A Message from the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary in Light of COVID-19

Dear Friends,

We would like to begin by saying that we are in prayerful solidarity with everyone being impacted by the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, now a global pandemic. This virus has brought sickness and even death to a growing number of people. It has also brought worry, fear, shortages of medical supplies and food, economic hardship, and an unprecedented upheaval of our daily lives. Our prayers are with everyone who is suffering. We are also praying for our leaders who are making gravely important decisions about our health and well being.

For us personally, the foundation of our spirituality is the Abandonment Prayer of Charles de Foucauld. It begins: “Father, I abandon myself into Your hands, do with me what You will.” We start each day with this prayer. Under normal circumstances it can be hard to say these words, and now it feels like our faith is really being put to the test. We believe the policy with God is “come as you are.” Our faith may be great or little or somewhere in-between, but no matter what we take time during the day to remember God’s presence, who is always with us as a loving parent. Through every joy and sorrow in the past God was there, and God is here with us now in this present state of trial. Sometimes people say that prayer changes things, but more importantly prayer changes people, it makes us more attentive to the movement of grace in our lives. Every prayer also touches God’s heart. What we need for our greatest good will be given to us. (We have provided the full text of the Abandonment Prayer below.)

The next thing we would like to say is that the mission of the Joseph House continues. We are here to serve people who are poor, hungry, and homeless and to uphold their dignity and worth. Of course, we have had to adapt our operations because of the coronavirus. We are taking the necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of exposure for our volunteers, staff, and clients at the convent, the Joseph House Crisis Center, and the Joseph House Workshop.

Here are specific measures from each department at the Joseph House Crisis Center:

Soup Kitchen: This outreach is closed until further notice. Some of the churches and organizations that normally provide meals are now bringing bagged lunches that we distribute to homeless individuals.

Food Pantry: This continues with social distancing measures in place. People in need present their information at one door and receive their food at another.

Financial Assistance for Emergency Needs: This also continues with social distancing measures in place.

Hospitality Room: This outreach to homeless men and women also continues. We strictly limit the number of people who occupy the room at a given time.

The Crisis Center on Boundary Street.

We value to the utmost degree our volunteers and staff for their dedication and courage. They are just a few of the heroes we see all around us. Some of our volunteers have needed to take a temporary break because of their age or other circumstances. We understand and know that their hearts are with us.

In addition, we cannot express enough how much we value our benefactors. We depend on free-will offerings in order to serve the poorest members of our community. The generosity of people is the life blood of the Joseph House and is a sign to us every single day of the goodness that keeps our world from falling apart.

We are deeply grateful for everyone who gives. Whether it is the gift of service, material goods, a monetary contribution, prayer, or any other expression of support, it all makes a difference. The size of the gift is irrelevant–it is all a treasure in our eyes.

Every day we read the news with some trepidation. But underlying any passing fearful emotion is the confidence that we will get through this crisis by working together and caring for one another.

Thank you for reading this message. We will keep you updated on any changes we may need to implement in our ministry. Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing. Send us your prayer requests and we will lift them up to the Lord.

May God bless all doctors, nurses, and health care workers. May all who work at essential jobs be kept safe. May everyone be sustained by good health in body, mind, and spirit.

All across the globe we see acts of generosity and self-sacrifice. The Holy Spirit is bringing out the best in people. Better days are coming. May we all have a safe passage to that time.

United with you in hope,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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.

Amen.

Flowers blooming next to our front steps.

Newsletter: March 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A marvel of modern life is that we can go to the grocery store any time of year and find a wide selection of produce. Even when it is still cold outside, the market bins are filled with bananas, grapes, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, carrots…you name it.

Another marvel of modern life is that we never have to see the hands that pick these fruits of the earth. We never have to give them any consideration at all. Did the workers receive a fair wage? Who knows, what counts is the sale price.

The same is true for the clothes we wear. They could have been made by the nimble fingers of a twelve-year-old in a sweatshop, but we don’t have to concern ourselves with that. In fact, we surround ourselves with things and live in manufactured habitats, but we never have to think about where all this stuff comes from—or where it all goes when we’re finished with it, for that matter. We just pick it up from the store and then drop it in the trash.

“Most people are now fed, clothed, and sheltered from sources—in nature and in the work of other people—toward which they feel no gratitude and exercise no responsibility,” says Wendell Berry, a poet, essayist, and farmer. According to Berry, our industrialized society has two goals: to keep people in a state of helplessness (we have to buy everything we need) and ignorance (the seduction of consumerism hides the use of exploited labor and the reckless disregard of creation). This is what fuels our disjointed, fractured, stratified world of non-stop consumption.

Reflecting on this brought to mind a story in the Gospel of Luke. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31), the rich man is dressed in fine clothes and dines sumptuously while the beggar Lazarus slowly starves to death. Brought low by his destitution, Lazarus would have gladly eaten the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table, but he’s denied even that. After they both die, Lazarus is welcomed into the arms of Abraham. The rich man, however, goes to a place of torment.

