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
Balaam’s Donkey: Random Ruminations For Every Day of the Year

Newsletter: July 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Like many people probably are, we are very familiar with our local grocery store. We know where everything is, and whether we are making a quick trip or shopping for a large order, we can usually find what we need. Even throughout this past year, shortages were never that bad. It’s been a real comfort knowing that our store is nearby. We are extremely grateful for the store’s employees, who, along with all front-line workers, made a sacrifice for the good of others. This gets to the heart of what makes us human, of being the kind of people God had in mind when He made us “a little less than the angels, crowned with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:6). Sometimes it takes extraordinary circumstances to understand the significance of ordinary activities.

Going to the grocery store and having a steady supply of food can easily be taken for granted. As a friend of Joseph House, you know there are many people who can’t take anything for granted, even just having enough food for themselves and their children. The fact that people in this land of abundance go hungry is beyond tragic. But with your help, our ministry works to alleviate this unnecessary suffering.

Although our Soup Kitchen has been closed as a safety precaution, our Food Pantry has remained open during the pandemic. Your donations of food allow us to serve hundreds of households each month. Your financial support covers the minimal overhead required to keep our freezers in operation and our trucks filled with gas. Maybe you know what it’s like to go to bed hungry. Maybe family members told you stories of hard times they endured. You can help people going through hard times today through your continued support of Joseph House. Because no one should have to worry about getting his or her next meal.

It is cruel and unjust that many people who work hard to produce the food we eat have to struggle to obtain their own basic necessities. Consider Selina, who came to our area from Georgia with other migrant workers to pick watermelons. She somehow got left behind when her group moved on to another state to pick potatoes. Selina gets paid about $30 at the end of each day, barely enough to cover her room rent. Two days of heavy rains meant no work and empty pockets for her. The people she knew were gone and so she had nowhere to go. We provided two nights in a motel ($112). After that, Selina was back in the fields.

Some might say her pay is justified given that it’s unskilled labor, but such a thing does not exist. Since we are not likely to grow and harvest our own crops, we would starve without people like Selina. What is the value of their work? A living wage at the very least.

As our nation—though not the whole world—emerges from the worst of the pandemic, many people feel relief that life is returning to normal. But for the poor, “normal” brings no relief at all.

Deidre, 59, is caring for her husband who has terminal cancer. She is also working full-time. She sent the electric company $200, but still received a termination notice. The Joseph House paid $350 to keep the power on in this couple’s home.

Nadine, 60, is raising her five grandchildren. Their mother is in jail and the father has disappeared. Nadine was working nights at a hospital doing cleaning. One grandchild had to go to a Baltimore hospital because of brain damage. After returning home, the child’s need for additional care meant Nadine could no longer work at her job. Her monthly income dropped to $700. The Joseph House paid $400 toward her back rent to prevent eviction proceedings. We also bought $90 worth of prescription medications for her grandchild.

Paula, 42, is rebuilding her life after spending 6½ years in prison. Her lack of transportation limits her prospects for employment. A housekeeping job at a motel seemed promising because she could also live there; it became a losing proposition, however, because the motel bill was greater than her paycheck! Another agency agreed to help Paula with affordable housing. In the meantime, we didn’t want her to be homeless so we sent $350 to the motel.

A few months ago, Melanie, 22, took unpaid leave from her job at a chicken plant when her infant son became sick. She ended up losing her job, but found a new one as a cashier. Melanie paid off her delinquent electric bill (almost $800) to stop a cut-off. Then she had no money for her rent and received an eviction notice. We sent $300 to her landlord.

Mateo, 20, also took time off from work to care for his sick child (he has custody). He lost his job and was going to lose his subsidized housing before starting new employment. We paid $320 toward the past-due rent.

After a fire destroyed their rental home, Rich and Danielle were homeless. The Red Cross paid for a few days at a motel and then referred the couple to us. Rich is disabled with an inoperable tumor on his back; Danielle is his caretaker. Their income is $800 per month. We paid for lodging ($280) until they could move into a new home.

Tasha, 26, is pregnant and has two other children. She fled an abusive relationship and moved into an apartment with her savings. Working as a babysitter brought in $450, not enough for the next rent payment. We paid the landlord $350 so this little family would not be evicted. Tasha is determined to find another job.

Thank you for your support of our mission. We must guard against taking people for granted, especially those who live and work in the margins.

Last month we wrote about the importance of prayer in our lives. It’s helpful to pray throughout the day, and a good habit is to offer a short prayer of gratitude before eating. Even if it’s just a snack, food is life, given from the goodness of creation and the work of human hands.

