One of the most familiar passages in Scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan. Even people who say they don’t know much about the Bible know how the story goes: a man was attacked by robbers and left beaten and bloodied by the side of the road. Two others came along, a priest and a Levite, and left without stopping to help.
Then a Samaritan arrived and gave assistance that went above and beyond the call of duty. He dressed the injured man’s wounds, took him to an inn, and gave the innkeeper money to provide for him until he recovered (see Luke 10: 29-37).
We might wonder how the first two men could just leave the beaten man alone in his suffering. Maybe his presence alerted them to the fact that it was a dangerous road. If they stopped to help, they might get assaulted, too. Maybe they were on their way to an important engagement and didn’t want to be late. Helping at the moment was not convenient. Or maybe if they helped him today he might ask for something else tomorrow. They knew they could only do so much. The priest and Levite probably felt justified in not getting involved.
These excuses sound familiar. What made the Samaritan act so differently? A fundamental change in attitude. Whereas the first two men thought, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” the Samaritan thought, “If I don’t stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
The Samaritan had made a change on the inside. He walked the same road as the other two, but through his conversion of heart he overcame fear and united the injured man’s pain with God’s healing.
For most of us, putting others first and ourselves last is an uphill climb. Old habits and self-centeredness keep pulling us in the opposite direction. But the grace of God is stronger and will help us triumph in the end.
If the Good Samaritan’s care of the injured man seems extravagant, even more so is God’s care for us. We won’t fully realize how many good things He sent our way until this life is over. One of His best gifts is the desire to love and serve the poor. What could be better than to have a heart that is like God’s own?
The season of Lent is upon us. Let us keep in mind the type of fasting that the Lord finds acceptable: to release those held captive by injustice, to break the yoke of oppression, to share our bread with the hungry, our shelter with the homeless, and our clothing with the naked (Isaiah 58:6-7).
As we journey toward Easter, may our eyes be opened to see our neighbor in distress, and may we let go of whatever keeps us from loving others as a Good Samaritan.
We rarely get the chance to do great things for other people. Our days are filled, however, with moments to do little things. These are precious and not to be squandered—they are capable of doing so much good. Sometimes the moment occurs unexpectedly. The key is to be ready at all times. We must make it the intention of our hearts to be kind and considerate of others.
Brother Charles, the spiritual father of the Joseph House, built his life around this. He wrote:
Have the tender care that expresses itself in little things that are like a balm for the heart. With our neighbors, go into the smallest details, whether it is a question of health, of consolation, of prayerfulness, or of need. Console and ease the pain of others through the tiniest attention.
Be tender and attentive towards those whom God puts in your path, as a brother towards a brother, as a mother towards a child. As much as possible, be an element of consolation for those around us, as a soothing balm, as our Lord was to those who drew near Him.
Every great saint has seen the truth and beauty of living this way. Here are words from Mother Teresa, for example:
Thoughtfulness is the beginning of sanctity. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for He was always meek and He always thought of the needs of others. Our life to be beautiful must be full of the thought of others.
The thoughtfulness of Jesus and Mary and Joseph was so great that it made Nazareth the abode of the Most High God. If we also have that kind of thoughtfulness for each other, our homes would really become the abode of God Most High.
The little things we do for each other are so important. They make a big impact for their size. As Little Sisters, we remember this every day in our convent, our place of daily living, and also in our home away from home, the Joseph House. The sentiments expressed above speak to the essence of our ministry with the poor. What we do is nothing less than the careful, polite attention to the needs of others. And you—our friends, volunteers, and benefactors—participate in this, too. The Joseph House exists because of your thoughtful consideration of other people, especially those undergoing hardship.
Our founder wanted the Joseph House to reflect the warmth and love of the Holy Family in Nazareth. She wanted it to be a place where people receive help not just in the form of material goods and services, but in a lifting up of their spirits. The Joseph House is a place of encounter and personal contact, where people are welcomed and their dignity respected. The world is so harsh at times; people who are worried about going hungry or being evicted should be met with kindness.
Thank you for your support and for allowing us to channel your generosity. We added up the figures from 2018 and they show that the “wolf of want” is at the door of many people.
