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.

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)

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).

Newsletter: November 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

This is the season for giving thanks, and the difficult times we live in only make us more grateful that the Joseph House is here to help people facing hardships. Our ministry is an expression of your compassion: thanks to your continued prayers and support, our doors remain open to welcome the poor, hungry, and homeless. And we can never forget our brave staff who keep the mission alive with their dedicated service. We give thanks for all of you every single day.

When people really need help, it’s a very good feeling to be ready for them. For example, Ryan and Michelle, a young married couple, recently came to our Food Pantry in need of groceries. Crisis Center staff members greeted them and asked how they were doing. As they got checked in Ryan told their story. Michelle was involved in a terrible accident: she fell off a balcony and sustained multiple injuries. She almost died. Extensive surgeries were needed to rebuild her arm, shoulder, and leg (she is full of metal). She also suffered a brain aneurysm and lost most of her memory and half of her eyesight.

Through it all, Ryan has been a devoted husband, being at Michelle’s side constantly. He has been her 24-hour-a-day nurse. Making frequent trips to Baltimore for medical care is part of their routine.

Ryan is used to driving; he’s worked as a delivery driver, but that income has vanished because of his care for Michelle. He’s trying to get compensation for his responsibilities as a caregiver. Until then, their household income is only Michelle’s monthly SSI check of $783. Although they needed more than food they didn’t know what to expect from us.

Your support allowed the Joseph House to act immediately and provide $300 toward Ryan and Michelle’s rent and a voucher for a tank of gas. This doesn’t solve all their problems, but it gives them the help they need right now. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt 6:34).

Our mission at the Joseph House is to reach out to and assist the vulnerable members of our community. The story of Ryan and Michelle is just one among many.

This year, however, has brought into focus how we are all vulnerable. Every time we put on a face mask we are reminded of this fact. Being vulnerable is part of being human. It’s unavoidable.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, once spoke with us about vulnerability. She began by saying, “God loves by destroying.” The example she gave was of a grain of wheat, which becomes useful and successful at each stage by being changed drastically (or destroyed) from what it was formerly: from grain to wheat…to flour…to bread…to being consumed. If the grain was unbreakable, what would become of it?

As flesh and blood creatures, our vulnerability is not a sign that we are “weak” but that we have the capacity to be “more.” Our vulnerability shatters the illusion of self-sufficiency. It teaches the hard lesson that “no man is an island” and dismantles our monuments of pride. It opens the heart to compassion for the suffering of others. It leads the human spirit to the grace of letting go.

The Joseph House is built upon the belief that we belong to each other. We need each other. The wounds we suffer draw us together in bonds of empathy and care. “We know we are all broken people healing other broken people through God’s love,” to quote Sr. Mary Elizabeth again.

If all we can do is help each other make it through the day, our time has been well spent.

HOLIDAY GIVING
We will be giving out frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving on November 24 and 25. If you would like to donate one or the other (or both), please drop off your donation at our convent by November 22.

Christmas Toys will be given away over a two week period:
WEEK 1: December 8, 9, and 10
WEEK 2: December 15, 16, and 17

Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 6. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns.

Please see Contact Us for our address and phone numbers. Questions? Send us a message: Contact Form.

Thank you for helping us share the joy of the season!

Also, if you shop on Amazon, please consider starting on our Amazon Smile link. The Joseph House will then receive a small percentage of your purchase total.

http://smile.amazon.com/ch/52-0846802

Other ways to help: Donate.

Your generous support is deeply appreciated.


COMMUNITY NEWS
It is our great joy to announce that Sr. Virginia Peckham professed her perpetual vows as a Little Sister of Jesus and Mary on October 18! The ceremony took place in our chapel in Princess Anne, MD. Rev. John T. Solomon from St. Mary’s/Holy Savior Church in Ocean City, MD was the presider.

Sr. Virginia entered our community in 2012. Her hometown is Averill Park, NY, and before joining us she was living in Maine. Here is a short bio, in her words:

“I was married for 23 years, I am a widow. I worked as a freelance and grant writer. I work with the homeless in the Joseph House Hospitality Room, and also I manage our payee program. In addition, I work on grant applications and occasionally teach an art class. Art and music are my hobbies. This is the most fulfilling time of my life—our work and our prayer time, our training, our retreats have brought me a peaceful heart and ever-growing trust in God.”