Is this because in life the rich man displayed animosity toward Lazarus? No, the rich man simply failed to notice him, even though Lazarus was right there outside his door. Wrapped up in his own pleasure, the rich man was indifferent to another’s suffering, which is the opposite of love.

It’s distressing to realize that our modern way of life is built upon this same type of indifference.

Although that may be the way of the world, we can choose to live differently. Our participation in modern economic life is a moral issue that involves everyone since we all buy things or use things that someone else bought. What can we do? We can question our spending habits and make informed decisions about where our money goes. We can be good stewards of what we purchase and reuse and recycle whatever is possible (and please remember: unless something is 100% biodegradable and it gets composted, it ultimately ends up in the landfill). We can make the needs of the poor a priority at the voting booth. Even if what we do seems small, over time little things have a cumulative effect.

The people who toil at the bottom of our service economy, who work in the fields and factories, who unload trucks, stock shelves, and mop floors, are not nameless cogs in a great machine. Their work supports our lives in countless ways. They deserve, not our scraps, but our respect, recognition, livable wages, and safe workplaces. That is why our charity must always go hand-in-hand with justice.

Signs of hope are everywhere. Your support, which keeps the Joseph House in operation, is one we see every day. The marginalized and downtrodden thank you, and so do we.

Gabby, 28, has five children, including a newborn. Her husband is in jail awaiting a court date. Gabby was ordered by her doctor to stay at home for several weeks and not work (and by that we mean her paid employment). Unfortunately, Gabby doesn’t have any paid maternity leave, and this, coupled with her husband’s arrest and loss of income, put the family’s safety in danger. The Joseph House contributed $200 toward their housing costs so they would not lose their home.

Amanda, 40, is another working mother. She has four children, and she is very proud of how well they do in school. The house Amanda rents had problematic plumbing and sewer drainage. The landlord fixed everything, but he added the costs to the rent. Amanda fell behind and received an eviction notice. We paid $225 to halt the proceedings.

Irene, 72, was living with her sister until her sister had to enter a nursing home. Trying to make ends meet on her own, Irene has started cleaning houses for about $300 per month. She found a less expensive place to live, but needed to pay a $590 security deposit. We contributed $300 toward the cost.

Rosa, 41, had to leave her job at a chicken plant because of her heart trouble—her doctor ordered her to do so. After looking for work Rosa found a job as a cashier in a fast-food restaurant. The pay is just above minimum wage and she works just less than full-time. Paying her rent is harder than ever. When Rosa fell behind and received an eviction notice, we sent $200 to the landlord.

Troy, 30, is married and has three children. Two years ago, Troy was in the Army and deployed overseas. He saw a good friend get killed right in front of his eyes. Troy has been having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life and has not been able to work. His wife recently lost her job when the place where she worked went out of business. This struggling family needed help paying their water bill. The Joseph House contributed $245 and one of our volunteers added $45 on the spot.

Brooke, 25, is legally blind. She is pregnant and has two other children. The father has abandoned the family. If Brooke didn’t have subsidized housing, she and her children would be homeless. She is trying to cope with her situation and needed help paying her electric bill. If the power got shut off her housing subsidy would be in jeopardy. We paid $220 toward the amount due.

We live in a world of “globalized indifference,” as Pope Francis has said. It’s easy to become complacent in our bubbles of comfort and habit. Let us dare to do something new to show our love for the poor and exploited. We each have different circumstances: if you’re not sure of what to do, ask God for help. God will answer that prayer.

And did you know? This year there are two reasons to celebrate on the 19th: it’s the Feast of St. Joseph and also the first day of Spring. May God bless you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We are overjoyed that Divine Providence is allowing us to do some much needed renovation and maintenance work at the Joseph House Crisis Center and the Joseph House Workshop.

After seeing years of heavy foot traffic, the floors in the Crisis Center are being replaced and new carpeting is being installed in the supervisor’s office. The director’s office in an adjacent trailer is also being carpeted, and the rusty air vents and water-damaged ceiling tiles are being replaced with new and clean ones.

Across the parking lot at the Workshop, an unused space is being transformed into an art room with new flooring and individual workstations for the residents. In addition, the living room is getting a new carpet and a fresh coat of paint is being applied throughout the building. It’s been almost 15 years since the Workshop opened. That’s hard to believe!

We are so grateful for the kind and generous souls who are making this possible.


If you would like to help us in our mission to the poor, you can learn how here: Donate.

It will be our joy to pray for your special intentions. Please send us your prayer requests: Contact Form.

Sr. Joan Marie Albanese

On Sunday, March 8, 2020, Our Lord came to call Sr. Joan Marie Albanese home. Sr. Joan died at Wicomico Nursing Home here in Salisbury. She had previously been under the care of Coastal Hospice in our convent, and the wonderful nurses continued their loving attention until the end. We are so grateful for everyone who helped us care for Sr. Joan as she made her final pilgrimage to God.

One of three children, Sr. Joan was born April 7, 1942 in Stamford, Connecticut to Harriet (Horton) Jacobson and James Jacobson. Following high school, she later met and married Matthew Albanese. Joan worked at Armel Electronics in Union City, NJ for 20 years.