At the Joseph House Crisis Center, we issued 1,581 checks to help individuals and families pay for housing, utilities, health care, transportation, and other critical needs. Our Food Pantry gave out 12,514 bags of groceries; an average of 565 households, representing 1,275 people, received food each month. Our Soup Kitchen served 11,572 hot meals. Our Hospitality Room for homeless men and women responded 6,299 times to the needs of visitors. We provided showers, laundry, food, coats, blankets, and personal care products; on average we welcomed about 25 people per day, five days a week.
At Christmas, 793 children received a bag of gifts, which included a large toy, a smaller one, a book, a puzzle or activity book, assorted stocking stuffers, plus a hat, scarf, or mittens.
The Joseph House Workshop, next door to the Crisis Center, also had an eventful year. The Workshop is a long-term residential program for homeless men. It provides them with a supportive place to live where they engage in a process that (a) moves them from homelessness to stable living; (b) trains them to find and maintain employment; and (c) empowers them to reach their full potential.
There are currently four men in the program. One is getting ready to enter Phase 1 (classroom-based) and three are in Phase 2 (employment). All of the men came directly from drug and alcohol treatment centers or were referred to us from the Health Department.
In-house classes focus on relapse prevention as well as personal growth based on popular devotional books. To give the men a creative outlet we offer classes on various arts and crafts. Being well-rounded individuals is extremely important to living a healthy lifestyle. In addition to involvement in 12-Step activities, several of the men participate in Celebrate Recovery and weekly Sunday Services at SonRise Church. The residents are also active in community service on an “as needed” basis.
Of the men in the employment phase, one is working as a cook, another is a floor technician at the hospital with the third getting ready to work there, too. The Workshop helps the men every step of the way in finding a job and provides transportation to and from their job sites. A percentage of each resident’s paycheck goes into a savings account for when they leave the program—a great boost for the next stage of their lives.
Many of our graduates live in the area, supporting themselves and reconnecting with family members. Dramatic, life-changing transformations have occurred. A highlight of this past year was a visit from a graduate who is now in the armed forces. He wanted to spend time at the Workshop before his deployment to Hawaii. Meeting our graduates is the best way to inspire those in the program!
Numbers tell just part of the story. Behind every figure is the work of a volunteer and the generosity of a donor. We don’t have space to mention every individual, business, and organization that contributes, although we thank them personally. Also, “Your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:4). All of this generosity helps people in a deep and meaningful way. We are overjoyed and sometimes overwhelmed by it. Thank you.
There is never time to rest in serving the poor. One year ends, another begins, and “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). Next month we will continue with stories about the people we help. With our gratitude and never-ending prayers,
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
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Founder: Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling Year of Foundation: 1965 Mission Statement: To promote social justice and stable family life through direct assistance to the poor, whatever their needs may be. Administrators: The Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary Superior General: Sr. Marilyn Bouchard
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The Joseph House is a non-profit and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. All gifts are tax-deductible.
At Joseph House, we help the poor with their immediate needs and also look for ways to address the underlying problems. I am open to everything, whatever it takes to help people, especially to help them know their own value.
January is a hopeful time. We open a new calendar and all the empty spaces are there waiting to be filled in. The year is fresh and each day a new possibility. Maybe this is the year we will keep our resolutions.
January is also the middle of the cold and flu season, which can put a damper on our outlook. Coughs and sniffles are heard throughout our Crisis Center. Although it’s never fun for anyone to be sick, we must never forget that it is much worse for people who are homeless and/or living with very low incomes.
The link between poverty and illness is close and clear and they trade off between cause and effect: serious illness can lead to poverty, and poverty exacerbates existing health conditions.
For the homeless in particular, health issues are a major concern. The organization Health Care for the Homeless has compiled some devastating statistics. Men and women who are homeless are:
three to four times more likely to die prematurely
twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke
three times more likely to die of heart disease if they are between 25 and 44 years old
At least 25% of people experiencing homelessness have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. A majority of these individuals also have an addiction.
What is perhaps most shocking? The life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness is just 48 years.
Being homeless puts a person at high risk for just about all health problems. People who are homeless generally experience higher exposure to infection and violence. They have little control over nutrition and personal hygiene. Sleep deprivation can also be debilitating.
If a person is sick, being homeless makes him or her sicker.
