The Canonization of Charles de Foucauld

Here is Sr. Virginia’s story about her trip to Rome for the canonization of Charles de Foucauld. Our hearts couldn’t be happier that God in His great mercy allowed Sister to represent us. She was also able to visit Assisi, home of St. Francis.

Our pilgrimage to Rome was organized by Father Leonard Tighe. He has been involved for many years with the Lay Fraternities of Saint Charles, striving to spread information about Charles de Foucauld’s life and spirituality. Father Tighe has also led many tours in Italy and the Holy Land.

There were eleven in our group – nine men including four priests, and a retired nurse who roomed with me at the hotel. After splitting up into smaller groups to explore the wonders of Rome during the day, we dined together in the evening at a good, inexpensive restaurant with outdoor tables. The waiters didn’t seem to mind that we lingered long into the lovely evenings. There was a kindly spirit of friendship among the people in our group. And the breadth and depth of their knowledge of the Church and Brother Charles were impressive.

The canonization, which took place on Sunday, May 15, in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica, was a grand and festive event. Saint Peter’s square was filled with people from every continent, many of them wearing emblems connected with one of the candidates for sainthood. Huge images of these brand-new saints were hung on the façade of the basilica.

Pope Francis said of Brother Charles: “The new Saint lived his Christian existence as a brother to all, starting from the smallest. He did not have the aim of converting others, but of living God’s freely given love, putting into effect ‘the apostolate of goodness.’ Brother Charles, in the hardships and poverty of the desert, remarked: ‘My soul is always in joy.’ . . . Dear sisters and brothers, may Our Lady grant you to cherish and nourish the same joy, because joy is the clearest witness we can give to Jesus in every place and at every time.”

On Thursday three of us went early to explore Saint Peter’s Basilica. It is vast with enormous marble columns of many colors, and filled with gigantic figures and murals and paintings. Yet there is a tenderness within the grandeur, each work of art filled with love and longing. Small gatherings were celebrating Masses in side chapels with sweet voices singing in different languages. Shafts of cool morning light flowed down from Heaven, the marble floors were the colors of precious stones, giant angels gazed down from the tops of pillars, and everywhere we saw magnificent images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Jesus Christ, coming in love and power – beautiful, active, dynamic, merciful.

Father Tighe told us that, after Charles’ life-changing reversion to the Catholic faith, he wrote out the four Gospels entirely, in longhand. “He wanted to know everything about Jesus so he could know everything about God,” Father said. “Foucauld is a window into Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”

PHOTOS:

Followers of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld displayed orange scarves to identify themselves. Here is a group of nuns on their way to the canonization. I am not sure, but they might be Little Sisters of the Consolation of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Face.

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, ten people were canonized by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s square, in front of the magnificent Saint Peter’s Basilica. Charles de Foucauld is pictured at the bottom of the third panel from the left.

A thanksgiving mass honoring Saint Charles was held the next day at the splendid basilica of Saint John Lateran. Founded in 324, it is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, and the oldest basilica of the Western world.

We did some sightseeing around Rome, including the Trevi Fountain. Here are my kind and resourceful roommate, Susan Trzcienski, Father Lenny Tighe who led the pilgrimage, and me carrying a bag we were all given bearing the image of Charles de Foucauld, which, along with Father’s t-shirt, attracted other Brother Charles followers as we walked around the city.


Assisi

The bus ride from Rome to Assisi was lovely – green fields and vineyards, stucco houses with tiled roofs scattered throughout the rolling hills, small drifts of orange-red poppies translucent in the sun, bushes of warm golden yellow flowers.

This is the view from the bottom of the hill of Assisi. Four of us walked together up its winding narrow streets, shopped a little, had lunch and gelato (delicious ice cream in many flavors), and visited churches.

Along the way, we were captivated by the views through narrow openings and layers of arches and flowers and stairways, the bricks and cobblestone streets all sharing the same range of warm yellow-gray and soft red sandy colors. Though it was a long walk uphill, we didn’t seem to get very tired – it did indeed seem more like a pilgrimage than a tour:

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth.
(Psalm 48)

My favorite church was the tiny Portiuncula (above), one of the churches restored by Saint Francis. It became the place where his order was founded. It seemed to me like Francis’ glowing heart in the vast gracious space of Our Lady of the Angels, the basilica built around it to accommodate the many pilgrims who came to Assisi after his death.

