Newsletter: December 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We’re all familiar with Christmas carols but some of our favorite songs of the season are Advent hymns.

They tend to get drowned out because Christmas music starts playing on the radio at Thanksgiving and stops on Christmas Day. This doesn’t make a lot of sense unless Christmas is just about shopping—but of course the birth of Christ means something else.

Anyway, a favorite hymn for Advent is one you might know, “People, Look East.” It has a lilting, French melody.

People, look east, the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

We like the part about getting your house ready as you are able. It’s a busy time of year and we can only do so much. But there’s an inner preparation that needs to be done, a “house” to set in order, and that kind of work deserves our extra effort.

Christmas today often means getting stressed out, but it’s worth it to slow down and prepare ourselves to welcome our infant Savior. The Child of Bethlehem, a baby, is so gentle—and to hold a baby we must be gentle, too. Tenderness and care are needed.

As we make our lives more hospitable to receive Christ, as we make room for Him in our hearts, we must ask ourselves the question: should we not do the same for our neighbors who are poor and vulnerable? Is Christ, who was born in a stable for lack of room elsewhere, not also present with them?

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” will be playing on repeat at the shopping malls, but it’s not wonderful for everyone. Some folks wish for better days. They wish for basic things like shelter, heat, and food. They wish their children didn’t have to suffer. They wish they didn’t feel alone.

The Joseph House is here for them. Your support, prayers, and donations are essential to who we are and what we do. We share with you the belief that the true joy of the season is found in giving. And we all have something to give, no matter how humble, for the good of another.

The simplest things can bring someone to tears: for Tracy, it was a box of diapers. She needed them for the youngest of her four children. Feeling scared and worn out, Tracy told us that she has a restraining order against her husband. He has physically abused her and their children. We had already paid her overdue water bill of $236. When she asked for the diapers we said of course, and her tears showed just how heavy this young mother’s heart was.

Spencer also needed a basic necessity. He is 56 and disabled because of a back injury. A lack of heat brought him to the Joseph House, and so we paid his gas bill ($100). Then we found out that he didn’t have a bed, and despite recent back surgery, he was sleeping on the floor. We quickly got him a mattress and box spring.

Lucinda, age 80, was on the verge of losing everything. The city had declared her residence uninhabitable and was ready to condemn it because the electricity was turned off. Her house is very humble, but it is her home and precious to her. Lucinda’s trouble began when her son, who had access to her bank account, stole money from her. He left her with nothing to pay her bills. We called the utility company, and digging deep in our pockets because so much was at stake, promised to send in $400. That was enough to get the power back on.

And now here is an update from the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men:

We currently have three residents in the program, one in Phase 1, one in Phase 2.5, and one in Phase 3.0. The focus in Phase 1 is on job readiness where a resident learns life skills. Phase 2.5 is a level where the resident has added freedoms and responsibilities both personally and employment-wise. Phase 3.0 is for residents who are ready to leave the Workshop in the near future; they have an even broader range of benefits.

Our Phase 1 resident is currently working on a one-to-one basis with several volunteer teachers learning computer skills, relapse prevention, spiritual practices, and employment readiness. Our Phase 2.5 resident is currently working at Peninsula Regional Medical Center and is about to obtain a vehicle. Our Phase 3.0 resident has full-time employment, a vehicle, and is seeking housing at this time.

One of our greatest successes in 2019 involved a 26-year-old male who suffered from schizophrenia which had never before been identified or treated. On proper medication this individual became a fully-functioning member of society with a full-time job, his own vehicle, and his own place to live. He has revisited the Workshop on various occasions to update us on his ongoing success. This is an example where a resident who trusted in the program had a success that enabled him to be very proud of his accomplishments.

For the residents, one of the most important and favorite parts of the program is the morning prayer and meditation time. It gets the day off to a great start.

We are looking forward to having a new Phase 1 resident enter the program soon.

Christmas is the glorious crown of the year. It’s the “day of grand memories,” Washington Irving wrote.”Gift-bearing, heart-touching, joy-bringing Christmas.” We hope your heart is filled with peace this holiday season and that many moments of joy brighten your days. Thank you for making your love for the less fortunate so visible.

May God’s blessing rest upon you and your loved ones this Christmas and throughout the New Year!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


During this holy season, we offer you the gift of prayer. Please send us your prayer requests so we can lift them up to the Lord: Contact Form.

Do you feel drawn to helping those in need? By supporting the Joseph House, you give assistance to the homeless, the hungry, and families in distress. Learn about the different ways you can lend a hand: Donate.

You can also help by sharing this Newsletter and encouraging your friends to subscribe.

Newsletter: November 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A lovely custom with many people when they gather for Thanksgiving Dinner is to take turns saying what they’re thankful for. Expressing gratitude is good for the soul—and it’s what the holiday is all about.

In our humble cubicles at the Joseph House Crisis Center, sitting around tiny desks with cups of coffee, we hear words of gratitude all the time. They come from people who’ve had their prayers answered and feel (maybe for the first time in a long while) a sense of hope. Sometimes people will leave us notes. Their words are sincere and straight from the heart. We’d like to share a few of them with you:

“I was blessed the first time I set foot in Joseph House. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”

“Your staff was so courteous and friendly and so respectful. We are so grateful due to your loving help.”

“My husband underwent surgery and was in terrible pain and missed several days of work. Our gas bill for heating had gotten out of control and we needed help. We are so grateful that you did not turn us away.”

“Thank you for all of your help in trying to get me back on my feet. God’s angels have been working overtime to help me!”

“I think this is a very warm and comfortable atmosphere here. The people are generous and considerate. It’s just an outstanding facility.”

“I am thankful for this place where I can get a shower and a smile and most of all a sense of worth, because they do what they do out of love of God’s children.”

Your support means so much to so many people! People who receive help from the Joseph House are quick to tell us how grateful they are, and so we need to tell you because you make it all possible.