Our experience working with the homeless in our Hospitality Room backs up these figures and conclusions. In fact, it’s rare that we meet someone who isn’t struggling with at least one health concern. You’d probably be surprised at the number of heart attack and stroke survivors who are living on the street. We are. They come to us for food, a hot shower, and clean clothes. They can count on us to be a friendly, welcoming place.
We also welcome men and women who did manual labor and now their bodies have given out: their backs, shoulders, and knees can no longer do the work needed to earn a paycheck. And then there are those who are subject to a special kind of misunderstanding and prejudice: the ones coping with mental illness. In our Hospitality Room, they are accepted, respected, and given a safe haven.
There is so much to do in caring for people. We are grateful for your support which enables us to be there for those who feel unloved and alone. For the homeless, as it is for everyone, the future is a great unknown. But we do know God is already there, and that is sufficient for today.
The National Health Care for the Homeless Council makes an excellent point that bears repeating: Housing is health care. It is simple and obvious and so it gets overlooked. Having a place to live is at the foundation of living a healthy life. That is why our Financial Assistance program at the Crisis Center does a lot to help individuals and families obtain housing and hold onto it.
Joanna, for example, was in desperate need of rental assistance. She is 60 years old, lives alone, and is disabled. She had surgery almost a year ago and then was in a nursing home for eight months. Joanna is still confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t know if this is permanent. The rent takes a big chunk of her monthly disability income of $675. She is allotted only $45 per month in Food Stamps, so she must spend money from her check for groceries. She also has a phone bill and needs to use a taxi sometimes. Money gets tight really fast.
Joanna was going to be evicted because of past-due rent payments totaling $400. She had $150 to her name. Fortunately, the Joseph House was able to pay the remaining balance of $250 to the landlord.
Tamar, also age 60, fell on hard times after her husband died. She had to give up the trailer that was their home. Homeless, she didn’t know where to go or what to do. She started living in motels, but that was costly and her money was running out.
Recently, Tamar was hospitalized for a brief period. A social worker on staff learned about Tamar’s lack of housing and helped her find a place to live. After being discharged, Tamar came to the Joseph House and we agreed to pay $100 toward the apartment’s security deposit. Since it wasn’t going to be ready for a few days, we also paid $156 so Tamar could spend two nights in a motel.
Remember: Housing is health care, and the discussion of health care in this country needs to contend with the growing shortage of affordable housing.
Thank you for your commitment to the Joseph House. Your loyal support means less suffering for the vulnerable members of our community. We are grateful, and so are they.
A New Year lies ahead: let’s resolve to be people of peace, mercy, and gratitude. Let’s make our world shine a little brighter with love and bless each day with acts of kindness. As the year unfolds please know that you are always in our prayers.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
We depend on your support to fund our outreach to the homeless and other people in need: Donate Online
We would like to pray for your special intentions: Contact Form
Are you looking for a New Year’s Resolution that will help a lot of people?
Tell someone about the Joseph House.
Tell a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor—anyone!—about your interest in what we do and why helping the less fortunate is so important to you.
Share with them a copy of our Newsletter. Refer them to our website. It’s easy to remember: thejosephhouse.org
That’s The Joseph House dot org.
Everything you need to know is there.
Are you on social media? Share a post with your friends and followers that shows your support of what we do.
If you would like extra printed copies of our Newsletter to share, please let us know. We also have brochures. We’ll be happy to send you what you need.
Helping to spread the word about the Joseph House is an extremely important contribution to make. It’s a great way to be part of our mission to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and those most in need.
As always, we are very grateful for everything you do to help us help others.
We depend on your donations, of course, but your prayers and encouragement really do mean a lot to us and lift our spirits when the days seem long and the work endless.
May God be with you and bless you and fill this year with many reminders that you are loved!
In 1944, a letter was printed in the Stars and Stripes newspaper that contained the following:
It is 0200 hours and I have been lying awake for an hour listening to the steady even breathing of the other three nurses in the tent, thinking about some of the things we had discussed during the day. The fire was burning low, and just a few live coals are on the bottom. With the slow feeding of wood and finally coal, a roaring fire is started. I couldn’t help thinking how similar to a human being a fire is. If it is not allowed to run down too low, and if there is a spark of life left in it, it can be nursed back. So can a human being. It is slow. It is gradual. It is done all the time in these field hospitals and other hospitals in the ETO [European Theater of Operations].
