Tag: ministry (page 1 of 2)

Newsletter: August 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

How many times a day do we look in the mirror? Some people more than others perhaps, but we all need to check our appearance now and then. Catherine Doherty, the founder of Madonna House, realized these are opportunities to help people see so much more:

At Madonna House, we paint these words onto all our mirrors—”God’s image”—so that when anyone looks in the mirror, they see that they are God’s image. I think the greatest work that we have to do in this civilization, this country, is to accept ourselves as lovable.

Catherine’s idea stems from the fact that we need to accept we are loved by God, and worthy of receiving love, before we can authentically show love to others. She understood that many people don’t always feel lovable. Her creativity found a way to help them gently change their self-understanding.

There’s an easy way we can share Catherine’s example with those around us, and it doesn’t involve any painting: we can be the mirror for other people by how we treat them. We can show them that they are made in God’s image and affirm their dignity by treating them with kindness and respect.

You may remember the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” It meant you could buy a consumer product with confidence. Well, every human person has something far greater than that. As the image of God, we have God’s pledge that every human life is sacred, unrepeatable, the possessor of equal dignity, and destined for eternity. Remembering that should change how we view ourselves—and each other.

Sometimes life is hard. People feel beaten by their circumstances. That’s when it’s important for us to be a reflection of hope. This happens all the time at the Joseph House with the men and women we greet. We look at the world from their perspective, and we look at them from God’s. Our response is love, a love made manifest in the simple, concrete actions of welcome and acceptance. And through your support of our ministry, we show them that hope is real and not in vain.

On a sweltering day a few weeks ago, Trisha walked to the Crisis Center seeking help for her family. She and her husband and their three children (ages 2, 4, and 6) were living in a tent in the woods. Trisha was desperate for housing, and she had a note from a landlord stating that Trisha and her family could move into an efficiency apartment as soon as they paid $250.

In our busy Crisis Center we found a quiet space to talk. Trisha said she works at a fast food restaurant; at times, she has held jobs at two of them, trying hard to support her family. Her husband has had cancer for more than a year. He has good days and bad days. Trisha thought his health was improving at the moment. Their six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder that impedes a person’s ability to communicate. So Trisha was not only the family breadwinner, but the caregiver as well.

This was not her family’s first time being homeless. They had to leave a previous rental because it was infested with bugs. A motel room provided a temporary refuge, but that became too expensive. Trisha would love to have a clean, safe, affordable place to live with her family. It is a simple dream shared by many, many poor people. We contacted the landlord and agreed to pay the $250. Hopefully the dream will come true for Trisha and her family.

Patti and Justin were also homeless and living in a tent (there are more people doing this than we realize). They came to our area from another part of the state. The house they were living in was over-crowded, and then a shooting occurred in the neighborhood. Patti and Justin saw the writing on the wall and knew it was time to leave. After making their way to Salisbury, they set up camp behind a shopping center. They were invisible, just a stone’s throw from shoppers and traffic. Displaced and hungry for food and work, like characters from The Grapes of Wrath.

Patti heard about the Joseph House and contacted us. We helped her and Justin with their immediate needs: showers, food, and cab fare. Justin was the first to find a job. When he and Patti found an affordable rental, we agreed to pay $200 (half of the first month’s rent) so they could move in after weeks of being homeless.

Doreen, 57, is disabled and has stomach cancer. Her monthly SNAP benefits (“Food Stamps”) amount to $15, but fortunately she lives close to our Food Pantry. Another thing in her favor is that she has subsidized housing. Without it, she could not afford to live anywhere on her disability check.

Recently, Doreen was distressed because she could only make a partial rent payment one month and no payment the following month. Other necessary expenses consumed her check. Before the month was over, she received an eviction notice. The Joseph House paid $200 and Doreen the remaining $24 that was due. She was extremely grateful not to lose her place to live.

Nathan, 44, is devoted to his children, both his own and two step-sons he took in to protect them from an abusive environment. Eager to provide for his family, Nathan has a temporary job harvesting watermelons. When the season is over he hopes to work in a chicken factory. His summertime electric bill was too high for him to pay all of it. We sent $150 to the power company to help prevent a shut-off.


We remember you daily in our prayers. Send us your prayer requests.

We depend on your generous hearts and loving concern for God’s poor to serve those in need. Every donation, no matter the size, is gratefully received and makes a difference. You can make a donation here.

Please let us know if you prefer not to receive a written acknowledgement through the mail for your donation. Of course, we will gladly send a receipt at the end of the year for tax purposes.


Every mirror needs to be cleaned periodically. Dust and smudges can cloud what we see. We need to polish ourselves, too, and an excellent way of doing so is by spending a little time with the Gospels. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), and by looking at what He said and did we learn the truth about what it means to be made in God’s image.

Thank you for your prayers and support! Life becomes so pleasing when we give in to our instincts for being good. May God bless you.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

The Madonna House Apostolate is a family of Christian lay men, women, and priests, striving to incarnate the teachings of Jesus Christ by forming a community of love.

Someone once asked Catherine Doherty, “What is Madonna House?” She answered:

What is Madonna House? Madonna House is a very simple thing. It is an open door. It is a cup of tea or coffee, good and hot. It is an invitation to work for the common good.