God has richly blessed our nation. We have an abundance of food and material goods. For many, life is a banquet. But not everyone shares in the feast…people who work hard for low wages; people who are beset with health problems; people advanced in years who need help with day-to-day living. Our greatness as a nation is most evident in how we care for those who are least in the eyes of the world. The best way to express gratitude for the blessings we enjoy is to share them with those in need. Won’t you please help us to do that?

Your generosity assists people like Jerome, age 53. He is disabled and lives on a monthly check of $640. His rent is $500. The electricity in Jerome’s apartment (part of a subdivided house) was going to be turned off because he was behind in paying the bill. The Joseph House sent in $175 to prevent that from happening.

Annabelle, 29, also needed help with her electric bill. She is a single mother of four children. Working at a fast-food restaurant, her day starts at 3:30am. She earns $800 per month. We were able to help with $180.

The things we take for granted are another person’s dream!

TURKEYS AND TOYS: To make the holiday season brighter for the less fortunate, we need donations of food and toys, which can be delivered to our convent at 411 North Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury.

Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 24.

Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 15. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns.

Please contact us if you have any questions: Contact Form

ONLINE SHOPPING: If you shop on Amazon, please consider starting with our Amazon Smile link:

smile.amazon.com/ch/52-0846802

Amazon will then donate to the Joseph House a small percentage of your purchase total.

RETURN OF THE MAGI: This year the Magi Fund presents “A Magical Christmas,” a holiday concert to benefit the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter.

“A Magical Christmas” will feature the combined talents of renowned National Christian Choir pianist Michael Faircloth, Symphony 21’s composer and artistic director Daniel Bowen, and nationally recognized vocalist Diane King Susek. Michael, Daniel and Diane are teaming up to produce an exciting holiday celebration with a definite twist.

This will be a unique, professionally produced extravaganza of holiday music, sights and sounds that will thrill your heart, set the tone for your Christmas holiday AND raise those much needed funds for the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter!

One performance only: Sunday, December 8 at 2pm.
Location: James M. Bennett High School, 300 E. College Avenue in Salisbury.

Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), available at First Shore Federal Savings and Loan (all locations) and The Country House on Main Street in Salisbury.

There is also an order form on the website: magifund.com

COMMUNITY NEWS: On October 21, during a ceremony in our chapel in Princess Anne, Maryland, Sr. Nicole Soder received the habit and began her time as a novice. Sr. Virginia Peckham also renewed her temporary vows for the fifth time.

These are graced moments for everyone in our community, and we are so thankful for both Sisters for responding to God’s call. May God’s blessing be upon them!

Sr. Nicole receiving her habit after it was blessed by our chaplain, Fr. Dan McGlynn.
Sr. Virginia renewing her vows.

And we are very thankful for you, for being a friend of the Joseph House and the poor, and for all the ways you support us in our mission to help those in need. You are in our prayers every single day. A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


During this season of gratitude, we will joyfully lift up in prayer your special intentions. Please send them to us: Contact Form

Would you like to join us in our mission of helping the less fortunate? Find out how at this link: Donate


“As it does every year, it all began at Thanksgiving. The sheer weight of the advertising pages that arrived with the local newspapers was the first indication of how relentless corporate America is in colonizing our days. Thanksgiving, particularly, is a day that seems to be a threat to consumerism…”

It’s easy to get “consumed by consumerism.” This article is an important reminder about holiday shopping:

https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/555/ethics-notebook/consuming-christmas

Newsletter: October 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

When someone is homeless, he or she needs many things. At the Joseph House, we can’t do everything, but one service we do provide is laundry. We have to set limits since we only have one washer and dryer in our Hospitality Room, but we try to give each person who asks a week’s worth of clean clothes. Putting on a set of freshly laundered clothing goes a long way in upholding someone’s dignity.

In her beautiful book, The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris has a short chapter on laundry:

We groan about the drudgery but seldom talk about the secret pleasure we feel at being able to make dirty things clean, especially the clothes of our loved ones, which possess an intimacy all their own. Laundry is one of the few tasks in life that offers instant results, and that is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also democratic; everyone has to do it, or figure out a way to get it done.

Memories of her childhood, and the colorful laundry strung between tenements in Honolulu’s Chinatown, bring further reflection:

In any city slum, it’s laundry—neat lines of babies’ T-shirts, kids’ underwear and jeans—that announce that families live here, and that someone cares. For some people, laundry seems to satisfy a need for ritual. A television commentator with a hectic schedule once told me that the best, most contemplative part of his day was early morning, a time he set aside for laundering and ironing his shirts.

Even when we finish our laundry, it’s never done—we’ll have to do more later. Laundry is just one of the little domestic chores that everyone has to attend to, that keeps us grounded and united in the creatureliness of being human. It’s part of the private, behind-the-scenes work that goes on in everyone’s life. That some people don’t have the means to do this is part of the stripping of human dignity that can be the most degrading aspect of living in poverty.

The little things we do for each other can be the most important. As Norris mentions, they are signs that someone cares.

In a year’s time, the Crisis Center will touch the lives of thousands of people through our Hospitality Room, Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Financial Assistance program. We can show people we care only because you care about them, too. Your generosity gives hope to so many people.

Sometimes men and women who are homeless are on a long journey of being on the street. Recently, we helped Aaron, age 56, take a new road. His disability claim was approved and his name made it to the top of the waiting list for subsidized housing. The Joseph House paid a security deposit of $175 so Aaron could move into a well-maintained, low-income apartment building.

For the past couple of years, Paul, 64, has been living in a dilapidated trailer park. His residence sheltered him from the elements, but without electricity it lacked even the most basic comforts of a home. Paul has been in poor health and is recovering from vascular surgery. Our payment of $300 toward his old electric bill was enough to restore the power.