The letter writer was Lt. Frances Slanger, an Army nurse, whose family arrived in the United States as Jewish immigrants from Poland when she was a child. After becoming a nurse, Frances enlisted in the Army and landed in Normandy shortly after the D-Day invasion. She also has the distinction of being the first American nurse to die in Europe in World War II. In fact, she lost her life within hours of writing her letter, the victim of an artillery attack. Her selfless courage is truly an inspiration.
In her letter, Frances gets to the heart of the matter regarding what it means to help someone in need. When people are wounded, suffering, impaired, or beaten down, overnight miraculous recoveries are rare. As Frances understood, as she witnessed in field hospitals tending to injured G.I.’s, the spark of life can be nursed back, but it is slow and gradual.
We can talk about having hope, but when we are patient that is when we show we believe it. The men who enter the Joseph House Workshop depend on this type of steadfast dedication. Many have been homeless or incarcerated for years. They’ve been controlled, for as long as they can remember, by substance abuse and other health problems. They can’t turn their lives around with a quick fix. But from our vantage point as companions on their journey, we see how caring for someone with patience and sensitivity can do what seems impossible. In the end, the men who leave the Workshop are not the same as the ones who entered.
The Joseph House Workshop is a residential facility for homeless men that allows them to stay up to two years as they get the education, training, and health care they need to set off on their own. When a man enters the program, he is told that he is a blank slate—the past is in the past. He can drop the mask and be who he is, the unique and amazing person he was created to be.
Life skills are learned, but the changes go deeper than that: transformations take place, both inside and out. It’s not unusual for us to see the men getting haircuts or dressing differently, outward indicators of a new sense of pride. For one resident, the change could be seen in the brim of his baseball cap. Over time it slowly lifted from covering his eyes until his face was completely visible: he was unafraid to let his true self be seen.
The success of the Workshop is due to our staff members, Dr. Art Marsh, the Director, and Mr. Rudy Drummond, the Assistant Director.
Art and Rudy make a great team. They both have a deep understanding of the issues facing the men in the Workshop. Since the men live on the premises, attention is given toward creating a healthy, family-type environment that is conducive to personal growth. Sitting down each night at the dinner table, for example, is essential. Not surprisingly, the friendships and fraternal bonds that form drive a lot of the changes that occur. The men spur each other on.
Every three months, the staff meets with each resident to discuss his personal goals. Sometimes a resident will think he has everything squared away, but at the next meeting he’s aiming for new sights— he’s hungry for more as the light inside starts to spread.
It is so important not to give up on people! Life for everyone goes up and down, and we must walk together and find our strength in each other.
Out of necessity, we have less time to spend with the people who come to the Joseph House Crisis Center. There are too many with urgent needs. Our love and concern are not lessened, however.
Nora, 35, has two children. Her husband broke her jaw and is now in jail. Nora receives $450 per month in temporary welfare. It’s not nearly enough to pay all the bills. We sent $225 to her landlord to halt the eviction process.
Hayley has been homeless for four months. She was assaulted one night while sleeping under a bridge in a homeless camp. One of her eyes sustained a severe injury. Hayley has a long history of being abused. A social worker has started looking after her, which is a ray of hope. With arrangements for stable housing forthcoming, we provided Hayley with four nights in a motel ($237) plus plenty of food and other necessities.
Donald, 50, is on temporary disability ($536 per month). He is waiting to have two knee replacement surgeries. The gas has been turned off at his address since last spring. With cold weather approaching and no heat in his house, Donald turned to us for help. We paid the old bill of $135 so his gas account could be restored.
Every day at the Joseph House—because of you—we are reminded of the true spirit of Christmas. Your selfless giving, your willingness to sacrifice and share for the benefit of people you don’t know, with no thought of receiving anything in return, allows our ministry to continue. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
As the year draws to a close we think of our family and friends and all the special people in our lives. May God’s love and blessing be upon us all, and may our Savior bring the hope, healing, and peace we so ardently desire. From our little family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
We received this letter from a homeless man who visited the Crisis Center:
I would just like to take this time to express my thanks to you. You don’t know how grateful I am for what you’re willing to do for me.
There comes a time in a person’s life when they must get their priorities in order before it’s too late. Well, I’m at that road, I guess. It was intended for me to endure what I have so far.