Our religious consecration is a total gift of self to Christ. We give thanks to God for guiding Sr. Virginia on her journey, and we are so grateful that she responded with love and trust. May God in His tender mercy continue to bless her and give her strength.


You’re probably going to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year. We hope you find ways of staying close to family and loved ones, despite the need for social distancing. May you feel in your heart many reasons to be thankful.

God is always at work behind the scenes, giving us firm grounds for having hope. We pray that God’s abundant goodness will touch your life and keep you healthy and safe. From our home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

As we mentioned a few months ago, Charles de Foucauld (“Br. Charles”), the spiritual father of the Little Sisters and the Joseph House, will soon be canonized a saint. He was beatified in 2005 after an Italian woman was cured of bone cancer that was attributed to his intercession. In order to be canonized, a second miracle was needed. This is the story of that miracle.

On November 30, 2016, the day before the 100th anniversary of the death of Br. Charles, a 21-year-old man (whose name is Charle, without the “s”), was working as a carpenter’s apprentice on the renovation of a church in Saumur, France. Charle was working above the vault when he fell about 50 feet, landing on a wooden bench. It shattered, and he was impaled by a piece of wood that pierced his left side just below his heart and came out the back underneath his rib cage.

Amazingly, Charle stood up and began to walk. Help was called and a helicopter arrived to take Charle to the hospital, but the piece of wood passing through his body prevented him from safely entering the craft. So he had to wait for an ambulance.

Meanwhile, the manager of the company that Charle worked for was alerted. He contacted people at his parish to get them to start praying. His parish was newly established in 2012 and is named after Blessed Charles de Foucauld! In preparation for his feast day on December 1, parishioners had already been praying a novena for his canonization. With news of the accident, hundreds of people began to pray in earnest, asking Blessed Charles to intercede for the young man. The following morning, his mother called the manager: her son was alive, the operation to remove the piece of wood was successful, and no organs were damaged! The accident should have been fatal, but nothing is impossible for God.

Charle spent only a week in the hospital. He suffered no long-term effects and returned to work several weeks later. Despite not being a practicing Christian himself, he is very happy that his recovery was recognized to be due to Br. Charles’ intercession. The pastor of the church in Saumur remarked, “When you know the life of Charles de Foucauld, it’s astonishing to see that the miracle attributed to him concerns someone who has no Christian faith…This echoes his missionary desire to go and to evangelize those who are not in the Church.”

The date for the canonization has yet to be announced. It is comforting to know that we are not alone, that the love of the people who have gone before us, whether they are official saints or not, accompanies us through life.


Don’t forget–please send us your prayer requests and we will pray for you: Contact Form.

Newsletter: October 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

On the day the Joseph House Crisis Center opened in 1984, a newspaper quoted Sr. Mary Elizabeth as saying, “A beautiful thing has happened. It means an awful lot to us to finally have this.”

We are just as grateful today.

Over the years, the Crisis Center has grown with the addition of a larger Soup Kitchen and a Hospitality Room for men and women who are homeless. There is also a trailer in front for office space and one in the back for food storage. In fact, we have a little “campus” on Boundary Street. It includes the Joseph House Workshop and a Pole Barn for even more storage.

Our spiritual forefather, Br. Charles, established an oasis of friendly charity in the Sahara Desert. We have ours in a modern desert. Tucked away behind what was once the Campbell Soup factory, we are bordered by scrap metal and a gritty industrial complex. It might seem less than desirable, but people live nearby, and this is where God wants us to be. Everything we have was built by Divine Providence to do what it needs to do. When we look at our place, we see how God answers prayers. We see holy ground.

This is not simply a pious thought. A place is sanctified through the presence of God, as when Moses approached the burning bush on Mount Horeb and God said to him: “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Ex 3:5).

But the presence of God is not always announced through extraordinary sights. A homeless man holding his cardboard sign, a disabled senior without food, a migrant family looking for a place to stay—that is where Jesus said we can find Him. He made this clear in the Gospel: “Whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

Everything changes when we see with the eyes of faith.

On the way to the Joseph House on Boundary Street.