Arielle, 32, is separated from her husband. Even though she is caring for their four children, he has not paid any child support. In the meantime, she is working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home to support her family. Arielle’s oldest child, a son, has had to grow up quickly—she said he has been a big help to her, does the housecleaning and looks after his siblings. Arielle needed help paying her electric bill. She went to one agency, but they were out of funds. Fortunately, the Joseph House was able to assist her and we sent $232 to the utility company.

Victoria is only 45 but had to stop working because of severe arthritis. While her disability claim is being evaluated, she is receiving $200 per month in temporary disability and $190 in food stamps. That’s hardly enough to live on! Victoria said her most pressing need at the moment was her overdue water bill; she didn’t want the water to be cut off in her home. We paid the bill of $187.

Lorenzo, 60, lives alone on a fixed income. Each month, 88% of his check goes toward the rent. Although he never learned to read and write, Lorenzo has managed to do odd jobs to get some much needed cash. An extended illness, however, has limited his ability to work. He fell behind in the rent and was going to be evicted. The Joseph House sent $175 to the landlord to halt the proceedings.

Wesley, 48, works in a factory and is also being treated for cancer. A seasonal slow-down at work has resulted in fewer hours. He also had a major car repair bill. Our payment of $280 to his landlord kept Wesley from being evicted.

Naomi is 73 and waiting for subsidized housing. It would help tremendously with her budget. Right now she is paying 79% of her check each month on rent. High housing costs are squeezing people dry. We can’t imagine what’s going to happen to the millions who won’t be able to afford to live anywhere.

Naomi came to see us because she was worried about her electric bill. She lives out in the country and depends on well water. A leak was causing the pump to run continuously. She fixed the leak, but not before it caused her electric bill to jump pretty high. We paid $170 to avoid a shut-off.

These words of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, spell out the essential mission of the Joseph House. It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since October 27, 2004, when she departed this earth for eternal life with God. We can never remember her without smiling because her joy and laughter are always the first things that come to mind. Please pray for us, that we may be faithful to the work she began so many years ago.

And rest assured that we pray for you. Thank you for all the ways you help to bring the mission of the Joseph House to life. You are so important to us and to the poor! May God’s blessing be with you always.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

Learn how you can help us to help those in need: Donate

Newsletter: September 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A friend of ours has been going through a difficult time. Worries keep her up at night. She will go for a walk to clear her head but that doesn’t help. She prays to God a lot. She prays very simply and honestly. When we spoke with her we did our best to assure her that God will answer her prayers. Her response: “But I need an answer NOW!”

Our friend is not impious, angry, or demanding. She’s not stamping her foot expecting God to be at her beck and call. She’s afraid. She’s feeling the weight of her problem and there doesn’t seem to be any solution to it. She doesn’t know what will happen or what she can do.

Chances are you understand how our friend feels. Sooner or later, we all come to the end of our rope. Our usual supports will give way. Like our friend, we will feel weak, powerless, and vulnerable. We’ll reach our limits and no longer have control over the events that impact our lives. Insecurity will gnaw away at our peace of mind.

At the Joseph House, we and our volunteers hear many laments from people undergoing the trials of life. Often we feel there is little we can do. We can only be like Mary and the beloved disciple John, who stood at the foot of the Cross, unable to do anything except be there. Where they stood was unimaginably frightening and desolate, but fear did not keep them away. Love gives us courage to go where we’d rather not.

And where were their eyes focused? Not on themselves. If it seems we can do little it’s because we’re looking at our limitations, at how impossible the situation appears to be. The words of Oscar Romero, who was recently canonized, steer us in a helpful direction:

“We cannot do everything, and there is sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.”

We could not go on if we didn’t believe in the grace of God that’s always at work. God’s pretty good at filling in the gaps left by even our best efforts—in fact we depend on it!

Every inkling of compassion, every tug at our heart to do good…that’s God asking us to be the loving and caring people we were created to be. Thank you for being part of the Joseph House family. Through your donations, your prayers, and all the ways you show your support, you are making a difference.

Brandy, 36, has been homeless for the past six months. Although young, she suffered a stroke. Her mobility is not completely impaired, but holding down a job is not possible. Brandy’s monthly disability check will keep her in an apartment and off the streets. She found a suitable place to live, and we sent $180 to the landlord to help cover the security deposit.

Natasha, 35, was also homeless and living in a shelter with her two children. She found a retail job that was almost full time (30 hours per week), and soon after that, an apartment she could afford. Things were looking up until she learned of the security deposits due: $690 for the apartment and $200 for the electric. Natasha had been saving her money, but her time was almost up at the shelter. We contributed $175 so she and her children could move into the apartment and not be homeless again.

Louis and his wife Joan have a combined Social Security income of $707 monthly. Their tiny house is in a neighborhood of substandard housing. Louis is 71 and being treated for stomach cancer. The extra expense for prescription medications is making it impossible for them to pay their other necessary bills. To prevent the power from being turned off in their home, we sent $150 to the electric company.

Gretchen is 50 and undergoing chemotherapy as part of her cancer treatment. She came to see us before having surgery to remove her kidney. Gretchen hopes to go back to work someday, but right now her health doesn’t permit it. Gretchen has subsidized housing (a real lifesaver but so hard to get), although her rent hasn’t been adjusted yet to reflect her loss of income. She owed money for rent, and if she didn’t pay it she would be evicted and lose her subsidy. We paid $220 to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

Haley, 59, lives alone and just had her car repossessed. She has been trying to get by on $560 a month Unemployment. Her most recent job interview went well and that led to a promise for an upcoming position. Her lack of transportation, however, was going to be an obstacle.

A local car dealership agreed to sell Haley a used car in excellent condition for $595—well below the usual asking price. One of our volunteers, Jack, accompanied Haley to the dealer to inspect the car and go over the sale. An agreement was made for the Joseph House to pay $250 up front with Haley paying the balance after she started working. She was overjoyed, and we were happy that we can do whatever it takes to help people get back on their feet.

Stefanie, 35, is working to provide for her two children. Her budget is very tight, with the rent taking 65% of her paycheck. Stefanie recently needed to have emergency dental work done on an infected tooth. It cost her $300, leaving her short on the rent money. We contributed $200 to help prevent her and her children from being evicted.

