Newsletter: September 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

No matter how old we get, September always means “back to school” in some way. Summer is over and now it’s time to get a little more serious. There are some things we miss about our school days, like getting new school supplies and the anticipation of new classes and teachers. What we don’t miss are homework and tests. But let’s take a minute anyway and consider these questions, courtesy of Pope Francis. Call it a pop quiz on life:

“Thinking about the people we are today, what do we want to do with ourselves? The grandparents who went before, the elderly who had dreams and hopes for us, and made great sacrifices for us, ask us an essential question: what kind of a society do we want to build? We received so much from the hands of those who preceded us. What do we, in turn, want to bequeath to those who come after us? ‘Rose water,’ that is, a diluted faith, or a living faith? A society founded on personal profit or on fraternity? A world at war or a world at peace? A devastated creation or a home that continues to be welcoming? . . .

“As part of the history of salvation, in the light of those who went before me and loved me, what is it that I must now do? I have a unique and irreplaceable role in history, but what mark will I leave behind me? What am I passing on to those who will come after me? What am I giving of myself? Often we measure our lives on the basis of our income, our type of career, our degree of success and how others perceive us. Yet these are not life-giving criteria. The real question is: am I giving life? Am I ushering into history a new and renewed love that was not there before? Am I proclaiming the Gospel in my neighborhood? Am I freely serving others, the way those who preceded me did for me? What am I doing for our Church, our city, our society? Brothers and sisters, it is easy to criticize, but the Lord does not want us to be mere critics of the system, or to be closed and ‘backwards-looking,’ as says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (cf. 10:39). Rather, he wants us to be artisans of a new history, weavers of hope, builders of the future, peacemakers.” [Homily, July 26, 2022, Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne.]

These are some serious questions that deserve thoughtful answers. Maybe we can answer some of them easily and others we’re not sure about. The good news is the final bell hasn’t rung yet and so we have time. Only with our best efforts will we leave the world a little better than we found it. And never forget that the Holy Spirit is always ready to nudge us in the right direction.

The call to love our neighbors gets drowned out in our noisy world. But we know you listen and respond without fail. Thanks to your faithful support, the Joseph House continues to care for people during their times of need.

Jacob, 73, has spent two months in the hospital and rehab because of a foot injury he sustained while working. He is self-employed as a handyman, doing any kind of job he can. With no car, he bikes from place to place. Jacob was evicted from his apartment while he was in the hospital. He contacted our Crisis Center before he was discharged from rehab. Moving into an apartment was going to require a security deposit of $500 plus the first month’s rent, also $500. $1000! What an outrageous burden for the working poor, especially those in their senior years. The Joseph House was able to assist Jacob with $425. We also called his landlord, who agreed to allow Jacob to pay the remaining balance over time once he starts working.

Carol is 70 and lives alone. She is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for herself is becoming a challenge, in more ways than one. Her modest apartment is costing half of her Social Security check of $1,196. She is trying to find a studio apartment that will be less expensive and easier for her to manage. We contributed $450 to help with her current rent (she was behind) and contacted a local agency that helps the elderly. A case worker will now be assisting Carol with her additional health care needs.

Ariana is a young single mother with two small children. The house they are living in was going to be condemned because the water had been shut off and Ariana had no money to pay the bill. We immediately called the water department and gave our promise that we would pay the outstanding balance of $178. We also gave Ariana some cash to buy the special diapers her youngest child needs.

Janis is also a single mother with two children. They were living with relatives until a house fire left them homeless. Janis and her children have been staying in motels since then, and even though she works two jobs it is simply not affordable. A ray of sunshine appeared when Janis was finally approved for subsidized housing. She needed to pay a security deposit, however, and she had nothing to spare from her paychecks. The Joseph House was able to contribute $350.

Leo, 68, has many health problems and lives on a monthly disability check of $800. He was in no condition to come to our Crisis Center so a nurse from a local agency came to represent him. Leo needs to have a heart catheterization, but the hospital was concerned about the level of hygiene in his residence. The main problem was a bed bug infestation. The nurse showed us pictures. Oh my! We sent $300 to an exterminator so sanitary conditions can be maintained in Leo’s home.

Mario, 52, had a fearful accident at home and broke several bones in his back and shoulder. He is recovering, but his strength and mobility are impaired. Mario believes he will never find a job again as a construction worker, his usual occupation. He has worked before as a waiter, and he is trying his hand at that, but the physical demands may be too much for him. With no family to support him, Mario is struggling to pay his bills. We sent $350 to the electric company to prevent a cut-off.

September also heralds the coming of autumn and relief from hot, muggy days. Nature, the peerless teacher, has a lesson we need to learn again and again: to live is to change. Our habits and routines may serve us well, but one day we might have to let them go. Something new is waiting for us. We are never too old to adapt and grow.

Our Golf Tournament is returning! This fun event to raise money for the Joseph House will be held October 7 at Green Hill Country Club in Quantico, MD. For more information, please call 410-543-8171 or email nazareth411[at]comcast[dot]net.

With our gratitude,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

We pray for our friends and donors every day. Please send us your special prayer requests: Contact Form.

The Joseph House depends on your support. Information about making a donation can be found here: Donate.

What if instead of calling it ageing, we named it ripening?
Seeing in each passing stage of life the beauty we ascribe to
Seed, Shoot, Leaf, Flower, Fruit.
Never asking one of them to be, or remain as, another; but delighting in their present presence as a gift from each season. Each perfect and apt in their own time.

What if instead of calling them wrinkles we saw in them only the evidence of experience? Counting them the way children count the rings of trees; delighting in them as signs of stories to be told; wisdom lines to be wondered at, whether born of tears, or laughter, or even, pain.

What if we taught the young to see the old as we, standing back in awe, gaze upon the ancient being of trees? Traveling to simply see them, touch them, to be in their canopied company. Resting our frantic minds in their deep green slowness, while imagining with awe all that has passed beneath their crooked branches; the seasons they have seen, the storms survived, and the myriad lives they have sheltered in their long growing.