This is a detail of the beautiful six-part fresco in the apse of the Portiuncula, painted by the priest Ilario da Viterbo (1393). The exquisite Annunciation is surrounded by scenes from the saint’s life, including St. Francis Throws Himself into the Thorny Brambles, St. Francis Accompanied by Two Angels, and the Apparition of Christ and the Virgin, Accompanied by 60 Angels, with St. Francis Offering Roses, among others.

When we try to imagine the joy of eternal life with God, our minds are opened and hearts are warmed with a blessed hope when we recall the sweetness and holy charm of Assisi:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek: To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
(Psalm 27)

For more information on St. Charles, please see The Timeline of a Saint and Brother Charles on our website.

Newsletter: July 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

“We are not expecting utopia here on earth. But God meant things to be much easier than we have made them.”

These are words of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), a woman who dedicated her life to peace and the works of mercy. She was a friend of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, and she came to visit the Joseph House back in the 1960s. Dorothy’s cause for sainthood has already started. She is someone we admire very much.

And like Dorothy said, we don’t expect life to be perfect, but we can, and must, do better. The horrific violence that has occurred in our country has been devastating to contemplate and difficult to process. Along with you, we have felt shocked, stunned, heartbroken, sad, angry, upset . . . you name it. But no matter what, it’s important that we not feel helpless.

After the school shooting in Texas, the Archbishop of San Antonio said that we have turned guns into idols. An idol is something we worship—and what we worship is what we listen to and obey. There’s a pantheon of idols in our society; chaos and destruction are their gifts to us. The First Commandment is what it is for a reason. When we follow false gods the road leads to ruin.

Everyone has ideas on how to make the world a better place. The starting point can only be with ourselves. Jesus sought out times and places of quiet, so that’s probably a good thing for us too. For guidance we can read His words: we suggest the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) and John’s account of the Last Supper (Jn 13-17). Our spirits get starved for truth, and only by refreshing them with the springs of divine grace can we act in ways that offer hope instead of despair.

Nothing will change in our country without a firm and abiding dedication to the common good. Our faith teaches us that we are one Body in Christ, all of us together, the little no less than the great. We have responsibilities to each other, and the duty to protect the most vulnerable among us is of the utmost importance. The solutions to our problems are limited only by our resolve to find them. What else is required of us? Here is another thought from Dorothy:

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.”

Dorothy Day

Like every organization that serves the public, the Joseph House has a role to play in creating a just and peaceful world. We are grateful every single day that God has entrusted us with this mission and that we can count on you to be a faithful friend. Thank you for opening your heart to people in need. Making sure everyone has enough to eat and a place to live are works of peace.

Last month we shared a story from Gerry, one of our volunteers at the Joseph House Crisis Center. Here is another one, this time involving a 66-year-old woman who had been homeless for more than a year:

“When I first met Betsy she impressed me as a very happy lady. Bright eyes, a warm smile, and a soft and pleasant voice. I wondered why a calm and relaxed person was at the Joseph House. I was about to find out.

“In my interview with Betsy she very calmly explained her need: she was looking to rent a room from someone that was going to cost $800 per month. A month’s rent was required in advance. When I asked her where she was moving from, she very matter-of-factly told me that she had been living in her car for over a year (and the motor had just gone out).

“Betsy had made arrangements with three local churches to help with her need, but was still $400 short. In order to see how the Joseph House could help, I interviewed Betsy about her finances. Here is what I learned: she is living on a Social Security benefit of $462 per month; the $800 per month rent is from a very gracious couple that understands her plight and is willing to pay her $400 per month to do laundry, chores around the house, and yard work; that leaves her $400 of rent to pay from her $462 benefit.

“When I asked Betsy how she gets by, she smiled and said, ‘I still have $62 per month left, and since my cell phone only costs $50, I still have $12 left.’

“We gladly sent the $400 to the landlord. I also called her to commend her willingness to help a such a meek, grateful, and deserving soul.”

Being able to assist people who have next to nothing is a real joy, but their struggles show us we have a long way to go in creating a truly just society. Let’s promise each other not to give up in our efforts.


We will have photos from the canonization of Charles de Foucauld posted on our website shortly. One of the lessons of the saints is that God works through individuals in every time and place. Each person makes a difference, including you! Our lives and circumstances are so diverse, and that means every corner of the world can be filled with love. As Mother Teresa said, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

Thank you for your support of our ministry to the poor. May the blessings of peace and good health be with you.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We extend to you the gift of prayer. Please send us your special intentions so we can remember you when we gather in our chapel: Contact Form.

