Newsletter: May 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Even after a couple of weeks we are still not used to this new way of living.

We are writing this Newsletter in the middle of April, a critical time for the spread of COVID-19. From morning till night we are on guard against an invisible enemy, a virus that will not leave anyone unscathed, whether or not we get infected.

We keep a watchful eye on soap and disinfectants, always mindful of how physically close we are to another person. It’s a balancing act. We must take care of ourselves so we can care for the people God sends to us at the Joseph House.

Our ministry continues, despite some substantial modifications to how we normally conduct it. At the Joseph House Crisis Center, we closed our Soup Kitchen in March because we don’t have the space to allow patrons to practice social distancing. The dining room is empty, the kitchen is quiet— the sight creates a sense of loss, although we know the situation is temporary. It’s quieter in general at the Crisis Center. Many of our volunteers have made the wise decision to take a break because of age or other circumstances.

The Hospitality Room, our outreach to men and women who are homeless, is still active. We strictly limit the number of people who occupy the room at a given time. Our visitors have been very understanding and cooperative. Thankfully, we can provide them with a place to receive food, wash up, and get some clean clothes. Some of the churches and organizations that provide meals for the Soup Kitchen are now giving us bagged lunches so our visitors have something to take with them.

Our Food Pantry is open, too. People in need present their information at the front door of the Crisis Center and then go around to a side door to pick up their bags of groceries. We are also doing Financial Assistance for emergencies. This is being done with social distancing measures in place.

The Joseph House Workshop is near full capacity: we have eight residents and another man is planning to enter the program soon. All are staying healthy. The Workshop helps homeless men develop life skills needed for employment and independent living. COVID-19 is keeping our teachers away so classes have been suspended temporarily. A few of the residents are in the employment phase of the program and their jobs are continuing. One of the residents is working in environmental services at the local hospital. Two other residents have been hired there as well, but we don’t know yet in which department they’ll be working.

During these weeks of “staying at home,” the residents occupy their time with in-house meetings, group discussions, and recreational activities such as playing various games and watching television. They are keeping the building clean and in good order and recently finished a major painting project. A fresh coat of paint does wonders and we are proud of the work they did (visit our website for photos).

At both the Crisis Center and the Workshop, we are operating with a skeleton crew of staff members and volunteers. They are doing an outstanding job. We treasure them. Their dedication will never be forgotten.

The overriding mission of the Joseph House is to “Cry the Gospel with your life!” We often view that in terms of providing charitable service to people in need. But the Gospel has many other aspects that we are called to enact in our lives. We are called to be witnesses to our faith, to be people of prayer, trusting in God’s never-failing providence. In recent weeks we have felt close to Mary, who pondered the events of life in her heart, and who kept the faith during the silence of Holy Saturday when her Son lay in the tomb. The busyness of life can drown out the whispers of the heart. Now we have more time to listen.

Our collective pilgrimage into the unknown is a time of trial. It may not seem like it at the moment, but going through a crisis is a time of learning and developing new strengths. We can all agree that we have taken so many things for granted (to begin with, we miss hugs and just going to the grocery store without a second thought). We are re-learning what our priorities are and what is most important in life.

We are also being reminded of how much we depend on one another. This is especially true when we consider all the people who work at jobs considered essential during this pandemic. Where would we be without retail workers who make sure we have food and other necessary items? And doctors, nurses and health care workers! There is a long list of people who are making sacrifices to preserve our lives. Ordinary people, rising to the challenge of extraordinary circumstances, doing nothing less than safeguarding our civilization.

May 1st is a special day for us, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. In his document on our patron saint, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Work was the daily expression of love in the life of the family of Nazareth.” That’s what we see all around us: daily expressions of love.

Waiting is a sign of hope, and every day that passes we are growing stronger in that virtue (and to live in virtue means “to be set right within”). Grave concerns loom large for everyone, like heavy clouds that won’t go away. The health and safety of so many people. The dire economic impact of layoffs and shutdowns. Who can fathom it all? When the world seems out of control, it’s helpful to focus on the things we can control. Little things that spread hope and joy make a big difference, in the same way a single candle shines brightly in a pitch black room.

Our ministry is a saving grace: we can do something for someone else. Erica, 45, left her abusive husband just before the pandemic started. She is struggling to provide for herself and her son. Her job pays about $1,100 per month. Erica has many serious financial woes. We paid $400 toward her rent so she would at least have a place to live….Jolene and her two children were living in a car. She found a place to live but could not move in until she got the electric in her name, and that required paying off an old bill. We paid the $200 that was due. There are many more people having their own crisis in the midst of what’s happening in the world. Thank you for helping us to help them.

Viruses don’t respect boundaries. They don’t care about wealth, religion, race, politics or any of the ways we separate people. We must take care of everyone for each one of us to survive—that is a lesson from these times to be burned in our memory.

There’s a long road ahead. Being connected to people—though physically separated—makes the journey easier. Please visit our website for our latest news: thejosephhouse.org. And thank you for being part of the Joseph House family. You always have an honored place in our hearts. May our loving God, who holds the whole world in His hands, look with mercy and kindness on the needs of His children everywhere.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


During this stressful time, please send us your special intentions so we can remember them in our prayers: Contact Form.