So then, go out, go out my friend and let yourself ripen beneath the sun and moon, breathe freely of your present season letting the regrets of lost time fall from you and fly like leaves upon the air. Fear no longer Autumn’s harvest or even the seeming sleep of Winter for, when ripened, fruit’s earthward drop frees seed and begets always, a new Spring.

Br. Richard Hendrick, OFM Cap

Newsletter: August 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The heaviness of the daily news can be oppressive like the summer’s heat. Suffering, violence, and hatred seem to be everywhere, and there just isn’t a quick fix to the troubles of the world.

But every day we can plant seeds of peace, of hope, and of change. Invisible to most, unknown to many, they are the hand of God at work. Like any diligent gardener we need to cultivate what we plant and be patient and not get discouraged. “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9). We can each do something, and what matters most to God is not our ability, but our availability.

In our work at the Joseph House Crisis Center, we respond to the immediate needs of people in desperate situations. We help them pay their bills and supply them with food, but there is more being done: restoration of their self-worth and dignity, renewal of their hopes and dreams, and encouragement to seek new directions in life. These are essential for securing the fraying threads of our communities.

Ron and Maria are an elderly couple who moved to our area to escape the crime and poverty of their hometown. After settling in a motel, Ron started working seven days a week using his car to deliver pizzas. High gas prices have cut into his pay, and Ron and Maria were on the verge of becoming homeless. They asked for help at our Crisis Center. We paid the $400 security deposit so they could move into a rental property, which is less expensive than a motel. We also gave Ron a voucher for 15 gallons of gas. Ron and Maria now hope to get their grandchildren to join them.

Mona is 59. Her husband has addiction issues and left her suddenly. Mona works full-time but she is now struggling to pay all the bills. Her most immediate need was a past-due car payment; without her car she will lose her job. We helped her with $200.

Francisco, 72, was working as a truck driver until his eyesight failed. He worked at Blind Industries for a while, but he stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic and his concerns about being in close proximity to others. Recently, his son had a stroke and needed Francisco’s financial help. This made Francisco miss a rent payment and put him in danger of being evicted. We sent $400 to his landlord.

Here is an update about the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men, from its Director, Nick:

“We have one resident at this time, he came to us from prison. He was convicted of a drug-related crime. He is in his fifties and has four years of college. He just made a bad decision that cost him everything. His goal is to stay off drugs, settle down and watch his grandchildren grow up. He wants to be a good example to them.

“He has been here for two months and has settled down from the anxieties he had when he first came here (he didn’t want to fail). He is learning his responsibilities, setting goals, and adapting to structure he has never had. He has about two more months in Phase 1 before he is able to seek employment, which is the focus of Phase 2 of our program. He has expressed great interest in exploring new opportunities.

“To give an overview of the program, residents of the Joseph House Workshop attend two 12-Step meetings daily, namely AA and NA. They will have to seek an AA/NA sponsor, attend church services of their choosing on Sundays, participate in community service consisting of no less than 20 hours/week, and attend Celebrate Recovery on a weekly basis (a recovery program).

“During the initial part of the program (Phase 1), they will also have weekly life skills training classes, random drug screens, and be a part of a community of peers to hold them accountable for their actions. They cannot use their cell phones (but can use our land line once a week or so) and must be accompanied by a staff member when they are off the premises. This part of the program is about focusing on oneself and making necessary personal changes.

“After four months, residents may enter Phase 2. They begin to work full-time and we assist them with resumes, job searches, and coaching for job interviews. Moreover, built into our program is a mandatory savings account of their wages to help them get reestablished in society. We can accommodate eight residents and they can stay at the Workshop for up to two years.

“In terms of facilities maintenance, we have installed new carpeting in some of the living areas. We are about to take up our tile floors that have wood underneath because they have started rotting and termites are eating them up. This means we will need new flooring for the hallway, dining room, and bathrooms.”

Another large expense we are facing is the replacement of the windows in the Workshop dormitory. Block glass windows were initially installed more than 15 years ago, but they are leaking badly. We need to replace them with regular sliding windows.

Click here for more information about the Workshop: Joseph House Workshop.

Below are some photos from the Memorial Day barbecue at the Workshop:

Last month we printed Sr. Virginia’s story about going to Rome for the canonization of Charles de Foucauld. On our website you can see photos and read more about her trip, which included a visit to Assisi: The Canonization of Charles de Foucauld.

Thank you for being part of our mission to help those in need. No matter how you show your support, you make a difference. We hope you will continue to join us in our service to the hungry, the homeless, and families in distress.

May God bless you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Prayer is at the heart of our way of life. Send us your special intentions and we will pray for your needs: Contact Form.

Your support is essential for the continued operation of the Joseph House. Click here for information on how you can help: Donate.

Our featured Sister this month is our superior, Sr. Marilyn. Do you know what her favorite football team is? Take a look at her profile and find out: Sr. Marilyn.

The Canonization of Charles de Foucauld

Here is Sr. Virginia’s story about her trip to Rome for the canonization of Charles de Foucauld. Our hearts couldn’t be happier that God in His great mercy allowed Sister to represent us. She was also able to visit Assisi, home of St. Francis.

Our pilgrimage to Rome was organized by Father Leonard Tighe. He has been involved for many years with the Lay Fraternities of Saint Charles, striving to spread information about Charles de Foucauld’s life and spirituality. Father Tighe has also led many tours in Italy and the Holy Land.

There were eleven in our group – nine men including four priests, and a retired nurse who roomed with me at the hotel. After splitting up into smaller groups to explore the wonders of Rome during the day, we dined together in the evening at a good, inexpensive restaurant with outdoor tables. The waiters didn’t seem to mind that we lingered long into the lovely evenings. There was a kindly spirit of friendship among the people in our group. And the breadth and depth of their knowledge of the Church and Brother Charles were impressive.