With unrelenting faith in Father God through our Savior Jesus Christ I will be just fine.
I was blessed the first time I set foot in Joseph House. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.
God bless all the volunteers at Joseph House! God bless Joseph House and the Little Nuns!
We can assist people like this gentleman because of your support. Every donation makes a difference in someone’s life. You have our immense gratitude for enabling us to be there for people in need. Your prayers and encouragement keep our spirits lifted!
Christmas is a time of joy. It is also a time of mixed emotions for many people. What is in your heart? Send us a note and we will raise our voices in praying for your needs during this holy season: Contact Form
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What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?
Reflecting on this can help us see all the things we take for granted: a place to live, a warm bed, food, clothing, our health, family and friends… the list goes on and on. It’s easy to forget that often we have more than enough, and that there’s a difference between our wants and our needs. If we are lacking anything it’s a sense of contentment.
Before eating Thanksgiving dinner, millions of people across the country will bow their heads and do what our national holiday is named for: give thanks. Oh how our lives become enriched when we make this an everyday activity! Taking a moment to be thankful at every meal is one of the best ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”
The Jewish table blessings have always appealed to us in a certain way. They invoke God as the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, reminding us that the entire universe is needed for us to have even a slice of bread. The rays of light streaming from the sun, plus the water, minerals and elements of the earth, all come together to make the simplest morsel. No matter who we are, our existence depends on so many things that are just given to us. How can we not be thankful?
A humbling aspect of our work at the Joseph House is meeting people who will gladly take what would otherwise be thrown away. But people deserve more than scraps. Through God’s grace we are united with you in being drawn to those in need. God has opened our ears to the cries of the poor, and if we each do our part then others will have, at the very least, their basic needs met. No one will have to shiver in the cold, face an empty refrigerator, or endure the perils of being homeless.
Celeste, 33, knows how hard it is not to have a home, and unfortunately so do her four children. They became homeless after Celeste lost her job. For eight long months they did not have a fixed address. A friend took them in, but when the landlord found out he ordered them to leave. Celeste now has a new job and works 30 hours per week. The possibility of additional hours is in the near future. To help Celeste and her family get settled off the streets, the Joseph House contributed $225 toward the security deposit for an apartment.
Duane, 26, was also homeless. He was renting a room in a house that burned to the ground. He lost everything, and two weeks later he was laid off from his job because of a seasonal slowdown (he works in a shipyard). We paid $150 for another rental so Duane can get back on his feet.
Bryan is only 25, but his heart has already given out and he needed a transplant. He is a veteran and he thinks his service in Iraq has something to do with it. After being on disability Bryan recently returned to work. He is married and has three children. Bryan doesn’t earn much at his job, and paying the bills is a struggle. We paid $200 toward a delinquent electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.
Pat, 53, is disabled after multiple surgeries on his neck, shoulders, and back. He receives a monthly check for $576. His wife of 30 years has been treated for breast and colon cancer. The cancer has spread, but she still works full-time—she has no choice—and brings home about $1000 per month. Pat needed help paying an overdue electric bill. We contributed $200.
About a year ago, Jerome, 62, began a downward spiral because of breathing and lung problems. He was hospitalized several times and could no longer work. At first, his landlord overlooked the unpaid rent, but when the amount reached $5,000 he sent Jerome packing. With the last of his money Jerome moved into a motel room. He came to our Crisis Center when he had nothing left. We sent $300 to the motel to give Jerome the time he needs until he receives his first Social Security check. A destitute person in such poor health must not be homeless.
Your donations are a lifesaver!
Thank you for all the ways you show your support for us and the poor. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with abundant blessings throughout the year. You are always in our prayers.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
HOLIDAY HELP NEEDED
We need donations of food and toys, which can be delivered to our convent at 411 North Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury.
Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 18. Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 16. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns. Please call us at 410-742-9590 or send a message if you have any questions.
Since 1994, the Magi Choral Festival has delighted audiences in Salisbury each November with concerts that herald the holiday season. This year marks the 25th anniversary, although organizers have announced that the upcoming performances will be the last (November 17 and 18, 2018; visit www.magifund.com for tickets).