If you would like to support our work, you can learn how here: Donate.


On the night of April 14, 1912, the Titanic crashed into an iceberg and four hours later sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. Survivors spoke of a woman who left the relative safety of the upper decks to return to her cabin. She hurried along the corridors already tilting at a dangerous angle. She crossed the gambling room where money and costly gems littered the floor. Reaching her stateroom she saw her own treasures waiting to be picked up. But she paid no heed to them. Instead she took as many oranges as she could hold and hurried back to the life boats.

An hour earlier it would have seemed incredible to her that she could have preferred oranges to her own diamonds, but Death boarded the Titanic and all values were transformed. Precious things became worthless, and common things became precious. Oranges became more important than diamonds.

Today the coronavirus has boarded our spaceship, and toilet paper has become more important than stocks and bonds. But what is really important?

Fr. Stephen Verbest, OCSO
New Melleray Abbey

A United Family

From its beginning more than 50 years ago, the Joseph House has relied on volunteers in its mission to serve people in need. Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, believed that just as important as helping people, was giving to others the opportunity to get personally involved in providing that help.

April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week, and to mark the occasion we’d like to say: We love our volunteers! Over the years so many people have shared their gifts and brought the aspirations of the Joseph House to life. Each volunteer has enriched the Joseph House and been part of its story, making their own unique and special contributions. The current situation with the coronavirus is a new chapter, but the story continues and we are grateful for everyone helping to write it.

We look forward to the day when our full complement is able to safely return to service, once stay-at-home orders are behind us. Until then we remain a united family, devoted to loving our neighbors.

To all of our volunteers, those with us and those of happy memory, we lift you up in a joyful prayer of thanksgiving. May God bless you!

“We do not have professional staff workers, we just have people who love people, people who love people who are disadvantaged and who want to do everything they can, and as well as they can, to bring these people to a point at which they can live and love in peace.” – Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling. The quotes that follow are from her, too.

“Without you, we would close up. We depend on you to do the one thing that is most important in volunteer service—to be available.”

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

“We have some of the most extraordinary, gifted, and dedicated people I have ever met. They give me a concrete example of the love God has for the poor, because He sends the most wonderful people to help them.”

“We need people who can look beyond their own lives and open their hearts to those who are struggling with a burden. The problems of poverty cannot be solved overnight. Caring for the poor requires vision and patience. We need to walk with them toward a solution, even if they can move only an inch at a time. We depend on people who are willing to do this with the poor.”

“I never worry. I am always amazed at the goodwill of people. I feel gratitude for what God and the people have done to help. It gives me hope to see so many people willing to give and help others.”

“I am trying to teach the lay people who are working with us that God doesn’t always make things smooth, that He wants us to wait on Him; He wants us to do it the way He wants and somehow He is bringing that about in this wonderful group of working people.”

Newsletter: April 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Our hearts are heavy as we begin this Newsletter. 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, or any one of the little things she knew they needed—or for one of her famous hugs (her nickname was “Sister Hug-a-lotta”). She now sends her hugs from a glorious distance.

Sr. Joan was preceded in death by her parents and her brother John. She is survived by her sister, Catherine Jacobson, and her nephew, Justin Jacobson. In addition to her sisters in community, Sr. Joan had many friends at Joseph House and St. Francis de Sales Church. Her funeral was at St. Francis on March 13, and she was laid to rest in our community’s burial space in Parsons Cemetery.

At the end of Evening Prayer each day we sing a song that begins, “Sister, let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you.” During the last several months the words took on a special meaning as Sr. Joan struggled with memory loss and declining health. She needed help with everyday activities, such as fixing a plate of food at meal times. As she slowly faded away the list of things got longer. But her gentle and soft-spoken nature never faltered. As her body failed her beautiful spirit remained intact and shone all the brighter. We give thanks for the gift of her life. May our merciful God in Heaven grant our dear Sr. Joan eternal rest.


One of our customs in the convent is to have table reading during the latter part of dinner. The book we are currently reading is The Little Flowers of St. Francis, a collection of stories about the beloved saint and the first members of his community. The tales are charming and sometimes humorous but they all convey a spiritual truth. Our well-worn copy of the book bears witness to holy poverty: it is falling apart and the cover price is 95 cents!

Some of the stories have a more serious tone. The ones involving the imposition of the stigmata on St. Francis, that is, when the wounds of the crucifixion appeared in his flesh, seem appropriate at this time of year.

St. Francis received the stigmata in the twilight of his life. He had always felt immense compassion for the suffering of Jesus, and in his later years Francis heard the call to withdraw deeper into silence and solitude, to be alone with the mystery of Christ’s Passion. In the year 1224 Francis spent time in a simple hut among the trees and rocky cliffs of Mount Alvernia. A prayer filled his heart: “O Lord, I beg of You two graces before I die: to experience in myself in all possible fullness the pains of Your cruel Passion, and to feel for You the same love that made You sacrifice Yourself for us.”