We don’t need to hear a voice like Moses did to know that a place can speak to us. To travel down Boundary Street is to leave behind any notions of wealth, power, and status. God has made our place humble and unpretentious, an expression of littleness. One word describes it best: Nazareth.

Nazareth is where Jesus grew up, and it’s also a spiritual idea. It means the life of hiddenness and routine, of doing small things with great love. Nazareth is also the place of communion with our family, neighbors, and God. There may not be a variety of experiences, but there is a depth to them, a depth that comes from daily practice and long-standing commitment.

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46). Well, it’s where Jesus grew in wisdom and grace (Lk 2:52). It’s where Mary and Joseph lived with their Lord. As the defining characteristic of the Joseph House, it makes our ministry a place of welcome for all, especially those in need.

We still have only a skeleton crew working at the Crisis Center, but the mission continues.

Millicent, 66, has custody of her three grandchildren. The mother’s whereabouts are unknown. Millicent came to the Joseph House because she had no hot water in her home. The water heater uses heating oil and the tank was dry. She pays 70% of her Social Security for rent. Not much is left over for food, utilities, and medical costs. We bought 100 gallons of heating oil ($340) for this family.

Isabelle, 62, has been in and out of the hospital during the last few months because of heart trouble. She lives alone and is struggling. Isabelle will be going back to the hospital to get a pacemaker. She hopes this will help and ease her worries. Keeping up with her electric bill was troubling her, too. We paid $250 toward the back balance.

Mike, 44, has stomach cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy twice a week. He is not able to work. Mike has three children and is doing his best to take care of them. Right now his income is $896 per month in Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Joseph House paid $226 so the water would not be turned off in Mike’s home. We also gave Mike a gasoline voucher for his car and bags of groceries.

Kim and Jonathan and their four children were homeless. They were renting a house but had to leave because the owner sold the property. Jonathan works odd jobs and earns on average $1,250 per month. He spent $742, all the money he had, on motel rooms so his family would not be on the street. He was desperate when he came to the Joseph House. We paid $379 for an additional week at a motel. Jonathan has some money coming in from a new job, and he will use that to secure another rental. We also gave him plenty of food for his family.

Camilla, 51, lives in a boarding house with her 31-year-old son, who suffers from mental illness. He receives $943 in monthly benefits. Camilla has had heart surgery and feels like she can’t work anymore. For the past seven years, she and her son have lived in a poor and dangerous neighborhood. Camilla was behind in the rent. Someday she would like to move, but right now she needs to hold on to her place. We sent $240 to her landlord.

Norah, 61, is coping with the progression of multiple sclerosis. Alone and living on a monthly SSI check of $759, she needed help with her water bill. We paid $298.

We hope you are doing ok during these difficult days. Let us remember the Beatitudes, which are a portrait of Christ. A better world is only possible by being poor in spirit, compassionate, gentle, hungry for justice, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers.

October 27 will be 16 years since Sr. Mary Elizabeth departed for heavenly glory. We trust in her prayers, as you can trust in ours. You are remembered every day. May a special blessing lift you up when you need it the most.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Every year, the Salisbury University Police Department holds an auction of unclaimed property, which includes many bicycles. The auction was canceled this year because of COVID-19, so the SUPD got creative and partnered with SHOP (Students Helping Others Pedal) to give the bikes a second life. SHOP is a program of the Wicomico County Public Schools that teaches students how to repair and refurbish bikes in exchange for academic credit. Students hail from the Wicomico Evening High School and the Summer Youth Employment Program. Once the bikes are ready, they are donated to community organizations.

We were thrilled to receive the first delivery. We don’t know what we like better—the bikes or the excellent program that provided them! Some of the bikes are for the men in the Joseph House Workshop and the rest (including several children’s bikes) will go to needy families. This was a great idea. Thank you to everyone involved!


Our prayers are with you always. Send us your special intentions: Contact Form

In this changing world, we are glad we can count on your support. Thank you for your prayers and contributions. Learn how you can help: Donate

Newsletter: September 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

“We’re all in this together.”

We’ve heard this over and over again during these past few months. And it’s true: we are not alone in dealing with the pain, hardship, and anxiety that this year has brought.