Every day we offer a prayer of gratitude for you. May you and your loved ones enjoy a happy and healthy summer. Thanks for reading our Newsletter. You have no idea how much we appreciate you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

You can join us in reaching out to others by making a donation: Donate.

Please send us your special prayer requests: Contact Form.

Read a little more about food justice here: Those Who Give Us Our Daily Bread.

Newsletter: June 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Picture a swiftly-moving river, tumbling over rocks, swirling with currents and eddies. Trying to swim in such a river would be a tiring, and probably frightening, experience. You would feel buffeted and pushed around by forces stronger than you. The world would seem to be rushing by. You wouldn’t know what to expect next.

Now picture yourself sitting on the bank, quietly breathing, observing the river. You now have perspective. You see the river in context: it has boundaries, it’s not all there is, and although in some places the water is swift and choppy, in others it is smooth and calm. Meanwhile the ground you are sitting on is solid. The river is moving, but you don’t have to go along for the ride.

The river can represent several different things: our thoughts, the stress of our daily activities, the endless stream of news and images on television and the Internet. It gets exhausting if we don’t take a break from it all. Thomas Merton wrote, “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.” He was a Trappist monk, and he wrote these words more than 50 years ago. Prayerful solitude gave Merton clarity: he saw how the frenzy of modern life destroys our capacity for inner peace and hence the fruitfulness of our lives.

We increasingly live in a manufactured world, one designed to “push our buttons” and keep us distracted. To preserve the sanctity of the human soul, an excellent and time-honored safeguard is found in contemplative silence. You’ve probably felt the need yourself for some periodic down-time. For us Little Sisters, one of the benefits of our life is that we have scheduled time every day for prayer and quiet. These times are more than simply taking a break: we let go of our restless minds and present ourselves to the Lord, being receptive to His presence.

Our model is Jesus, who, as Scripture relates, “in the morning, a great while before dawn, rose and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). You may recall that the mission of the Joseph House, which you share in through your support, is “Cry the Gospel with your life!” This is part of that, being men and women of prayer. The hidden spring of our service to the poor is our silence before God.

Centered and grounded, we can respond to someone’s crisis with peace. We can mirror to that person the reality of hope. It’s also easier to give that person our full attention, a fundamental sign of respect and affirmation of human dignity.

Fred, 60, first came to see us last summer and we wrote about him in our September Newsletter. He is disabled after being hit by a car while riding his bike. Fred was able to find a part-time job he could do and worked for a few months. His pay was not much, $196/month, but it helped a lot. Now Social Security is deducting that much from his check for the length of time that he worked since he was not allowed to do it. Fred could not pay his electric bill, so we paid $300 toward the past-due amount to keep the power on in his home.

Ross, 55, is a pleasant man. You would never guess at all the health problems he has. He is currently waiting for a heart transplant. Ross depends on doing odd jobs to pay his bills, but his health is slowing him down. He used his stimulus check to pay a very large overdue water bill and a few other necessary expenses. He did not have enough for the electric bill, so we contributed $300.

Venita, 63, supports herself by being a home health aide. Many of her clients, however, are afraid to use her services because of the pandemic. Venita is barely getting by month to month. She is afraid of losing her home where she has lived for 11 years. Her most pressing need at the moment was the electric so we made a payment of $300.

Joellen, 59, is a cancer patient and receiving chemotherapy. After losing her job she had to purchase private health insurance. The monthly premium takes half of her temporary cash benefits. Joellen fell behind in paying her rent. We mailed $300 to her landlord to stop the eviction proceedings.

Eunice, 66, is also sinking under the weight of health care expenses. Poor health is a ticket to poverty—that’s what our nation seems to accept. Eunice needs to have surgery on her back. Her out-of-pocket medical expenses eat away at her very limited fixed income. She could not pay the full amount of her last two rent payments and was worried she was going to get evicted. We contributed $300 to help her catch up.

Artie, 60, lives alone and needs his car to get to work. Unexpected vehicle expenses set him back with his other bills. Artie needed help with his electric bill, but was denied assistance at another agency because his income was slightly above the poverty threshold (which is only $12,760 annually for a single person—it’s not in touch with reality). Fortunately, there is no red tape at the Joseph House and we could help Artie with $300.

Thank you for your continued support! The Joseph House depends on you.

News about our Annual Golf Tournament Fund-Raiser: Regretfully, as a precaution against COVID-19, our loyal Golf Committee has decided to again postpone our 15th Annual Joseph House Golf Tournament. Since its inception in 2006 the event has been a source of much-needed revenue, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and participating golfers, and the untiring effort of our committee and tournament volunteers. To all, we express our sincere thanks. Our hope is that, God willing, 2022 will see the return of our Golf Tournament at beautiful Green Hill Country Club!

