In Remembrance: Anne Cuomo

Anne Cuomo, one of our many wonderful volunteers, passed away on February 3, 2021, from COVID-19. She was a special friend of our community.

After earning her B.A. in Mathematics, Anne worked for 34 years in the field of computer and software management for the Department of Defense. Her husband Peter died in 1986, and when Anne retired in 1997 she moved back to her hometown of Salisbury.

She came by one day and asked Sr. Mary Elizabeth, “How can I help?” Sister loved hearing those words. Our Representative Payee Program was in need of a Director, so Anne jumped in and got completely involved. The program is for people who have difficulty in managing their household budgets. Under our supervision, a volunteer handles the checkbook for clients in the program, helping them to avoid financial hardships.

Anne and Sr. Mary Elizabeth.

Anne was perfect for the job. She was thorough and meticulous and her personal warmth put people at ease. Anne would meet with potential clients, and if the program was a good fit for them, she would make the necessary arrangements at the bank. She liked to visit clients in their homes and take them shopping so as to better understand their spending habits. That enabled her to match each client with the right volunteer. Anne oversaw a few clients herself, even helping them move when they needed safer and more affordable housing. She was a dedicated advocate with a deep concern for the welfare of other people.

Anne quickly proved herself invaluable to us, and Sr. Mary Elizabeth invited her to join the Advisory Committee for the Joseph House Workshop. Anne brought her enthusiasm and efficiency to the huge task that lay ahead. The Workshop was initially just a dream, but over the course of several years Anne was instrumental in making it a reality. Her project management skills were a tremendous blessing. In addition, she brought a willing spirit, a kind heart, and a joyful sense of humor, and this made everything easier for all of us.

Anne became Co-Director of the Workshop (along with Dave MacLeod) during the time of the second pilot program. She recruited teachers and volunteers, and to prepare for the final version of the program she helped Sr. Mary Elizabeth establish the Advisory Board, on which she later served. Anne also found a seat on the Board for the Little Sisters—her wisdom was always in demand!

Anne and Dave MacLeod in front of the Joseph House Workshop (before the renovations).
Anne at the graduation ceremony for the second pilot program with other members of the Workshop team.

Anne made countless donations to the Joseph House in many ways, never holding back in giving her time, talent, and resources. She was loving and friendly to all, enjoyed music, and sang in the church choir. Ever so humble, Anne loved a good laugh and spread her cheerfulness wherever she went. She also had a precious cat, Sophie, and they were totally suited for each other.

Anne was so dear and loved by everyone, especially Sr. Mary Elizabeth and the Little Sisters, plus all who knew her at the Joseph House. In her later years at an assisted living facility, Anne was appointed the Goodwill Ambassador to greet the new residents. Her smile and friendly nature made everyone feel welcome. We’re not alone in missing her, but our loss is Heaven’s gain. May she rest forever in the embrace of God’s love.

Anne with a few other very special people at a birthday party for Sr. Mary Elizabeth. So many memories…

We wish we could offer a fitting tribute to all of our volunteers. Each one makes a difference, each one enacts the mission of the Joseph House to “Cry the Gospel with your life!” We lift them all up to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving.

Newsletter: April 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The extreme cold experienced in Texas and other parts of the south left millions of people shivering in the dark after the power grid failed. No lights, no heat, no water for days on end. Some people died. The deep freeze was a stark reminder of how easily life can be disrupted, how vulnerable we are, how quickly anyone can be in need of basic necessities.

As if anyone needed another reminder after a year of pandemic-living.

It can be sobering to realize that our infrastructure is not as rock-solid as we’d like to think it is. We’re used to not even thinking about it all, always assuming it will be there to take care of us. When brought face-to-face with its limitations and outright failure, some people feel helpless while others adopt a survivalist, go-it-alone mentality. But a closer look at recent events shows us where our strength and our hope can be found, and that is in the countless displays of neighbor helping neighbor, of people stepping up and reaching out, of doing what they can to help other people in need. Some may choose barricades and stockpiles, but solidarity is the real key to survival.

Our brothers and sisters in faith, that first generation of post-Resurrection believers (who knew a thing or two about living in hard times), offer us more inspiration:

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common…There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. (Acts 4:32,34-35)

Their faith was more than just words—it changed how they lived.

During these days of Easter and early spring, when life is full of promise, let us not forget that the poor always face the dangers of want and deprivation. Even when the weather is good there are mothers with hungry children, disabled people living in darkened homes, and families out in the cold. No one should have to face his or her trials alone. Your support of the Joseph House helps to strengthen the bonds of community, and through these bonds we find solutions to our problems.

Heather, 39, is starting life over after four years of an abusive marriage. She left with her young daughter, and with no money and nowhere to go, Heather’s car became their home. We paid $350 to a landlord so this mother and child could move into an apartment. Heather is looking for work. Having a place to sleep and to get ready for the day will help.

Roberto is healing from the amputation of three of his toes. He receives only $264 per month in temporary state assistance. He was homeless, and his social worker was trying to find him an affordable place to live. She called us to see if we could place him in a motel for a few days. We paid $204 for five nights.