The normal course of our lives has been disrupted, not only by the pandemic and its fallout but also by civil unrest across our land. Things are not the same. But in feeling tossed about, what comes to mind is the image of Noah’s Ark, a powerful symbol of being in the same boat together while the familiar world disappears. Perhaps this story has something to say to us.

The story of Noah is a creation story, or rather, a re-creation story. The old is washed away and Noah, his family, and the animals are taken to someplace new. We should make note of what God said to Noah before the rain began: “Of all living creatures you shall bring two of every kind into the ark” (Gen 6:19). God didn’t tell Noah to bring only the creatures he liked, but all of them, because diversity is needed for life to continue. Here we can see how the ark prefigures the Body of Christ, referenced in our August Newsletter.

Noah did his part and listened to God and prepared for the flood, but then it became a matter of trust. Scripture scholars say the ark has a linguistic connection with the floating basket in which the baby Moses was placed: set adrift with no rudder or sail, the ark likewise was a surrender into the hands of God. After the rains, Noah released a dove. The first time it came back with nothing, but then it brought back an olive leaf. With the ark surrounded by water, can you imagine the excitement and relief of everyone on board?

We, too, must be looking for signs of hope. For us today, it’s been raining, so to speak, for more than 40 days and 40 nights—and it’s still coming down. But in this storm we are going through, our compassion and care for each other creates an ark of safety. It’s up to us to keep this vessel strong and secure. Life goes on, and one day (hopefully soon) our deliverance will come.

When the flood receded, Noah had the chance to make a fresh start. So will we, to some degree at least. What will we leave behind? What will we embrace? The decisions we make define us.

We’re all in this together, but not everyone is having the same experience or facing the same consequences. The losses are not equal. Some people are paying a higher price than others.

Our mission at the Joseph House is to assist the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. We, and they, are grateful that you share the same concern. Although our Soup Kitchen at the Joseph House Crisis Center remains closed, the Food Pantry, Hospitality Room, and Financial Assistance program are very much active, as is the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men.

Corey and Laurie, both in their late thirties, have an infant daughter. Corey was laid off from his job as a construction laborer because of COVID-19. His car, a 1997 model, broke down and he used his savings to get it fixed. It broke down again, and with no money to get it repaired, it was towed away. Corey and his family became homeless, and with the last of their money they moved into a motel. When their funds ran out they contacted the Joseph House. Corey had some promising news: he found a new job but his first paycheck was a week away. We paid for another week at the motel ($350) and gave them plenty of food that they could cook in a microwave. We also gave them a supply of diapers for their daughter.

Juanita, 27, has a young son. She lost her job at a chicken processing plant when production was halted because of the pandemic. She and her son live in a tiny matchbox of a house. Juanita is very hardworking and readily agreed to meet with our excellent job counselor. She is not used to asking for help. We committed $300 to her overdue electric bill.

Janine, 30, and her husband also work at a chicken plant. Hours at the plant were reduced, and Janine’s husband was laid off. They have five children. This family is struggling, but Janine has come a long way through many difficulties. Her composure is edifying. We paid $197 to keep the electricity on in her family’s home.

Suzanne, 36, is married and has three children. Her husband was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is out of work. This family is receiving temporary state benefits of $600 per month. They are behind in all of their bills and the water was shut off. Their old car is ready to fall apart. We paid $422 to get the water back on. Suzanne said her husband is recovering and feels he should be ready to start working again soon.

Carrie, 34, started her own child-care business shortly before the pandemic shut everything down. She has a lot of positive energy and was excited about being self-employed. She is still hopeful about the future, but with two children of her own and no income, she had to ask for help. Carrie used her stimulus check to pay for the rent. She applied for Food Stamps for the first time in her life, and came to the Joseph House about her electric bill. We called the utility company and learned that a payment of $250 was required to get Carrie’s account placed on a budget plan. So we paid that amount.

Fred is 60, and when he came to the Joseph House at the end of July he was still waiting for his stimulus check. It would be a big help. Fred is disabled (a car hit him while he was riding his bicycle) and back pain is part of his daily life. With his bike-riding days over, Fred spent what little money he had to get his aging car working again. He was hoping to use his stimulus check to pay his other bills, but so far it hasn’t materialized. Fred has spent many hours on the phone trying to find out what happened. He’s been told it was deposited in his checking account, but he showed us his bank statements and there’s no evidence of it. We could feel his frustration. In the meantime, the gas was scheduled to be turned off in his home because of a past-due bill. We sent $304 to prevent that from happening.