In 2003, Joan followed a call to religious life. She entered our community on May 28, 2003, and professed final vows on October 31, 2011.

Sr. Joan found her niche and ministry in the Hospitality Room at the Joseph House Crisis Center. It was to her that the homeless and countless persons would come for prayer or to fill a special need— be it a bar of soap, clothing, little side helps she’d held knowing their needs –or for one of her famous hugs (her nickname was “Sister Hug-a-lotta”). She now sends her hugs from a glorious distance.

Sister was preceded in death by her parents and her brother John. She is survived by her sister, Catherine Jacobson, Salisbury, nephew, Justin Jacobson, Salisbury, her Community, the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary; and also her many friends at Joseph House and St. Francis de Sales Church.

Services will be held Friday, March 13, 2020 at St. Francis de Sales Church. Viewing will be at 10:00A.M. followed by Mass at 11:00A.M. Burial is in Parsons Cemetery. Zeller Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Sr. Joan.
Working in the kitchen.
Vow ceremony with our chaplain, Fr. Dan McGlynn.
Ready to welcome visitors to the Hospitality Room at the Crisis Center.

The Confession of Br. Charles

A canonized saint by definition is someone who practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace. Coming from all walks of life, they show us how any situation can be transformed by the light of the Gospel.

To honor the saints, we place them on a pedestal or enshrine them in stained glass, complete with a halo. We look up to them, and without realizing it, we often assume they must have been angels when they walked the earth. Did St. Francis of Assisi ever complain about dinner? Did Mother Teresa ever get irritated by having to wait for someone? It’s hard to think that they did.

In contrast, each one of us is aware of our daily struggles and faults. So often, it seems, we fall short of the mark so easily. The saints must have been different.

Or maybe not.

They were human beings like us, and if we look closely at their lives there is ample evidence to prove that.

Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) hasn’t been canonized yet, but he was beatified in 2005 (a step along the way). His life and spirituality are important to us at the Joseph House (you can read more about him here on our website).

On January 16, 1898, he wrote a long letter to his spiritual director, Father Huvelin. At the time, Charles was in the Holy Land, living as a simple laborer for a convent of nuns. His life had the appearance of contented peace.

Charles begins his letter by describing how he occupies his time. Everything seems ideal:

“My life goes on with great calm; in the daytime I work as long as there is light; in the morning and in the evening and during part of the night, I read and pray.”

But then Charles starts to get honest. He takes a hard look at his life, and he tells Fr. Huvelin how the outside – what people see – is not the whole story. His list of failings is precise (emphasis his).

“The essence of my confessions is this:

  • tepidity (badly made prayers, badly said Office, miserably poor attendance at Mass, presence of God badly kept during the day, etc);
  • slackness (laziness in rising…sometimes I lie down again instead of getting up at the first awakening);
  • greediness, gluttony (eating too much);
  • lack of charity (not praying enough and with sufficient fervor for my neighbor…not having sufficiently the habit of seeing Our Lord, of seeing the Christ-Child in everyone…thoughts contrary to charity, memories accompanied by severe judgments on certain persons I used to know);
  • pride, not a sufficiently low opinion of myself, not enough mistrust of myself; thoughts, budding aspirations of betterment;
  • not enough repentance for my past and present sins.

Not enough gratitude to God nor to men, these are the main points, but above all tepidity and slackness.”

Hmmm…maybe his letter is more like a mirror for the reader today. Very relatable indeed. Br. Charles was just as human as all of us.

The lesson of his confession, and of all the saints, is to put our trust in God, the One who can do everything we cannot.

And another definition of a saint is someone who never gave up.

Statue of Br. Charles in Strasbourg, France, the city where he was born.

The source of the letter is Soldier of the Spirit by Michel Carrouges (published in English in 1956, it is out of print). The illustration in the header is by René Follet and is from The Wonderful Life of Charles de Foucauld (1963), also out of print. Bottom photo by Rabanus Flavus / public domain.

Newsletter: February 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Here we are in the middle of winter, and although it can be a dreary time of year, there are also treasures to behold, such as the pale colors of the winter sky and the muffled stillness of freshly fallen snow.

When we are out and about in the frosty air, another welcome pleasure is coming back to a warm and toasty house. The enveloping warmth is like an embrace, and it never fails to make us feel grateful that we have a safe and secure place to live. We call it a convent, but it is home, and it means more than simply having a roof over our heads.

The blessings of a home are deep and formative. In his book, Against An Infinite Horizon, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, gives a heartfelt description of how he was blessed by where he was raised:

“I grew up in an immigrant farming community. We were a large family and lived in a small two-story farmhouse…It wasn’t a luxurious house by any stretch of the imagination. It had no indoor plumbing, bad central heating, and barely enough space for so large a family. But it was snug, real snug, and as a child, surrounded always by so many family members, I always felt secure in that house. It was indeed a home, our place, my place, a place where I was away from the world. Perhaps that phrase best captures the feelings of that house, of any real home: it’s a place where you’re away from the world. It’s your place to be comfortable in, to be sick in, to fight with your family in, to cry in, to dream both night dreams and daydreams in, to be snug in. That is what it means to be at home, and the house I grew up in gave me that security.