Madonna House is a house of hospitality. It is a place where people are received, not on their education, not on how wonderful they are as painters, or whatever they have to do; they are received simply as people. They are loved.

www.madonnahouse.org

Newsletter: July 2018

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.

Make an online donation.

Newsletter: June 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Money is a curious thing. It can buy books but not intelligence; finery but not beauty; entertainment but not happiness; luxuries but not culture; a house but not a home.

Money can give us what we want, but not always what we need. It is our servant, not our master.

Jesus advised us to ask for our daily bread (Mt 6:11). He also affirmed that we do not live by bread alone: our fulfillment is of a higher order (Mt 4:4). As Sr. Mary Elizabeth once said, “Some days we have much, and many days we have little. I tell the sisters, ‘much is better, but, much or little, we always have God!'”

We ask money from you to help those who have little. The people we serve lack the necessities required to live a basic, decent life. It is a matter of alleviating suffering and upholding human dignity. We try to keep money in its proper place and allow our benefactors to do the same. Money can be used for good or evil: it is our choice.

Money is called currency if it’s “in circulation.” It has power when it moves, and your donations supply the power to our operation. We can assist people only because of you. Thank you for everything you do for the Joseph House. Having a heart open to people in need is a real treasure.

Like many people who come to the Joseph House, Armand was not eligible for help anywhere else. He is 58, homebound, and a dialysis patient. A social worker came to our Crisis Center on his behalf. After paying 72% of his disability income on rent, Armand has about $200 left over each month. This needs to cover the electric, water, food, and miscellaneous household items. It’s never enough. Armand has nothing extra in his life like cable TV. We paid $200 toward his past-due electric bill.

Celine, 32, is a single mother with two children. She was working a temp job but then was let go by the employer. Living paycheck-to-paycheck, Celine quickly ran into trouble paying her bills, and the water was shut off. She went to the Department of Social Services and learned it does not assist with water bills. The next stop was the Joseph House, and since we are not bound by red tape and we understand that running water is essential, we paid $170 toward Celine’s bill.

Elda is 60 and had to stop working because of arthritis in her back. She can barely walk. At the moment, her only income is $185 a month in Temporary Disability. Elda has minimal bills, but $185 doesn’t go very far, to say the least. We sent $200 to the electric company so Elda would not lose power in her home.

Janet, 46, is separated from her husband. She recently had to have one of her legs amputated. Unable to work during her recovery, she has no income. We sent $175 in rent money to her landlord.

Christine, 56, recently obtained custody of two of her grandchildren. She is trying to get a third one because the mother is abusive. Family relationships have fractured and Christine wants to do what is best for the children. To proceed with the custody case Christine needs to have a larger apartment to house the additional child. Her current income is $1,059 per month and she pays $850 in rent. She found another apartment but needed to pay a security deposit. Her lack of spare funds made that impossible. Determined to provide all of her grandchildren with a loving and healthy upbringing, Christine came to the Joseph House. We contributed $210 toward the deposit.

Last year Sister Virginia’s art class at the Joseph House Workshop took on the task of designing and creating a sign in mosaic tile for the Workshop entryway. Three new residents were up to the challenge. The sign was completed in April 2018, just as the class was ending. Here is the story from Sr. Virginia:

“Mosaics are manly,” I said to Larry, Juan, and John, my art students at the Joseph House Workshop. “Glue and cement and breaking things with tools: What’s not to like?”

As new residents of the Workshop, the three men were still in phase one, the initial three months during which they learn how to cook, clean and cooperate in a small community of men. They also do volunteer work and take an array of skill-building and inspirational classes, including my art class, which I hope provides a bit of comic relief from their very challenging schedule.

The goal of the Joseph House Workshop, a residential therapeutic program, is to help homeless men transition to stable, productive living. We know the goal has been reached when a resident completes the program and has a steady job and the means to live independently.

When Rudy, the assistant director, learned that I was going to give a class in mosaics, he suggested we make a sign for the Workshop to replace one that was falling apart. It was a handsome sign, lovingly and skillfully made by a previous resident, but unfortunately the material was not weatherproof.

I’m not sure what the men were thinking when they heard about the project, or what they said to each other in private, but in the class they were very good sports. As the weeks went by and we were still making preparations, I would anxiously try to assure the men that things were going to get more exciting. Larry would give me a deadpan look and say, “Sister-Virginia–I-am-very-excited-about-the-project-today.” Juan often assured me that the class did indeed make him feel “manly.”

John was a bit more serious – maybe because he had the most experience – and he quietly kept the project on track and free of major blunders. In fact, John devoted many hours of his scarce free time to preparing hundreds of mosaic tiles, which needed to be broken up into a variety of sizes.

We also received help from experts in the community. Carla Lewis, a superb local mosaicist, encouraged us and offered good advice. Erin Kenny and Daniel Winn at Acme Ceramic Tile in Salisbury generously gave their time to help us select the proper materials, and they showed us techniques for producing a harmonious and pleasing design.

Fortunately, the cost of the materials – weatherproof backing board, ceramic tiles, glue and grout – was covered by an education grant that the Workshop receives annually.

As the class drew to an end, the sign was far from complete. I was resigned to handing over the unfinished project to the next cohort of men, due to begin class in the fall.

My students were now preparing to enter phase two – the period during which they find training and employment, with the ultimate goal of becoming stable and independent. I was working at the nearby Joseph House Crisis Center, when John came up to me and said, “Sister, I have to show you something.” He led me across the parking lot to the Workshop entrance.