It’s the water that gets inside the boat that sinks it, not the ocean around it. Keep in mind that God, the source of all hope, makes this journey with us: “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Mt 8:26). Our place of encounter with God is in the present moment. Returning there can help calm our worries. We must do what we can do, and then leave to God what only God can do.

Let us continue to support each other through our prayers and good example. May God bless all who are patiently working, praying, and sacrificing for the sake of others. May God’s mercy be with all who are suffering, and all who have passed on. As always, we are so grateful for you.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We are praying for healing and justice around the world. Please send us your special prayer intentions: Contact Form

Your support allows us to continue the ministry of Joseph House. Learn how you can help: Donate

Newsletter: August 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

According to an article we read, a historian has postulated that periods of civil unrest in our country follow a 50-year cycle. That’s about how long it takes for society’s unresolved issues to reach a boiling point. The last time our nation saw widespread protests and demonstrations—some peaceful, some not—was during the late 1960s and early ’70s. That makes what’s happening now in 2020 right on schedule.

We don’t know if this theory is true or not, but we were thinking about what happened 50 years ago for another reason. In 1968, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked protests in cities across the country, including Baltimore. These protests unfortunately led to arson, looting, and confrontations between crowds of people and the police. The National Guard had to be summoned. At the time, the Joseph House was headquartered in Baltimore on McCulloh Street, only a few blocks from where buildings were being burned to the ground. Our founder and other staff members were on the front lines of these frightening events. They assisted 500 families that were directly impacted by the violence.

Our founder wasn’t known as Sr. Mary Elizabeth back then—she was simply Mae Gintling. At the height of the riots, she received a telegram from Governor Spiro Agnew requesting her presence at a meeting to discuss the crisis. More than 100 people attended: legislators, city council members, judges, ministers, and civic leaders. Reporting on the meeting, The Baltimore Sun noted that Mae was one of only a handful of white people present.

The meeting did not go well. Many of the participants walked out because they felt the Governor did not understand the frustration and despair of the African American community. Mae decided to stay and was given an opportunity to address the Governor. The article in the Sun closed with her words: “You’re listening, but you’re not hearing.”

Fifty-two years later, this is a message for all of us to consider. Ironically, listening is a lost art in our media-saturated world, but it’s essential to creating a just and peaceful society. There are voices that have been suppressed, stories that haven’t been told. Do we hear them? Are we so sure of ourselves that we can’t find room for them in our hearts and minds?

Our founder can guide us in another way. She had a strong attraction to the Mystical Body of Christ, which St. Paul expounded on in his epistles:

There are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”. . . But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

(1 Corinthians, chapter 12)

For Sr. Mary Elizabeth, this awareness never failed to show her the right thing to do. It can also help us as we move forward. It tells us the truth, that our nation can be a “more perfect union,” one with “liberty and justice for all.”

Will you permit us one more item about our founder? This year marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Joseph House Workshop, our program that helps homeless men advance toward gainful employment and healthy new lives. It was the final program that came into being through the vision and leadership of Sr. Mary Elizabeth.

To celebrate the anniversary, three of the current residents of the Workshop 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 Ron Alessi, general contractor, with the floor plan of the Workshop. Photo ca. 2004.

Can you get a sense of how valuable the Workshop is? Of how life-changing the program can be for the residents? Your support makes it all possible. You also give us the means to continue our work at the Joseph House Crisis Center. Families facing the threat of destitution or the pain of hunger receive the assistance they need. By joining together, we make a difference.

Carole, 61, and her husband have lived in a run-down RV for twenty years. The roof leaks, and that is the only running water they have. Carole buys water for all their needs, including the bathroom. Dish water is used for the toilet. Her husband, suffering from cancer, can occasionally do odd jobs such as cutting lawns. Carole and her husband were behind in their electric bill and received a cut-off notice. They Joseph House sent $300 to the utility company. Carole said she was denied assistance at another agency because of her “assets.”