The concerts have been the primary fundraiser for the Magi Fund, an all-volunteer nonprofit dedicated solely to raising money for the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter. The Magi Fund was started by Bonnie Luna, a very dear friend of the Little Sisters. The inspiration came to her one Christmas Eve: “I realized the season was almost past and I never stopped to enjoy it. I cried out to the Lord and God spoke to my heart.”
It really was a miraculous inspiration. Plans for the first concert developed, and it was so successful it became an annual event. Over the years, the Magi Choral Festival has grown phenomenally, thanks to Bonnie’s tireless efforts and her ability to involve a breathtaking number of people.
The concerts feature literally hundreds of performers and require the help of countless volunteers. Corporate sponsors underwrite all expenses so the two designated charities receive every penny from ticket sales. The amount of money raised is always exceedingly generous.
A full year of planning and practice are needed to prepare for the concerts. It definitely shows: the quality of the music is outstanding and of the highest standard.
Words are inadequate to express our gratitude to Bonnie and her small army of goodwill ambassadors. Special thanks also go out to the music directors, the renowned National Christian Choir from Washington, D.C., the Magi Festival Orchestra, the Magi Festival Choir, the Magi Children’s Choir, Symphony 21, and all the local and church ensembles that have participated. They created something beautiful for God and the poor.
We don’t have space to list everyone, but we also wish to thank the Magi Fund Steering Committee, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, and of course all of the patrons who purchased tickets. Our heartfelt gratitude lies with each person, organization, and corporate sponsor that made a contribution in some way throughout the past 25 years.
When the curtain falls on the last concert it will be sad, although we agree it’s good to end on a high note, so to speak. The music will fade to a happy memory, but Bonnie has promised that the Magi Fund will continue to assist the Joseph House. She said before, “I don’t take credit for any of this. This is a testament to what can happen when a group or individual just gives selflessly of their time and talents.”
To that we say, “Amen.”
Magi Grand Finale Performances
November 17 at 7pm & November 18 at 2pm
Wicomico High School Auditorium www.magifund.com
Program from the first Magi Choral Festival in 1994:
A few newspaper photos about the Magi Choral Festival through the years:
You’ve heard the adage, “All the flowers of all of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”
This brings to mind the question: what seeds have I planted in the course of my day? Of my words and actions, what has taken root? Will something beautiful grow?
And who will do the harvesting? Have I tilled a field for my own benefit, or have I scattered widely for the sake of others? Some people walk through life like Johnny Appleseed, dropping little seeds of goodness—smiles and kind words and helpful acts—wherever they go. These can blossom in unexpected ways and make a big difference to people we don’t even know.
Our garden patch is what we make of it. If we’re not satisfied, we can always plant something new.
Pope Francis often speaks of the importance of starting a new process, those that result in people-building and not the possession of power: “What we need is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.” (The Joy of the Gospel)
In other words, do we want more love? Plant kindness. More unity? Cultivate understanding. More peace? Propagate justice. Start a new process.
One thing is clear from the lesson of the seed: our hope for a better tomorrow begins with what we do today.
At the Joseph House, your generosity and fidelity grow into marvelous things for the poor. We’re not just talking about the bills that get paid and the food that gets served, as vital as those things are. We mean the family life that gets supported and the human dignity that is affirmed and upheld. In the busy rooms of the Crisis Center, we see a preview of heaven where the less fortunate are honored guests. And you’re a part of all this.
Not that long ago Malia came to see us and she was feeling exhausted. She and her four children were living in a car. She said her children had to wash in a gas station bathroom before going to school. Malia and her family fled to our area from another state. They had to leave because Malia’s fiancé was physically abusive. She has a restraining order against him, but she was afraid he would ignore it and come after her.
Malia was down to her last $25 in cash when she arrived at our Crisis Center. She was able to transfer her subsidized housing voucher to Maryland, but there was going to be a wait until she and her kids could move into an apartment. We paid $500 so they could stay in a motel in the meantime. We also washed three bags of laundry and gave them plenty of food they could microwave in their motel room.
Beatrice and John were also living in a car, and their situation was becoming even more desperate. They were leasing the car and had missed two weekly payments. Beatrice said they had to keep the engine running at all times because if it stopped, the car dealership would use a remote device to keep it from starting up and then repossess the vehicle. Beatrice and John had been out of work for three weeks. They were lining up new positions, but without their car those job prospects would be lost. We wrote a check for the two missed lease payments ($261) and had it delivered to the dealership.
