Newsletter: May 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

Newsletter: April 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

How would you describe the time in which we live?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

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

Newsletter: March 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

Sr. Odette Prévost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter: February 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With our faithful prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

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

Newsletter: January 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

January is the sunrise of the year, the dawn of a new beginning. For us Little Sisters, there’s a prayer we say at the start of each day, and it seems to be fitting as we go forth into another year. It is the Abandonment Prayer of Charles de Foucauld:

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You may do, I thank You:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures—
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You with all the love of my heart,
for I love You Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for You are my Father.

We never know what the day will bring, let alone the year. Placing ourselves in the hands of Divine Providence is the only security possible in this world. We do know, however, that there will be a very joyous occasion this spring: on May 15, Charles will be canonized a saint!

We are so happy to finally share this news with you. Many people have been waiting for this, but as Scripture reminds us we often have to wait until the time is right for things to happen (see Ecc 3:1 or Eph 1:9-10). Sr. Mary Elizabeth, our founder, knew nothing about Charles when she was growing up, but one day, decades ago, she saw his picture and had a sudden inspiration that he would be important to her as she searched for God’s will in her life. That’s how it is with the saints: many times they are the ones who choose us because they know they can help us acquire the graces we need. We are thrilled that Charles is finally getting the official stamp of approval. He will become St. Charles, but to us he will always be “Br. Charles.”

As Sr. Mary Elizabeth learned more about Charles she discovered a kindred spirit. He became a guide on how to imitate Christ by living the life of Nazareth, of being open to people of other faiths and cultures, of loving them as children of God. “Cry the Gospel with your life,” Charles said, and Sister adopted that for her own work. He’s been a good friend to our community, and since you are friends of the Joseph House, he’s also your friend. You can watch a video about his life and find out why he is special to us by clicking on this link: Brother Charles Video Presentation.

Joseph House Workshop News

The Workshop opened in 2005. It is next door to our Crisis Center, and it allows homeless men to stay up to two years as they follow a comprehensive program to help them begin new lives. Attention is given to their education, health care, and personal development needs. They learn a variety of skills that will benefit them in their jobs and in life in general.

We currently have three men living at the Workshop. All were homeless and dealing with addiction to drugs and alcohol. They came directly from a detox center to the Workshop, where they will live in an environment that supports their commitment to sobriety.

Two of the residents are in Phase One (classroom-based) and the other is in Phase Two (employment-based) and has started working at one of the local poultry companies. They’re all doing great.

Thanks to your support, we were able to do some much needed improvements to the Workshop’s facilities. A new floor was installed in the kitchen along with two new refrigerators. Nick, the Director of the Workshop, explains how kitchen duties are handled:

“Each resident takes turns with cooking chores. They each cook for a week, which gives them experience in shopping for the menu they choose and how to make and stick to a budget. The dishes they prepare vary from pork chops to pizza. If a resident doesn’t know how to cook when he comes in, he will be given help by other residents. The purpose is to make each resident self-sufficient.

“The residents make their own breakfasts and lunches, but for dinner we eat together each night at the table. As for groceries, we go shopping every two weeks. The two residents that are cooking for those weeks make their menus and write out a shopping list and we go shopping on Monday mornings.

“We have students from UMES (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) teaching a nutrition class to the residents. I heard of the program where students gain credits to teach on the subject they are studying. I contacted the nutrition department, and after a lengthy conversation they agreed to come and teach a 12-week class on nutrition to our Phase One residents. The topics are how to prepare healthy foods, what to look for on packages, how to read nutrition labels on packages, etc.”

Below is a photo of the kitchen at the Workshop:

We are so proud of the Workshop and of the men in the program. Not everyone is willing to make meaningful changes in life, but our men are, and that takes tremendous strength and courage. Your support makes it all possible! Thank you for everything you do for the Joseph House.

With our prayers for blessings in the New Year,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We would like to pray for you. Please send us your prayer requests: Contact Form.

Your support keeps the Joseph House Crisis Center and the Joseph House Workshop in operation. You can learn how to make a donation here: Donate.

Our featured community member this month is Sr. Mary Joseph, who joined the Little Sisters in 1989. You can read her profile here: Sr. Mary Joseph.