Dora, 73, is a widow and lives alone. She would like to get dentures, but she can’t afford them. Her house needs plumbing work, but she can’t afford that either. The past-due mortgage payments were her most pressing concern: Dora was afraid she was going to lose her home of thirty years. We mailed $400 to the bank on her behalf. We are also trying to help with the dentures.

Rachelle, 48, lives with her young adult son. He was in a serious car accident and will not be able to work for an extended period of time. Rachelle is grateful that he is alive, but she is worried about the loss of his income. She doesn’t earn enough by herself to pay for all their basic necessities. Rachelle and her son have lived in their apartment for fifteen years. Now without warning, their housing was in jeopardy. We were happy that we could give $250 for the rent.

With each passing day, we take our place in history. Let LOVE be our response to the challenges of our time, love in our actions and in our words. “There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians, chapter 13)

Thank you for your continued support of our ministry. We hold you close to our hearts in prayer. May God bless you and keep you healthy and safe.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

“In order to listen, it is necessary to keep quiet. I do not mean merely a sort of constraint to be physically silent and not to interrupt what someone else is saying, but rather an interior silence; in other words, a silence that not only is directed toward receiving the other person’s words but also reflects a heart overflowing with a humble love, capable of full attention, friendly welcome and voluntary self-denial, and strong with the awareness of our poverty.

“The silence of listening is a form of attention, a gift of self to the other, and a mark of moral generosity. It should manifest an awareness of our humility so as to agree to receive from another person a gift that God is giving us. For the other person is always a treasure and a precious gift that God offers to help us grow in humility, humanity, and nobility.

“I think that the most defective human relationship is precisely one in which the silence of attention is absent.”

Cardinal Robert Sarah

Newsletter: July 2020

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The stay-at-home orders we’ve experienced may have brought a renewed emphasis on your home life and its attendant joys—and tensions. Surprisingly enough, helpful guidance can be found in the tradition of monastic spirituality, which might sound otherworldly but is actually very practical and down to earth. After all, monks have spent a long time learning how to live and work together in a way that is peaceful and harmonious.

Here’s one example. During his first week-long visit to an abbey, Wil Derkse, a lay Benedictine oblate, learned the importance of “simple but effective care for little things in your environment.” In his book, The Rule of Benedict for Beginners, he shares this anecdote about one of the monks, Father Schretlen:

“One of his functions was the care of the flowers in the chapel and elsewhere in the monastery. He was often seen paying attention to aspects of this task: removing a few wilted leaves, cleaning up some fallen leaves of trees, rearranging a bouquet, replacing a candle, straightening out a few chairs. This was not at all an obsession or a sign of obsessive-compulsive neurosis. Father Schretlen simply was careful in noting little things in his area which needed a bit of attention.

“Since I try to keep my own (strongly modified) version of a daily order which I have copied from the abbey, my daily scheme also contains an FSE, that means the ‘Father Schretlen effect.’ That simply means that every day I at least keep in mind how I might follow his example, at home, at work, and wherever I am: replacing a broken light bulb, filling the water containers of the radiators, turning off the reading light when I leave the train compartment. I know that this hardly represents anything, yet I am ashamed at nighttime when I notice that I did not mark off my FSE.”

Outside the monastery, Catherine Doherty, founder of the Madonna House lay apostolate, also extolled the virtues of a household in wholesome order:

“Have we experienced the utter joy of scrubbing a floor? Do we know how to make it a prayer, a song of love and gladness? Have we recited the litany of dusting and sweeping whose goal is a home bedecked with cleanliness? Or are these humble tasks irritatingly monotonous to us? Have we experienced the creativeness in cooking a meal or making a loaf of bread to eat? Do we understand the sublimity of service—humble, daily, constantly repeated? . . . The desire to straighten things up, not to leave a mess behind—these are tokens of love. When the house is in order, it’s at peace, and charity blossoms in that order (Nazareth Family Spirituality).”

This attitude of applying careful attention to things has roots in the Rule of St. Benedict, in a directive addressed to the cellarer of the monastery (the facilities manager), but which is applicable to everyone: “Let him regard all the utensils of the monastery and its whole property as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.”