Our friend reminded us that the needs of the poor cannot wait. When someone is in a desperate situation, help is needed NOW, not sometime in the future. Thanks to your faithful support, we can respond quickly and directly to the many cries for help at the Joseph House.

Signs of grace are everywhere—let’s keep our eyes open. And may God bless you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We love to pray for your needs. Tell us what is in your heart: Contact Form

Your support helps your neighbor in need. Learn how you can help: Donate

Newsletter: August 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The Joseph House has been in Salisbury for more than 40 years.

When Sr. Mary Elizabeth first arrived on the Eastern Shore, she was more or less a nomad, staying with friends and becoming acquainted with trailer parks. Her wandering came to an end in 1978 after she found the perfect home for her fledgling community: a large white house on the corner of Poplar Hill Avenue and Isabella Street. From there the ministry of Joseph House took root in this area. We still live in that house, our convent, today.

It used to be common to set down roots like this, but less so in the present day. As a society we have become much more mobile. But there’s a lot to be said for digging in deep in one location. Benedictine monks, in fact, take a vow a stability, which is a promise to stay in one place, in one monastery, for their entire lives. For St. Benedict, the monastery was a spiritual workshop, a place where virtue is developed to help one grow closer to God. Even back in his day, people were tempted to seek “geographic cures” for their restlessness. As many found out, however, “No matter where you go, there you are.” Benedict understood that sometimes it’s good to stop moving around. What we need can be right in front of us.

Although we ourselves don’t profess a vow of stability, we appreciate its purpose. Stability goes by other names, such as fidelity and commitment. For the many people who live outside of monasteries, Cardinal Basil Hume, who was an abbot in England, broke open the meaning of the vow. It resonates with us. Maybe it will with you:

“The inner meaning of the vow of stability is that we embrace life as we find it, in this community, with this work, with these problems, with these shortcomings, knowing that this, and not any other way, is our way to God.”

Day by day we really have no choice but to embrace life as we find it. If we can’t stay in one spot, we can always remain true to our values. At the Joseph House, our life is to embrace the needs and sufferings of the poor. Thank you for finding a place for this in your life as well. We can help all the people that we do only with your support.

Elaine, 60, receives disability because of mental health issues. Her son and two grandchildren live with her. Elaine has to take care of all of them because her son has serious health problems and is often in the hospital. She came to the Joseph House with an eviction notice. No other agencies, including the Department of Social Services, had funds to assist her. Fortunately, we did, and we sent $225 to her landlord so Elaine and her family would not become homeless.

Marissa, 40, also needed help with an eviction, and like Elaine she had nowhere else to go for help except the Joseph House. Marissa has four children. She works as a delivery person for a restaurant. The rent takes half of her income, and after paying for utilities, food, and insurance, there is almost nothing left. When her car broke down, she had to get it fixed. That meant there was a lot less money for the other bills. We sent $200 to Marissa’s landlord to make up the shortfall.

Jessica, 63, lives alone and is in poor health. When her home became infested with bed bugs, she had to call an exterminator. He took care of the problem, but Jessica’s bed frame and mattress had to be removed and destroyed. She looked around and found a new set at a pawn shop. The cost was $240, which she could not afford. The Joseph House paid the bill.

Antonio, 46, is mentally challenged. He often becomes homeless, and a few months ago he was hit by a car. He’s recovered, but we wanted to get him off the streets. Antonio receives a small disability income. After finding an affordable room in a boarding house, we sent $300 to the landlord so Antonio could move in.

Leticia, 62, has worked as a cook at the same hotel for 29 years. Despite her work history, and living frugally, she barely gets by financially. She also is raising her ten-year-old granddaughter. Seventy percent of Leticia’s income goes toward the rent. Recently she did not get enough hours at work, and this caused a catastrophe with her budget. To keep Leticia from getting evicted we sent $325 to her landlord.

Stacey, 50, is also raising a grandchild because the child’s mother is in prison. Stacey drives a school bus for a living. The hours are good for parenting, but she has a hard time making ends meet. We sent $200 to the electric company so the power would not be cut off in her home.

Your generosity helps the many people who come to the Joseph House Crisis Center for financial assistance, food, and other necessities. It also helps the men living in the Joseph House Workshop (click here to read a story about one of their activities). Thank you for all the ways in which you assist us in serving the needy in our community. We never forget you in our prayers.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Would you like to share your blessings with those in need? Donate

Please send us your special prayer requests: Contact Form

Newsletter: July 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

When we consider people in need—”the poor”—we may focus on how they’re different from us.

Do we ever consider how we’re the same? Does that change how we want to respond to them?

Our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth once shared a story from the early days of the Joseph House in Baltimore. She was interviewing a mother who had requested help paying a heating bill:

[The mother] had just explained her need for $60 to pay a gas bill. I acknowledged the importance of such a need and then very professionally began to list her expenses alongside of her welfare income. Somewhere she had $50 she could not account for and I worried her with questions.

Finally we arrived at the truth: she had spent the fifty dollars on a coat for her three-year-old, trusting she would get money for her gas from us.

I pointed out that she had made a very unwise decision. She looked at me and with a great look of pride on her face and a sense of accomplishment in her voice she said, “I guess I did, but for once in her life my little girl was the best dressed girl in Sunday School. It won’t never happen again—but for just once the best dressed girl was my little girl.”

I felt her pride, I knew it would live forever in her heart—that great memory. I paid her gas bill and was happy to do it. I felt that it was my little girl that had captured a respect she would never again know.

When we identify with people as people, as fellow human beings who have their hopes and dreams, who have inner lives that are as rich and complex and precious as our own, then our sense of compassion begins to enlarge. “I felt her pride….I felt that it was my little girl.” Sr. Mary Elizabeth had a natural ability to get close to people. She could easily place herself in the shoes of another, a consequence of an open heart not put off by appearances.