Newsletter: December 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

By far our favorite Christmas decoration is the nativity scene, that representation of the birth of Christ with the Holy Family, shepherds, angels, animals, and wise men. We have more than one set up in our Salisbury convent: there’s one in the chapel, one in the dining room, and one in our basement community room. Each nativity is in a different style, but they all keep us focused on why this time of year is so special.

Most nativity sets come with a stable, but you may have seen some that place the figures in the ruins of an old building. There are crumbling stone walls and broken pillars instead of the usual barnyard structure. We always thought this was just artistic license since the Gospels don’t actually mention a stable, only a manger (a feeding trough) which became a crib for baby Jesus.

In 2019, however, Pope Francis wrote a beautiful exposition on the meaning of the nativity scene and set us straight:

More than anything, the ruins are the visible sign of fallen humanity, of everything that inevitably falls into ruin, decays and disappoints. This scenic setting tells us that Jesus is newness in the midst of an aging world, that He has come to heal and rebuild, to restore the world and our lives to their original splendor (Admirabile Signum).

It’s good to know the meaning of this symbolism. What comes to mind is a quote from Thomas Merton’s journal; addressing God after a bout of self-examination, he writes, “Yet, ruined as my house is, You live there!” Christmas is astoundingly good news. The world is in disarray as it always has been, and the difficulties of life never end. But in the midst of creation, subject to all manner of corruption, “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). God is at home—even in the mess. Does anything else bring us such hope?

Yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate, but it calls for more than just warm sentiments and consumer excess. At Bethlehem, in the mystery of the Incarnation, Christ took upon Himself our poverty and embraced our littleness. To welcome Him at Christmas is to encounter Him in the mystery of the poor, where He promised to be (see Mt 25:31-46). Look for Him in the faces of the homeless and the hungry, and you will find what is essential in life.

Dear friends, we can’t thank you enough for your support of Joseph House. Your prayers and contributions give life to our ministry. You enable it to bear fruit. You make a difference to so many people in need. We can serve them with love because of you.

Our dedicated volunteers also enable us to respond to the many cries for help we receive. It can get busy, but the work is joyful.

Sara, 61, lives alone on one of the many back roads of the Eastern Shore. Her gums have been infected for a long time, and she needs to have most of her remaining teeth removed and replaced with dentures. For many months she has been saving up for this badly needed dental work, but it was beginning to seem like an impossible goal on her fixed income. The Joseph House was able to contribute $400 so Sara can get the dentures and healing treatment she needs.

Home for Wanda, 62, is a little house not much bigger than a storage shed. She doesn’t mind the size because she is frail and must use a walker. Over the summer Wanda suffered an aneurysm and was hospitalized. While she was away, a thief had no trouble breaking into her home and stealing the money Wanda needed to pay her rent. We supplied the missing funds of $425.

Randall, 63, is a widower. He has advanced cancer and is unable to work. He started receiving a small Social Security check and food stamps, but his basic expenses are overshadowing his resources. We paid $335 toward his past-due electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Jordyn, 24, was working in a chicken processing plant, but the physical demands of her job were too much for her and she had to stop. She lives in Virginia, in a sparsely populated area, and there are few other options for employment. Before Jordyn could find another job, she missed a rent payment, and her landlord served her with an eviction notice. Although Salisbury is more than an hour by car from where she lives, Jordyn made the trip, looking for help. We called her landlord and made arrangements to assist with $400 to stop the eviction, which was scheduled for that day.

Tammy, 51, and her husband were homeless and living in their car. They both have serious health problems, but only Tammy receives a disability check; nothing is left over after the car payment, insurance bill, and buying food. Fortunately, the couple received a subsidized housing voucher, but they could not move in for several days. With the weather turning colder, we gave Tammy and her husband five nights in a motel ($350).

Coming Soon: We currently have three residents in the Joseph House Workshop, our job-preparation program for homeless men. An update on their activities will be forthcoming. Please visit our website to learn more about our ministries, What We Do, as well as Donate Online.

Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. We are grateful for everything you do to help us in our mission to uphold the dignity of all people, especially the poor, and to assist them in their times of need.

Our prayers are with you for a blessed Advent and a happy celebration of Christmas. May the New Year bring you peace and good health.