“I remember especially the feelings I sometimes had on certain winter days, when it was too cold and stormy for the school bus to operate and we would stay home from school. Few of my memories are as warm and precious as those. The cold wind raging outside, all of the elements so fierce and hostile, and me inside, secure and surrounded by family, warm and snug, smelling the wood stove and my mother’s cooking as I lounged on my bed or pushed my face against a frosted window to stare at the blizzard. What was happening outside, the cold, snow, and wind, highlighted the warmth and safety of that house. I was as warm and safe as a baby inside the womb—and, on those stormy days, almost as peaceful and secure.”

Everyone needs a place to call home, a place to feel snug on cold winter days. But not everyone does. Housing for some people is chaotic and unstable, even to the point of becoming homeless. There are many reasons why. For the poor, at the top of the list is the severe lack of affordable housing. Only 35 affordable housing units are available for every 100 extremely poor households. And people in need cannot rely on government programs, since only 25% of those poor enough to be eligible for housing assistance receive it. These figures come from The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

At the Joseph House, we see all the time people who are working or living on a fixed income (because of age or disability) who are paying 50 to 90% of their income on rent. This guarantees that they are going to have trouble paying for other necessities, such as food, utilities, and health care.

We help a lot of families who are going through a housing crisis. We help pay their back rents to prevent an eviction. We pay the other bills they can’t afford to pay. We help with the substantial move-in costs if they need to settle in a new place. When there are no other options, we pay for their temporary lodging in a motel. “We” also means you because you make it possible!

Samuel, 44, has lost 60 pounds since being diagnosed with cancer. He can no longer work and is worried about providing for his three children. We contributed $200 toward his rent (eviction papers had been filed) and paid his $150 water bill to keep the water from being shut off.

Emily, 35, and her five children needed to move because their rental was not a fit place to live. The rent at their new place will be $850, taken from her monthly income of $1,500. In order to get the electricity turned on, an old bill of $350 needed to be paid, so we paid it. The temperature that day was 24 degrees and Emily and her children were in their shirt sleeves. We gave them all heavy coats plus hats, gloves, and Christmas presents.

Having to contend with substandard housing is common for people with low incomes. Zaria, 57, lives in a house with a broken furnace. The landlord is very slow in making repairs. Zaria has to use a space heater to keep warm, which runs up her electric bill. We helped with $200 toward the amount.

Claire, 44, has a rare blood disease. The rent takes every penny of her monthly $750 in disability. She depends totally on Food Stamps (SNAP) and food pantries for groceries. Utilities? She has to beg from churches and charities and it’s whatever she can get. The electricity in her home was due to be cut off the day Claire came to see us. We called the electric company and paid $300 immediately.

Dennis, 27, is self-employed cleaning houses for a living. There aren’t enough hours in a day for him to earn what he needs to provide for his wife and five children. If not for temporary welfare benefits, his family would have no heat or electricity in their home. Dennis is looking for better paying work. In the meantime, he fell behind in the rent and received an eviction notice. We sent $180 to the landlord to buy Dennis time to find a new job.

The Earth is the common home that everyone shares. With everything going on in the world, it doesn’t always feel like “home sweet home.” But now is the time to let our light shine, to be committed to the Beatitudes, peacemaking, bridge building, and the good of all people. Trusting in God’s providence, let us remain united in hope.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Checks issued to assist with critical needs
1,621

Bags of groceries given out
12,766

Average number of households per month receiving food
532

Meals served
10,940

Service requests at our Hospitality Room for the Homeless (showers, laundry, clothing, food)
12,576

Children receiving Christmas gift bags
637

Winter coats given out
247

Our volunteers embody your compassion for those in need.
We are so grateful for everyone’s generous support!

Learn how you can help our mission to those in need: Donate

We remember you every day in our prayers. Please send us your special intentions: Contact Form

Newsletter: January 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

After a short break over Christmas, we are ready to get started in this new year and new decade. There’s always plenty to keep us busy. First of all, at the Joseph House Crisis Center we have our Financial Assistance program, our Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Hospitality Room for the Homeless. Across the parking lot at the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men is operating twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Although our community of Little Sisters is small and we don’t have a Sister working in every department, we have the responsibility of overseeing everything. In every way we can, we assist our incredible volunteers as they “Cry the Gospel with their lives.”

And that’s not the extent of what we do. Urgent needs often arise outside the confines of our regular ministries. For example, someone extremely ill might require a wheel chair or transportation to and from a doctor. A transient family in distress might need a basic set of furniture, clothing, and household items. The call comes in and we do what needs to be done.

Plus, there’s more: we have a number of special activities throughout the year, including our Golf Tournament, Neighborhood Food Drive, Magi Concert, and giveaways of Winter Coats, Thanksgiving Turkeys, and Christmas Toys. Most of these programs were initiated by very generous individuals and organizations, and we are extremely grateful for all that they do. Their efforts raise funds for the Joseph House and beautifully augment our everyday services to help those in need.