Beneath the mystery of each person there is a deeper one. In her excellent book on the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, Hidden in God, Bonnie Thurston writes:

We must learn to see beyond people’s “packaging,” for example, the accidents of birth, education, taste, and culture. We must learn to live beyond our own narrowness in those same areas, our preferences and prejudices.

Charles de Foucauld wrote: “To be able to truly see others, we must close our physical eyes and open the eyes of our souls. Let us see what they are from within, not what they appear to be. Let us look at them in the same way as God looks at them.” In so looking, Foucauld believes we see Jesus….

Writing on February 5, 1916, nearly at the end of his life, Foucauld recommends: “Be kind and compassionate, and do not be insensitive to any misery. See Jesus in all people.”

For Charles, the spiritual father of the Joseph House, it was the presence of Christ in each person that ultimately unites everyone. He looked at people “in the same way as God looks at them,” and that changed his life. Charles lived as a “universal brother” to all people—Christian, Muslim, atheist, European, African—and freely shared what he had with those in need. His was the vision of all the saints, canonized or not.

To see Christ in everyone means to treat each person with respect. It means to affirm the dignity of all people as being made in the image and likeness of God. That’s the overriding mission of the Joseph House, whether we are helping a family with a pressing financial need, washing the clothes of a homeless person, feeding empty stomachs, or accompanying a resident in our Workshop program as he builds a better future. Your support brings this mission to life.

When people have nowhere to turn, the Joseph House is here for them. Caroline, 37, worked in a restaurant for four years. She liked her job, but she started to receive unwanted and aggressive physical advances. Caroline finally left. She has four children, although their father ignores every court order for child support. With no income and no other options, Caroline asked the Joseph House for help paying her electric bill. It was the day before the electric was scheduled to be shut off. We called the power company with our commitment of $250, and the shut-off was canceled.

Sabrina, 58, can barely walk because of arthritic knees. Her income is $194 per month in temporary disability. Were it not for subsidized housing, she would be homeless. Sabrina needed help paying her electric bill—if the power was shut off she would jeopardize her housing subsidy. We paid the $200 bill immediately.

Ellen, 72, doesn’t have subsidized housing, and her rent takes 95% of her income! She is frail and not in good health. Her electric bill was overdue, but she did not qualify for assistance in her county. She came to the Joseph House and we paid $200. Ellen hopes to find a roommate to share expenses. Since affordable housing is so scarce that seems to be her only hope.

Kenny, 68, lives in one of the worst neighborhoods in the area in terms of substandard housing. We’ve been in those houses before—you can smell the decay. Kenny has cancer and is being treated with chemo and radiation. He normally works odd jobs to supplement his income, but he hasn’t been feeling up to it. He was behind in his rent and received an eviction notice. We paid $225 to stop the proceedings. We really wish there was more affordable housing, places that are clean and safe, especially for seniors and those with health problems!

Matthew, 51, worked for a food company for 21 years. His struggle with a debilitating depression required him to stop working. His wife Ann works in a nursing home. Her income doesn’t cover all of their basic expenses, and she is looking for a second job. After falling behind in their rent, the couple applied for assistance at the Department of Social Services. They qualified only for food stamps. We sent $220 to their landlord to give Matthew and Ann time to sort out their new circumstances.

To continue our work we need help. We need you. Thank you for being generous.

July is the anniversary month for the Little Sisters. On the 7th we celebrated 45 years! As the years roll by we hope to stay young at heart just like Sr. Mary Elizabeth. The example she gave us is a treasure, and we hope and pray to be faithful to her vision for our community. May God bless us with more vocations, and may God bless you with an abundance of love and peace.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Praying for people is a special—and much loved—part of our ministry. Please feel free to trouble us with your troubles and whatever is in your heart. What would you like us to pray for?

• restored health
• medical bills
• spiritual and emotional welfare of a loved one
• safe pregnancy and birth
• selling a house
• job search
• happy marriage
• freedom from anxiety and depression
• respect for all life
• safety of a loved one in the armed forces
• government leaders
• pastors and church leaders
• justice for all
• lasting peace…

Please use our Contact Form to send your prayer request.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16


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Newsletter: June 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The month of June is the turning point of the year. As we approach the summer solstice, the days stretch out with long hours of sunlight, while the darkness of night takes a temporary retreat.

But for human beings, darkness isn’t confined to the night sky. Summer days notwithstanding, darkness can creep into our lives at any time. Although shadows pass over everyone’s life, for some people they don’t seem to move along. Whether it’s because of sudden misfortune, tragic circumstances, or being a victim of injustice, a shroud of despair can cover someone completely. It may as well be the dead of winter.

We know it’s tempting to focus only on our own happiness. Especially during the summer, when our thoughts turn to vacations and pleasant living, we don’t want to dwell on those who are suffering. But in the end, that’s not a very satisfying way to live.

The happiest people tend to be those who are a ray of sunshine for someone else. This is crystal clear to us from our work at the Joseph House. We meet many people who are determined to brighten someone’s day. For example, the owner of a thrift shop felt inspired to fill bags and purses from her shop with supplies for people who are homeless. She delivered these unique care packages to us so we can give them away in our Hospitality Room. Another person comes to our convent each week to lead us in an exercise class. She helps to keep us limber and energized so we’re able to face the demands of our ministry.

There is a common denominator in each act of giving and that is joy.

No matter what we can do, let us not remain passive and neutral when faced with our neighbor in distress. Let us make the light of the Gospel shine brightly on these situations. As Mother Teresa always said, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”

And remember: society gets better when people look beyond self-interest and are committed to the good of their neighbor.

That’s a test of how well we are living the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves: by our commitment in seeking for them the good things we desire.

Commitment is so important. It is the special ingredient that makes generosity more generous and service more effective. It’s what gives love a strong and sure foundation. Thanks to your ongoing support, the Joseph House is here week after week to help people in their times of crisis.