And may your hearts rejoice always in God’s gift of love for you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


As we prepare to welcome Christ with faith reborn, we offer you the gift of prayer. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ document on the nativity scene:

https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20191201_admirabile-signum.html


The First Nativity Scene

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with setting up the first nativity scene to help celebrate Christmas. In 1223 he was visiting Greccio, a small hilltown in Italy, where the caves reminded him of the Bethlehem countryside. Francis felt inspired. According to his first biographer, Thomas of Celano, the saint decided “to bring to life the memory of that Babe born in Bethlehem,” to see as much as possible with his own eyes “the discomfort of His infant needs, how He lay in a manger, and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, He was laid upon a bed of hay.”

Enlisting the help of a local friend, Francis set up an altar inside a rocky niche. A manger was brought in along with a borrowed ox and donkey. Friars and townspeople arrived for Midnight Mass, bringing flowers and torch lights.

St. Bonaventure, in his life of Francis, writes, “The man of God [Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His Name for the tenderness of his love, he called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.”

And in the words of Thomas, “There Simplicity was honored, Poverty exalted, Humility commended; and of Greccio there was made as it were a new Bethlehem. The night was lit up as the day, and was delightful to men and beasts…[Francis] stood before the manger, full of sighs, overcome with tenderness and filled with wondrous joy.”

People loved the way that the pages of sacred Scripture were brought to life, and the inspiration of Francis quickly spread to churches and private homes. Today, nativity scenes of all types and sizes proclaim the meaning of Christmas around the world.

Pope Francis at Greccio.

Please read this blog post by Franciscan author Murray Bodo OFM on what Greccio says to us today:

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/st-anthony-messenger/december-2018/st-francis-and-the-gift-of-greccio

Newsletter: November 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Here it is November already, and another year is flying by. It’s a special year, too, the “Year of St. Joseph,” which was declared by Pope Francis as a way to promote this saint whose example offers hope during our troubled times.

St. Joseph, of course, is very dear to us at the Joseph House. Back when she started in 1965, our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, placed her ministry to the poor under his patronage. She later explained why:

I named what we did to help the poor “Joseph House” because St. Joseph was the provider for Mary and Jesus. Also, Scripture describes St. Joseph as a just man, and working for justice has always been very important to me. That lies at the heart of Joseph House.

Our founder touches upon some important ideas here, ideas which are central to our mission. Let’s unpack them a little.

As the provider for Mary and Jesus, St. Joseph speaks to us of the dignity of human work. He earned an honest living and used his gifts to be a co-creator with God of the world around him. St. Joseph served his community through his carpentry. The lives of his neighbors were improved because of what he did.

St. Joseph’s work was also directly connected to his support of family life. Why did he work hard? The number one reason was to care for the people he loved the most. St. Joseph provided a home for Mary and Jesus and everything the word “home” means: not only a place to live and food for the table, but love, acceptance, and a sense of security. The Holy Family were refugees in Egypt and then had to resettle in Nazareth. St. Joseph the provider helped his young wife and her precious Child to believe, “It’s going to be okay.”

As a just man, St. Joseph speaks to us on how to live in society. Justice is about “right” relationships: with other people, our community, and God. It involves giving to each what is due. A just person also recognizes that some debts can never be repaid: the gift of life, for example. (Try saying to God, “We’re even.”) Thus, justice requires one to be humble, merciful, and eager to make a contribution to the common good.

Sister did a great job in picking a role model for our ministry. What we have to do is live up to his name in our service to the poor. We need the prayers of St. Joseph—and we need you.

Your generosity allows our Crisis Center to help people who are struggling to provide for their families. You enable homeless men in our Workshop to begin new lives with decent jobs. Together, we stand in for St. Joseph in so many ways.

Lillian, 39, has four children. Her husband walked out, moved to a different state, and is not paying child support. Lillian had surgery over the summer and could not work for six weeks. Her little bit of savings did not last long. When she came to see us she was penniless. Her children were hungry and the water was going to be cut off in her rental home. We paid the bill of $317 and gave Lillian bags of groceries and a gasoline voucher. Lillian’s relief found expression in tears.

Tom, 56, had to stop working at his job in food service because of his bad heart. He now has to wear a heart monitor. With his life in a free fall, Tom is hoping there’s a safety net to catch him. He has applied for government help. In the meantime, we paid his rent ($300) so he would not be evicted.

Julie, 64, lives on a fixed income. She spends about $200 per month on prescription medications. Julie calmly explained how most of her health problems began after the near-fatal complications of her knee surgery. She was behind in her rent and in danger of losing her subsidized housing, so we paid the $273 that was due.