The canonization, which took place on Sunday, May 15, in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica, was a grand and festive event. Saint Peter’s square was filled with people from every continent, many of them wearing emblems connected with one of the candidates for sainthood. Huge images of these brand-new saints were hung on the façade of the basilica.

Pope Francis said of Brother Charles: “The new Saint lived his Christian existence as a brother to all, starting from the smallest. He did not have the aim of converting others, but of living God’s freely given love, putting into effect ‘the apostolate of goodness.’ Brother Charles, in the hardships and poverty of the desert, remarked: ‘My soul is always in joy.’ . . . Dear sisters and brothers, may Our Lady grant you to cherish and nourish the same joy, because joy is the clearest witness we can give to Jesus in every place and at every time.”

On Thursday three of us went early to explore Saint Peter’s Basilica. It is vast with enormous marble columns of many colors, and filled with gigantic figures and murals and paintings. Yet there is a tenderness within the grandeur, each work of art filled with love and longing. Small gatherings were celebrating Masses in side chapels with sweet voices singing in different languages. Shafts of cool morning light flowed down from Heaven, the marble floors were the colors of precious stones, giant angels gazed down from the tops of pillars, and everywhere we saw magnificent images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Jesus Christ, coming in love and power – beautiful, active, dynamic, merciful.

Father Tighe told us that, after Charles’ life-changing reversion to the Catholic faith, he wrote out the four Gospels entirely, in longhand. “He wanted to know everything about Jesus so he could know everything about God,” Father said. “Foucauld is a window into Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”


Followers of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld displayed orange scarves to identify themselves. Here is a group of nuns on their way to the canonization. I am not sure, but they might be Little Sisters of the Consolation of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Face.

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, ten people were canonized by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s square, in front of the magnificent Saint Peter’s Basilica. Charles de Foucauld is pictured at the bottom of the third panel from the left.

A thanksgiving mass honoring Saint Charles was held the next day at the splendid basilica of Saint John Lateran. Founded in 324, it is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, and the oldest basilica of the Western world.

We did some sightseeing around Rome, including the Trevi Fountain. Here are my kind and resourceful roommate, Susan Trzcienski, Father Lenny Tighe who led the pilgrimage, and me carrying a bag we were all given bearing the image of Charles de Foucauld, which, along with Father’s t-shirt, attracted other Brother Charles followers as we walked around the city.


The bus ride from Rome to Assisi was lovely – green fields and vineyards, stucco houses with tiled roofs scattered throughout the rolling hills, small drifts of orange-red poppies translucent in the sun, bushes of warm golden yellow flowers.

This is the view from the bottom of the hill of Assisi. Four of us walked together up its winding narrow streets, shopped a little, had lunch and gelato (delicious ice cream in many flavors), and visited churches.

Along the way, we were captivated by the views through narrow openings and layers of arches and flowers and stairways, the bricks and cobblestone streets all sharing the same range of warm yellow-gray and soft red sandy colors. Though it was a long walk uphill, we didn’t seem to get very tired – it did indeed seem more like a pilgrimage than a tour:

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth.
(Psalm 48)

My favorite church was the tiny Portiuncula (above), one of the churches restored by Saint Francis. It became the place where his order was founded. It seemed to me like Francis’ glowing heart in the vast gracious space of Our Lady of the Angels, the basilica built around it to accommodate the many pilgrims who came to Assisi after his death.

This is a detail of the beautiful six-part fresco in the apse of the Portiuncula, painted by the priest Ilario da Viterbo (1393). The exquisite Annunciation is surrounded by scenes from the saint’s life, including St. Francis Throws Himself into the Thorny Brambles, St. Francis Accompanied by Two Angels, and the Apparition of Christ and the Virgin, Accompanied by 60 Angels, with St. Francis Offering Roses, among others.

When we try to imagine the joy of eternal life with God, our minds are opened and hearts are warmed with a blessed hope when we recall the sweetness and holy charm of Assisi:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek: To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
(Psalm 27)

For more information on St. Charles, please see The Timeline of a Saint and Brother Charles on our website.

Newsletter: July 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

“We are not expecting utopia here on earth. But God meant things to be much easier than we have made them.”

These are words of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), a woman who dedicated her life to peace and the works of mercy. She was a friend of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, and she came to visit the Joseph House back in the 1960s. Dorothy’s cause for sainthood has already started. She is someone we admire very much.

And like Dorothy said, we don’t expect life to be perfect, but we can, and must, do better. The horrific violence that has occurred in our country has been devastating to contemplate and difficult to process. Along with you, we have felt shocked, stunned, heartbroken, sad, angry, upset . . . you name it. But no matter what, it’s important that we not feel helpless.

After the school shooting in Texas, the Archbishop of San Antonio said that we have turned guns into idols. An idol is something we worship—and what we worship is what we listen to and obey. There’s a pantheon of idols in our society; chaos and destruction are their gifts to us. The First Commandment is what it is for a reason. When we follow false gods the road leads to ruin.

Everyone has ideas on how to make the world a better place. The starting point can only be with ourselves. Jesus sought out times and places of quiet, so that’s probably a good thing for us too. For guidance we can read His words: we suggest the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) and John’s account of the Last Supper (Jn 13-17). Our spirits get starved for truth, and only by refreshing them with the springs of divine grace can we act in ways that offer hope instead of despair.

Nothing will change in our country without a firm and abiding dedication to the common good. Our faith teaches us that we are one Body in Christ, all of us together, the little no less than the great. We have responsibilities to each other, and the duty to protect the most vulnerable among us is of the utmost importance. The solutions to our problems are limited only by our resolve to find them. What else is required of us? Here is another thought from Dorothy:

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.”