The sign was not only finished, it was framed and installed above the doors! John had worked day and night to lay all rest of the tiles, and he then enlisted another resident, Carl, to build the frame and help mount the sign, while swearing everyone involved to secrecy so he could surprise me. I was deeply moved and thrilled!

Rudy revealed to me later that John was initially quite unenthusiastic about the mosaic project. An experienced contractor, John said that he had always insisted on getting paid in full for his work. “But when the sign was finished and I saw the expression on Sister’s face,” he said, “it made it all worthwhile.” He had experienced something profound: the joy of giving his time and talent without any thought of material gain.

The mosaic project was for me a tremendous blessing and privilege. After every class, I would feel elated. Working side-by-side with these men to create something that was handsome and useful, in such a venerable and ancient art form, felt like a tiny sharing in the timeless and blissful creativity of God.


There are many things we can do with our time and money. Few of them compare with making the world more hospitable for those who need a hand.

To all men celebrating Father’s Day, we pray that God will bless you with an abundance of love. And may everyone enjoy a happy and restful summer.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Newsletter: May 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, our founder, had a vision for our ministry that continues to guide us. When she started the Joseph House, she had next to nothing apart from a few principles in mind. These principles, and the rationale behind them, were explained by her in this way:

1). Joseph House helps the poor.
We wanted to help the people who fall through the cracks of the welfare system and who cannot receive help elsewhere.

2). Joseph House uses volunteers.
We wanted to give people the opportunity to share in acts of Christian charity. We also wanted to minimize operating expenses so most of our money would go toward direct aid to the poor.

3). Joseph House depends on Divine Providence.
Through the generosity of free-will donations of money, food, and other resources we wanted to avoid government funding and the restrictions and regulations that often accompany it. We wanted the freedom of the Holy Spirit in responding to the needs of the poor.

These three points are just as relevant today as they were 52 years ago when the first Joseph House opened in Baltimore on May 1, 1966. Today we carry on the good work Sr. Mary Elizabeth started, reaching out to people in need to relieve their distress, offer them hope, and uphold their dignity.

We’d like to share with you a story from one of our volunteers that beautifully ties together what Sister envisioned. Jerry has been doing amazing work helping people find employment, whether at the Crisis Center, the Joseph House Workshop, or the Village of Hope. He goes above and beyond the call of duty. A few weeks ago, Jerry met Mary in our Hospitality Room for men and women who are homeless. Mary was definitely someone who had “fallen through the cracks.” As can be seen in Jerry’s write-up, however, her life was about to take a turn for the better:

Mary had just been released from the county jail. We interviewed her, helped her get an e-mail address, created a résumé, performed on-line job searches, wrote cover letters, helped fill out job applications and drove her to interviews with prospective employers. She recently had a second successful interview with one of the employers we helped her target, and she gladly accepted their job offer. She reported for orientation a few days later.

Needless to say, Mary is thrilled with the services we provided. Our volunteers who work in this area are equally joyous each time they help one of our clients become self sufficient.

A lot has changed over the years, but “the poor you will always have with you” (Mt 26:11). For people living in poverty, the world keeps creating new barriers for them. The latest is the digital divide — the gap between those who have access to the Internet and technology and those who don’t. That was an obstacle facing Mary until Jerry helped her get to the other side.

We are so happy that the Joseph House allowed these two individuals to cross paths. And they’re just one example. The transformations that occur are life-changing — for everyone involved!

There’s something Sister didn’t mention in her vision for the Joseph House, but it’s always been present in our service to those in need: loving personal concern. She in fact set the standard. Whether in our Hospitality Room, Soup Kitchen, Food Pantry, Financial Assistance department, or at the Joseph House Workshop, our service is never simply the mechanical distribution of goods. Everything is done person-to-person, motivated by a desire to love thy neighbor.

There are many people alone and adrift with nowhere to go for help. We are here for them because of your donations.

Sybil, 51, is coping with mental health issues and living in someone’s garage. Her income is only $195 per month (Temporary Disability). Sybil came to the Crisis Center and asked for one thing: money to see a dentist. We paid $150 so she could make an appointment.

Harvey, 63, needed to move from the house he has lived in his entire life. Badly run-down, his home was returning to the elements from which it came. Mice and insects were speeding up the process. Harvey is limited in what he can do for himself. We paid $200 toward the security deposit so he could move into a place that will be easier for him to manage.

Edwina, 62, is trying to work while being treated for cancer, but sometimes the pain from radiation treatments is too much. She’s had to cut back her hours from her job in a cafeteria. With her reduced income, the rent has been taking almost all of her money. We paid $200 toward her past-due electric bill to keep the power on in her apartment.

Margot, 28, has a four-year-old daughter and newborn twins, a boy and a girl. She took a maternity leave from her job, believing that her husband would be able to take care of the bills. He, however, is a veteran and suffering from PTSD. His violent episodes became so severe that he needed to be hospitalized. The family’s income quickly dropped to zero. Margot’s landlord said something had to be paid toward the rent or else an eviction was likely to happen. We sent $300 to buy Margot some time.

The mission of the Joseph House goes forward because friends like you have been part of it from Day One. Sr. Mary Elizabeth could not do it alone and neither can we. Thank you for your donations, financial contributions, prayers, and encouragement. Learn how you can help: Donate.