Laura, 41, is mentally challenged and receives disability. She is the caregiver for her 100-year-old grandmother. Their guardian angels must be working overtime. Laura had a disconnect notice from the gas company. We were able to pay the amount due of $400.

CHRISTMAS CONCERT: Back by popular demand, the Magi Fund is presenting “A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS” featuring the National Christian Choir, pianist Michael Faircloth, and the Salisbury Children’s Choir. One performance only, Saturday, November 13 at 3 pm, Emmanuel Church Auditorium, 217 Beaglin Park Drive, Salisbury. All proceeds benefit the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, available at First Shore Federal Savings & Loan (all branches) and The Country House (E. Main Street, Salisbury). Call 410-749-1633 or visit magifund.com for information.

TURKEYS AND TOYS: Your donations can make this time of year a little brighter for those who are disadvantaged. Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 21. Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 12. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns.

All donations can be dropped off at our convent at 411 N. Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury. Thank you for helping us. The joy of the holiday season is made complete by remembering those who are less fortunate!

It’s a great feeling to have many reasons to be thankful. Do you know what’s even better? Being the reason that someone is thankful. You are just that for all the people who receive assistance from the Joseph House. You give to our ministry what it needs: your love and concern for others. Your prayers and contributions make our work possible, and we offer you our heartfelt gratitude. To you and your loved ones we wish a Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Do you have special prayer intentions? We would love to add our prayers to yours. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Your help is needed! The mission of the Joseph House depends on people like you. Find out how you can make a difference: Holiday Giving.

Newsletter: October 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

What is the greatest sin committed against the poor?

According to Franciscan priest Raniero Cantalamessa, it is indifference.

“Unfortunately, we can get used to anything in time, and we have grown accustomed to other people’s misery,” he writes in his book, Poverty. “It only affects us to a degree, we almost take it for granted as inevitable.”

It’s easy for this to happen, given that the daily news is an endless repeat of disasters and turmoil and senseless violence. Sometimes in order to cope we build a wall around our hearts, which is very understandable. We feel a need to keep the pain of other people at a distance. But these walls don’t always protect our hearts, they just let them grow cold. It becomes easier and easier to turn away from people who are poor and suffering and in dire need of assistance. And who wants the priest and Levite from the parable of the Good Samaritan to be their role models? That’s no way to live.

To help shake off our indifference, Fr. Raniero suggests we adopt a new perspective: let us look at situations “from God’s point of view for a moment, and try to see things as He sees them.”

What would that be like? We can make some reasonable guesses. When God looks at the world He sees His children. He sees each individual person as unique and beautiful, made with love and imbued with an irreplaceable dignity. God sees our diversity and differences, of course, but these are not impediments to loving us. God doesn’t see the arbitrary lines we use to divide people into categories, the end result being, whether we intend it or not, that some people are deemed worthy of our care and compassion and others less so. From God’s point of view, we belong to one human family, and it is a family where everyone is loved and cherished.

But how can we really love everyone in the world? We should keep in mind that our love for other people is measured by our desire for their good, not the depth of our feelings. Also, even though we can’t do everything for everyone, we can always do something for someone. As Jesuit Daniel Berrigan said, “The difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”

We believe God doesn’t look at the size of our actions, just the amount of love that goes into them. Otherwise, the Joseph House would never have gotten started all those years ago. Our work continues today because people like you understand that being able to share with others is one of life’s greatest blessings.

Alyson, 27, and her three children (plus one on the way) were homeless. Alyson had been to the Joseph House before and we knew she had a difficult life. She receives $500 per month in temporary cash assistance from the state. Trying to raise a family on that amount is futile. Alyson still has a car and was hoping to get to Baltimore where a shelter was going to have an opening for her and her children in a few days. The shelter was also going to provide counseling and other forms of assistance. We gave Alyson three nights in a motel ($240), a gasoline voucher, bags of groceries, $30 cash for miscellaneous expenses, and books for her children. Her hope for a new beginning is a precious thing to keep alive.

Makayla and Owen, both in their thirties, have two daughters and a son. Their little boy is a toddler and has cancer. Makayla is also in poor health and stays home to care for him. Owen does odd jobs for their landlord. The family’s phone was cut off and their water was next. Makayla said she has applied for subsidized housing but the wait can be very long. We paid the past-due water bill of $350.