Dorothy Day

Like every organization that serves the public, the Joseph House has a role to play in creating a just and peaceful world. We are grateful every single day that God has entrusted us with this mission and that we can count on you to be a faithful friend. Thank you for opening your heart to people in need. Making sure everyone has enough to eat and a place to live are works of peace.

Last month we shared a story from Gerry, one of our volunteers at the Joseph House Crisis Center. Here is another one, this time involving a 66-year-old woman who had been homeless for more than a year:

“When I first met Betsy she impressed me as a very happy lady. Bright eyes, a warm smile, and a soft and pleasant voice. I wondered why a calm and relaxed person was at the Joseph House. I was about to find out.

“In my interview with Betsy she very calmly explained her need: she was looking to rent a room from someone that was going to cost $800 per month. A month’s rent was required in advance. When I asked her where she was moving from, she very matter-of-factly told me that she had been living in her car for over a year (and the motor had just gone out).

“Betsy had made arrangements with three local churches to help with her need, but was still $400 short. In order to see how the Joseph House could help, I interviewed Betsy about her finances. Here is what I learned: she is living on a Social Security benefit of $462 per month; the $800 per month rent is from a very gracious couple that understands her plight and is willing to pay her $400 per month to do laundry, chores around the house, and yard work; that leaves her $400 of rent to pay from her $462 benefit.

“When I asked Betsy how she gets by, she smiled and said, ‘I still have $62 per month left, and since my cell phone only costs $50, I still have $12 left.’

“We gladly sent the $400 to the landlord. I also called her to commend her willingness to help a such a meek, grateful, and deserving soul.”

Being able to assist people who have next to nothing is a real joy, but their struggles show us we have a long way to go in creating a truly just society. Let’s promise each other not to give up in our efforts.

We will have photos from the canonization of Charles de Foucauld posted on our website shortly. One of the lessons of the saints is that God works through individuals in every time and place. Each person makes a difference, including you! Our lives and circumstances are so diverse, and that means every corner of the world can be filled with love. As Mother Teresa said, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

Thank you for your support of our ministry to the poor. May the blessings of peace and good health be with you.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

We extend to you the gift of prayer. Please send us your special intentions so we can remember you when we gather in our chapel: Contact Form.

Even a small gift makes a big difference to someone in need. You can help us in our mission to the poor: Donate.

Newsletter: June 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Home is where we love and take care of our families. For Charles de Foucauld, family meant everyone.

Our freshly-sainted Br. Charles saw himself as a brother to all people, a “universal brother” as he called himself. Deep in the desert lands of Algeria where he lived, he was equally a brother to the nomadic people known as the Tuaregs, to the enslaved people he redeemed from bondage, and to the French soldiers garrisoned in the Sahara. His love went out to everyone, no matter who they were or what they believed or what they did. Always ready to share what he had—food, medicine, or his time—each stranger was welcomed at his door as a beloved family member.

Br. Charles wrote a rule of life for a religious congregation (that never formed until after his death), and included this directive for its members:

They will have no ‘preferences among people.’ May their universal and brotherly charity shine like a beacon for all around. Let none of those, near or far, sinner or infidel, be unaware that they are universal friends, universal brothers who spend their life praying for everyone without exception and doing them good. Their fraternity [home] is a port, a refuge where all people, especially the poor and destitute, are always fraternally invited, desired, and welcomed.

This is a beautiful description of hospitality and it’s what we try to emulate at the Joseph House since we look to Br. Charles for inspiration. People don’t exist as abstractions, however, and neither can our love for them. A member of Br. Charles’ aforementioned congregation, Antoine Chatelard, pointed this out:

Being a universal brother is first about being a brother, before thinking about being universal. . . . Universal love doesn’t exist outside of the particular. It means loving the person who is right in front of me, not loving the idea of someone I have never set eyes on.

Antoine, who died last year at the age of 90, was a great student of Br. Charles. He understood that Br. Charles’ life was a series of conversions, that having high ideals is one thing but living them out is another. Sainthood doesn’t happen without perseverance. If we want to be “universal” in our love for other people, there is only one way to start and one way to proceed . . . love the person right in front of us.

But what if that person has hurt us or caused harmed? One of our volunteers at the Joseph House Crisis Center, Gerry, met someone who revealed the depth and power of the human heart. Here is the story from Gerry (please note it describes a serious traffic accident):

Last September, Frank and Roberta were on their way home from dinner. While traveling 55 miles per hour on a two-lane highway, their motorcycle struck another motorcycle that pulled out from a stop sign and stopped right in the middle of the road.

The passenger on the second motorcycle was killed. Both Frank and Roberta were pronounced dead at the scene—but upon further inspection both still had life and were rushed to the hospital.

Their injuries were horrific. Roberta has had hip surgery and is scheduled for major back surgery. Frank’s arm was shattered so severely that his elbow ended up adjacent to his shoulder! His pelvis needed to be removed. I saw the pictures and was nauseous as I have never seen such devastation.

Neither Frank nor Roberta have been able to work since the accident and have another 9 to 12 months of recovery ahead of them. Frank has worked feverishly with his mortgage company to avoid foreclosure or eviction, and only due to help from family members was able to keep his electric on. He came to the Joseph House simply to get help with keeping his phone, cable, and Internet service from being shut off ($300).

The remarkable thing that struck me was Frank’s positive attitude about doing everything he could to get back to work. But the more AMAZING thing was the GRACE he exuded when he told me that despite the devastating injuries, he held no ill feelings toward the person that caused the accident, saying that it was “not my call” and that he believed something good could come out of this tragedy.

Having been raised in a Christian life for 60 years I’ve frequently heard that we must all show the love of Christ to others by forgiving those who cause us harm. But I have never had the privilege of seeing someone live that commitment.

Frank changed my life!

We want to thank Gerry for sharing this story with us. Love can be brought into any situation and our heart can be opened to any individual. If we feel like we can’t, we just have to do what we can and let God do the rest.