Abigail, 62, was also homeless and sleeping behind a laundromat. She had been staying with a family member, but then something happened and Abigail had to leave. She didn’t want to talk about it. We paid for a motel, and after Abigail got settled and took a hot shower (which made her very happy), we dropped off groceries and a take-out meal from a restaurant.

Her initial three-night stay at the motel eventually became almost two weeks, but Abigail was busy the whole time trying to find an affordable rental or a shelter opening. She was also waiting for her SSI check. More groceries were delivered and then Abigail finally found a bed in a shelter. The motel bill we paid was $380.

Steven, 71, worked as a forklift operator for 25 years, but then he got laid off. He cannot find another job at his age. The opportunity came to move into an apartment where the rent is income-based. This would help Steven from becoming homeless. He could not move in, however, until he got the utilities turned on, and for that he needed to pay an old gas bill. We contributed $300.

Tricia, 29, was working at a chicken plant until she became sick with COVID-19. She subsequently developed a severe case of vertigo. Tricia has been falling behind in her rent, and although she cannot be evicted because it’s pandemic-related, she will need to make up the missed payments. We contributed $350 toward the back rent.

Dominique, 27, and her daughter had no heat in their home, a trailer that has seen better days. With a job at a convenience store, Dominique is a frontline worker during the pandemic, but yet she could not afford to buy kerosene for her trailer’s furnace. We paid $313 to get the tank filled.

Solidarity puts compassion into action—the true test of our beliefs.

Our founder said only caring communities can really help people in the long run. And communities, of course, are made up of individuals, each one priceless and unique and with a gift to share. Thank you for being a member of our community of donors and prayerful supporters. We treasure each and every one of you, and wish you have a happy and blessed Easter season.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

To help us with our work, click here: Donate.
To send us your prayer requests, click here: Contact Form.

Newsletter: March 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A year ago the pandemic really began to tighten its grip on all of us. Quarantines, lockdowns, and face masks became part of life. There was a long road ahead, but thanks be to God we have made it to this point. Every day has been a surrender to the mercy of God, which is without end. A few of us Little Sisters have been able to get vaccinated. We hope and pray that you are able to do what you need to do to stay healthy. Only together can we bring the spread of this virus under control.

This is true across the board: only together can we do anything about any of the problems facing our world. Our troubled times call into focus the words of Christ in the Gospel of John: “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” As Dorothy Day remarked, this is a commandment, not a counsel.

From your own life experience, you know that love is not always a feeling of liking someone. Love is more about our behavior and how we treat others. For inspiration, we can turn to the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. It’s a shot in the arm we all need—and no appointments are required. “Love is patient, love is kind…it is not rude.” A meditative reading of the whole chapter is recommended (it’s not very long). There is no greater way to make a positive contribution to the world than deciding to be a loving person.

Dorothy has more wisdom for us. She wrote about the necessity of “getting on with the business of living,” despite the catastrophes that befall us. The wounded need to be cared for and the hungry need to be fed. “It is walking in the steps of Jesus when He fed the multitude on the hills, and when He prepared the fire and the fish on the shore. He told us to do it. He did it Himself.”

We carry on this sacred work at the Joseph House. It is ground-level work. These difficult times have thrown a harsh light on the inequalities in society. It’s evident that not everyone has access to the same resources and support systems. Your contribution to our mission helps to feed and shelter families in need. Our mission is simply about loving our neighbor—a love based on our common humanity as individuals created in the image of God.

Lance, age 60, was in a very bad situation. He lives alone in a one-room apartment, sharing a kitchen and bathroom with other tenants (the kitchen, always a mess, has a broken stove). With no furniture in his room, Lance was sleeping on the floor at night. A few weeks ago, he fell off a ladder and injured his back. He is still in a lot of pain, but unfortunately his medication was stolen while he was washing up in the bathroom.

Lance came to the Joseph House Crisis Center the day before he was scheduled to be evicted. Our Director became very concerned about Lance’s welfare and made a home visit. Sleeping on a cold, hard floor is no good for anyone, especially someone with a back injury. An air mattress was purchased immediately to give Lance a comfortable place to rest. Our Director also bought two living room chairs at the Habitat ReStore and arranged to have them delivered.

We then paid the rent due ($255) and supplied Lance with bags of groceries. He had eaten nothing in the past three days except a bag of potato chips. Lance needs to find a better place to live, and we are assisting him with that, too. Although he is unable to work, he will receive an SSI check. Lance has an autistic son who likes to visit him. They value their time together, and hopefully in the future Lance will welcome his son in a home that is decent and safe.

Shellie, 56, was also stuck in a deplorable living situation, but then her name reached the top of the list for subsidized housing. It meant the chance to move into a relatively new apartment. Shellie was excited, but a deposit was required, and her job in food service did not pay enough to cover the cost. Since the wait for subsidized housing is measured in years, we contributed $300 so Shellie would not miss this opportunity. She will finally be able to live in a place that isn’t freezing during the winter.

Vernon, 66, was working until he caught COVID-19. He spent two months in the hospital. The recovery has been long, but he’s gradually getting stronger. Right now he is worried about his bills because he hasn’t been able to find a new job. We paid $350 toward his water bill so his service would not be disconnected.

