Dear Friends of Joseph House:
Some people have a goal to be a big success. Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, wanted us to be little nobodies.
Sister worked hard to establish the Joseph House: she gave her life to it. But she used to say that if it all disappeared she’d be happy to sit on the corner and just talk to people. That’s really what she liked to do.
Being content to be little — the way Sister wanted us to be — does more than keep you grounded (which is important in itself). It helps you to notice the other people the world considers to be nobodies. People get tossed aside for a number of reasons: too old, too feeble, too poor, too addicted, too uneducated, too sick…. We label them with one defining characteristic and think we know them, but we know nothing.
Sr. Mary Elizabeth accepted people and listened to them. She recognized that each person’s life story, no matter how mundane it seems to be, is precious to that individual. She was drawn to the “nobodies” because of a basic motivation: belief in God’s presence among them. That’s not easy when there’s no outward sign of it.
Seeing with the eyes of faith opens up new vistas. When we spend time with someone who is lonely or feeling broken, we do more than offer comfort. We engage in the life of the Body of Christ. St. Paul’s powerful insight can still shake us from our complacency:
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. (1 Cor 12:20–27)
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. Sr. Mary Elizabeth lived by this, it was a guiding principle, and one that is embodied in the ministry of the Joseph House.
There are many parts, yet one body. The human family is so diverse, it is truly a wonder. And yet we are linked to each other by a profound unity that transcends all of our differences.
If our little toe hurts we don’t say, “That doesn’t concern me because it’s not part of me.” How then can we turn away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters? If we could only see the blinders and armor we carry around to shield ourselves from their pain.
Damaris, 72, is invisible to practically everyone. She is a widow and has the care of her disabled son. Keeping a place to live has been difficult for her: stress and a limited income take their toll. Damaris and her son have been homeless periodically. They stay in a motel when she has the money.
Damaris came to the Crisis Center after she found a rental that was going to cost only 52% of her monthly income — a bargain for the poor. We sent $200 to the landlord to help secure the place for Damaris and her son.
Ann Marie’s life has not been the same since she lost everything in a house fire two years ago. She is 64 years old and has severe respiratory issues, including asthma and COPD. She told us she is in a constant state of discomfort. Ann Marie lives very frugally but is still being overwhelmed by her bills. The Department of Social Services and other agencies referred her to us because they had no funds to help her. We’re the last resort for many people. We paid $200 toward Ann Marie’s electric bill so the power would not be cut off in her home.
The least visible in our community are the most vulnerable. Together with you, we give them hope.
MAY THEY REST IN PEACE: We are sad to note the passing of Dave MacLeod, who died peacefully at his home on June 9. Dave had a long career as Director of Addiction Services for the Worcester County Health Department. He was very generous with his time and served on the Planning Team for the Joseph House Workshop. Dave’s expertise helped to set the program on a solid foundation.
We also mourn the passing of Rheba Fletcher, the mother of Sr. Jennifer, who died on June 18. Rheba was a resident of Gainesville, Texas. May Dave and Rheba rest forever in the loving hands of God. Our love and prayers are with their families.
ANSWERED PRAYERS: We are very grateful for our donors who enabled us to purchase a heavy-duty pickup truck for our Food Pantry. As we mentioned last May, our previous truck was ready to give out after 300,000 miles of service. Our new truck is “gently used” and will help us continue our mission of feeding the hungry.
This generosity means so much to us. And also to the many people who will benefit from the food carried by this truck. May God’s blessing be upon them, our volunteers, and our benefactors.
What would St. Paul have to say about the spirit of this age? We seem to be a far cry from being one body with no division. But all things are passing.
When we stop and consider the number of people who contribute to the Joseph House in some way, it is incredibly heartwarming. So many people with a unity of purpose, directed toward the good of others. We can never lose hope.
Thank you for being part of our family, just one little family in the greater family of the Body of Christ.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
SUMMER APPEAL: Our finances are typically low during the summer, and this year more than usual. The Joseph House Crisis Center is busy year-round, there’s no off-season, as we respond to the many requests for food and financial assistance. Over at the Joseph House Workshop, we maintain a therapeutic residence 24/7 for eight formerly homeless men to help them get back on their feet. We reach out to your generous hearts and loving concern for God’s poor. You are a vital source of our support. Every donation, no matter the size, is gratefully received and makes a difference.