Sharon, 36, is well acquainted with dark days. She used to live with her father until their house went into foreclosure. They parted ways and Sharon ended up being homeless. In the past, heroin had been her escape from any problems or pain. Now it took control over her life. She started to prostitute herself to feed her addiction.

Six months ago, Sharon used drugs for the last time. She has been working hard to stay clean, all the while moving in and out of homeless shelters. Another agency has been helping her find a permanent place to live. Since Sharon had used up all of her time in the shelters, we paid $300 so she could stay in a motel, away from the danger of the streets.

Estelle, 49, is grieving the sudden loss of her son. He was only 20 years old when he died in his sleep from cardiac arrest. Her eyes glistening, Estelle beamed with pride when she spoke about him. He had volunteered at a homeless shelter and did such a good job that he was hired for a paying position. Estelle shared with us her memories of her son, the music and activities he liked and his favorite foods; chocolate cake was at the top of the list. She is still paying his burial costs and needed help with her gas bill. We contributed $300 and one of our volunteers added another $50 on the spot.

Lillian, 70, lives alone in the country. Ordinarily she manages to get by on her income, but a few months ago she had major problems with her home’s water system. A new well had to be dug, and that set her back considerably. Lillian has been putting off getting some badly needed dental work done. When she reached the point of not being able to ignore it any longer, she asked if we could help. We gladly contributed $200.

Donna, 31, is the mother of four children. Her husband left one day without warning, leaving Donna with no income and many unpaid bills. She was very worried about the electric. It was due to be cut off, and Donna was in anguish thinking of her children living in the dark with no hot water or hot meals. We sent $260 to the electric company to keep the power on.

Aaron and Sandy have four children plus custody of a nephew. Aaron works for a private contractor doing road construction and repair. His job is weather-dependent, and after one rainy month his pay was only $640. That was ten dollars less than the rent alone. Aaron needed to buy food and other necessities for his family, putting his budget even deeper in the red. When his landlord filed an eviction notice, we paid $200 to stop it.

Ashley, 39, works as a delivery driver. While recovering from major surgery she collected temporary disability. The benefits ran out before she was medically cleared to return to her job. Ashley had nothing to pay toward her overdue gas bill. We sent $275 to the utility company on her behalf.

And on behalf of everyone served by the Joseph House, thank you for caring.

May our love for others be seen in what we do. It is a real privilege for us to see up close the love so many people have for their brothers and sisters in need. In fact, it’s almost overwhelming at times. Our founder knew exactly what she was doing when she placed us under the care of Divine Providence. We are extremely grateful for every act of generosity, every word of encouragement, and every prayer. Good things are happening—and it’s because of you!

May God’s tender love keep you in peace during these summer days. With our promise of prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We love to pray for people. Send us your prayer requests: Contact Form

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Newsletter: May 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We were talking not that long ago about what it means to be in charge. We laughed because being the “head honcho” is not always glamorous. In our line of work, it usually means you’re the one pushing a broom, cleaning up after everyone has left.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, given what Jesus did at the Last Supper. It was His last chance to tell His disciples what it’s all about, and He opted for a visual sermon. Jesus did something that caught His disciples off guard and left an image they would never forget: He washed their feet, the most humble and lowliest job imaginable.

This needs to be burned into our minds, too.

As the founder of the Joseph House and the Little Sisters, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling was always the one in charge. In many ways it came naturally to her. But her abilities never blinded her to the teachings of Jesus. She would tell us over and over again to avoid anything resembling a “professional” attitude. By that she meant being attached to power and the trappings and privileges of power. All the things that place someone over and above someone else.

She left no shortage of examples to get her point across. Sr. Connie fondly remembers when she first came to work at the Crisis Center and needed a desk. Sr. Mary Elizabeth promptly turned over a trash can and voila! — there was her desk.

Yes, those were the days!

But there was a reason for what she did. Sr. Mary Elizabeth knew the value of humility. It guards against sinful pride and it helps us become approachable and non-threatening. Sister wanted us to embrace our “littleness.” She wanted us to be present to those in need face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to listen. We should be willing to wash another’s feet without hesitation, and have that willingness apparent in our demeanor. We can’t hide behind job titles.

If she gave us a high standard to live up to, well, so did Jesus.

This spirit of loving service unites us with you, and together with your support we translate love for others into concrete action. Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “We are free to do for the poor what the poor need.” She had in mind a freedom from red tape and overbearing regulations, and also a freedom of the heart, a freedom to love without reserve. A freedom to do whatever is needed.

Eloise was surprisingly calm given her situation. Her strength and intelligence were serving her well. Eloise is married, but her husband was locked up awaiting trial on a DUI charge. She said he is a good and responsible person, except when he is drinking. Then, she said, he is terrible.

Eloise and her husband have six children. They live in a one-room apartment. After her husband was arrested, Eloise suddenly became the provider for the family. She found a job at a nursery, but it wasn’t going to start for a little while. Her badly needed paycheck was weeks away. Eloise came to the Crisis Center, where we listened to the sad tale of her struggle. Behind in the rent and electric, no food for her children, she didn’t know what to do. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we were able to act immediately: $300 for the rent, $100 for the electric, and more groceries than she could carry.

Many senior folks come to our Crisis Center. Veronica is 86 and a widow. For the past year her home has been infested with bed bugs and others pests. Living on a very small income, she didn’t have the funds to do anything about it. She came to see us and we paid $350 to an exterminator… Floyd, 69, lives alone out in the country. He tries to find work cutting grass for extra money, but it’s often not enough. We paid $200 to stop an electric cut-off.

Another common occurrence is people unable to work because of health problems. For Patty, 56, cancer took away her house. Medical bills and loss of work forced her to let go of just about everything. She now rents a room but still needs help sometimes. We sent $225 to the electric company on her behalf… Laurel, 50, takes care of her adult son who is learning disabled. She suffered a series of strokes and is now trying to get by on a very limited income. We sent $160 to her landlord to stop an eviction… Jason, 58, cannot work because of a seizure disorder. He fell behind in paying his bills and was dropped from the payment plan with the electric company. He could only pay $63; our contribution of $170 helped to bring his account up to date and prevent a cut-off.