We remember you faithfully every day in our prayers. You are precious to God and to us.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


URGENT REQUEST: We need a full-size pickup truck for our Crisis Center. The truck will be used primarily for our Food Pantry and must be suitable for heavy-duty work. Our current truck is ready to be retired after 300,000 miles of commendable service. If you can help in any way please Contact Us.

Newsletter: April 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Across the land, we see a transformation taking place: buds forming on tree branches, birds chirping in the early morning light, delicate sprouts poking through the earth. After a long winter of nor’easters and arctic cold, Spring is on the way.

Our fussing and self-importance do nothing to bring this about. A little more sunlight each day, a little warmer air in the breeze, and the magic begins. Subtle changes occur — we usually miss them and don’t realize they are happening — but what is the end result? The creation and continuation of life on our planet.

Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this advice: Adopt the pace of Nature — her secret is patience.

How patient is Nature? Look at the Grand Canyon. Some things take time and they’re never really finished. We can see this in the natural wonders of the world. Can we see it in other people? In ourselves?

In our ministry with the poor, as in any helping profession, we learn that people move according to their own timetable. We can’t hurry them along. We learn to be patient, to give them the same allowances we give ourselves. There are men and women who have been coming to our Hospitality Room for the Homeless for years. They seem resistant to any kind of intervention, no matter how well-meaning. What can we do except be the love of God for them, a love they likely experience nowhere else?

For the homeless, and everyone who seeks help from the Joseph House, our presence changes the course of their journey. Maybe the change is slow and subtle. Maybe it’s going to be a long time until someone’s winter is over. So be it. What we give to the poor is a commitment to be there for them. Fidelity gives people hope.

Week after week, we welcome people to the Joseph House Crisis Center. Our waiting room is often full. Sometimes when the cheery glow of Christmas fades away, so too does the desire to give to the needy. But the poor are still here, they still need help. It is our joy to keep our door open for them.

People like Mary Beth depend on it. She has five children, including an infant. Their home for the past several years has been a trailer. Mary Beth is married, although her husband left shortly after their youngest child was born. He is not providing support of any kind. The sudden change in finances has been extremely detrimental to this family’s security and well-being.

When Mary Beth came to see us she was on the verge of being evicted from her home. Her landlord was trying to be sympathetic, but she had reached the point where she needed to initiate legal action against Mary Beth and her family.

A grant from the Department of Social Services only paid some of the rent. Mary Beth was feeling desperate. She was scheduled to begin a new job as a nursing assistant at $9.25 per hour. Her first paycheck was weeks away, however, and she needed to pay something to her landlord immediately. The landlord was called and we guaranteed $200. That was accepted to keep Mary Beth and her children from being evicted.

For her own safety, Elena was removed from her home by Adult Protective Services following reports of domestic violence. She was placed in a motel while a social worker looked for a permanent place for her to live. Elena is 47 and in a disturbing state of declining health. She has bipolar disorder, PTSD, chronic lung disease, arthritis, and cancer.

To come face-to-face with the mystery of suffering leaves one speechless. If there is no answer for suffering, there is a response: compassion. When her motel time was up with housing yet to be found, we paid $275 for another week. Elena would be more comfortable there than in the more spartan accommodations of a shelter.

Jenny, 55, had two infected teeth that needed to be extracted. The pain, not to mention the possibility of sepsis, meant that dental care had to be soon. Jenny pays 78% of her income on rent. That leaves precious little money for other expenditures, even necessary ones. We paid $175 for Jenny’s visit to the dentist. Jenny is going to apply for subsidized housing, but the wait is usually several years.

Horace, 77, lives by himself in a small house surrounded by farmland. Early in the winter, a burst pipe kept the motor from his well running continuously. Horace got the pipe fixed, but then his electric bill was three times higher than normal. He fell behind in paying the bill and was afraid his power was going to be cut off. We sent $160 to the electric company to get Horace’s account up to date.

Tim, a 49-year-old farm worker, has been sidelined because of back and leg injuries. His teen-age son helps to pay the bills, but he is also temporarily without a job. The cold weather drove up the electric bill in Tim’s home. We paid $225 toward the overdue amount.

Derek is a successful graduate of the Joseph House Workshop. The support and training he received has renewed his self confidence, and for that he is grateful. This inner strength was put to the test a few months ago when his son was born with a heart defect. His little boy has required three surgeries at a hospital in another state. Derek missed a lot of work during these challenging months and fell behind in the rent. For the sake of his family, he came to us seeking assistance.

Being able to help Derek with $300 was gratifying. You can share in that feeling because you made it possible. Your generosity gives a helping hand to people when they need it the most. You make the world a more loving and hospitable place. If you wish to help us with a donation, you can do so here: Donate Online.

Hope is the sister of patience. While both involve waiting, hope adds a sense of expectation. Hope waits for a fulfillment not found in the present moment, and ultimately not in the present life. Sooner or later, when we trust in our own abilities we reach the end of the road. Hope tells us that is not the end of the journey.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of all our hopes. Please use this Easter season as a time to celebrate the many beautiful ways we can experience the gift of life. And thank you for supporting our ministry — we promise to do our best to be worthy of your faith in us.