Helen, 52, and her pre-teen daughter live in subsidized housing, but it is infested with insects. We could see the bug bites on her daughter’s arm. The exterminator said it would cost $400 to clean out their house. This amount was simply beyond Helen’s reach so we agreed to pay it.

Vanessa, 61, lives alone on a fixed income. She was out of propane so she did not have hot water or a working stove. The cost to get the tank filled was almost half of her monthly check. We called the gas company and said we would pay the amount ($325).

Jane, 40, has a brain tumor and goes to Baltimore twice a week for treatment. She is only able to work part-time. Jane was behind in the rent and was worried she and her four children were going to get evicted. We called her landlord and paid the amount due ($275). Jane’s oldest son hopes to get a job soon at a fast-food restaurant so he can help support the family.

Fabiola, 30, and her five children immigrated to our country from Haiti. She is working hard at a chicken plant but still needed help paying her electric bill. We paid the balance of $240.

After a summer of oppressive heat, the arrival of “sweater weather” is a welcome change. The brisk air of early morning makes us feel renewed and energized and ready to face the day. We love being able to help people at the Joseph House, and we are so happy we can count on you as a faithful friend to those in need. You are always in our prayers.

The joy of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, was to love people who seemed unlovable. On October 27 it will be 17 years since she departed this life to be united with God forever. We hope and pray that we honor her memory in all that we do.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We have made some updates to our website. Please take a look to read profiles and see photos of the members of our community.

We pray for our friends and benefactors every day. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Contributions from people like you keep the Joseph House in operation. Learn how you can help: Donate.

Newsletter: September 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

According to verse twenty-one of the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs, “Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.”

A Yiddish proverb puts it another way: “We plan and God laughs.”

We all know what it’s like. We have hopes and dreams, we make plans and get ready for what we have in mind, and then the unexpected happens. We find out, once again, that the universe is under no obligation to cooperate with us. It could be rain on the day of a picnic, or something much more consequential, like a pandemic. Despite our power and strength, there is a limit to what we can control.

That’s why wise people always add “God willing” whenever they make any sort of plans.

Coping with change and the unpredictability of life can make us resilient. But each individual can only handle so much, especially when great losses are involved. Regina, for example, never imagined the pain and difficulties she would have to face. She was married, had children, and was working as a nurse. Seventeen years ago, however, she became infected with flesh-eating bacteria. An area of her upper leg had to be surgically removed. The infection still spread and she went into septic shock. Regina ended up on a ventilator and suffered permanent lung damage. She was also paralyzed from the waist down but has since regained the ability to walk.

Now 58, Regina’s health remains fragile. She needs additional surgery for a skin graft, wound care, and an ostomy. Making matters immeasurably worse is that she is alienated from her family. She feels betrayed by her ex-husband. Forced to live on a meager disability income, Regina did the circuit of substandard housing that is the fate for many people who are poor. She lived in neighborhoods where drug deals openly took place and in houses infested with rodents and mold. She even lived in her car until it broke down in someone’s driveway. Her last stop before contacting us was a motel. It was clean and she felt safe with her two therapy cats (her beloved companions throughout her trials), but the cost was rapidly draining her money away.

The first thing we did was pay for a week at the motel to give us time to find an affordable and hygienic apartment for Regina. That was not an easy task. We contacted everyone we knew who could help us. Another week was required at the motel, and then a third. We paid the bills but we were feeling desperate, along with Regina, and we let the Lord know about it in our prayers. Finally, success! A place was found and another agency agreed to help Regina with rental assistance.

Regina later told us how grateful she was for all the help she received. She feels like it was divine intervention. She said it has been a true learning experience, both about herself and in terms of renewing her faith and trust in others. That’s really the best we can hope for when life doesn’t happen the way we planned.

Barry, 59, has had his life derailed by a bite from a brown recluse spider. He almost died, and the arm that received the bite is limp and useless. Barry thinks his livelihood as a master mechanic is gone for good. He said he just doesn’t feel right. His doctor has ordered more tests, but so far there is no conclusive diagnosis. With no income at the moment, Barry was worried about getting evicted. We sent $400 to his landlord to help cover the back rent.

Colleen, 64, is very lame with arthritis. Her house is horrible: the mold problem is getting out of hand and the windows are sealed shut. She has lived there for sixteen years. Colleen was trying to stay cool in the stifling summer heat with an electric fan, but she really needed an air conditioner. We paid her water bill ($350) to stop the impending cut-off. We also made arrangements to have an air conditioner delivered through an agency that helps seniors. Colleen will also get food from Meals on Wheels.