Maria, 27, was working full-time as a nursing assistant until she was diagnosed with cancer. The chemotherapy is taking its toll on her energy level. She can only work about half of her usual hours. Maria lives with her son and needed help paying her rent. We sent $400 to her landlord. Despite all of her trials, Maria is maintaining a positive attitude. She told us she will keep moving forward.

Aretha, 25, was working two jobs to support herself and her young son (the father is incarcerated). After she lost one of her jobs because of the pandemic, she could no longer afford child care for her son, and that meant she wouldn’t be able to work at her second job. Aretha is looking for other child care options, but in the meantime she fell behind in her rent. We paid $300 to stop the eviction.

Trudie, 38, has two children and works for minimum wage at a fast-food restaurant. Her hours have been up and down during the pandemic. We helped with $200 toward her past-due gas bill.

Thank you for enabling us to help these people and many others. Never forget that even the smallest acts of love create a ripple effect, spreading their impact outward. . .

You can find out how to support our work here: Donate

Amanda Gorman was captivating as she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the Inauguration in January. There is one line we’d like to share: “Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.” That is such a helpful perspective to have—not only for our country, but for other people and ourselves. Unfinished, not broken. There are possibilities for everyone.

The cold days of winter are coming to an end, and that fills us with HOPE. With grateful hearts, we remember you faithfully in our prayers.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph.

Pope Francis has declared 2021 to be the “Year of St. Joseph.” Please read this blog post to learn more about it and for selections from Patris Corde, a personal meditation on St. Joseph by the Pope: The Year of St. Joseph.


Please use our Contact Form to send us your prayer requests. We are happy to lift up your needs to the Lord.

A Pandemic Necessity at the Crisis Center

The Joseph House Crisis Center has remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing food and financial assistance to people in need. As a safety precaution, each person has to wait outside until his or her name is called. We do this so everyone can maintain social distancing inside the building.

Those who have cars wait inside their vehicles. A number of people, however, have no choice but to walk to the Crisis Center. They wait outside on the benches along the walkway, staying six feet apart. This waiting area is covered by a roof, but it was very much exposed to the elements on one side. People waiting were getting wet and cold on days of miserable, windy, rainy and snowy weather. We hated to see them trying to stay warm and dry.

Sam Jones, a Knight of Columbus and longtime volunteer, saw the problem and responded without delay. He and two brother Knights installed large, heavy-duty tarps below the roof line to act as a wind barrier. It has made a big difference in protecting people from the weather.

The Hospitality Room at the Crisis Center has also remained open during the pandemic. It is a day shelter for men and women who are homeless, offering food, showers, and laundry services. Since there are strict limits on how many people can be inside at one time, visitors to the Hospitality Room also appreciate this modification to our outside waiting area.

We highlight this project to show how a simple idea and a little effort can have a positive impact on many people.

To Sam and his fellow workers, we extend a heartfelt “Thank You!”

Each day we are getting closer to the time when pandemic precautions are no longer necessary. The effort of every single person to stay healthy and to slow the spread of the virus brings all of us closer to that time.

May God bless you as you do your part!

Men with Hope and Purpose

The Joseph House Workshop is a long-term residential program for men who were homeless. It help them advance toward gainful employment and healthy new lives. Here is an interview with Nick, Assistant Director, who is also a Workshop graduate:

How many men are in the program? We have 4 men here now; one is in the employment phase and three have just started taking classes.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the program? The only changes here at the Workshop because of COVID-19 are that we do temperature checks and the residents do not go to outside meetings as they would have before the pandemic.

What part of the program are the men especially grateful for? The men are especially grateful for the chance to receive the tools to see things in a different way. They appreciate the kindness and love that they receive from the Workshop and all associated with Joseph House. They love the opportunity to “give back” to the community by way of community service over at the Crisis Center and helping the Sisters at the convent.

What are some of their goals? Their goals are gaining the ability to be self-sufficient, to stay off drugs and alcohol, rebuilding family relationships, obtaining a job and learning how to keep it, learning about building credit, getting a car and house. The resident in the employment phase is reaching every goal he has set here, he even says that he surprises himself on how much he has turned his life around with the help of Joseph House Workshop—he has held a job, started college, and is doing great in rebuilding his relationship with his wife and kids. Those who are starting classes are setting short-term goals to work on.

How are their lives different today compared to how they were before entering the Workshop? The biggest difference is that they have HOPE now, they have a PURPOSE.

Do you hear from former residents and graduates? Yes, we like to stay in touch. We believe everyone benefits from the program in different ways. They hold jobs and some have even started their own business. It’s heartening to see people rebuild their lives. The Workshop is a turning point for them.


The Joseph House Workshop was the final program that came into being through the vision and leadership of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling.

To celebrate the Workshop’s 15th Anniversary in 2020, three of the current residents wrote letters of appreciation addressed to Sister. Although they never met her, the men nonetheless are reaping the benefits of her lifetime of service:

“Dear Sr. Mary Elizabeth, My name is Andrew, a resident at the Joseph House Workshop. I am very grateful for all that you have done. The program has given me my life back. I owe everything to this program, from my relationship with Christ, family, and learning what it means to love and serve others. Thank you with all my heart.”

“Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, I first want to thank God for your love of wanting to help those who are less fortunate than others. What a blessing you are. I thank you for the Joseph House—it was not only a blessing for me, it saved my life in so many ways. Words cannot express my thank you. But now I know you are in God’s loving arms, grace, and hope for all you did while here. Thank you. – Thomas”

“The Joseph House Workshop has been one of the best decisions I have made in my whole 55 years in life. It was an experience that I grew closer to God like I have never been before. A group of guys trying to do the right thing and also accepting God in our lives. It has not been easy or hard, just trying to follow God’s will. Thank you Sis Mary Elizabeth for a place that made me a man fit for society. Love you for giving me a chance. Amen. – Maurice”

Sr. Mary Elizabeth and contractor Ron Alessi with plans for the Workshop, ca. 2004.

Read more about the program here: Joseph House Workshop

Be sure to read other posts about the Workshop:
A New Look at the Workshop
Building Success, One Little Piece at a Time
Look Up For A Sign
Newsletter: June 2018

Music Recommendation: Light for the World

Music is a shortcut to the soul—and a new album from one of the oldest communities of religious women offers a reminder of that.

The Poor Clares are contemplative nuns who belong to the Franciscan family. Their founder was St. Clare of Assisi, who lived from 1194 to 1253.

A group of these nuns in England, the Poor Clares of Arundel, have recorded an album of heavenly music entitled Light for the World.

Light for the World combines Gregorian chant with subtle and relaxing music. The production strikes a balance between old and new, which will help to introduce the chants to modern listeners. Playing the album will create an oasis of peace and calm in your day. It will reacquaint you with the healing power of beautiful sounds and uplifting words.

The album features traditional hymns such as “Ubi Caritas” and “Veni Creator Spiritus.” Of special interest are new songs based on the writings of St. Clare and St. Francis, which have been set to music by composers James Morgan and Juliette Pochin.

Released by Decca Records in October of 2020, Light for the World is available from music retailers and online streaming services. It was a No. 1 best-seller in the Classical Music Charts. We highly recommend it.

Here is a trailer for the album from YouTube:

Here is the website for the Poor Clares of Arundel: https://www.poorclaresarundel.org


If you decide to purchase the album from Amazon, consider starting with our Amazon Smile link (http://smile.amazon.com/ch/52-0846802). That way, you will be supporting both the Poor Clares in Arundel and the Joseph House.

It’s also a good idea to support local businesses. Here is a site to help you find an independent record store: https://recordstoreday.com/Stores


The Poor Clares recording ancient music for modern times.

For many years (1977-2011), we operated Joseph House by the Sea, a book and gift store in Ocean City, Maryland. Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, believed it was important “to have a place in the marketplace where people can come to get spiritual direction and guidance in their reading.” In that spirit, we continue to offer recommendations for worthwhile items.

Newsletter: February 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

February 14 is of course Valentine’s Day, but the day has another special meaning for us in that it’s the birthday of the Joseph House Crisis Center.

It was on February 14, 1984, that the Crisis Center officially opened, the beginning of a new era for the Joseph House ministry. The building where it’s located also received a new lease on life. Back in the early 1980s, the structure (a small warehouse) was being used to store voting machines for Wicomico County. The county was renting the property from the Campbell Soup Company, which used to have a plant in Salisbury. Through the diligent efforts of the mayor’s office and community leaders, use of the building was given to the Joseph House.

Although the building was a tremendous gift, and we desperately needed the space, it was far from being ready for its new purpose. As noted in the February 1984 edition of this Newsletter, what was to be the future home of the Joseph House possessed only a leaky roof, cement floors, and cinder block walls. In other words, “It was a start from scratch project.” But thankfully, many people rose to the challenge of the renovation, a testimony to their concern for the less fortunate.

The project took about three months under the supervision of Jim Berrigan. Local businesses donated supplies and tennis promoter Bill Riordan covered the extra costs. According to our Newsletter, “Almost all of the ordinary construction work was done by jobless men who had come to us for help. How fitting that the haven for the poor should be built by the hands of the poor.”

Home renovation TV shows are common today, and we are used to seeing people walking through “oohing” and “aahing” at all the marvelous changes. Well, that gives you an idea of what Opening Day was like. Here’s more from our Newsletter archive:

“We had set February 14th as our opening day, and although it was not quite finished we opened at 9:30 A.M. There was a considerable group that attended, and each person who entered was pleasantly surprised at the space, convenience and warmth of our new quarters…We noted that the most surprised persons were the two gentlemen who secured the use of the building from Campbell Soup. They were flabbergasted at the change.”

The Crisis Center before the renovation.
Opening Day, February 14, 1984. Our founder remarked, “God has really worked a first-class miracle here.”

In the history of the Joseph House, building projects are a recurring theme. St. Joseph is our patron, after all. The transformations involving wood and brick are only part of the story, however. A change also occurs in the people who bring to life the Crisis Center and our other ministries. “I am not the same person I was,” they often say.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, was well aware of this. She once said:

“One of the great joys that I had is that many of the people who come here to volunteer…have changed their attitudes about the poor completely, and have become people who are seeking for justice and peace….Without any arguments, without trying to persuade people, they have simply seen by the way of life that they adopted, after they came to help, that the world wasn’t the way it was when they first came.”