With our prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Newsletter: March 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Home is where our story begins.

If this is true for us then it was true for Jesus when He walked the earth, born into the family of Mary and Joseph. He lived in a home created by His parents in the town of Nazareth. The house itself was likely humble in appearance, square in form and constructed of stone and clay. The roof may have served as an open-air terrace. An oven was probably outside and maybe a fig tree.

It’s interesting to note that Jewish families often kept a wooden receptacle attached to the wall by the door. Inside were strips of parchment on which were written passages from Scripture. Upon entering or leaving the house, the box was reverently touched, an indication of how a family’s dwelling place is sacred ground.

For Jesus, His home in Nazareth was more than simply a place to eat and sleep. It was a place to grow and develop. A place to feel cared for, protected, and loved. Day by day, in moments shared with Mary and Joseph, Jesus became the man we know in the Gospels.

Everyone needs a place to call home. Its importance to family life, and hence society, cannot be overstated. That’s what makes today’s lack of affordable housing so troubling. The problems of many poor families are tied directly to this issue. Forget about getting ahead — high rents, taking 50 to 80% of income, make it impossible for the poor to keep from falling behind.

People come to the Joseph House Crisis Center every week with eviction notices. According to Evicted, a book by Matthew Desmond, in the 1930s the New York Times reported on evictions as newsworthy events. Now it’s a different story: evictions occur every day in communities across the country. Desmond goes on to say:

Eviction’s fallout is severe. Losing a home sends families to shelters, abandoned houses, and the street. It invites depression and illness, compels families to move into degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods, uproots communities, and harms children. Eviction reveals people’s vulnerability and desperation, as well as their ingenuity and guts.

We see this in our work at the Joseph House, and that is why helping families hold onto their housing is a major part of our mission. “Eviction’s fallout is severe.” Imagine all of your belongings out on the street, all of your food going to waste on the sidewalk. What would you tell your children? How would you care for them? Where do you go? What do you do? These are real questions people face.

Linda was one such person desperate to avoid losing her home. She is the mother of five school-age children. For years she worked full-time to provide a stable, supportive life for them. That changed last summer when a serious car accident injured her back. Linda is still in pain and hasn’t been able to return to work.

Linda and her children live in a subdivided house on a country lane, across from a chicken farm. She has exhausted her savings in paying the rent. When an eviction notice was posted on her door, Linda needed to reach out for help. The Joseph House was there for her, and with a $200 payment to her landlord we bought Linda some time. Her application for disability benefits is under review. Getting approved is her family’s best hope for survival, at least for the time being.

Karly, 38, is also struggling to care for her family. She is a divorced mother of three children, two boys and a girl. Karly used to work, but an arthritic condition that makes her feel pain all over her body put an end to her employment. Her two sons are disabled and their combined Social Security of $1,029 monthly provides the family’s income. The rent takes 73% of that.

One day Karly realized the kitchen and bathroom sinks plus the toilet were clogged and not draining. Leaks were sprouting from the old pipes. The landlord called a plumber, who after removing the toilet extracted a child’s toy from the drain pipe. The landlord said the repairs were due to Karly’s negligence and she needed to pay the bill of $399. Otherwise, her lease would not be renewed. Since Karly did not have the money, she appealed to the Joseph House for help. We looked over her budget with her and determined that a $200 contribution would see her through this crisis. Becoming homeless would have greatly jeopardized this family’s health.

When Angelica came to see us she had no fixed address. She and her two young daughters had used up their time at a homeless shelter. Angelica’s goal was to work with children with special needs — she was waiting for her background check to be completed. We paid for several nights in a motel as well as gas for her car.

Cassidy was anxious to leave the disreputable motel where she was living with her six children. She had seen too many rats. Previously, Cassidy and her kids were homeless, living out of her car. When Cassidy found a housekeeping job, she moved everyone into the motel. But now it was time to leave.

Unfortunately, Cassidy’s job pays very little: only $450 in the first month, although her boss has promised her more hours in the near future. Nevertheless, at the moment she had practically no options. Cassidy asked for help at the Joseph House, and we paid for a better motel for her and her family. We also gave her gas for her car and bags of groceries. Shortly thereafter, Cassidy found a suitable apartment to rent. We contributed $200 toward the security deposit so she and her children could make the move into more stable housing.

The Joseph House, of course, will help with any need as long as it can be demonstrated. Rodney, 81, is disabled and cannot walk. His 31-year-old son lives with him, but he has psychiatric problems and cannot function socially. He can do simple tasks if Rodney gives him clear-cut directions. This father and son were living without heat after they ran out of propane. We paid $200 to get the tank refilled.

Many times we help people in their immediate need, and yet their lives are still so precarious. This reminds us that their road is long and hard. Thank you for all the ways you show your love for the poor. We share with you glimpses into their lives, and we are grateful you feel close enough to care about their well-being. You make our work possible.

To make a donation now, click here: Donate Online

We are approaching Holy Week, the unsurpassed teacher on the meaning of love, where actions are as eloquent as words. Let us take it all to heart and put into practice what we can learn.

You are especially close to us in prayer. May Easter shine brightly for you, filling you with the hope and promise of Christ!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


It is quite true that the life of Saint Joseph and of his Holy Family, as regards to the exterior, was an ordinary, modest, unassuming life, and, we may say, a life of monotonous poverty.