Audrey, 47, lives on disability. Her car (with over a quarter of a million miles on it) broke down. The repair bill was $680, which is more than her monthly disability check. Audrey has been trying to pay off this bill, but it set her back in her rent and she received an eviction notice. The Department of Social Services and another agency did not have funds to help her. We paid the amount needed to stop the eviction ($200) plus the final $80 of the car repair bill.

Leslie, 46, had to leave her job because her stomach cancer was getting worse. She has no income, although she has applied for government benefits. Since Leslie was unable to pay her rent, we sent $300 to her landlord.

Sheila, 63, is disabled and in poor health. Several weeks ago, she needed to start using an oxygen concentrator at home to help her breathe. Sheila was unprepared for the increase in her electric bill. From her $900 monthly check she already pays $600 for rent. We paid the $320 due on the electric, but Sheila will have to cut what little she can from her monthly expenses.

Delores, 39, works in health care. When she experienced flu-like symptoms she had to quarantine for two weeks. Fortunately, she did not have COVID-19, but like many working people she lives paycheck-to-paycheck. The lost pay put her behind in the rent. Delores has a young daughter. She is also a victim of domestic violence and does not receive child support. We sent $400 to her landlord. Delores is determined not to get in this situation again. She is now working a second job.

The universe may not always cooperate, but there’s no reason we can’t cooperate with each other. The pandemic is another reminder that sometimes our individual efforts are not enough—we need to work together to solve our problems and ensure the well-being of all.

The Joseph House is supremely blessed to have people like you working with us. Your prayers and support make a big difference to many people. And let us remember that, no matter what happens, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Rom 8:28).

We never tire of giving thanks for you and pray for you every day. As we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we also pray for peace in our world. May God’s love bring an end to all division and strife.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We pray for our benefactors and friends every day. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.


We need your help. Learn how you can support our ministries to those in need: Donate.

Newsletter: August 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Living under harsh circumstances does not mean we ourselves have to be harsh. Charles de Foucauld is proof of that.

For fifteen years, from 1901 until his death in 1916, Charles made his home in Algeria, surrounded by the moonscape of the Sahara Desert. Famine, loneliness, exhaustion . . . Charles was well acquainted with every aspect of desert living. Over time his body withered like a dry stick, but his heart remained supple and fresh. His love for God gave him inner vitality, and he dedicated his life to the best way of showing that love, which is loving other people. Charles called himself a “universal brother” to everyone.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, considered Charles to be a spiritual role model. This passage from the first biography of Charles helps to illustrate why. It describes a time when he spent 25 days at an encampment of wounded French soldiers, ministering to their needs:

“All his time, except the few hours given to sleep—and those not every night—and the time for his Mass and rapid meals, [Charles] devoted to the wounded. He chatted with each of them, spoke to them of their country and families, and wrote their letters. When he entered one of the ambulance rooms, all the wounded called out to him with one voice: ‘Good-morning, Father,’ and each wished to be the first to receive the visit of the friend of all. They recognized one who loved the soldier and understood him. Certainly, most of these legionaries were not accustomed to speak to a priest; piety was not their dominant characteristic; but the sweetness, the affable and sprightly manner, the self-sacrifice of this priest who devoted every instant of his time to them, rapidly conquered them one after the other. The presence of this monk became indispensable to them.

“An officer of the post, whom I questioned, said to me: ‘It is beyond doubt that his influence on their morale had a great deal to do with this singular fact: of these forty-nine wounded, of whom several were seriously injured and with many wounds, only one succumbed. I remember a certain legionary, of German origin, whom we considered a not very commendable subject. At El-Mungar he had had a bullet through his chest. Father de Foucauld took him in hand as the most seriously wounded and the least sympathetic, indeed, quite the reverse. Received at first more than coolly, with his patience and sweetness he ended in conciliating this poor man to such a point that the latter called for him at every moment, and related to him the intimate history—not always edifying—of an old African soldier.’” (René Bazin, Charles de Foucauld, Hermit and Explorer)

Charles (center) with a group of French soldiers.

Charles had a simple philosophy regarding how to interact with other people: “Be loving, gentle, and humble with all human beings. This is what we have learned from Jesus, not to be aggressive towards anyone. Jesus taught us to go out like lambs among wolves.” Many eyewitnesses gave testimony that Charles practiced what he preached. They always remembered his smile and sincere friendliness.