We are happy to be part of the “Br. Charles family” that extends across the globe. His example has guided our little community and helped us understand our vocation as Little Sisters. But now he belongs to everyone: his recent canonization is a declaration that his life has teaching value for all people.

Although Br. Charles lived more than 100 years ago, he can tell us something about living the Gospel in today’s world. That’s the mystery of God’s providence: when the time is right we are given what we need.

We will share more with you about the canonization next time—including an eyewitness account from our Sr. Virginia!

Thank you for your faithful support of our ministry to those in need. With gratitude,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Do you have a special need you hold close in your heart? Please send us your prayer requests and we will add our prayers to yours: Contact Form.

Your support of our ministry helps the hungry, the homeless, and struggling families. See how you can help: Donate.

Our featured community member this month is Sr. Connie Ladd. She has been with the Little Sisters the longest. Read her profile and see photos here: Sr. Connie.

Charles de Foucauld: The Timeline of a Saint

Born to a noble family, a tragic childhood, worldly preoccupations, a loss of faith, and then . . .
Charles de Foucauld’s life changed in 1886 with a powerful conversion experience, but this was just another step in a journey with God that was already underway. Charles later realized that God had always been with him:

“O my God! How surely you had your hand on me, and how little I felt it! You are so good, you took such good care of me! How closely you were keeping me under your wings, while I didn’t even believe you existed!”

In the years that followed, Charles sought nothing but to live for God alone. He desired to imitate the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth, and this ultimately led him to the Sahara and an apostolate of friendship as a “universal brother.”

Charles de Foucauld will be canonized a saint on May 15, 2022. Here is a look at important dates in his life, a life which traveled a circuit between his native France, the Holy Land, and North Africa.

September 15, 1858 – Born in Strasbourg, France
1864 – Orphaned, taken in by maternal grandparents
1876 – Enters Saint-Cyr military academy; acquires the nickname “Piggy” for his self-indulgent lifestyle
1878 – Enters cavalry school at Saumur
1881 – Serves in Algeria
1882 – Leaves the army
1883-84 – Explores Morocco in disguise (the country is closed to Christian Europeans)
1885 – Receives the Gold Medal from the Geographical Society of Paris
Late October 1886 – Seeks counsel from Fr. Henri Huvelin in Paris; has conversion experience
1888-89 – Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
1890 – Becomes a Trappist monk at Notre Dame des Neiges in France; a few months later, seeking greater asceticism, he transfers to a monastery in Syria, Notre Dame de Sacré Coeur
1897 – With permission from the abbot, leaves the Trappists
1897 – Wanting to live the “hidden life” of Jesus, becomes a handyman for a convent of Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth
1900 – Returns to France to study for the priesthood
June 9, 1901 – Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Viviers
1901 – Receives permission to return to Algeria, settles in Béni-Abbès; begins ministry of prayer, charity, and friendship to all
1905 – Travels hundreds of miles south to Tamanrasset, a rugged, desolate land; builds a place to live, becomes known as a marabout (holy man)
1915 – Due to the unrest following the outbreak of World War I, builds a small fort in Tamanrasset to protect the local people from pillagers
December 1, 1916 – Shot and killed by a raider at the gate of his fort
1921 – First biography is written
1927 – Cause for beatification begins
November 13, 2005 – Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI
May 15, 2022 – Canonized by Pope Francis

The canonization Mass is scheduled to be televised on EWTN on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at 4:00 AM (live) and again at 12 noon.

Below is a picture gallery depicting the life of Charles. Click on each picture for a larger image.

Newsletter: May 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A few months ago, three of us were at a gas station on a rainy morning in late winter when a familiar face appeared. It was Gregory, looking cold and a little down. The Sister at the wheel rolled down the car window.
“Hi Gregory, how are you doing?”
“Hi Sister. You know, my brother is in bad shape. He was in an accident and he’s not doing good. They took them to that place in Baltimore, uh . . .”
“You mean Johns Hopkins?”
“Yeah. You know, I need a little money, ten dollars, for a bus ticket, so I can get to my father and then we can go see my brother.”
Sister started reaching into her pocket when Gregory continued: “I haven’t eaten anything today, maybe you could make that twenty.”
Sister held up a folded twenty dollar bill. “Here you go, Gregory. We will pray for you and for your brother. We hope everything goes well.”
Gregory thanked us, and then we watched him shuffle into the gas station to get whatever nourishment he could find.
“Well, that’s what the money is for,” Sister said, and we continued on our way.

Jesus taught that “whatever you do to the least of My brothers and sisters you do to Me” (Mt 25:40). This Gospel verse is fundamental to the mission of the Joseph House. Like you, we believe in what Jesus said, and God will check on how much we believe it in the daily unfolding of our lives. But of course, it’s not always easy to be ready. It can be just as hard to see the presence of Christ in a family member when our patience is worn thin as it can be to see Him in a poor man asking for money in the rain.

Throughout history, this verse from Matthew 25 has tested believers on what their faith really means in their day-to-day living. It brings heaven down to earth and reminds us that our beliefs need to be expressed in how we live. Near the end of his life, Charles de Foucauld, the spiritual father of the Joseph House and the Little Sisters, wrote to a friend that nothing in the Gospel made a deeper impression on him or changed his life more than this verse. It changed his life at the root. Does it change ours?

As Little Sisters, our meeting with Gregory is typical in our lives. We turn around and there is someone next to us, or at the door or on the phone. Our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “Whoever God sends that day is of His doing. We must lovingly and willingly meet the poor and their needs. We cannot grow cold, even though we become tired and overwhelmed with so many people.” All of us, no matter who we are, will encounter people, often unexpectedly, who cry out in so many ways for a little love, patience, and understanding. These are sacred moments. Let’s be ready with a smile.

We are grateful for your support of the Joseph House. Your generosity makes a huge difference to people at the end of their rope. Thank you for being a good friend. Your fidelity allows our mission to go on.