But what treasures of genuine peace and true joy were hidden in its interior! In this realm no one wished to be in command or give orders, but all desired from a motive of humble love rather to obey and serve one another. And where love reigns supreme, there are peace and joy, but only there.

Fr. Maurice Meschler, SJ
The Truth About Saint Joseph

Newsletter: February 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The Hospitality Room has been an essential part of the Joseph House Crisis Center for 20 years. It’s a day shelter for men and women who are homeless. Five days a week, they can go to the Hospitality Room and take a shower and have their clothes laundered. A big draw, especially during the cold winter months, is the hot, delicious food served by our volunteers. A steaming bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup means everything on a frigid, blustery day.

As implied by its name, the Hospitality Room does more than provide important services. We found an excellent definition of the word “hospitality” in the book, Looking to St. Francis, by John Bohrer and Joseph Stoutzenberger:

Hospitality means a spirit of welcome and warmth that creates an oasis among us…. Hospitality leaves no room for warfare or clinging to possessions. It calls for simplicity, trust in God, and trust in other people. Just an open hand extended in greeting represents peace, welcome, and recognition of our common humanity.

It seems natural that the beloved saint of Assisi would inspire this understanding.

On a typical day, our Hospitality Room welcomes 20 to 30 people into a space that can feel a little cramped. But if you stop by you might hear laughter. Our volunteers know how to keep the peace and make everyone feel accepted. They really do make the Hospitality Room live up to its name.

Although we help people who are homeless with their material needs, we also give them a chance to simply be, away from the glare of suspicious eyes. Imagine if you were homeless and not welcome anywhere because other people looked at you with apprehension or repugnance. It’s easy to reject those who need help. If we could only see who is also being rejected (cf Mt 25: 42-45).

The Hospitality Room takes a head count every day. The grand total for last year was 4,919. That’s almost five thousand meals, loads of laundry, and showers for the homeless population of the Lower Delmarva Peninsula. The Joseph House can only do that because of your support.

Here are some other numbers from 2017:

Our Soup Kitchen served 11,544 hot meals. The Food Pantry gave out 14,298 bags of groceries to an average of 596 households per month. About 37% of the people receiving food were children.

In terms of Financial Assistance for Emergencies, we responded 1,478 times to help low-income families and individuals. We issued checks to stop evictions, pay security deposits on new rentals, pay overdue electric, gas, and water bills (often restoring services that had been cut off), and purchase heating oil and propane. When shelters were full we paid for motel rooms for families in danger of becoming homeless. Our funds were also used to buy prescription medications and medical devices, emergency dental work, mattresses and bed frames, appliances, and bus tickets. We will always consider any request as long as the need can be demonstrated.

Five struggling families received a donated motor vehicle through the Joseph House. One of these families has 11 children and through us acquired a large passenger van. These invaluable gifts allow the recipients to continue working to support themselves.

At Christmas, 722 children received a bag of gifts. Each bag included a large toy, a smaller one, a book, an activity (puzzle, coloring book, etc.), stocking stuffers, and cold weather gear (hats, gloves, scarves). We gave seven new bicycles to especially needy families. In addition, 298 new winter coats were distributed.

The Joseph House Workshop was at or near its capacity of eight residents for 2017. The men in the program, all formerly homeless, develop life skills and receive support for finding and maintaining employment. Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Workshop takes a comprehensive approach: classroom discussions cover everything from character building to interviewing techniques, neglected medical issues are addressed, recovery options continue, and transportation provided to and from job sites.

Our men find jobs and more than that: bonds of brotherhood are formed and personal growth takes root. Every step is a victory.

We hope you realize your generosity is doing more than you thought. When you give to the Joseph House you are part of a wellspring of goodwill, generated by ordinary people who want to help those in need. It’s as simple as putting “love thy neighbor” into practice — look what we can do when we work together!

Dear friend, you have our immense gratitude. Special thanks also go to: Bonnie Luna and the volunteers, performers, and attendees of the Magi Choral Festival; Bernie Greene and the volunteers and participants of the Salisbury Neighborhood Food Drive; the organizing committee, volunteers, and participants of our Annual Golf Tournament; the coalition of local churches who prepare and serve food for our Soup Kitchen; St. Francis de Sales Church; the Knights of Columbus; Sherwood Automotive; WBOC; Toys for Tots; Mason Dixon Woodworkers; and our faithful volunteers, the heart and hands of our service to the poor.

This is only a partial list. There is always the risk of leaving someone out, and it is guaranteed since many people support our ministry. Please take to heart that every offering is gratefully received and makes a real difference in someone’s life. Our deeds are an open book before the Lord, who rejoices in the love made manifest in the world. Everything done for the good of others is never forgotten.

We love hearing from you and enjoy reading the notes that many of you send. With the help of a few volunteers, we stuff our Newsletter envelopes ourselves. Many of the names on our mailing list we recognize as old friends. We wish we could get to know all of you personally. Feel free to drop us a line!

May God’s loving care surround you on these winter days. United with you in prayer, we are

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

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Newsletter: January 2018

Pope John Paul I.

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

To the world, he was John Paul I, a pope known primarily for the shortness of his term (33 days). To Pia Luciani, however, he was Uncle Albino, and in a recent interview she shared her memories of him:

Pia: He told stories, sometimes even jokes with a moral ending, exhorting us always to practice eutrapelia.