Even a small gift makes a big difference to someone in need. You can help us in our mission to the poor: Donate.

Newsletter: June 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Home is where we love and take care of our families. For Charles de Foucauld, family meant everyone.

Our freshly-sainted Br. Charles saw himself as a brother to all people, a “universal brother” as he called himself. Deep in the desert lands of Algeria where he lived, he was equally a brother to the nomadic people known as the Tuaregs, to the enslaved people he redeemed from bondage, and to the French soldiers garrisoned in the Sahara. His love went out to everyone, no matter who they were or what they believed or what they did. Always ready to share what he had—food, medicine, or his time—each stranger was welcomed at his door as a beloved family member.

Br. Charles wrote a rule of life for a religious congregation (that never formed until after his death), and included this directive for its members:

They will have no ‘preferences among people.’ May their universal and brotherly charity shine like a beacon for all around. Let none of those, near or far, sinner or infidel, be unaware that they are universal friends, universal brothers who spend their life praying for everyone without exception and doing them good. Their fraternity [home] is a port, a refuge where all people, especially the poor and destitute, are always fraternally invited, desired, and welcomed.

This is a beautiful description of hospitality and it’s what we try to emulate at the Joseph House since we look to Br. Charles for inspiration. People don’t exist as abstractions, however, and neither can our love for them. A member of Br. Charles’ aforementioned congregation, Antoine Chatelard, pointed this out:

Being a universal brother is first about being a brother, before thinking about being universal. . . . Universal love doesn’t exist outside of the particular. It means loving the person who is right in front of me, not loving the idea of someone I have never set eyes on.

Antoine, who died last year at the age of 90, was a great student of Br. Charles. He understood that Br. Charles’ life was a series of conversions, that having high ideals is one thing but living them out is another. Sainthood doesn’t happen without perseverance. If we want to be “universal” in our love for other people, there is only one way to start and one way to proceed . . . love the person right in front of us.

But what if that person has hurt us or caused harmed? One of our volunteers at the Joseph House Crisis Center, Gerry, met someone who revealed the depth and power of the human heart. Here is the story from Gerry (please note it describes a serious traffic accident):

Last September, Frank and Roberta were on their way home from dinner. While traveling 55 miles per hour on a two-lane highway, their motorcycle struck another motorcycle that pulled out from a stop sign and stopped right in the middle of the road.

The passenger on the second motorcycle was killed. Both Frank and Roberta were pronounced dead at the scene—but upon further inspection both still had life and were rushed to the hospital.

Their injuries were horrific. Roberta has had hip surgery and is scheduled for major back surgery. Frank’s arm was shattered so severely that his elbow ended up adjacent to his shoulder! His pelvis needed to be removed. I saw the pictures and was nauseous as I have never seen such devastation.

Neither Frank nor Roberta have been able to work since the accident and have another 9 to 12 months of recovery ahead of them. Frank has worked feverishly with his mortgage company to avoid foreclosure or eviction, and only due to help from family members was able to keep his electric on. He came to the Joseph House simply to get help with keeping his phone, cable, and Internet service from being shut off ($300).

The remarkable thing that struck me was Frank’s positive attitude about doing everything he could to get back to work. But the more AMAZING thing was the GRACE he exuded when he told me that despite the devastating injuries, he held no ill feelings toward the person that caused the accident, saying that it was “not my call” and that he believed something good could come out of this tragedy.

Having been raised in a Christian life for 60 years I’ve frequently heard that we must all show the love of Christ to others by forgiving those who cause us harm. But I have never had the privilege of seeing someone live that commitment.

Frank changed my life!

We want to thank Gerry for sharing this story with us. Love can be brought into any situation and our heart can be opened to any individual. If we feel like we can’t, we just have to do what we can and let God do the rest.


We are happy to be part of the “Br. Charles family” that extends across the globe. His example has guided our little community and helped us understand our vocation as Little Sisters. But now he belongs to everyone: his recent canonization is a declaration that his life has teaching value for all people.

Although Br. Charles lived more than 100 years ago, he can tell us something about living the Gospel in today’s world. That’s the mystery of God’s providence: when the time is right we are given what we need.

We will share more with you about the canonization next time—including an eyewitness account from our Sr. Virginia!

Thank you for your faithful support of our ministry to those in need. With gratitude,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Do you have a special need you hold close in your heart? Please send us your prayer requests and we will add our prayers to yours: Contact Form.