In this “Year of St. Joseph,” patron of fathers, we wish all men blessed with the vocation to be a father a most Happy Father’s Day. And may the abundant graces of God be with you and your loved ones, keeping you healthy and safe and in good spirits. Part of our prayer time every day is spent praying for your intentions.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Please send us your prayer requests: Contact Form.
To help us serve those in need, go here: Donate.


Our convent has a chapel, Thomas Merton had a hermitage, but every home can have a sacred space for prayer. Here are a few ideas from Fr. Edward Hays:

The typical home in the Western world has rooms for all the important activities in life. There are rooms for eating, sleeping, bathing, storage, relaxing and even a room for keeping your vehicle. While your entire home is a sacred place where you pray and journey to God in different ways, it can be invaluable to set aside a particular place for your inner exercises. . . . For a fortunate few this personal shrine could be an entire room such as an unused bedroom or a small den. But for the majority it will mean a corner of a room.

You might, for example, choose a corner of your bedroom and set it aside as your prayer place. A stone slab could serve as a small altar, or you could create one out of wood. You may also find it valuable to have a small prayer rug to sit upon only in meditation or prayer.

If you are a highly visual person, you may desire to use a variety of symbols, icons, or images to grace your personal shrine. If you are not especially visually oriented, you might want to create a space which is void of all images. The very simplicity of an empty wall can help clear your mind and heart of clutter and help open you into prayer.

Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir in our Salisbury chapel. Our founder loved this image of Mary, also known as Our Lady of Tenderness, and wanted it placed in all of our chapels.

You may also find it beneficial to vary the design of your personal shrine or change the images in it with each of the four seasons. Because our technological culture often separates us from a direct contact with the changes that occur in nature with each season, altering the environment of your shrine can help make your prayer more natural and in harmony with God’s creation.

And since we easily become blind to what is “always” there, the introduction of visual changes for various feasts, holidays and special occasions has the power to cleanse the eye and so open the heart. To make use of flowers or other images on holy days and special occasions will also assist in making your personal shrine a “living” place of prayer. An unchangeable prayer space can easily become a static one.

Understanding that personal tastes and needs will direct your choices in these suggestions, experiment with finding the kind of environment that can best open you to God in prayer.

from Prayers For A Planetary Pilgrim

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) outside his hermitage at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, Kentucky.

“The soul is made not for noise but for recollection, and life should be a preparation for heaven not only in meritorious works but also in peace and recollection in God. Man, however, is immersed in endless discussion; the lack of true joy he finds in noise should more than convince him that he has wandered far from his vocation.” – Charles de Foucauld

Newsletter: May 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

To be homeless means more than just being without shelter. It means to go without everything implied by the word “home.”

Imagine not having a bed to sleep in or a bathroom to use. Imagine not having a kitchen, with no refrigerator or freezer to store your food and no stove or oven to cook anything. Imagine no lights or heat or tap water whenever you need it. Imagine being exposed with no privacy, and yet at the same time feeling invisible because you’re ignored. A home provides many essential material things, that is true. But think of what it means to feel “at home,” to feel safe and secure and at peace. There we see the full value of having a place to call home—and the tragedy to be without one.

In responding to the issue of homelessness, there are two schools of thought: the “housing ready” approach says we need to take care of someone’s problems before he or she is ready for housing, while the “housing first” approach says we need to give someone a place to live before anything else can be done. Studies indicate that the latter is more effective. A person who is homeless has a better chance of dealing with other issues when he or she has a fixed address.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, had this in mind when she opened the Joseph House Village, a transitional housing facility for women and children, back in 1991. Her rationale:

“We need to give them time when they’re secure and can put their minds on developing themselves and not worrying about what they’re going to eat or where they’re going to sleep.”

It was this “nagging realization” that led to the Village (which later became independent and renamed the Village of Hope), and then the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men.

Some people who experience homelessness need the services provided by facilities like the Village and Workshop. Some, but not all: the leading cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. This is a problem across the country. At the Joseph House Crisis Center, we see many people who pay anywhere from 50 to 90% of their income and wages on rent. Paying this much isn’t sustainable, of course. It initiates a chain reaction of difficulties, including the very real possibility of getting evicted.

For someone with a low income, a housing voucher from the federal government’s subsidized housing program offers hope. With a voucher, a tenant pays 30% of his or her income toward the rent and the government pays the remainder. This type of rental assistance can make a world of difference. A study from New York City, for example, found that only 1% of families who left a homeless shelter for subsidized housing were homeless again within a year (the rates of recurrence are typically much higher). Unfortunately, funding for this program is no match for the need. Waiting lists are measured in years.