Reporter: Excuse me, what does that mean?

Pia: It is a Greek word, it means showing happiness to others, finding the joyful and playful side in all things, because, he told us, “When things go wrong, they never go completely wrong. There is always a solution.”

Eutrapelia. There, we’ve learned a new word for the new year and a good one to keep in mind. 2017 had a heaviness to it, and we need to look for the light, for the solutions to our problems, because they exist.

Dorothy Day, the writer and social activist, had a similar philosophy she called the “duty of delight.” She made it her response to suffering:

I was thinking how, as one gets older, we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy which goes with loving.

It’s easy to look at the world today and sigh. The problems can seem overwhelming. Unthinkable violence is becoming commonplace. The common good is sacrificed because of greed and the lust for power. Life is devalued and creation is just a commodity and trash dump. But reacting with fear and despair leaves us cold. That turns the human heart into stone, and makes us mean and self-centered and prone to scapegoating.

Dorothy Day.

As Dorothy said, despair is a temptation, and overcoming it requires making a decision, every day, to move in the other direction with action, effort, and focus. She was ready for her critics:

People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.

To that we say, “Amen!” We know we’re not alone in believing this because so many steadfast people keep the Joseph House Crisis Center in operation. How wonderful it is to be united in working for the good of others, to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Your support makes a difference. Here are a few people who can tell you how much:

Charlene, 31, is the mother of four children. A few months ago she had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed as bipolar. The process of recovery is not easy — Charlene is working hard to incorporate it into her journey through life. After finding the right medication level she is starting to feel more settled. She would have been lost without her mother’s help in taking care of the children.

Charlene came to the Joseph House a week before she was scheduled to return to work as a nursing assistant. A notice had been taped to her door by the sheriff’s office, stating that she was going to be evicted because of non-payment of rent. We called her landlord and received disheartening news: the entire amount of $1,400 needed to be paid to stop the eviction, not a penny less. That was way beyond our budget. We told Charlene we could hold $225 for her in case she found another source of funds.

Then the unexpected happened. An anonymous donor came to the door with a check for $1,400 to be used for Charlene’s rent. What? Angels exist! Charlene was overjoyed and so grateful as she took the check to her landlord.

Hilda, 40, lost everything when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. She and her young son made their way to the States and the Eastern Shore, living in a car for over a month. A childhood friend in the area helped Hilda find a place to live. After we paid $200 toward the security deposit, Hilda and her son were able to make the move before winter arrived. Her new landlord gave them some furniture and clothing. Hilda and her son have little, but it is more than what they left behind.

Jack is in his sixties and going through some major life events. He was recently widowed and just lost his job as a bail bondsman (after 20 years). Before that he was a police officer. Jack lives with his son who has kidney problems and may or may not be able to go back to work. Jack himself has a large tumor attached to his spine. In the midst of this he is looking for a job. Jack came to the Joseph House after the water was shut off in his home. He never thought he would have to ask for help. We sent $250 to the water utility.

Don, 60, went on disability after suffering a series of mini strokes. He can no longer work as a truck driver. He lives very frugally but is still having a hard time paying his basic expenses. We paid $250 toward his electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Mavis, 67, is working as a home health aide to support herself. She had back surgery not that long ago and is slowly recovering. The loss of work put her behind in her rent. Even though Mavis must walk with a cane, she feels she is almost ready to return to her job. She has no choice. We sent $200 to her landlord.

Antonia was homeless with her three children. Fortunately, a shelter had a family room available, and once Antonia knew her children were off the streets she could piece her life together. Before their time was up she found a housekeeping job. We paid $225 toward the security deposit for an apartment so she and her children could escape the cycle of homelessness.

It is very gratifying when we can help families in crisis take a step toward stable living. Thank you for your generosity in supporting the Joseph House. As we begin a new year, we hope you will continue to join us in our service to those in need. We will have a report on our activities during 2017 next month.

Every night when we go to sleep we place ourselves in the hands of God. He is the reason we can rise with joy and look forward to the day, knowing that whatever happens we will get through it together. May His abiding love grant you peace and much happiness.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Sr. Marilyn Bouchard, LSJM.

With the unanimous consent of her community, Sr. Marilyn Bouchard has been named Superior General of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary. She replaces Sr. Connie Ladd, who served faithfully for 15 years.

Sr. Marilyn hails from Wisconsin and entered our community in 1990. She supervised our Baltimore mission for several years and then was the “right-hand woman” of Sr. Mary Elizabeth. Sr. Marilyn has been active in all aspects of the Joseph House and maintains close ties with the Village of Hope. She is an excellent promoter of our ministry to the community at large.

Sr. Connie will assist Sr. Marilyn as Vicar General. We pray that God will bless these two dedicated servants as they guide our community and direct our ministry with the poor. In His kindness, may He send wisdom and strength to help Sr. Marilyn carry out her new responsibilities of leadership. We know with her gentle spirit and loving heart she will be a good steward of the mission entrusted to us by our founder.

Newsletter: December 2017

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

In depicting the birth of Christ, Byzantine icons sometimes show St. Joseph sitting away from the manger, either resting with his eyes closed (symbolizing his dreams) or facing the devil (symbolizing the temptation to disbelief).