These personal transformations are not surprising because every instance of loving and serving the poor is an encounter with Christ.

The Crisis Center is a symbol of hope in more ways than one. Its creation and birth is a story of how government, businesses, religious groups, and private citizens all worked together on behalf of those in need. Its mission continues through your support. Sr. Mary Elizabeth articulated this mission very simply: “We do anything that the poor need. We are free, that’s the beauty of our work. We are absolutely free to do anything that the poor person needs.”

Freedom has a purpose, to do what is right and good, and Sister wanted our freedom to be used to help stabilize family life. We do this by offering assistance to people facing crisis situations.

Cassandra and her family experienced a real nightmare. A fire destroyed their mobile home in the middle of the night (it was caused by a space heater). No one was injured, but all of their belongings became a burned and soggy mess. After being assisted by the Red Cross for two days, this family had nowhere to go. We paid for a week at a motel ($392), gave them groceries, a gasoline voucher, and a small sum of cash, and provided Christmas gifts for the four young children. Cassandra does condominium cleaning to earn a few hundred dollars per month. She used the week in the motel to find another place to rent.

Gabe, 37, got sick with COVID-19 and was not able to work for a while. His wife is pregnant and does not have a job. Gabe’s unemployment was delayed and he needed rental help to avoid being evicted. We sent $313 to his landlord.

Sofia and Ken have five children and are homeless. They have been living in motels for a few months. Sofia lost her job at a school because of the pandemic. Ken is also unemployed. With their money running out they needed help paying for a motel over Christmas. Sofia was scheduled to return to work in January. We paid the motel bill of $392.

Katrina, 29, a single mother of two, has also been living in a motel (for eight months). She works at a pizza place, earns about $300 per week, and almost all of it goes to the motel. We paid for one week to help her save for an apartment.

2020 CRISIS CENTER RECAP

Last year, more than ever, we had to abandon ourselves to the Providence of God. Like everyone else, we had to adapt quickly to changing circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crisis Center remained open and we implemented safety protocols, namely mask wearing and social distancing. Out of necessity, the Soup Kitchen was closed in March because it lacked the space to keep patrons safely apart (it won’t reopen until the virus is under control). Overall, less people visited us than in previous years, probably because they received a stimulus check and/or extended unemployment benefits. But these relief efforts only go so far—when people really need help, we are here for them.

The pandemic touched us directly in December when a staff member tested positive for the virus (which had been contracted elsewhere). Out of an abundance of caution we closed the Crisis Center for ten days, but no additional infections occurred. The staff member was hospitalized and has since recovered. We reopened the week before Christmas, with plenty of time for our Christmas gift distribution. Thank you for your support of the Crisis Center!

1,118 checks and payments were issued to assist with critical needs; 4,505 hot meals were served; 5,232 bags of groceries were given out; 308 households per month (on average) received food; 3,838 requests were made for services at our Hospitality Room for the Homeless (showers, laundry, clothing, food); 138 winter coats were given away; 415 children received Christmas gift bags.

LENT BEGINS FEBRUARY 17

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Many of us are spending more time alone than usual because of the pandemic. During this time of avoiding large gatherings, the words of Jesus from the Gospel remind us that God is always with us. If there are habits and activities that distract us too much in solitude, perhaps we can fast from them periodically and rest in the sanctity of our “inner room.”

The three pillars of Lent are prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. If you need special prayers for a particular need, please let us know. We will add our prayers to yours: Contact Form

The work of the Joseph House depends on private donations. Your support is gratefully received: Donate

As God changes us, we change the world in which we live. We get a little bit closer to a world of harmony and peace and of just being good neighbors to each other. Our dedication to the poor, the sick, marginalized, and vulnerable will always keep us on the right track. Let us continue to make this journey together, as faithful friends united in our care for all of God’s children.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Newsletter: January 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Here we are in the year 2021 in the 21st century. Opening up a new calendar is symbolic of a new beginning, which is something we all need right now. The year 2020 is certainly one for the history books. How many times did we hear the word “unprecedented?” How many times did we dread hearing the latest news of the day? The year has been up and down, tense and eventful, showing the best and the worst of who we are as a society. Charles Dickens could have been describing our present age in A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

And now here we are in 2021, and even though all of our problems don’t magically disappear, we can hope there is a little more light peeking above the horizon. By working at a place like the Joseph House, we see the quiet goodness that goes on that never makes the news. We’re reminded of the Jewish belief that the hidden righteousness of 36 people, known to God alone, keeps the world from falling apart. Based on the love and support we receive for our ministry, we’re pretty sure that number is much higher.

A new year dawns, and as we go forth in our lives it is essential that we see things as they really are—not as we would like them to be. This is the essence of prudence, the mother of all virtues; everything else depends on it. Pontius Pilate, looking straight at Jesus, asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). We can miss what’s right in front of us, too. Living in a digital world puts layers between us and reality. We end up letting others chose what we see, resulting in the ingrained blindness of modern life. But healing blindness is one of Christ’s specialties.