Thank you for your support. We can do what needs to be done because of you!

“There are as many ways to serve God as there are people.” That was another guiding principle from Sr. Mary Elizabeth, and it certainly applies to all the people who work “behind the scenes” at the Joseph House. We need to give recognition to one such individual, Ella Duma, who retired as our bookkeeper on May 1 after 23 years of service. Ella came to work in our convent office in 1995. So much has changed since then, but Ella has been a constant presence, putting up with us, keeping our records in order, and so much more. Quite simply, her work kept the lifeblood flowing that enabled our service to those in need. We will miss her, and wish her all the best as she spends more time with her delightful grandchildren. Niech cię Bóg błogosławi!

We didn’t have to look far for a new bookkeeper. Heidi Price, who was our secretary, moved over to Ella’s desk, and a new addition to our staff, Tina Schrider has taken over Heidi’s responsibilities. In other personnel news, Nicole Soder has joined our community as a Postulant. Nicole comes to us from Ohio, and she is here to discern more closely her vocation as a Little Sister of Jesus and Mary.

It’s been a season of change and transition. We pray that God will bless everyone who is beginning a new journey, and may God’s love for you be your constant strength.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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Please send us your prayer requests so we can pray for your needs.

Newsletter: April 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

When the tomb of Christ opened on that first Easter Sunday, a new reality for all people also opened up: resurrection is just as real as the cross.

Although rooted in history and the bodily nature of existence, the Resurrection of Jesus reveals an entirely new horizon for the whole world. The disciples could speak with the Risen Christ, could touch Him, yet they were encountering a mystery that transcended their senses. These encounters changed them—fundamentally—and their lives were radically different afterwards, marked by a fearlessness in proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.

But in the quiet hours of that Easter morning, there was only silence and the gentle rays of the rising sun. People waking up that day had no idea the world was changed forever. God is like that. Divinity is typically revealed with little fanfare.

Reminders of the hope held in store for us are always present, but they can be easy to overlook. We often need to slow down and pay attention. With that in mind, we would love to share a little “resurrection” story that was written by a Little Sister years ago for this Newsletter:

A friend presented me with a jar containing a twig with brown and green bumps on it. I’d never seen anything like this before. She said she had found two caterpillars and fed them parsley for a week. Shortly thereafter they evolved into chrysalises. These cases were attached to the twig by two clear strands. My friend told me to observe the jar closely as these chrysalises would emerge into butterflies. I had never done this before but I put my trust in my friend.

For more than a week I became an observer and watched my jar. I was late going to the Joseph House Center one day. I was hurrying about when I noticed something wonderful had occurred in that jar. A big, beautiful butterfly with shades of blue, red, black, and orange on its wings had taken the place of one of the cocoons. I took it outside to release it into the air. It had a difficult time adjusting to its freedom. Soon it started stretching its wings and then flew off. I took the feeling of the chrysalis and butterfly to the Joseph House Center that morning. My hope and prayer is to give new life to the poor.

The new life ushered in by Christ is communicated to each one of us personally. In unexpected moments we can catch a glimpse of it, and it can inspire us to share it with those who need it the most. Person to person—that is how Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples, how the Gospel was spread, and how it is lived out today.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” That’s the approach taken at the Joseph House Crisis Center, where for 35 years we have welcomed families struggling with the burdens of poverty. We assist dozens of people every week because of your faithful support.

Charlie, 64, is an Army veteran who lives alone. He’s had several strokes and is in poor condition, both physically and financially. To make matters worse, a family member cheated him out of some money. The electricity was turned off in Charlie’s trailer. Our payment of $225 restored the power.

Eveline, 55, also lives alone. A broken furnace required her to depend on electric heaters in her home. This doubled her electric bill and she needed help paying it. We contributed $225.

Pam, 51, lost her managerial position at a food store. She found part-time work (with a net pay of $300 monthly), but finding another full-time job was taking longer than she expected. Pam never thought she would be in a desperate situation. We paid $225 toward her rent.

After going through a difficult time, Kaitlin, 41, and her husband had their home go into foreclosure. They ended up losing everything and were homeless. When Kaitlin’s husband found a job as a cook, they felt hopeful for the first time in a long while. The couple still faced an upward climb: a landlord let them move into an apartment, but they needed to pay the rent as soon as possible. We sent over $170.

Haywood, 70, and his wife have a combined Social Security income of $661 monthly. They’ve been frugal their entire lives and live in a home the size of a matchbox. The water was going to be cut off because of delinquent bills. We paid $275 to get their account up to date.

Carmella, 60, has worked as a de-boner in a chicken plant for years. She injured her arm and needed to have surgery. Fortunately, Carmella qualified for Workers’ Compensation, but snafus led to a delay in receiving her first check. Carmella was very worried about losing her housing. A few months ago, she moved into a newly-built apartment complex for people with low incomes. It’s the nicest place she’s ever lived. We sent $300 to the landlord so Carmella would not be evicted.

Shayne is a young man of 20. For the past year he’s been living by himself in a very old house. Shayne walks to work at a fast-food restaurant and is doing the best he can. Despite his determination, he had to contend with living in a home without electricity. We paid $225 toward the past-due bills to get the power back on again.

“Come, have breakfast.” This is what Jesus said to the disciples when He appeared to them for the third time after the Resurrection (John 21:12). Caring for people in down-to-earth ways is truly divine. Thank you for helping the Joseph House do the same for so many of our brothers and sisters in need.

We wish you and your loved ones a Happy Easter and all the joy this springtime season brings!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Use our Contact Form to send us your prayer requests. We will remember your intentions in our daily prayers.