Your support of our ministry helps the hungry, the homeless, and struggling families. See how you can help: Donate.

Our featured community member this month is Sr. Connie Ladd. She has been with the Little Sisters the longest. Read her profile and see photos here: Sr. Connie.

Charles de Foucauld: The Timeline of a Saint

Born to a noble family, a tragic childhood, worldly preoccupations, a loss of faith, and then . . .
Charles de Foucauld’s life changed in 1886 with a powerful conversion experience, but this was just another step in a journey with God that was already underway. Charles later realized that God had always been with him:

“O my God! How surely you had your hand on me, and how little I felt it! You are so good, you took such good care of me! How closely you were keeping me under your wings, while I didn’t even believe you existed!”

In the years that followed, Charles sought nothing but to live for God alone. He desired to imitate the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth, and this ultimately led him to the Sahara and an apostolate of friendship as a “universal brother.”

Charles de Foucauld will be canonized a saint on May 15, 2022. Here is a look at important dates in his life, a life which traveled a circuit between his native France, the Holy Land, and North Africa.

September 15, 1858 – Born in Strasbourg, France
1864 – Orphaned, taken in by maternal grandparents
1876 – Enters Saint-Cyr military academy; acquires the nickname “Piggy” for his self-indulgent lifestyle
1878 – Enters cavalry school at Saumur
1881 – Serves in Algeria
1882 – Leaves the army
1883-84 – Explores Morocco in disguise (the country is closed to Christian Europeans)
1885 – Receives the Gold Medal from the Geographical Society of Paris
Late October 1886 – Seeks counsel from Fr. Henri Huvelin in Paris; has conversion experience
1888-89 – Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
1890 – Becomes a Trappist monk at Notre Dame des Neiges in France; a few months later, seeking greater asceticism, he transfers to a monastery in Syria, Notre Dame de Sacré Coeur
1897 – With permission from the abbot, leaves the Trappists
1897 – Wanting to live the “hidden life” of Jesus, becomes a handyman for a convent of Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth
1900 – Returns to France to study for the priesthood
June 9, 1901 – Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Viviers
1901 – Receives permission to return to Algeria, settles in Béni-Abbès; begins ministry of prayer, charity, and friendship to all
1905 – Travels hundreds of miles south to Tamanrasset, a rugged, desolate land; builds a place to live, becomes known as a marabout (holy man)
1915 – Due to the unrest following the outbreak of World War I, builds a small fort in Tamanrasset to protect the local people from pillagers
December 1, 1916 – Shot and killed by a raider at the gate of his fort
1921 – First biography is written
1927 – Cause for beatification begins
November 13, 2005 – Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI
May 15, 2022 – Canonized by Pope Francis

The canonization Mass is scheduled to be televised on EWTN on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at 4:00 AM (live) and again at 12 noon.

Below is a picture gallery depicting the life of Charles. Click on each picture for a larger image.

Newsletter: May 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

Newsletter: February 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With our faithful prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

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

Newsletter: January 2022

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph House Workshop News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is a photo of the kitchen at the Workshop:

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

With our prayers for blessings in the New Year,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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

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

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

The Spirituality of Charles de Foucauld

We are anxiously waiting to hear when Charles de Foucauld will be canonized. The date should be announced soon. To help you know more about our spiritual father, here are the main points of his spirituality, as written by our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling:

There are four basic elements of the spirituality of Br. Charles. The first is poverty. In order to be really free in this materialistic world it is necessary to divest oneself of that which is not necessary. For Br. Charles, that meant living a life of extreme poverty in imitation of the life of Christ and also as a sign that, for the Christian, life now is lived in expectation of what is to come, it is not an end in itself.

The second is contemplation. It is expressed specifically in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament as a direct way to seek the Lord and also in meditation on the gospels.

The third is the desert. It is in the desert that one is faced with the reality of who God is. He reveals Himself to those who wait for Him in the desert. And those who wait are made aware of their own weakness and inability to do anything without Him. So, time spent in solitude is a vital aspect of a follower of Br. Charles.

The final point of this spirituality is charity. This is expressed in being as far as possible a friend to all persons, in total availability and in hospitality.

For more information, please see the Br. Charles section of our website.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth in the Holy Land, a place Charles loved. He lived in Nazareth for several years and it filled his spirit. “Imitate Jesus in His hidden life. Be as small and poor as He is,” Charles wrote in his journal.

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: 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