Finally, our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, understood that the poorest person is not always standing outside the convent door. That’s why she added this paragraph to our Rule:

“As a Community caring for the unwanted, the needy, and the persecuted, we must recognize and embrace the woundedness of the members of the Community itself, applying the same healing love and support to one another that we share with the needy.”

Like everyone else, as we get older it takes us a little more effort to maintain a reasonable level of health and well-being. Sometimes a Sister needs an extra dose of TLC. From the treasury of love she receives it.

Yes, our plate is pretty full.

Here in the dawn of a new year, the calendar is already getting filled in. There are appointments and reminders written on the dry-erase board in our convent dining room. Our work is not a burden, but it does consist of responsibilities, sacred and important ones, entrusted to us by God as part of His providential design. A never ending “to-do” list, however, can make us feel overwhelmed. Maybe you’re familiar with that feeling.

One of our remedies is to gently remind ourselves of the “sacrament of the present moment.” It’s all we have: the past is gone, the future is yet to be. The term comes from the book Abandonment to Divine Providence, written by the French Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751). “The present moment is always overflowing with immeasurable riches, far more than you are able to hold.” No matter what’s happening, each moment has all the grace we need for that particular moment. And what do we have to do? “If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.”

At the Joseph House, the duty of the present moment can mean almost anything. To help us get ready, our first prayer each day is Charles de Foucauld’s Abandonment Prayer (see below). We do our part, and let God do His.

Being ready means we can act quickly. Marsha, 32, felt like she was in the middle of a storm. The youngest of her three children, only two years old, has cancer. Marsha is currently out of work, and unable to keep up with the bills, the water was turned off in her home. Other agencies were out of funds. She came to the Joseph House—her last resort—and we paid the outstanding water bill of $180.

Life is a real struggle for Lenny, age 62. His monthly Social Security income is a paltry $216. His bad back, just one of his health problems, makes walking very difficult. Lenny used to drive around in his pickup truck (with 360,000 miles) looking for odd jobs. He can’t do that anymore. Without subsidized housing he would be homeless. We were able to pay two of his bills, the electric ($188) and water ($169).

Pete, 47, was an addict for more than 20 years. After completing a rehab program, he moved to the Eastern Shore for a fresh start away from the big city. Pete found work here and there, but nothing steady until recently. His paycheck wasn’t going to come in time to stop his eviction, so we sent $300 to his landlord.

Jillian, 62, lives alone. She just manages to get by on her monthly disability check. For years Jillian has not been able to wear her dentures. She needed to have dental work completed that was too expensive for her. The Department of Social Services said they can’t help and referred her to us. A dental clinic was willing to do the work for $170. We paid the bill.

Jon, 47, is a single father raising his daughter. Being treated for cancer kept him out of work, but he is feeling better and has resumed his job. We paid $250 toward his past-due electric bill before the cut-off date.

Alana, 21, is looking after her two younger brothers after their mother abandoned the family. Alana needed help catching up with the unpaid rent, despite her full-time job at a chicken plant. We sent $250 to the landlord to stop the eviction.


Your prayers, donations, and financial support enable us to be ready for each person God sends to the Joseph House. Thank you so much—you’re part of His providential design, too. Next month we’ll have some facts and figures from 2019 to show the impact of your generosity. May the New Year be a happy one for you and your loved ones!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

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.

A GLOSS ON THE ABANDONMENT PRAYER BY JOHN LUDVIK

Father, into Your hands I commend my whole self,
my life,
my journey,
my failures,
my disappointments,
my mediocrity,
my vulnerability,
my powerlessness,
my doubts,
my hurt,
my anger,
my mission,
my abandonment,
my brokenness,
my sorrow,
my desire not to be here,
my family and involvement in the Church,
my unfinished agenda,
and areas of injustice.

Father, into Your hands I commend my life to follow Jesus on His Cross. I desire Your healing and forgiveness as I surrender these areas of my life to You.

Faithful God, into Your hands I commend this day with its resentments and prejudices. I hand You my morning lack of generosity, my midday rush to judge, and the poor self image of my evening.

I see my lack of creativity and fear of risk, my envy, but I surrender all that I detest in myself: my inner darkness, jealousy, addictions and dysfunctional habits, my manipulations, perverseness, negativity, and the non-Gospel way of my life. I seek Your mercy and compassion!

The Most Meaningful Gift

This reflection was written by Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, our founder, in 1979:

When we prepare for the mystery of Christmas, what are our days of preparation filled with? Most of us have thousands of things to do and for many it is the busiest time of the year. What we really should be doing is taking a little “quiet” time in anticipation of Him for whom we are waiting. With all the distractions and problems that present themselves during the course of the day we thought we’d offer a few reflections.

Around this time we usually consider what gift we could give someone to show our love and our gratitude. When you come right down to it, it is the giving of one’s time and self that is the most meaningful, the most beautiful and appreciated.