Let us ask that our eyes be opened, the eyes of our mind and the eyes of our heart. There are vital questions to ask as members of society that depend on clear-sightedness. Does a course of action benefit the poor, weak, and marginalized? Does it foster joy, peace, gentleness, patience, kindness and the other fruits of the Holy Spirit? The answers will show us which road to take.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth once said there is no make-believe in our life as Little Sisters. Working in the trenches at the Joseph House helps to ensure that. We are so grateful for your prayers and support! You are part of our mission to assist those who seek food, shelter, heat, and other necessities. Your goodness shines brightly as a beacon of hope.

Our numbers at the Joseph House Crisis Center have been increasing, and we are still short of many volunteers. This is God’s work, however, and God is well aware of our difficulties. It’s in His hands.

Even without a pandemic, the life of a person who is poor is often tumultuous. Katie, 36, worked at a chicken farm for 14 years. She stopped working after her knee surgery, which required a long and painful recovery. Katie spent her Unemployment getting her car repaired, but then it broke down again and is no longer drivable. She and her two children had to move into a homeless shelter. When their time was up, they moved into a motel. In a few days, when the money ran out, the next stop was going to be the streets. Although Katie found a job, her first paycheck was going to be too late to help.

Feeling desperate, she got a ride to our Crisis Center. Katie was on the verge of tears because she had no idea what to do and she was afraid that her children were going to suffer. After talking with her, we agreed to a plan: we would pay for five nights in the motel ($280), and then Katie could use her paycheck to move into an apartment. A relatively simple intervention, but a lifesaver for this family.

Elsie, 26, was also homeless. She was living in her car to escape a bad marriage. Elsie has lupus and heart problems, but manages to work part-time as a gas station cashier. She earns about $400 per month. The cheapest apartments around cost that much in monthly rent. We contacted a landlord and paid that amount so Elsie could move in immediately. She believes that with a stable place to rest she will be able to work more hours at her job.

Loretta is an 83-year-old widow. She lives alone in a house that she says should be condemned. A tree fell on it recently and now snakes have come inside. She is trying to get repairs done and did not have any money for her other bills. We paid her gas bill of $330.

Garrett, 72, lives with his wife who is 77. She is in frail health and depends on bottled oxygen. She is completely homebound because of the pandemic. With no car, Garrett walked to our Crisis Center. We’re not that far, but Garrett walks with difficulty and it took him an hour. He needed help paying his electric bill. We paid the full amount ($368) and called a cab to take him home.

Kristin, 26, was laid off at a chicken plant when hours were cut because of COVID-19. She is one of the many essential workers who labor to provide us with food, but there is not much of a safety net for them. We gave her groceries, gas for her car, and $300 for her rent as she looks for a new job.

Thank you for your support! We’ll have figures for 2020 (including holiday activities) next month.


The Joseph House depends on the support of individuals like you. Learn how to help: Donate.

We offer you in return our best efforts to help the needy and a daily remembrance in our prayers. Please let us know your prayer requests: Contact Form.


Hopefully, we will enter a post-pandemic world this year. It won’t happen all at once, but it will represent a new beginning. What can we do to make this world less divided and more just and peaceful? Last October, Pope Francis released On Fraternity And Social Friendship, an encyclical that addresses these concerns. His vision is centered on the “acknowledgement of the worth of every human person, always and everywhere.” At the conclusion of the document he points to a particular role model for our troubled times: Charles de Foucauld. This made us very happy. Of our spiritual father, Pope Francis writes:

“Blessed Charles directed his ideal of total surrender to God towards an identification with the poor, abandoned in the depths of the African desert. In that setting, he expressed his desire to feel himself a brother to every human being, and asked a friend to ‘pray to God that I truly be the brother of all.’ He wanted to be, in the end, ‘the universal brother.’ Yet only by identifying with the least did he come at last to be the brother of all. May God inspire that dream in each one of us. Amen.”

May God inspire us indeed. A recurring message from the Pope is that “no one can face life in isolation.” Let us not be afraid to reach out as a sister or brother to other people, especially those who feel abandoned. Many people have been feeling lonely because of the pandemic. If sorrow has touched your heart, we pray that better days may come again. They always will.

Our prayer list is long. We pray for those who have died, for those who are suffering in any way, and for those working on a vaccine. This has been a time of sacrifice, but these sacrifices are helping to save lives. With God’s help, our united strength as one human family will prevail over any adversity. There is always cause to hope for a Happy New Year. We wish you one filled with many blessings.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


A PRAYER FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS

Dear God, we lift up our elected officials.

During this time of difficult and serious decision making, we pray that you put a spirit of civility and reconciliation into the hearts of those called to lead our country.

Give them discernment, humility, empathy, and a willingness to put the common good above politics.

Amen.

(Sojourners)

The Year of St. Joseph

Years ago, in December of 1964, our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth was at a turning point in her life. Unsure of her next move, she decided to make a pilgrimage to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, the largest shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph. She went there to have a heart-to-heart talk with the shrine’s namesake. Sr. Mary Elizabeth believed she had a calling from God, “a call within a call,” to begin a new mission of service to the poor. The problem was, she was alone and had absolutely nothing. How could she do what was being asked of her? She needed help.