Following open-heart surgery, Gilbert, 58, was out of work for 12 weeks. He has returned to his job, but he was so far behind in his rent that his landlord had to give him an eviction notice. We paid $300 to keep Gilbert from becoming homeless.
Kaylee, 22, works in a chicken factory. Her daughter was born prematurely and has ongoing medical issues; sometimes she needs to be hospitalized. This causes Kaylee to miss work, and it doesn’t take much for her to fall short on a rent payment. To prevent Kaylee from being evicted, we sent $200 to the landlord.
Odelle’s smile was hiding a terrible tragedy: a few months ago her husband was shot and killed in their neighborhood. She feels unsafe where she is living and is haunted by the memories of what happened. Odelle is receiving a monthly benefit of $389. That is the only income she has for herself and her two young sons.
Odelle saw a glimmer of hope when she was approved for subsidized housing. She wants to use this as an opportunity to move to a safer neighborhood. The rules require that she still pay a security deposit, however. We contributed $200 so Odelle and her family can begin to rebuild their lives.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Fifty-three years ago, on October 15, 1965, Sr. Mary Elizabeth started a new process when she opened the Joseph House. The tiny seed she planted was her love for the poor, and she cared for it with her faith in God. Over the years the Joseph House has grown and developed, even after being transplanted from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore. It has always followed the plan of “letting the work build itself through the needs that were expressed by the people in the area.”
Today, the Joseph House Crisis Center—which offers Financial Assistance for emergencies, a Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Hospitality Room for the Homeless—and the Joseph House Workshop—which provides comprehensive services 24/7 to help homeless men get back on their feet—still depend on private support to stay in operation. That’s a tall order, but we know the goodness and charity of people like you are a match for it. May God bless you in abundance.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
Relying on volunteers was always part of our founder’s plan. Sr. Mary Elizabeth wanted to keep operating costs low so more of your donations could go directly to the poor. She also understood the value of getting people personally involved. She once said:
Whenever I get the least bit discouraged about the state of the world I only have to think of our volunteers and I am filled with hope. Joseph House could not exist without our volunteers. It’s that simple. The entire Joseph House organization runs almost exclusively on volunteers. That’s the way it’s always been. People need the opportunity to give back to the community and to help their fellow man.
The vision and example of Sr. Mary Elizabeth are the treasures of the Joseph House. We remember her and pray for her every day. She departed this earthly life 14 years ago this month, on October 27, 2004.
A PRAYER FOR VOLUNTEERS
Holy Scripture says that if my brothers and sisters have no clothes and no food, and I say to them, “Be blessed! Stay warm and well fed,” but I do nothing to meet their needs, what good is that?
Do not let my heart grow so cold that I turn to empty words. Do not let me keep saying, “Someone else will help.” Let me be the one who steps in.
I offer You everything You have given me: my abilities, my talents, and my capacity to love. Direct me to where I can be of service to someone who needs what I can offer.
With a cheerful smile and a compassionate heart, let me be the one who lends a hand. Right now someone is praying for help. Include me in the answer You give.
Last month we mentioned Catherine Doherty, the founder of Madonna House. She lived an extraordinary life and in many ways was a kindred spirit of our own founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth. We’d like to bring up another aspect of Catherine’s spirituality for this month.
When asked about her philosophy of life, Catherine replied, “To always do the will of God as revealed by people, things, and events… to do it as expressed in the duty of my state, and of the moment. For the will of God is my sanctification.”
“The duty of the moment” was one of her favorite expressions. She often expounded on it, as in this example from her writings:
The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a hobo at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don’t just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child. Do you do it like that? You can see Christ in that child.
Or your duty of the moment may be to scrub your floors. Do you scrub your floors well? With great love for God? If not, do it. If you see to it that your house is well-swept, your food is on the table, and there is peace during the meal, then there is this slow order that is established, and the immense tranquility of God’s order falls upon you and your family. Yes, there is order, because while we keep thinking of others, things get clear in our hearts. Then we can forget ourselves….