When I put myself out and do for someone else–instead of, what shall I get for him or her, or which wrapping paper or ribbon should I use to enhance my gift–then I can really experience how Our Lady felt when she gave her “Yes” to God. Can you imagine the struggles Joseph experienced when traveling during the most inconvenient time and then having to put up for the night in a miserable stable and with his wife due to deliver at any moment? How poor can you get? Mary experienced the pain and discomfort of bearing a child from the beginning, and His birth was her greatest gift to God, His Father. Joseph’s quiet and uncomplaining acceptance of a situation which he did not quite understand was indeed his gift to God.

Jesus is still being born each day. He is born in our hearts over and over, so that we can be the gift that we should be to God, His Father. While we are waiting for Him to come, He is really waiting for us to respond by letting Him into our hearts and our lives. Are we ready to welcome Him? Can you not see Him in the ordinary, everyday events, in those who plead for assistance, or our love, or just our caring?

It is Christ that we see in those whose cries we answer, and only through your kind and constant assistance have we been able to do this. May the Lord Jesus bless you and your loved ones at Christmas and all through the year.


“Whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). We were not there 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem to offer assistance to the Christ Child, but we can still do something today. If you would like to join the Joseph House in our mission to help the less fortunate, you can learn how at this link: Donate.

May your heart be filled with the hope and joy of this holy season.

Newsletter: December 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We’re all familiar with Christmas carols but some of our favorite songs of the season are Advent hymns.

They tend to get drowned out because Christmas music starts playing on the radio at Thanksgiving and stops on Christmas Day. This doesn’t make a lot of sense unless Christmas is just about shopping—but of course the birth of Christ means something else.

Anyway, a favorite hymn for Advent is one you might know, “People, Look East.” It has a lilting, French melody.

People, look east, the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

We like the part about getting your house ready as you are able. It’s a busy time of year and we can only do so much. But there’s an inner preparation that needs to be done, a “house” to set in order, and that kind of work deserves our extra effort.

Christmas today often means getting stressed out, but it’s worth it to slow down and prepare ourselves to welcome our infant Savior. The Child of Bethlehem, a baby, is so gentle—and to hold a baby we must be gentle, too. Tenderness and care are needed.

As we make our lives more hospitable to receive Christ, as we make room for Him in our hearts, we must ask ourselves the question: should we not do the same for our neighbors who are poor and vulnerable? Is Christ, who was born in a stable for lack of room elsewhere, not also present with them?

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” will be playing on repeat at the shopping malls, but it’s not wonderful for everyone. Some folks wish for better days. They wish for basic things like shelter, heat, and food. They wish their children didn’t have to suffer. They wish they didn’t feel alone.

The Joseph House is here for them. Your support, prayers, and donations are essential to who we are and what we do. We share with you the belief that the true joy of the season is found in giving. And we all have something to give, no matter how humble, for the good of another.

The simplest things can bring someone to tears: for Tracy, it was a box of diapers. She needed them for the youngest of her four children. Feeling scared and worn out, Tracy told us that she has a restraining order against her husband. He has physically abused her and their children. We had already paid her overdue water bill of $236. When she asked for the diapers we said of course, and her tears showed just how heavy this young mother’s heart was.

Spencer also needed a basic necessity. He is 56 and disabled because of a back injury. A lack of heat brought him to the Joseph House, and so we paid his gas bill ($100). Then we found out that he didn’t have a bed, and despite recent back surgery, he was sleeping on the floor. We quickly got him a mattress and box spring.

Lucinda, age 80, was on the verge of losing everything. The city had declared her residence uninhabitable and was ready to condemn it because the electricity was turned off. Her house is very humble, but it is her home and precious to her. Lucinda’s trouble began when her son, who had access to her bank account, stole money from her. He left her with nothing to pay her bills. We called the utility company, and digging deep in our pockets because so much was at stake, promised to send in $400. That was enough to get the power back on.

And now here is an update from the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men:

We currently have three residents in the program, one in Phase 1, one in Phase 2.5, and one in Phase 3.0. The focus in Phase 1 is on job readiness where a resident learns life skills. Phase 2.5 is a level where the resident has added freedoms and responsibilities both personally and employment-wise. Phase 3.0 is for residents who are ready to leave the Workshop in the near future; they have an even broader range of benefits.

Our Phase 1 resident is currently working on a one-to-one basis with several volunteer teachers learning computer skills, relapse prevention, spiritual practices, and employment readiness. Our Phase 2.5 resident is currently working at Peninsula Regional Medical Center and is about to obtain a vehicle. Our Phase 3.0 resident has full-time employment, a vehicle, and is seeking housing at this time.

One of our greatest successes in 2019 involved a 26-year-old male who suffered from schizophrenia which had never before been identified or treated. On proper medication this individual became a fully-functioning member of society with a full-time job, his own vehicle, and his own place to live. He has revisited the Workshop on various occasions to update us on his ongoing success. This is an example where a resident who trusted in the program had a success that enabled him to be very proud of his accomplishments.

For the residents, one of the most important and favorite parts of the program is the morning prayer and meditation time. It gets the day off to a great start.

We are looking forward to having a new Phase 1 resident enter the program soon.

