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.