Lisa, 47, is another familiar face that showed up recently, this time at our Crisis Center. She lives in a very poor section of town and has a rare blood disease. She must go to Baltimore frequently for treatment, although there have been times when she couldn’t afford to do so. Lisa is always on the edge of destitution; she never has enough money for any of her basic needs, like housing, utilities, or food.

A few years ago, Lisa received an education grant to become a licensed practical nurse. Despite feeling weak and out of commission, she was determined to provide for herself. It didn’t work out, however, not just because of her health, but she was born with a slight learning disability. The cards seem stacked against her.

Lisa is unfailingly polite and unassuming, displaying the remarkable fortitude of someone tried by adversity. Her latest need was a cut-off notice from the electric company. We paid the whole bill ($343) since there was no chance her meager Social Security income would cover any of it. Lisa is yet another reminder that we must look out for each other as one Body in Christ.

Christy, age 50 and a widow, was a newcomer and had many problems. She and her daughter were forced out of their rental because their landlord was being foreclosed. Suddenly homeless, Christy was trying to cope with the turmoil. She is being treated for cancer and her weakened health makes everything more difficult. She lost some of her important papers and this was delaying her assistance from the state. We gave her three nights in motel ($234), groceries, a gasoline voucher, and cash for meals.

Maybe it’s our memories of the school year and the approach of summer vacation, but the month of May always brings a happy feeling of anticipation. We are extra excited this year because, as we have mentioned before, Charles de Foucauld is being canonized a saint on the 15th. And we are extra, extra excited because our own Sr. Virginia will be attending the ceremony in Rome!

Sr. Virginia will be part of a small group of pilgrims led by a long-time friend of our community, Fr. Lennie Tighe, who is an authority on Br. Charles. We are so happy that Sister will be there to represent us; she will be our eyes and ears and we can’t wait to hear her eyewitness account of this momentous occasion, which we will share with you.

The canonization Mass is scheduled to be televised on EWTN on Sunday, May 15 at 4:00 AM (live) and again at 12 noon.

Our joy is tempered by the war in Ukraine. Let us pray for peace and be ambassadors for peace to each person we meet. May the goodness of God be with you.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

We offer you the promise of prayer. Please send us your special intentions and we will pray for you: Contact Form.

Your gift, no matter the size, helps people in need of food, shelter, and other basic necessities. Learn how to make a donation: Donate.

Newsletter: April 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

How would you describe the time in which we live?

Scientists say we are in the Anthropocene Epoch, a time when human activity dominates the planet. Technologists say we are in the Information Age, with the Internet and smartphones bringing the world to our fingertips. If you keep up with the news you might be tempted to say we are in the End Times. That’s being pessimistic, and the end of the world has been predicted many times before in the past, but it can feel like it, doesn’t it?

In his book, Our Lady of Holy Saturday, Cardinal Carlo Martini suggests instead that we are living in the “Holy Saturday of History,” a time of confusion and dashed hopes.

Holy Saturday is different from the rest of Holy Week. There are no strong images associated with it: there is no palm waving as Christ enters Jerusalem, no washing of feet or breaking of bread, no betrayal with a kiss, no crucifixion. It’s a day of silence, caught between extreme darkness and light. It’s the Sabbath day following Christ’s Passion.

Cardinal Martini has a point. Since all around us we see signs of God’s absence, Christ is still entombed, or so it seems. In the movie Groundhog Day, February 2nd gets repeated over and over again. For us, it’s Holy Saturday, and the sunrise of Easter morning never appears to arrive.

How do we live during this time, when fear and dread threaten to rule the day? As indicated by the title of his book, Cardinal Martini directs us to the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Scripture, Mary is a woman who remembers. She proclaims in her song of praise, “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Lk 1:49). And then at Bethlehem, when the shepherds gathered around the manger with stories of angels, Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). And yet again Scriptures records that she “treasured all these things in heart” (Lk 2:51), this time at Nazareth, following an eventful trip to the temple where the Child Jesus was found teaching the elders. Nothing passed by in Mary’s life without a deep, contemplative gaze at its meaning.

This same type of holy remembering can serve us well too:

“We have all had the experience of being able to perceive the presence of a strength that accompanied us in times of difficulty, even if we did not feel it when we suffered and it seemed to us that we did not possess it. It may seem to us sometimes that we have been abandoned by God and by our fellow human beings, and yet, when we look back over the events that have just passed we realize that the Lord had continued to walk with us, and had even carried us in His arms.” (Our Lady of Holy Saturday, pp. 34-35)

Mary became the Mother of Hope on Holy Saturday because the memories in her motherly heart nurtured the conviction that God will not abandon us. Look back over your own life: we pray you can find the same consolation.

Our acts of love give witness to hope, and every seed of goodness planted creates a sense of communion. Then the truth becomes more believable: God is with us and always will be.

Your support of our ministry is helping people in need know that they are not forgotten. Here are a few of the people your contributions have assisted:

Marcus, 60, fell into a tailspin after his wife died. He lost his job and then his apartment. For about a year he was homeless, going back and forth between shelters and the street. Marcus credits therapy with saving his life. He found a job at a grocery store and with $400 from the Joseph House he was able to move into a new place to live.

Ana, 51, is a hard-working single mother. She works in the evening doing cleaning work and must take her young daughter with her since she cannot afford a babysitter. Ana contracted COVID-19 and lost 18 days of work. It was devastating to her budget. We sent $350 to the electric company to stop a cut-off. Ana lives in a dingy trailer park; she dreams of moving away.

Kelsey, 33, has a son and is also caring for her sister’s three children because her sister was arrested. Kelsey works at a low-paying job making pizza. The water was turned off in her home because she could not afford to pay the bill. We paid the amount due ($340).