Early one morning, before sunrise, a mysterious seraphic angel came to visit Francis. It bore the image of the Crucified Christ, who gazed upon Francis with immense love. For Francis, it was a moment of overwhelming communion and a flood of divine charity filled his soul. The vision departed, but it left its mark, literally, on Francis: he was imprinted with nail marks on his hands and feet and a wound in his side.

Francis kept the stigmata hidden at first, only revealing his wounds with hesitation to a few of his brother friars. It was as hard for Francis to make sense of these marks as it is for us. Perhaps we can begin to understand by remembering that God desires to share His life with each person in a special way. It is up to God to decide what will be for our own good, what will bring us to the perfected reality of our creation.

Very few people will ever have a profound mystical experience like St. Francis. All we have are the ordinary experiences of being human—something we share with Jesus—and that is all we really need. The demands of daily living will show us what it means to love and to sacrifice for the sake of love.

The wounds of the crucifixion pierced the soul of Francis long before they touched his flesh. Can we be just as vulnerable to our suffering Lord, present today in the poor, hungry, marginalized, and homeless?

Gus came to us cold and hungry. We could tell that he had a slight degree of mental impairment. It was February, and Gus had been sleeping in a cemetery. He asked us if we could help him get back to Baltimore where he had family. We purchased a bus ticket and some of our volunteers contributed an extra $55 for his miscellaneous expenses. Gus started crying and had to give everyone a hug.

Bennie, 63, had no fixed address. He either slept outside or if he was lucky someone would take him in for a few days. Bennie stopped working last year because of health problems. For most of his life he got paid “under the table,” off the books, hence his Social Security is only $143 per month. Bennie did get approved for subsidized housing, but before moving into an apartment he needed to pay a security deposit. He had absolutely nothing. We paid the $250.

Tamara, 29, has three young children. When she lost her job she fell behind in her bills and the water was shut off in her home. She started to clean houses for money and then she found a second job, too. Her combined income is $1,600 per month, but the rent takes a big portion of that. She was worried that she would never be able to save enough money to get the water back on for her children. Tamara came to the Joseph House and we paid the outstanding bill of $250.

Rebecca, 61, lives alone on a fixed income. She keeps her bills very low. Rebecca needed to have cataract surgery, but she could not afford the $200 co-pay. We sent a check for the amount to her eye doctor.

Sean, 76, and his disabled wife lost their home and had to move in with a friend. There was finally an opening in an affordable housing complex for senior citizens, but before Sean and his wife could move in they had to settle an unpaid bill with the electric company. We helped them find the funds with a $200 contribution.


The spread of the coronavirus has brought sudden changes to our world. We are writing this mid-March and we don’t know what’s in store. We hope you are well and staying healthy. Let us continue to look out for each other because that is how we stay strong. And thank you for your faithful support. Even when times are “good” life is hard for the poor. Regarding our health and everything else, we must do what we can and trust in God’s providence. Visit our website for the latest updates on our ministry.

Our prayers are with you and the whole world. May you have a Happy and Blessed Easter. We will be clinging a little tighter to the promise of the Resurrection this year.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Our ministry to the poor continues during this pandemic and depends on your support. Learn how you can help: Donate.

We would love to include your special intentions in our daily prayers. Please send us a message: Contact Form.

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“What does a truly human life look like, in such times as we are enduring? In answering, I reach a point at once dazzling and darksome. The point being the consequences of the cross of Jesus. It is a point of sacrifice. The cross, (which is to say, the Crucified One) invites the living to the heart of reality, in an embrace as guileless and self-giving as it is indifferent of consequence.” – Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ


Header artwork: “Stigmata of St Francis” by Domenico Ghirlandaio, circa 1485. Public domain.

A New Look at the Workshop

The COVID-19 pandemic is requiring many people to stay at home to help curb the spread of the virus. Some are taking advantage of this time to tackle do-it-yourself projects around the house. The men residing at the Joseph House Workshop had a head start on this idea. They recently finished a major painting project that was previously planned. Their work has really freshened up their living space.

The Joseph House Workshop is a long-term residential program for formerly homeless men that helps them develop the skills needed for employment and independent living. The Workshop building itself where the men live is very comfortable and homey, but it wasn’t always like that.

The first time we walked inside it was a cavernous empty warehouse. The year was 1998, and Mountaire Farms was offering to donate the building to the Joseph House. Sr. Mary Elizabeth, our founder, said yes, excited by the possibilities of a blank canvas. After numerous planning sessions, two pilot programs, and some impressive construction work, the Workshop as we know it today opened in 2005.

First visit to the future Joseph House Workshop, November 1998.

The Workshop has a dormitory for ten, a kitchen and dining room, living room, offices, classroom, and computer room. To this list can be added a dedicated art room, thanks to the recent efforts of the residents. A room that was not being used has been converted into a space for art classes, since engaging in creative work is an important part of the Workshop program.

The men did a fine job and we are pleased that they have such pride in their home. A contractor installed new carpeting and tile flooring, and now the Workshop really shines, a reflection of the transformations taking place in the lives of its residents. Take a look at the photos below.

For comparison, this is how the Workshop looked when it was donated to the Joseph House. It’s amazing what vision combined with hard work and determination can do!

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!