Christmas is the glorious crown of the year. It’s the “day of grand memories,” Washington Irving wrote.”Gift-bearing, heart-touching, joy-bringing Christmas.” We hope your heart is filled with peace this holiday season and that many moments of joy brighten your days. Thank you for making your love for the less fortunate so visible.

May God’s blessing rest upon you and your loved ones this Christmas and throughout the New Year!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


During this holy season, we offer you the gift of prayer. Please send us your prayer requests so we can lift them up to the Lord: Contact Form.

Do you feel drawn to helping those in need? By supporting the Joseph House, you give assistance to the homeless, the hungry, and families in distress. Learn about the different ways you can lend a hand: Donate.

You can also help by sharing this Newsletter and encouraging your friends to subscribe.

Newsletter: November 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A lovely custom with many people when they gather for Thanksgiving Dinner is to take turns saying what they’re thankful for. Expressing gratitude is good for the soul—and it’s what the holiday is all about.

In our humble cubicles at the Joseph House Crisis Center, sitting around tiny desks with cups of coffee, we hear words of gratitude all the time. They come from people who’ve had their prayers answered and feel (maybe for the first time in a long while) a sense of hope. Sometimes people will leave us notes. Their words are sincere and straight from the heart. We’d like to share a few of them with you:

“I was blessed the first time I set foot in Joseph House. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”

“Your staff was so courteous and friendly and so respectful. We are so grateful due to your loving help.”

“My husband underwent surgery and was in terrible pain and missed several days of work. Our gas bill for heating had gotten out of control and we needed help. We are so grateful that you did not turn us away.”

“Thank you for all of your help in trying to get me back on my feet. God’s angels have been working overtime to help me!”

“I think this is a very warm and comfortable atmosphere here. The people are generous and considerate. It’s just an outstanding facility.”

“I am thankful for this place where I can get a shower and a smile and most of all a sense of worth, because they do what they do out of love of God’s children.”

Your support means so much to so many people! People who receive help from the Joseph House are quick to tell us how grateful they are, and so we need to tell you because you make it all possible.

God has richly blessed our nation. We have an abundance of food and material goods. For many, life is a banquet. But not everyone shares in the feast…people who work hard for low wages; people who are beset with health problems; people advanced in years who need help with day-to-day living. Our greatness as a nation is most evident in how we care for those who are least in the eyes of the world. The best way to express gratitude for the blessings we enjoy is to share them with those in need. Won’t you please help us to do that?

Your generosity assists people like Jerome, age 53. He is disabled and lives on a monthly check of $640. His rent is $500. The electricity in Jerome’s apartment (part of a subdivided house) was going to be turned off because he was behind in paying the bill. The Joseph House sent in $175 to prevent that from happening.

Annabelle, 29, also needed help with her electric bill. She is a single mother of four children. Working at a fast-food restaurant, her day starts at 3:30am. She earns $800 per month. We were able to help with $180.

The things we take for granted are another person’s dream!

TURKEYS AND TOYS: To make the holiday season brighter for the less fortunate, we need donations of food and toys, which can be delivered to our convent at 411 North Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury.

Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 24.

Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 15. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns.

Please contact us if you have any questions: Contact Form

ONLINE SHOPPING: If you shop on Amazon, please consider starting with our Amazon Smile link:

smile.amazon.com/ch/52-0846802

Amazon will then donate to the Joseph House a small percentage of your purchase total.

RETURN OF THE MAGI: This year the Magi Fund presents “A Magical Christmas,” a holiday concert to benefit the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter.

“A Magical Christmas” will feature the combined talents of renowned National Christian Choir pianist Michael Faircloth, Symphony 21’s composer and artistic director Daniel Bowen, and nationally recognized vocalist Diane King Susek. Michael, Daniel and Diane are teaming up to produce an exciting holiday celebration with a definite twist.

This will be a unique, professionally produced extravaganza of holiday music, sights and sounds that will thrill your heart, set the tone for your Christmas holiday AND raise those much needed funds for the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter!

One performance only: Sunday, December 8 at 2pm.
Location: James M. Bennett High School, 300 E. College Avenue in Salisbury.

Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), available at First Shore Federal Savings and Loan (all locations) and The Country House on Main Street in Salisbury.

There is also an order form on the website: magifund.com

COMMUNITY NEWS: On October 21, during a ceremony in our chapel in Princess Anne, Maryland, Sr. Nicole Soder received the habit and began her time as a novice. Sr. Virginia Peckham also renewed her temporary vows for the fifth time.

These are graced moments for everyone in our community, and we are so thankful for both Sisters for responding to God’s call. May God’s blessing be upon them!

Sr. Nicole receiving her habit after it was blessed by our chaplain, Fr. Dan McGlynn.
Sr. Virginia renewing her vows.