Paige, 29, is the mother of three children. The youngest was born with cerebral palsy and requires many doctor visits and additional care. This was too much for the father of the child and he left. Paige said they were engaged to be married. She is a very loving and responsible parent and is doing the best she can. Her only income is her child’s Social Security check, which covers the rent and not much else. We paid $400 toward Paige’s overdue electric bill.

When the Risen Christ appeared to the disciples, His first words were, “Peace be with you.” We are writing this in early March and we fervently pray that the people of Ukraine will know peace and that all wars will end. May God have mercy on us.

Thank you for your support of the Joseph House. We hope your celebration of Easter renews your spirit. And let us continue to love and pray for one another.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

If something is weighing heavily in your heart please know that you are not alone. We will pray for you and your special intentions: Contact Form.

Did you know that by making a small donation you can make a big difference in the life of someone in poverty? Learn how you can help: Donate.

Our featured community member this month is Sr. Jennifer. She has a fun way of staying active. Read her profile here: Sr. Jennifer.

Newsletter: March 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We are eagerly awaiting the canonization of Charles de Foucauld in May when he will be declared a Saint. We will always think of him as Br. Charles, and his life and spirituality have inspired not only our community, but communities and fraternities around the world. It’s a global family. You may know that he was beatified in 2005 (that is, declared “Blessed”), but did you know that there is another member of this greater Br. Charles family who has also been beatified? Her name is Sr. Odette Prévost, and she was beatified in 2018.

Sr. Odette was a member of the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a community that is older and a bit larger than ours. Born in France, Sr. Odette was a teacher before entering consecrated life. After professing vows with her community, she was sent to Algeria where she lived in the same poverty as the poor. She studied Arabic, became fluent, and continued her teaching work. She often made homemade yogurt for the local children so they would have enough protein.

On November 10, 1995, while on her way to church, Sr. Odette was killed by a terrorist. Just like Br. Charles, she died a violent death and in the same country where he shed his blood. She is recognized as a martyr for the faith. But it’s also important to remember how she lived. Like every member of the Br. Charles family, Sr. Odette aspired to be “little” but with a heart big enough to embrace the whole world. She was a friend and neighbor to the poor and downtrodden, the favorites of the Lord’s flock. A prayer was found with her when she was killed, and it has the same spirit of surrender as Br. Charles’ Abandonment Prayer. It’s more like a spiritual counsel; perhaps she wrote it as a daily reminder to entrust herself to the hands of God:

“Live today’s day. God gives it to you, it belongs to you. Live it in God. Tomorrow’s day belongs to God, it doesn’t belong to you. Do not impose today’s worry upon tomorrow. Tomorrow belongs to God, hand it over to Him. The present moment is a frail footbridge. If you weigh it down with yesterday’s regrets, tomorrow’s anxiety, the footbridge gives way and you lose your footing. The past? God forgives it. The future? God gives it. Live today’s day in communion with God.”

Sr. Odette Prévost

The present moment is our graced encounter with life. It’s all that we have. By attending to the needs of each moment, Sr. Odette—or should we say Bl. Odette—made an offering of her life that reached its fulfillment on that fateful day. She knew the danger surrounding her, but her love triumphed over fear. Although we live in a different world than she did, she has a message for us: the victory of love is for everyone.

In our work at the Joseph House, we meet people every day who are weighed down with serious and immediate worries. Maybe they don’t have enough food for their children, or there’s no heat in their home, or they can’t pay the rent and they’re going to be homeless. Many people indeed have lost their footing on the “frail footbridge” of the present moment. Thankfully, we don’t have to go through life alone. Your faithful support of the Joseph House allows us to help people during their times of crisis. They find a steady hand when they need it the most.

Gabriela, 61, has chronic asthma and other health problems. Some major changes have impacted her life recently. Her son was released from a mental health facility where he had been a resident for five years because of his schizophrenia. He had nowhere to go and moved in with Gabriela. Not long after that, her daughter died, leaving behind a daughter of her own. She also moved in with Gabriela, who is now trying to cope with her new caregiving responsibilities. The adjustment is difficult; Gabriela had been very dependent on her daughter.

This family’s only income at the moment is the son’s monthly check for $265 in temporary welfare benefits. Gabriela’s granddaughter will be getting a check from Social Security in a few weeks. In the meantime, Gabriela desperately needed help with the rent. We sent $500 to her landlord to prevent the possibility of eviction.

Annie suddenly assumed custody of four young grandchildren after their mother was incarcerated. Annie is on disability and requires daily visits from a home health aide. Two days before Christmas, we learned that Annie had no food or presents for the children. To make matters much worse, she was also facing eviction from her subsidized housing. We delivered what she needed and paid $314 toward the rent.

Dimitri, 76, suffered a brain injury after falling and hitting his head. He could not affords the co-pay on his prescriptions. We paid the bill of $137.

A few months ago, Desiree, 47, was living in a tent. She had been homeless for a year. Dreadful spousal abuse was the cause of her situation. Desiree is now living in a rooming house, but the $600 rent takes most of her monthly check. Sometimes during the summer she can get a job selling tickets at a carnival for extra money. Winters, though, are tough. Desiree lives four miles from our Crisis Center and she walks there several times a week looking for some friendly company. She herself is always very cheerful, determined to make the best of whatever happens to her. When she couldn’t pay all of her rent, we sent $300 to her landlord.

There must be something in the air . . . another member of the Br. Charles family has been honored for living an exemplary life. Last fall, Élisabeth Marie Magdeleine Hutin, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus, was declared “Venerable” in recognition of her life of heroic virtue. There’s no doubt it: the time for “littleness” and Nazareth Spirituality is now. It’s a way of life that leads to sainthood!

Thank you for all the ways you support our work. We are so happy to share with you what is important to us. May it bring us closer together in unity of mind and heart.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this month, our featured Sister this time is Sr. Pat Lennon, who entered our community in 1992. Please take a look at her profile: Sr. Pat.