So she went to St. Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, the one chosen by God to love and care for Jesus and His mother Mary, the one who protected them from danger, established a home for them and provided for their needs. She entrusted to St. Joseph all of her hopes and dreams, the desires of her heart that we’re waiting to be fulfilled. After spending long hours in prayer, she left the shrine and returned to Baltimore. She had a few ideas about the next steps to take, and confidence that she wasn’t really alone. Within a year she started the Joseph House ministry.

Now in December of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic that has caused suffering across the globe, Pope Francis is asking all the faithful to “Go to Joseph” (Gen 41:55). To highlight the unique importance of this saint, the Pope recently announced a “Year of St. Joseph,” extending from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021.

The purpose of this year is to encourage the faithful to learn from and follow the example of this beloved saint. In so doing, according to the official decree, people may find “with the help of St. Joseph, head of the heavenly Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations which today afflict the contemporary world.”

To coincide with this “Year of St. Joseph,” Pope Francis has written an Apostolic Letter entitled Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), which refers to “how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as ‘the son of Joseph.’”

The Letter presents a personal and prayerful look at the life and actions of St. Joseph in the Gospels. Special emphasis is given to Joseph’s role as a father, with Pope Francis describing him as a beloved, tender and loving, obedient, accepting, creatively courageous, and working father, as well as a father in the shadows.

The entire Letter is worth reading. Here is the link for the online text of Patris Corde:
http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20201208_patris-corde.html

Below are a few noteworthy passages:

“I would like to share some personal reflections on this extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience. For, as Jesus says, ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Mt 12:34). My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone.’”

“How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.”

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”

A painting of St. Joseph at the Joseph House Crisis Center.

“Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, his history and his plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture.”

“Nor should we ever think that believing means finding facile and comforting solutions. The faith Christ taught us is what we see in Saint Joseph. He did not look for shortcuts, but confronted reality with open eyes and accepted personal responsibility for it.”

“Just as God told Joseph: ‘Son of David, do not be afraid!’ (Mt 1:20), so he seems to tell us: ‘Do not be afraid!’ We need to set aside all anger and disappointment, and to embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish. Not with mere resignation but with hope and courage. In this way, we become open to a deeper meaning. Our lives can be miraculously reborn if we find the courage to live them in accordance with the Gospel. It does not matter if everything seems to have gone wrong or some things can no longer be fixed. God can make flowers spring up from stony ground. Even if our heart condemns us, ‘God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything’ (1 Jn 3:20).”

“Working persons, whatever their job may be, are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us. The crisis of our time, which is economic, social, cultural and spiritual, can serve as a summons for all of us to rediscover the value, the importance and necessity of work for bringing about a new ‘normal’ from which no one is excluded.”

“Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person.”

“Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”

“The aim of this Apostolic Letter is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal. Indeed, the proper mission of the saints is not only to obtain miracles and graces, but to intercede for us before God, like Abraham and Moses, and like Jesus, the ‘one mediator’ (1 Tim 2:5), who is our ‘advocate’ with the Father (1 Jn 2:1) and who ‘always lives to make intercession for [us]’ (Heb 7:25; cf. Rom 8:34). The saints help all the faithful ‘to strive for the holiness and the perfection of their particular state of life.’ Their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.”


The journey that Sr. Mary Elizabeth made in 1964 was an expression of her determination and faith. The shrine sits high above Montreal and one must climb many steps to reach it. But as it is in life, each step brought her closer to the goal.

It has been a hard year for everyone, and many people are feeling worn out and exhausted. The steps seem never-ending. Even if we feel like there is no one beside us, we can always reach out to St. Joseph. He will help us obtain the graces we need.

Our ministry is named after St. Joseph. We depend on his help all the time. The “Year of St. Joseph” is a blessing for the world, and we encourage everyone to spend some time getting acquainted with this trustworthy saint.

P.S. St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is beautiful. Here is the link for the website to make a virtual visit: https://www.saint-joseph.org/en/

Newsletter: December 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

One of our customs during Advent is to set up a Jesse Tree in our dining room. The Jesse Tree is sort of a cross between a Christmas Tree and an Advent Calendar. It depicts the family tree of Christ and the events of salvation history; the name comes from Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” In years past, our dear Sr. Joan would be the one to put a new ornament on the tree each day before dinner. This year someone else will do it because Sr. Joan is no longer with us, having gone to her eternal reward last March. Her absence is just one reminder of how much has changed this year.

Our Jesse Tree.

In her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day recalled an event that “threw us out of our complacent happiness into a world of catastrophe.” It was the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Dorothy was a child at the time living with her family in Oakland. The two minutes and twenty seconds of the earthquake terrified her. Her family’s bungalow rocked like a boat on the ocean, but they all managed to escape.

In the days that followed, something equally unforgettable happened. Refugees poured in from across the bay and began to set up camps in a nearby park. The home of Dorothy’s family was in shambles, and so were the homes of her neighbors. Yet Dorothy observed how they all “joined my mother in serving the homeless. Every stitch of available clothing was given away.”

This experience of the “joy of doing good” stayed with Dorothy. It gave her a glimpse of what truly satisfies the human heart. As she entered adulthood, it set a goal for what she wanted:

“I wanted life and I wanted the abundant life. I wanted it for others too. I did not want just the few, the missionary-minded people like the Salvation Army, to be kind to the poor…I wanted everyone to be kind. I wanted every home to be open to the lame, the halt and the blind, the way it had been after the San Francisco earthquake. Only then did people really live, really love their brothers. In such love was the abundant life.”