The circumstances of our daily lives are not as extreme as those faced by Charles, so it should be easier to be Christ-like, right? Well, we know how it is. It takes practice, self-awareness, and plenty of prayer. We need God’s grace—and God is very happy to supply it.

People who come to the Joseph House Crisis Center have been beaten down by poverty and misfortune. In the spirit of Charles, we greet them with kindness, the first step in helping them find reasons to have hope.

Glenda, 52, needed the support of her walker with a built-in seat when she came to see us. She spoke with a stutter, but her words were easy to understand. Despite her many physical ailments, Glenda is helping to care for her two young grandchildren while their mother looks for work. One of the children is just a baby and is very sick; she needs to use a breathing machine and her mother is afraid to be away from her. Glenda only receives $400 monthly in SSI. She needed help paying her overdue electric bill. The Joseph House contributed $400.

Cathy, 54, has a husband who moved out, although he continues to send her $135 each week (her only income). Cathy suffers from a mental impairment and finding work is a challenge. She has her hopes on getting a job at a thrift shop. In the meantime, we sent $300 to the electric company so the power would not be cut off in her home.

Teresa, 56, has liver cancer. She is scheduled to have surgery soon. Coping with her illness has been an ordeal, but Teresa has managed to keep working. She is also raising her fourteen-year-old child. Teresa did miss some work and fell behind in the rent. She needed to pay $1,470. Refusing to give up, she was able to raise all but $320. We paid that amount to the landlord to stop the eviction.

After she lost her job, Leanne, 31, and her three children moved in with a friend. Then her friend got evicted and Leanne and her children were homeless. Fortunately, Leanne quickly found a job paying $16 per hour. With her first paycheck two weeks away, however, she needed help with housing. We agreed to pay for a motel room ($450) so Leanne and her children would not be on the street. Leanne will then use her paycheck to move into an apartment.

Kurt, 67, lives in a house infested with insects. He receives $740 in Social Security, of which $500 goes toward the rent. From what’s left he pays for utilities and food. An exterminator gave him an estimate of $500 to eradicate all the pests. There was no way Kurt could afford that, but the Joseph House pulled together and came up with the money.

In talking about our ministry, Sr. Mary Elizabeth always said “It’s not so much what we do as the way we do it.” That’s what counts for so many things in life. What helps to guide our conduct? Remembering a sense of reverence, of being aware that the sacred presence of God is all around us and within those we serve.

Thank you for your support. You allow us to reach out with love to many people. Your faithfulness touches us deeply. With our prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Do you have a special need you would like us to pray for? Please let us know: Contact Form
Our ministry to the poor depends on the generosity of people like you. Learn how to help: Donate


The following describes the spirit of service we strive to bring in our interactions with others at the Joseph House and wherever else we may be:

Those who are paid to serve on a nine-to-five basis can assume the appropriate attitudes during work hours and hang them up with their uniform when they are off duty. Real servants are on call 24/7; they live over the shop, as it were. Their needs and preferences are considered unimportant. That is probably why we no longer have many such people—effectively, they are slaves.

It is very rare to find a person who has sincerely internalized the qualities of a servant: hardworking, nonassertive, self-effacing, obliging. This is the quality that is designated in the New Testament by the words meekness or gentleness.

The best way to define this quality is by thinking of its opposites: harshness, violence, bossiness, imperiousness, assertiveness, heavy-handedness, and so on. To eschew such ways of interacting with others demands great strength of character. It means living by the fruit of the Holy Spirit, in the way set forth in the Beatitudes. It is not so easy to offer the other cheek when struck, not so easy to go the second mile, not so easy not to take offense when insulted. To be gentle means being very strong.

I can compel you by power, but I can draw you by gentleness. I can drive you by force, but I can lead you by gentleness. I can crush you by arrogance, but I can nurture you by gentleness. I can destroy you by vengeance, but I can forgive and heal you by gentleness. This is the way of Christ. This is the litmus test we can apply to ourselves, whether we be leaders or followers.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach us the way of gentleness. Help us to use whatever authority we have with the utmost respect for others, as a sincere service of the community and not as a convenience for ourselves. Help us also to respond to hostility with meekness and humility, and let us make peace before the sun goes down. For you are our Lord both now and forever. Amen.

Michael Casey, OCSO
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