And we are very thankful for you, for being a friend of the Joseph House and the poor, and for all the ways you support us in our mission to help those in need. You are in our prayers every single day. A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


During this season of gratitude, we will joyfully lift up in prayer your special intentions. Please send them to us: Contact Form

Would you like to join us in our mission of helping the less fortunate? Find out how at this link: Donate


“As it does every year, it all began at Thanksgiving. The sheer weight of the advertising pages that arrived with the local newspapers was the first indication of how relentless corporate America is in colonizing our days. Thanksgiving, particularly, is a day that seems to be a threat to consumerism…”

It’s easy to get “consumed by consumerism.” This article is an important reminder about holiday shopping:

https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/555/ethics-notebook/consuming-christmas

Newsletter: October 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

When someone is homeless, he or she needs many things. At the Joseph House, we can’t do everything, but one service we do provide is laundry. We have to set limits since we only have one washer and dryer in our Hospitality Room, but we try to give each person who asks a week’s worth of clean clothes. Putting on a set of freshly laundered clothing goes a long way in upholding someone’s dignity.

In her beautiful book, The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris has a short chapter on laundry:

We groan about the drudgery but seldom talk about the secret pleasure we feel at being able to make dirty things clean, especially the clothes of our loved ones, which possess an intimacy all their own. Laundry is one of the few tasks in life that offers instant results, and that is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also democratic; everyone has to do it, or figure out a way to get it done.

Memories of her childhood, and the colorful laundry strung between tenements in Honolulu’s Chinatown, bring further reflection:

In any city slum, it’s laundry—neat lines of babies’ T-shirts, kids’ underwear and jeans—that announce that families live here, and that someone cares. For some people, laundry seems to satisfy a need for ritual. A television commentator with a hectic schedule once told me that the best, most contemplative part of his day was early morning, a time he set aside for laundering and ironing his shirts.

Even when we finish our laundry, it’s never done—we’ll have to do more later. Laundry is just one of the little domestic chores that everyone has to attend to, that keeps us grounded and united in the creatureliness of being human. It’s part of the private, behind-the-scenes work that goes on in everyone’s life. That some people don’t have the means to do this is part of the stripping of human dignity that can be the most degrading aspect of living in poverty.

The little things we do for each other can be the most important. As Norris mentions, they are signs that someone cares.

In a year’s time, the Crisis Center will touch the lives of thousands of people through our Hospitality Room, Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Financial Assistance program. We can show people we care only because you care about them, too. Your generosity gives hope to so many people.

Sometimes men and women who are homeless are on a long journey of being on the street. Recently, we helped Aaron, age 56, take a new road. His disability claim was approved and his name made it to the top of the waiting list for subsidized housing. The Joseph House paid a security deposit of $175 so Aaron could move into a well-maintained, low-income apartment building.

For the past couple of years, Paul, 64, has been living in a dilapidated trailer park. His residence sheltered him from the elements, but without electricity it lacked even the most basic comforts of a home. Paul has been in poor health and is recovering from vascular surgery. Our payment of $300 toward his old electric bill was enough to restore the power.

Arielle, 32, is separated from her husband. Even though she is caring for their four children, he has not paid any child support. In the meantime, she is working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home to support her family. Arielle’s oldest child, a son, has had to grow up quickly—she said he has been a big help to her, does the housecleaning and looks after his siblings. Arielle needed help paying her electric bill. She went to one agency, but they were out of funds. Fortunately, the Joseph House was able to assist her and we sent $232 to the utility company.

Victoria is only 45 but had to stop working because of severe arthritis. While her disability claim is being evaluated, she is receiving $200 per month in temporary disability and $190 in food stamps. That’s hardly enough to live on! Victoria said her most pressing need at the moment was her overdue water bill; she didn’t want the water to be cut off in her home. We paid the bill of $187.

Lorenzo, 60, lives alone on a fixed income. Each month, 88% of his check goes toward the rent. Although he never learned to read and write, Lorenzo has managed to do odd jobs to get some much needed cash. An extended illness, however, has limited his ability to work. He fell behind in the rent and was going to be evicted. The Joseph House sent $175 to the landlord to halt the proceedings.

Wesley, 48, works in a factory and is also being treated for cancer. A seasonal slow-down at work has resulted in fewer hours. He also had a major car repair bill. Our payment of $280 to his landlord kept Wesley from being evicted.

Naomi is 73 and waiting for subsidized housing. It would help tremendously with her budget. Right now she is paying 79% of her check each month on rent. High housing costs are squeezing people dry. We can’t imagine what’s going to happen to the millions who won’t be able to afford to live anywhere.

Naomi came to see us because she was worried about her electric bill. She lives out in the country and depends on well water. A leak was causing the pump to run continuously. She fixed the leak, but not before it caused her electric bill to jump pretty high. We paid $170 to avoid a shut-off.

These words of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, spell out the essential mission of the Joseph House. It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since October 27, 2004, when she departed this earth for eternal life with God. We can never remember her without smiling because her joy and laughter are always the first things that come to mind. Please pray for us, that we may be faithful to the work she began so many years ago.

And rest assured that we pray for you. Thank you for all the ways you help to bring the mission of the Joseph House to life. You are so important to us and to the poor! May God’s blessing be with you always.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Send us your prayer requests and we will lift them up to the Lord: Contact Form

Learn how you can help us to help those in need: Donate