Today, it feels like we’re in a slow-motion earthquake as the world in which we live continues to be disrupted and cracked wide open. In the midst of the turmoil there is only one response that gives hope and healing to those who are hurting. It’s the same response Dorothy saw in 1906: to love your neighbor as yourself, even if it involves personal sacrifice.

Thank you for all that you do to support the Joseph House. Every donation and prayer is a reflection of the “abundant life” we all desire so much. No one has been unaffected by the events of this year. To be able to see beyond your own needs, to show concern for the welfare of others, is such a tremendous grace. Let us praise God for this gift!

We gave out turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas toys are next. You can drop off donations at our convent. For more information, please call us at 410-742-9590 or visit our website: Holiday Giving.

Our Financial Assistance program is year-round. We’ve seen a number of people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Lucas and Valerie, in their early forties, were living on a chicken farm, which closed down due to COVID-19. The couple were forced to leave and became homeless. With no car, they walked everywhere. Valerie needs to use a cane because of her weight and health problems. She and Lucas came to the Joseph House asking for shelter and food. We gave them bags of groceries and paid for a motel stay ($265). A forthcoming SSI check will be used to get an apartment.

Arlene, 53, lost her job when she fled the violence of her abusive husband and ended up living in her car. She went through a really bad time. Now she has found a job and is trying to save money to move into an apartment. We paid $300 toward the cost to make it happen. Arlene felt renewed when she left the Crisis Center and very happy.

Richie, 27, is a recovering drug addict. He has been sober for three months and has started working as a cashier at a fast-food place. He needed $150 in rent money to stay at a halfway house. We paid the amount so Richie can live in a safe and supportive environment. In talking about life and the possibilities of his future, Richie said he never graduated from high school and would like to get his GED. A laptop would help. We are looking into getting him one.


JOSEPH HOUSE WORKSHOP NEWS
The Workshop is a long-term residential program for men who were homeless. Here is an interview with Nick, Assistant Director, who is also a Workshop graduate:

How many men are in the program? We have 4 men here now; one is in the employment phase and three have just started taking classes.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the program? The only changes here at the Workshop because of COVID-19 are that we do temperature checks and the residents do not go to outside meetings as they would have before the pandemic.

What part of the program are the men especially grateful for? The men are especially grateful for the chance to receive the tools to see things in a different way. They appreciate the kindness and love that they receive from the Workshop and all associated with Joseph House. They love the opportunity to “give back” to the community by way of community service over at the Crisis Center and helping the Sisters at the convent.

What are some of their goals? Their goals are gaining the ability to be self-sufficient, to stay off drugs and alcohol, rebuilding family relationships, obtaining a job and learning how to keep it, learning about building credit, getting a car and house. The resident in the employment phase is reaching every goal he has set here, he even says that he surprises himself on how much he has turned his life around with the help of Joseph House Workshop—he has held a job, started college, and is doing great in rebuilding his relationship with his wife and kids. Those who are starting classes are setting short-term goals to work on.

How are their lives different today compared to how they were before entering the Workshop? The biggest difference is that they have HOPE now, they have a PURPOSE.

Do you hear from former residents and graduates? Yes, we like to stay in touch. We believe everyone benefits from the program in different ways. They hold jobs and some have even started their own business. It’s heartening to see people rebuild their lives. The Workshop is a turning point for them.

Learn more about the Joseph House Workshop.


We pray that the light of Christ may lead us to a place of hope and peace at Christmastime. Please send us you prayer requests and we will pray for you during this holy season: Contact Form.

Our ministry depends on free-will offerings. We can assist the homeless, the hungry, and families in distress because of the support of caring individuals. If you would like to help, please visit our donation page: Donate.

You are always close to us in prayer. In quiet moments we like to gather all the memories of this year, the people and places, our worries and hopes, our trials and joys, and place them into the hands of God. We’re on a real journey, and in reaching for the light, for what is good and true, there is hope. We pray for you and your loved ones, that you may enjoy a happy celebration of Christmas and the many blessings of the yuletide season. May God’s providence guide and protect us all in the New Year.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Christmas Traditions
by Archbishop José H. Gomez

Christmas tells us that the things of this world are “sacraments,” signs that point us to our Creator. If we have the right attitude toward material things, they can be instruments that open our hearts and lead us into his presence…

My prayer is that we will also rediscover the profound biblical spirit that lies behind all of our “material” Christmas traditions.

We decorate trees because Scripture tells us that when the Lord comes, every tree will sing for joy (Ps 96:12). We carol and sing hymns because when the Lord comes all the earth will sing a new song (Is 42:10) and angels in heaven will praise him (Lk 2:13).

Christmas lights remind us that he is the morning star (Rv 22:16), the great light given to those walking in darkness (Is 9:1), to lead us on the journey of life (Mt 2:9). Even the tradition of holiday baking can be traced to our Lord’s invitation to taste and see that his promises are sweeter than any honey (Ps 34:9; Ps 119:103).

We give gifts to our loved ones at Christmas because in his tender love God has given us the precious gift of himself (Rm 6:23).