleness. I can destroy you by vengeance, but I can forgive and heal you by gentleness. This is the way of Christ. This is the litmus test we can apply to ourselves, whether we be leaders or followers.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach us the way of gentleness. Help us to use whatever authority we have with the utmost respect for others, as a sincere service of the community and not as a convenience for ourselves. Help us also to respond to hostility with meekness and humility, and let us make peace before the sun goes down. For you are our Lord both now and forever. Amen.

Michael Casey, OCSO
Balaam’s Donkey: Random Ruminations For Every Day of the Year

Those Who Give Us Our Daily Bread

When we visit the supermarket, our attention is directed to the displays and packaging and all the choices we have. We read the labels, compare prices, and put items in our cart. The countless people who worked in the fields and factories to produce the food we eat never cross our minds. Our lives depend on their labor, yet we give scant consideration of who they are, the fairness of their wages, or the safety of their working conditions. In our industrialized consumer culture, we just look at the shiny product, not the worker, forgetting we are one Body (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

There are approximately 2.5 to 3 million agricultural workers in the United States, serving as the backbone for the $1.1 trillion agricultural industry.

The majority (75%) of agricultural workers are foreign-born. 19% identify as migratory and 81% are seasonal. 68% of crop workers are male and 32% are female.

The average level of completed education is 8th grade.

Agricultural workers are among the most socially and economically disadvantaged people in the country: one third of agricultural worker families have income levels below the national poverty guidelines. Farm workers report an average hourly wage of $10.60.

Agriculture can be a hazardous occupation. Workers face an increased risk of lung diseases, repetitive-motion injuries, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.

And what about our food that comes from abroad and the people who work there . . . ?

Information from The National Center for Farmworker Health, the U.S. Department of Labor, and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“Most urban shoppers would tell you that food is produced on farms. But most of them do not know what farms, or what kinds of farms, or where the farms are, or what knowledge or skills are involved in farming. They apparently have little doubt that farms will continue to produce, but they do not know how or over what obstacles. For them, then, food is pretty much an abstract idea—something they do not know or imagine—until it appears on the grocery shelf or on the table. . . . In the advertisements of the food industry . . . food wears as much makeup as the actors. If one gained one’s whole knowledge of food from these advertisements (as some presumably do), one would not know that the various edibles were ever living creatures, or that they all come from the soil, or that they were produced by work.”

Source: Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating.

See also: Newsletter: July 2021.

Newsletter: July 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Like many people probably are, we are very familiar with our local grocery store. We know where everything is, and whether we are making a quick trip or shopping for a large order, we can usually find what we need. Even throughout this past year, shortages were never that bad. It’s been a real comfort knowing that our store is nearby. We are extremely grateful for the store’s employees, who, along with all front-line workers, made a sacrifice for the good of others. This gets to the heart of what makes us human, of being the kind of people God had in mind when He made us “a little less than the angels, crowned with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:6). Sometimes it takes extraordinary circumstances to understand the significance of ordinary activities.

Going to the grocery store and having a steady supply of food can easily be taken for granted. As a friend of Joseph House, you know there are many people who can’t take anything for granted, even just having enough food for themselves and their children. The fact that people in this land of abundance go hungry is beyond tragic. But with your help, our ministry works to alleviate this unnecessary suffering.

Although our Soup Kitchen has been closed as a safety precaution, our Food Pantry has remained open during the pandemic. Your donations of food allow us to serve hundreds of households each month. Your financial support covers the minimal overhead required to keep our freezers in operation and our trucks filled with gas. Maybe you know what it’s like to go to bed hungry. Maybe family members told you stories of hard times they endured. You can help people going through hard times today through your continued support of Joseph House. Because no one should have to worry about getting his or her next meal.

It is cruel and unjust that many people who work hard to produce the food we eat have to struggle to obtain their own basic necessities. Consider Selina, who came to our area from Georgia with other migrant workers to pick watermelons. She somehow got left behind when her group moved on to another state to pick potatoes. Selina gets paid about $30 at the end of each day, barely enough to cover her room rent. Two days of heavy rains meant no work and empty pockets for her. The people she knew were gone and so she had nowhere to go. We provided two nights in a motel ($112). After that, Selina was back in the fields.

Some might say her pay is justified given that it’s unskilled labor, but such a thing does not exist. Since we are not likely to grow and harvest our own crops, we would starve without people like Selina. What is the value of their work? A living wage at the very least.

As our nation—though not the whole world—emerges from the worst of the pandemic, many people feel relief that life is returning to normal. But for the poor, “normal” brings no relief at all.

Deidre, 59, is caring for her husband who has terminal cancer. She is also working full-time. She sent the electric company $200, but still received a termination notice. The Joseph House paid $350 to keep the power on in this couple’s home.

Nadine, 60, is raising her five grandchildren. Their mother is in jail and the father has disappeared. Nadine was working nights at a hospital doing cleaning. One grandchild had to go to a Baltimore hospital because of brain damage. After returning home, the child’s need for additional care meant Nadine could no longer work at her job. Her monthly income dropped to $700. The Joseph House paid $400 toward her back rent to prevent eviction proceedings. We also bought $90 worth of prescription medications for her grandchild.

Paula, 42, is rebuilding her life after spending 6½ years in prison. Her lack of transportation limits her prospects for employment. A housekeeping job at a motel seemed promising because she could also live there; it became a losing proposition, however, because the motel bill was greater than her paycheck! Another agency agreed to help Paula with affordable housing. In the meantime, we didn’t want her to be homeless so we sent $350 to the motel.

A few months ago, Melanie, 22, took unpaid leave from her job at a chicken plant when her infant son became sick. She ended up losing her job, but found a new one as a cashier. Melanie paid off her delinquent electric bill (almost $800) to stop a cut-off. Then she had no money for her rent and received an eviction notice. We sent $300 to her landlord.

Mateo, 20, also took time off from work to care for his sick child (he has custody). He lost his job and was going to lose his subsidized housing before starting new employment. We paid $320 toward the past-due rent.

After a fire destroyed their rental home, Rich and Danielle were homeless. The Red Cross paid for a few days at a motel and then referred the couple to us. Rich is disabled with an inoperable tumor on his back; Danielle is his caretaker. Their income is $800 per month. We paid for lodging ($280) until they could move into a new home.

Tasha, 26, is pregnant and has two other children. She fled an abusive relationship and moved into an apartment with her savings. Working as a babysitter brought in $450, not enough for the next rent payment. We paid the landlord $350 so this little family would not be evicted. Tasha is determined to find another job.

Thank you for your support of our mission. We must guard against taking people for granted, especially those who live and work in the margins.

Last month we wrote about the importance of prayer in our lives. It’s helpful to pray throughout the day, and a good habit is to offer a short prayer of gratitude before eating. Even if it’s just a snack, food is life, given from the goodness of creation and the work of human hands.

Every day we offer a prayer of gratitude for you. May you and your loved ones enjoy a happy and healthy summer. Thanks for reading our Newsletter. You have no idea how much we appreciate you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

You can join us in reaching out to others by making a donation: Donate.

Please send us your special prayer requests: Contact Form.

Read a little more about food justice here: Those Who Give Us Our Daily Bread.