Having a place to call home is the foundation for getting on with life. There are many circumstances that lead to homelessness, and even when someone does have a place to live it’s not always healthy, happy, and safe. Through our work at Joseph House, we meet people wherever they are on their journey and do what we can to help. Through your prayers and support, you are part of this effort too.

Byron, 36, became homeless after he lost his job. He lived in his car with his 15-year-old son. Sometimes they got a respite in the house of a friend or acquaintance. Byron found a new job and then an apartment that seemed affordable. Moving in, however, was going to cost $1,125! That was the total for the deposit and the first month’s rent. It’s hard to save up that amount on low wages. We contributed $325 so Byron and his son would not be homeless anymore.

Darius lived in an old house that had been subdivided into two apartments. The house caught on fire and was badly damaged. Darius lost most of his belongings. He has fused bones in his ankle, the result of an injury sustained from falling off a ladder. Finding work is difficult for him. Darius had $400 to spare to move into a new place, but it was not enough. We paid the remaining $350 to the landlord.

Zachary is 80. His housemate suffered a stroke and had to go to a nursing home. Zachary is now solely responsible for the rent, which takes 97% of his Social Security. He’s not sure what to do. With nothing to pay toward his overdue gas bill, we contributed $350 to prevent a disconnect.

Vivian, 40, cannot walk because of an undiagnosed medical condition that is causing a buildup of fluid around her spinal cord. She has no income at the moment and no family in the area. Although Vivian’s landlord is sympathetic to her situation, he said he’d have to evict her if he didn’t receive any payment for the rent. Vivian reached out to many organizations for help to no avail. Then she contacted us. We sent $300 to her landlord.

Antoinette is only 20 and trying to get settled on her own. Her father is in prison and her mother is a drug addict. Antoinette found a job cleaning houses. Her grandmother, who has subsidized housing, gave her a place to stay. This was in violation of the lease, and if it was discovered they would both get evicted. Antoinette was desperate to move, but the deposits were steep everywhere she looked. We contributed $300 so Antoinette could move and her grandmother’s housing would not be in jeopardy.

Marlon, 64, is living on a fixed income in a trailer park. The lot rent takes 50% of his monthly check. There was a bad water leak underneath his mobile home, which can easily happen when the pipes are not properly insulated. Paying off the repair bills plus the huge water bill left Marlon with nothing for his other expenses. We paid $300 toward his electric bill to prevent a cut-off.

No matter what the need is, we are here to help. Thank you for your continued support of Joseph House. We appreciate you very much!

Springtime and Mother’s Day always inspire us to celebrate the gift of life. This is a time of renewal, and even though the covid cloud is still over us, we feel in our hearts a sense of hope. We pray for the world and we pray for you, that God in His great love for you will bless you and keep you safe. And may special blessings rest gently upon all mothers, God’s co-creators who fashioned the first home for each one of us.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

The Joseph House depends on you. You can make a donation here: Donate.
Please send us you prayer requests so we can pray for you: Contact Form.


To Be Homeless

To be homeless means that you have no place to hang up your coat, or your skirt, or your tie.
There are no pegs to put them on. The size of a closet doesn’t matter anymore. Only paper bags.

To be homeless means that you can never “put out the dog”—or the cat, or go to the door and call them inside and have their dish of food ready by the frig, and pet them as they lie by your rocking chair and curl up by the fire.

To be homeless means that you can never put up the window to let fresh air inside, nor close it to keep out the cold. You just look through other people’s windows.

To be homeless (if you have children) means that you cannot take them out and then say to them, “Come on, honey. It’s time to go home.” Nor tuck them in their own beds and read them a bedtime story, and turn out the light and say prayers with them. You just survive.

To be homeless means that you have no medicine cabinet to search for an aspirin, no telephone
to use to dial your doctor, no health care plan to refer to if you end up in the hospital, no sense of dignity to sustain you when you faint and fall soundlessly on the sidewalk.

To be homeless means that you will not be among those who decide whether they will eat in the kitchen or the dining room or maybe on the patio, nor whether they will barbeque hamburgers or steak, or have cold Pepsi and potato salad and pickles, or who will do the dishes afterward and put them in the cupboard.

To be homeless means that you join the millions of refugees across our world who roam from place to place without shelter, who agonize because they must beg or depend on people who have to give to them, and often those who have are afraid that if they give, they will have to look you in the face, and that will hurt more than they can bear.

by Peggy Heiner

Newsletter: April 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

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

Newsletter: March 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph.

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


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

Newsletter: February 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 CRISIS CENTER RECAP

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

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

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

LENT BEGINS FEBRUARY 17

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

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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Newsletter: January 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


A PRAYER FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS

Dear God, we lift up our elected officials.

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

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

Amen.

(Sojourners)