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Newsletter: March 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We read with interest about a series of meetings that started at Harvard Divinity School between Nuns and Nones, “nones” referring to young adults, or millennials, who profess no religious affiliation (about 25% of the population).

Apart from the obvious differences—such as the age gap—the two groups discovered they share some common aspirations. For example, they’re united in wanting to make the world a better place, and both groups have a preference for community-based decision making. Both groups also realized they can learn from each other. The nuns were amazed at how adept millennials are with technology. The millennials, in turn, commented on how comfortable the nuns were with silence. They marveled at how Catholic religious sisters can sustain themselves over years, even decades, of ministry and social activism.

Could it be that the things that impressed the millennials are related? From our perspective as Little Sisters, we believe they are. They point to a common denominator: a life of prayer.

Prayer takes root in silence and as it grows it touches everything in a person’s life. Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, made sure that prayer was an essential part of our daily routine. She included in our Constitutions and Rule:

Times of encounter with the Lord in prayer are indispensable in our religious life. Only in union with Him will our work be fruitful, for without Him we can do nothing. As our prayer and action become a single response of love, our life gradually achieves unity and peace.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth described herself as an active-contemplative, and she wished the same for the members of her community. One way of being an active-contemplative is to develop a contemplative way of seeing. That means to look beneath the surface, to see the potential— to behold the oak tree in the acorn, so to speak. When Jesus saw Simon, a self-confessed sinful man, He also saw Peter, the rock of the Church—and that is the person Jesus spoke to, all the while accepting who Simon was at the moment.

Prayer isn’t “useful,” we don’t do it to get something out of it, but it does change who we are. For us, this certainly carries over into our ministry at the Joseph House. Anyone who is different or struggling or on the margins of society can get written off so easily. But approaching someone prayerfully helps us to see deeply, with compassion, and we create a space for his or her potential to grow and develop. In contrast, presenting someone with judgment and condemnation creates a barrier: that person will feel fenced in.

A prayerful life helps us to see the seed of grace within each person, to honor it, and to remember that every person has a destiny in eternity.

By his own account, Jack was a very mean person. People would take one look at him and keep their distance. Jack was homeless for years. He said he would sleep in the woods, far into the bushes so even the wind couldn’t touch him.

One day Jack came to our Hospitality Room at the Crisis Center. We asked if he was hungry. Jack said yes, and we gave him coffee, “Oodles of Noodles,” and two slices of bread. Jack later told us it was the best meal he ever had. He was so hungry for something more.

Best. Meal. Ever.

We asked Jack if we would be interested in the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men. He said yes again, so he was interviewed, where it was explained to him that he would have to follow some rules. That won’t be a problem, he said.

Jack was in disbelief when he entered the Workshop. A bed just for him! A kitchen and dining room! Hot meals! A living room! A community! For Jack, it was heaven on earth.

Well, that was over seven years ago. Jack is now a successful graduate of the Workshop and loves to be the first person at his job in the morning. He’s had setbacks with his health, but he’s doing much better. Whereas once he drove people away, now he attracts them. His network of friends is always growing. They look after him, and Jack is no longer on the outside of anywhere.

And to think it all started with opening the door and saying hello….

Many poor people are hiding in plain sight. They get ignored, yet modern society depends on the work they do. Gail, 52, is a bathroom attendant in Ocean City. She makes sure the facility on the boardwalk is clean and safe so the people enjoying the beach don’t have to worry about it. Gail had a roommate who moved out suddenly. The rent was too much for Gail to pay by herself and so she received an eviction notice. The Joseph House paid $170 to the landlord so Gail wouldn’t become homeless.

Patricia, 60, drives a school bus. She is single and has the care of her grandson; the parents have no involvement with their child. Patricia is a good, responsible person. Paying her basic expenses is a real struggle. She came to the Joseph House after giving $200 (all the money she had) to her landlord. It was not enough. Fortunately, we were able to pay $325 to keep Patricia and her grandson in their home.

Leila, 24, washes dishes in a restaurant and does other odd jobs. She has a young son but the father does not pay child support. Leila and her son did not have a fixed address. Even after giving up her car she never had the funds for the security deposit for an apartment. The Joseph House provided $225, plus a warm coat for her son who needed one. Now this family has a place to live.

Late winter, early spring. This is the time of year when appearances are deceptive. Everything looks dead and the trees are bare, but then we notice the red buds on the branch tips. Nature is so resilient—it reminds us to live as a sign of hope. Thank you for all the ways you support the Joseph House, including your generosity. You give hope to people who are desperately searching for it. May God bless you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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When you meditate, be like a mountain
immovably set in silence.
Its thoughts are rooted in eternity.
Do not do anything, just sit, be—
and you will reap the fruit flowing from your prayer.

When you meditate, be like a flower
always directed towards the sun.
Its stalk, like a spine, is always straight.
Be open, ready to accept everything without fear,
and you will not lack light on your way.

When you meditate, be like an ocean
always immovable in its depth.
Its waves come and go.
Be calm in your heart,
and evil thoughts will go away by themselves.

When you meditate, remember your breath:
Thanks to it we have come alive.
It comes from God and returns to God.
Unite the word of prayer with the stream of life,
and nothing will separate you from the Giver of life.

When you meditate, be like a bird
singing without a rest in front of the Creator.
Its song rises like the smoke of incense.
Let your prayer be like the coo of a dove,
and you will never succumb to discouragement.

When you meditate, be like Abraham
giving his son as an offering.
It was a sign that he was ready to sacrifice everything.
You too, leave everything,
and in your loneliness God will be with you.

When you meditate, it is Jesus
praying in you to the Father in the Spirit.
You are carried by the flame of His love.
Be like a river, serving all,
and the time will come when you will change into Love.

Every mountain teaches us the sense of eternity,
every flower, when it fades,
teaches us the sense of fleetingness.
The ocean teaches us how to retain peace during adversities,
and love always teaches us to love.

Fr. Seraphion of Mount Athos
(adapted by Fr. Jan Bereza, OSB)