There are plenty of good things you can go out and do, programs and such, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God. Tired, untired, sick, well, whatever your state, do the duty of the moment. It’s what God calls us to do. And if we do it, people follow us. We don’t have to preach by word of mouth. We preach by living. We preach by doing. We preach by being….
When you do the duty of the moment, you do something for Christ. You make a home for Him in the place where your family dwells. You feed Him when you feed your family. You wash His clothes when you do their laundry. You help Him in a hundred ways as a parent. Then, when the time comes and you appear before Christ to be judged, He will say to you, “I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was sick and you looked after Me.” (Mt 25:35-36)
A long quote, but one worth sharing. We were reminded of “the duty of the moment” a few weeks ago when the doorbell rang at our convent as we were about to say grace before dinner. A haggard-looking woman was on our front porch with her daughter and two young grandchildren. They were homeless and had been outside all day in the blistering heat.
Our meal was paused as we attended to the needs of this family. We listened to their story, made some phone calls, found a place for them to stay, called a taxi, offered them cold drinks and packed sandwiches for later. The little granddaughter came into our kitchen with her grandmother and told us about the “light-up” shoes she wanted to get for school. Smiles and laughter ensued. A really bad day was turning into a much more hopeful one. Attending to the duty of the moment with love and patience can do wonders.
As Catherine Doherty said, not everyone has a needy person knocking at the door. We do, if not at the convent then certainly at the Joseph House Crisis Center. We can invite people in and care for them because of you. Your prayers, donations, and financial support bear fruit every day.
So many people are desperate for help. Alan and Cecily walked several miles to the Crisis Center in the hopes of receiving rental assistance. When they arrived, Alan was ready to pass out—he had pneumonia and was very short of breath. Our dedicated volunteers made sure he was OK and did everything they could to make him comfortable.
We learned that Alan’s health has been impeding his ability to work as a machine operator. Cecily’s income is not enough to cover their basic expenses. We sent $170 to their landlord to give Alan time to recover and return to work. No one should be homeless, especially the sick. We also sent Alan and Cecily home via taxi.
A veteran of the Navy, Merle, age 80, is used to taking care of himself. That’s not the case anymore. He is being treated for lung cancer and his medical co-pays have been high recently. His electric bill became delinquent and a cut-off was forthcoming. We were able to pay the bill in full ($303), enabling Merle to be enrolled in the utility’s budget plan.
Francesca, age 72, is recovering from a stroke. She has difficulty with her speech and gait and seems to be a little mentally confused. The electricity in her home was turned off, but fortunately a neighbor took her in—we don’t know if Francesca would have survived the heat and humidity without air conditioning. She’s home now with the power back on, thanks to your support which allowed us to pay $300 toward the bill.
Natalie, 42, had to leave her job as a motel housekeeper because of shoulder pain; it appears to be a rotator cuff issue. She’s looking for another job where she won’t have to move her shoulder, but that’s not an easy task. In the meantime, Natalie is falling behind in her bills, including the rent, and she received an eviction notice. Natalie did not want to become homeless with her three children. She appealed to the Joseph House for help. We offered the landlord a payment of $200, which was accepted.
When we choose not to be passive and neutral in the face of another’s pain, we feel energized. It’s the power of love. Thank you for everything you do to keep the Joseph House going forward. Your love for the less fortunate is the boost we need!
After a hot and sticky summer, we are ready for some cooler autumn air. We hope pleasant days are in store for you. And may God’s love be near to you always.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
As Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, we profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, united as a community in the love of Jesus, ready to cry the Gospel with our lives.
Please join us in praying for an increase of vocations to our community:
Loving and gracious God,
Look kindly on the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, whom You have blessed with the mission of serving the poor in all their many needs and cries for help.
As a sign of Your favor, send them new Little Sisters, to join them in being a witness to Your goodness and provident care.
Open the hearts of those You are calling to this life of faith, love, and simplicity, so they may respond with courage and generosity.
With a humble and trusting spirit, we ask this through Christ, our Lord.
A plan of life is helpful for keeping us on course, not to be perfect, but simply to be a little better than we were before.
Pope John XXIII followed a simple 10-step plan that he had written. Its focus is just on today, because that is all anyone has. Perhaps one or two of the steps will resonate with you and provide inspiration for making a change in your life.
1). Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
2). Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
3). Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
4). Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
5). Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
6). Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
7). Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
8). Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
9). Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
10). Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.