The season of Lent is here once again, a time to grow closer to God and to be more detached from the things that keep us from God. It is a time to be more loving. The traditional practices are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These can help us be more focused on the needs of others.

If you are praying for special intentions and would like us to add our prayers too, please send us a note: Contact Form.

You can also share your blessings with those who do without by making a donation: Donate.

“For our Lenten journey in 2022, we will do well to reflect on Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians: ‘Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all’ (Gal 6:9-10). . . . Lent invites us to conversion, to a change in mindset, so that life’s truth and beauty may be found not so much in possessing as in giving, not so much in accumulating as in sowing and sharing goodness.”Pope Francis

Newsletter: February 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Feed the hungry…Give drink to the thirsty…Clothe the naked…Shelter the homeless…Visit the sick…Visit the imprisoned…Bury the dead.

These are the Corporal Works of Mercy, the basic acts of charity and kindness found principally in the Parable of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and elsewhere in the Bible (Is 58:6-14 and Tb 1:17). They describe very accurately what we do day after day at the Joseph House. It’s a short list, but the permutations go far and wide. For example, sometimes people don’t need clothes but they have been stripped of their dignity. They may not be in a jail cell but they are imprisoned by addiction or mental illness. They may not be starving for food but they are hungry for justice. Our mission calls us to respond in whatever way we can, and thanks to your support, we have the freedom to do so.

Last month we gave a mission report on the Joseph House Workshop. Here is a look at the Joseph House Crisis Center with a few statistics from 2021:

  • 1,038 checks and payments were issued to help individuals and families pay for housing, utilities, health care, transportation, and other critical needs.
  • 2,863 bags of groceries were given out from our Food Pantry. An average of 196 households, representing 581 people, received food each month.
  • 4,899 requests for help were responded to at our Hospitality Room for the Homeless. We provided showers, laundry service, food, coats, blankets, and personal care products.
  • 5,209 bagged lunches were given to the homeless and other Crisis Center clients. Since our Soup Kitchen is closed because of the pandemic, our church partners prepared these lunches instead.
  • 287 new winter coats for children were distributed.
  • 440 gift bags for children were given out at Christmas. Each bag included a large toy, a smaller one, a book, a puzzle or activity book, assorted stocking stuffers, plus a hat, scarf, or mittens.

But not everything can be measured with a number. We always keep in mind what our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, said: “When someone needs help, it’s not just the material aid, but the love that goes with it that gives healing and self-worth and a renewed hope for tomorrow.”

Love changes people, more than anything else. It’s very important to us that our mission sites be places of warmth and welcome for all people. Along with our volunteers, we listen to and treat everyone with compassion and respect. Love is what inspires you to support our work, and it is the precious gift we share with people in need.

Together with you, we can make a difference. Sally and Craig are mourning the loss of their baby. Craig works in the crabbing industry and his income goes up and down. The father of Sally’s other child is deceased, so that child receives $533 monthly in survivors benefits. Sally and Craig are depending on this right now, but it doesn’t cover the rent ($850). Sally came to our Crisis Center for help and we were able to send $300 to her landlord. Sally also met with our volunteer job counselor, who has an excellent record at assisting people find employment.

Ernestine, 66, is blind and homebound because of her frail health. Her monthly disability check is $714 and her rent alone is $650. There is practically nothing left over for her other expenses. The water in her home was cut off because of an unpaid bill. A concerned family member brought Ernestine to the Crisis Center. One of our volunteers acted quickly and called the Water Department. A promise to mail $349 was enough to get the water back on.

Jamie, 48, and her four children became homeless following an electrical fire in their rental house. They moved into a motel, but then Jamie contracted COVID-19 and was absent for three weeks from her job at a poultry plant. Unable to afford the motel, she was desperately worried. We paid the first month’s rent for an apartment ($350) to give Jamie and her children a place to stay.

John, 47, is starting over from rock bottom after serving a seven-year prison sentence. He has nothing but the clothes on his back. John is a qualified cook and secured a job at a restaurant. His starting date was delayed for a week because he had to wait for his swollen ankle to heal. He was able to find an apartment, and we paid $300 to the landlord so John could move in off the street.

The gas was turned off three months ago in the house Maureen, 54, shares with her husband. Maureen works retail at a discount store but her husband, who is over 60, is in poor health and not working. The rent takes half of Maureen’s paycheck, so it was only a matter of time before the gas bill was added to the list of things that could not be paid. The arrival of cold weather, however, made their unheated home unbearable. To help get the furnace back on, we paid $300 toward the gas bill.

Opal, 40, will need to use a rolling knee walker for two months after her leg surgery. The rental cost is $120, which she cannot afford since she cares for her disabled son and her only income is his monthly check for $820. So we paid the rental fee.

Hugh, 61, struggles with mental health and is on several strong medications. His wife is blind and also has mental health issues. They live on her monthly check for $800. The water was turned off in their home. We paid the overdue bill of $378.

Visiting the imprisoned is the work of mercy that gets forgotten the most. In years past, the Joseph House did sponsor a prison program at the former Maryland House of Corrections in Jessup. We don’t do anything like that now, but on a regular basis the Joseph House Workshop welcomes men who have been incarcerated, sometimes directly upon their release. With the help of our program, they set a new course and begin new lives.

What we do seems so little compared to the need, but our work is offered to God, whose grace does more than we perceive or imagine. Even so, we must never forget that our Lord is with all men and women behind bars, and as He told us, what we do to them we do to Him.

Thank you for your support of the Joseph House. Let’s keep on working together for the good of others—our troubled times need people who are generous with their love.

With our faithful prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

We can all do something to help others. Take a look at this blog post by Joe Paprocki for some ideas: Practical Suggestions for Practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Please send us you prayer requests so we can pray for your needs: Contact Form.

The Joseph House depends on the support of people like you. You can donate online or through the mail: Donate.