Art in Western culture places St. Joseph inside the stable, usually holding a lantern or leaning on his staff. The focus, of course, is on the baby Jesus and His mother Mary: classical artists enveloped them in a heavenly radiance. In some paintings, you have to look twice to find Joseph. But despite being in the background, he is not a “background” character in the story.

Quite the contrary. Although our patron saint probably liked to avoid the limelight, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved in our Savior’s birth. St. Joseph had to protect and care for Mary on the journey to Bethlehem, he had to find shelter for her, come up with a plan ‘B’ when the inns were full, keep her warm and comfortable in the stable, and when the time came for her to have her baby, he had to attend to all of her immediate needs. And then came the flight into Egypt, a perilous crossing that is glossed over in Scripture. St. Joseph had to be the hero for Mother and Child.

There was a lot to be done behind the scenes — and St. Joseph did it all with love. That was his specialty. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.” That was true for Mary and Jesus, and it is true for us through the power of his heavenly intercession.

The world needs St. Joseph. The world needs his dedication to family life and his fidelity to God, even when that requires facing adversity. As we contemplate the manger this Christmas, we must remember his strong, fatherly presence. . . a presence that made Mary and Jesus — who were so vulnerable — feel so safe.

Today, if you want to see the spirit of St. Joseph at work, come visit the Joseph House Crisis Center. Our volunteers embody his selfless and generous service. They also do the hidden work that goes unnoticed but is essential for our ministry.

You, with your prayers, donations, and financial support, make it all possible. For families in need, there is food on the table and a roof over their heads — because of you.

Joni, 31, is the mother of six. She works as a housekeeper in a resort hotel to support her family. When her mother had a stroke, Joni had to take a short, unpaid leave of absence to help care for her. Joni could not afford to lose the income, but her mother needed her. When the rent was due, Joni couldn’t pay it and received an eviction notice. That was the price she paid for helping her mother.

We sent $200 to the landlord to keep Joni and her children from becoming homeless. There are legions of people like Joni, women and men who work thankless jobs. They might as well be invisible. How often do we stop and consider their struggles?

Cheryl, 51, is another family caregiver. Her daughter has a late-stage cancer. The water was shut off in Cheryl’s home because she was beset by so many bills and so little money to pay for them. She has started a new job in a chicken processing plant, but climbing out of debt can be very hard. We paid the outstanding water bill of $217.

Rosie, 80, lives in a small house by the side of the road in a rural area. Her home is heated by propane and the tank was completely empty. She traveled 30 miles and crossed a state line to the Joseph House, looking for help. We paid $200 to the gas company.

Brianna, 32, lost her job at a hotel when business slowed down after the summer. The only other work she could find was a part-time job at a supermarket. Her husband Mike is in poor health. He was recently approved for disability but has not yet received any benefits.

It didn’t take long for Brianna and Mike to slide into the despair of poverty. Little things like soap and household supplies became unaffordable, not to mention the rent. Worries about money were eating away at the couple: Brianna experienced respiratory distress and had to be hospitalized for a few days. We sent $230 to their landlord, buying time to help Brianna and Mike make it through their hardships.

Phoebe, 56, lives in a one-room apartment, surrounded by concrete in a commercial zone. There is no greenery, no shade. Phoebe’s room is home for her and has been for seven years. She is disabled and it’s the only affordable place she can find. Even so, she lives on a pittance and is chronically late with the rent. She hadn’t realized that most of what she was paying was going to the late fees. Phoebe was worried and confused when she received an eviction notice. The Department of Social Services paid the back rent that was due. We paid $259 to cover the remaining costs and cancel the eviction.

Thank you once again for the many ways you show your love for the poor. You bring the Christmas spirit to them year-round. Food, shelter, heat, electricity, medicine. . . these are the gifts they receive because of you.

Your financial support keeps the Joseph House going, not any government funding. Just you and your concern for those in need. You can donate online here. It’s easy to do. Make a one-time or recurring donation. You can also donate in memory of someone.

The birth of Jesus can be a new birth for us. Knowing that you have helped someone in need will add special meaning to your celebration of Christmas.

You are close to us in prayer. Please use the Contact Form and send us your special intentions so we can pray for you during this holy season.

From all of us at the convent, the Joseph House Crisis Center, and the Joseph House Workshop, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

What am I preaching with my life?

Our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth was inspired by Br. Charles de Foucauld, who wrote:
Let us preach the Gospel in silence and with words….

It is the responsibility of all to preach in silence.

As for preaching with words, some should do it more than others,

but there are very few who should not do it at all.

This is according to each one’s vocation.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling made preaching the Gospel her life’s work.

What made it natural for her was that she let the Gospel shape every aspect of her life. She could not not preach the Gospel by the way she lived. Anything she might possibly call her own she gave back to God. He had access to everything.

Sister exemplified the observation of St. Vincent de Paul: “If God is the center of your life, no words are necessary. Your mere presence will touch hearts.”

She had a few big moments in her life, but like everyone else her days were filled with little ones. She did the same things, with the same people, day in and day out. She “preached” a lot in those moments, giving witness to the love and mercy of God by being loving and merciful herself. Br. Charles said his goal was to have people look at him and say, “If that is the servant, imagine what the Master must be like!” Sister took that approach, too.

For personal reflection: What am I preaching by the way I live my life? I might be the only sermon someone else hears today.

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