Taken to heart, this will transform how we live. A spirit of reverence is not just for Church on Sundays: daily life is also the abode of God. The spaces we live in, the common, ordinary things we use, the hours that make up our days . . . grace can be hidden anywhere. A reverential touch is never out of place.

As St. Teresa of Avila told the nuns in her convent, “Know that even when you are in the kitchen, Our Lord is moving among the pots and pans.”

There’s another step to take: can we regard other people as bearers of the divine image, temples of the Holy Spirit, and heirs to the kingdom of heaven? Not “as if” they are, but in truth?

Lining up our behavior with our beliefs is the key to integrity. Actions speak louder than words, and through our work at the Joseph House we let people know about their dignity.

Your support gives life to this mission. Thank you for your fidelity.

This is a dangerous time for people working to provide essential goods and services for the rest of us! Maribeth, 38, and her husband both worked at a chicken plant. He contracted COVID-19 and died from it. Maribeth is on temporary leave from her job. She has two children, ages 5 and 2, and doesn’t know what to do regarding child care when she goes back to work. She and her husband had taken different shifts so someone was always home. We helped Maribeth with $250 for her electric bill. Her electricity won’t be cut off—for now—but overdue bills will have to be paid.

Ivy, 27, has two young children. There were outbreaks of COVID-19 at the chicken plant where she worked, so Ivy quit her job—she was afraid of spreading the disease to her children. Ivy is worried that she will lose the used car she recently purchased. Her stimulus check helped but it didn’t last long. We paid $300 toward her electric bill.

Shelley, 20, lives with her parents and four younger siblings. She works at a restaurant that started doing only carry-out because of COVID-19, so her hours were cut to part-time. Her father does yard work, but people have been hesitant to hire him. With their income drying up, this family was in a financial squeeze. We paid $300 toward their back rent and supplied an abundance of food.

Judith, 84, came to see us on behalf of her 60-year-old brother, who was being discharged from a long-term care facility. The electricity in his home had been turned off because of unpaid bills. His health is not good and Judith is concerned about him. We contributed $350 to get the power back on.


On May 27 the Vatican advanced the cause of Charles de Foucauld for canonization. The spiritual father of the Joseph House and the Little Sisters is going to be an official saint! We hope more people will be inspired by Br. Charles: the example of his life has many points of relevance to our times.

We pray that our bonds of sister- and brotherhood may prevail to bring an end to racism, hatred, and violence. Creating a truly just society, one that fosters peace in our communities, requires determination and our best efforts. This is soul-searching work. May God be with us all.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


The Joseph House depends on free-will offerings. Learn how you can help: Donate.

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


“I have not forgotten you and the people that you serve…Please take care of yourselves and stay well.”

“I have just received one of those stimulus checks that are being distributed to help people cope with the coronavirus shutdown…I would like to donate my check to the Joseph House so that those that really need help will benefit.”

“God has really blessed us with such good friends. They buy us groceries and make us homemade food all the time! We, therefore, need to be generous to others.”

“We are in difficult times with the COVID-19, it has also come with a renewed spiritual strength in God for our precious lives and hope.”

“Today I pondered about the lives of my and my husband’s parents. They too went through uncertainty…the Depression, wars. My grandmother gave birth to an uncle during the 1918 flu. She survived as no nurse on the floor would let the baby die…I am so blessed that I am making this donation to ‘their memories.’ They survived and we will too!”

“Dad contributed small amounts to many charities, and was sympathetic to the needs and hurts of many who were unfortunate, whether by birth or circumstance. But he always had a special draw to your work…It is an ethic that has been handed down to me and which I faithfully undertake.”

“I can sympathize with your efforts to help those in need. As I child I was raised in a Children’s Home after my father died at a young age…My expenses have fallen having to stay home so I’m using the enclosed funds to help Joseph House during these very trying times.”

“The world has certainly changed in the last few weeks and we realize that the church collections and donations that you rely on may been impacted by our current pandemic ‘shelter in place’ recommendations. Please accept the enclosed donation to use in your social ministry to help the underserved and vulnerable.”

We appreciate your letters very much. Every show of support and word of encouragement means a great deal to us, especially now when the struggles people are facing have been turned up a notch. You help us to believe that positive change is possible for our world—and is in fact occurring.