Newsletter: June 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from Prayers For A Planetary Pilgrim

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

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

Newsletter: July 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

When we consider people in need—”the poor”—we may focus on how they’re different from us.

Do we ever consider how we’re the same? Does that change how we want to respond to them?

Our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth once shared a story from the early days of the Joseph House in Baltimore. She was interviewing a mother who had requested help paying a heating bill:

[The mother] had just explained her need for $60 to pay a gas bill. I acknowledged the importance of such a need and then very professionally began to list her expenses alongside of her welfare income. Somewhere she had $50 she could not account for and I worried her with questions.

Finally we arrived at the truth: she had spent the fifty dollars on a coat for her three-year-old, trusting she would get money for her gas from us.

I pointed out that she had made a very unwise decision. She looked at me and with a great look of pride on her face and a sense of accomplishment in her voice she said, “I guess I did, but for once in her life my little girl was the best dressed girl in Sunday School. It won’t never happen again—but for just once the best dressed girl was my little girl.”

I felt her pride, I knew it would live forever in her heart—that great memory. I paid her gas bill and was happy to do it. I felt that it was my little girl that had captured a respect she would never again know.

When we identify with people as people, as fellow human beings who have their hopes and dreams, who have inner lives that are as rich and complex and precious as our own, then our sense of compassion begins to enlarge. “I felt her pride….I felt that it was my little girl.” Sr. Mary Elizabeth had a natural ability to get close to people. She could easily place herself in the shoes of another, a consequence of an open heart not put off by appearances.

Beneath the mystery of each person there is a deeper one. In her excellent book on the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld, Hidden in God, Bonnie Thurston writes:

We must learn to see beyond people’s “packaging,” for example, the accidents of birth, education, taste, and culture. We must learn to live beyond our own narrowness in those same areas, our preferences and prejudices.

Charles de Foucauld wrote: “To be able to truly see others, we must close our physical eyes and open the eyes of our souls. Let us see what they are from within, not what they appear to be. Let us look at them in the same way as God looks at them.” In so looking, Foucauld believes we see Jesus….

Writing on February 5, 1916, nearly at the end of his life, Foucauld recommends: “Be kind and compassionate, and do not be insensitive to any misery. See Jesus in all people.”

For Charles, the spiritual father of the Joseph House, it was the presence of Christ in each person that ultimately unites everyone. He looked at people “in the same way as God looks at them,” and that changed his life. Charles lived as a “universal brother” to all people—Christian, Muslim, atheist, European, African—and freely shared what he had with those in need. His was the vision of all the saints, canonized or not.

To see Christ in everyone means to treat each person with respect. It means to affirm the dignity of all people as being made in the image and likeness of God. That’s the overriding mission of the Joseph House, whether we are helping a family with a pressing financial need, washing the clothes of a homeless person, feeding empty stomachs, or accompanying a resident in our Workshop program as he builds a better future. Your support brings this mission to life.

When people have nowhere to turn, the Joseph House is here for them. Caroline, 37, worked in a restaurant for four years. She liked her job, but she started to receive unwanted and aggressive physical advances. Caroline finally left. She has four children, although their father ignores every court order for child support. With no income and no other options, Caroline asked the Joseph House for help paying her electric bill. It was the day before the electric was scheduled to be shut off. We called the power company with our commitment of $250, and the shut-off was canceled.

Sabrina, 58, can barely walk because of arthritic knees. Her income is $194 per month in temporary disability. Were it not for subsidized housing, she would be homeless. Sabrina needed help paying her electric bill—if the power was shut off she would jeopardize her housing subsidy. We paid the $200 bill immediately.

Ellen, 72, doesn’t have subsidized housing, and her rent takes 95% of her income! She is frail and not in good health. Her electric bill was overdue, but she did not qualify for assistance in her county. She came to the Joseph House and we paid $200. Ellen hopes to find a roommate to share expenses. Since affordable housing is so scarce that seems to be her only hope.

Kenny, 68, lives in one of the worst neighborhoods in the area in terms of substandard housing. We’ve been in those houses before—you can smell the decay. Kenny has cancer and is being treated with chemo and radiation. He normally works odd jobs to supplement his income, but he hasn’t been feeling up to it. He was behind in his rent and received an eviction notice. We paid $225 to stop the proceedings. We really wish there was more affordable housing, places that are clean and safe, especially for seniors and those with health problems!

Matthew, 51, worked for a food company for 21 years. His struggle with a debilitating depression required him to stop working. His wife Ann works in a nursing home. Her income doesn’t cover all of their basic expenses, and she is looking for a second job. After falling behind in their rent, the couple applied for assistance at the Department of Social Services. They qualified only for food stamps. We sent $220 to their landlord to give Matthew and Ann time to sort out their new circumstances.

To continue our work we need help. We need you. Thank you for being generous.

July is the anniversary month for the Little Sisters. On the 7th we celebrated 45 years! As the years roll by we hope to stay young at heart just like Sr. Mary Elizabeth. The example she gave us is a treasure, and we hope and pray to be faithful to her vision for our community. May God bless us with more vocations, and may God bless you with an abundance of love and peace.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Praying for people is a special—and much loved—part of our ministry. Please feel free to trouble us with your troubles and whatever is in your heart. What would you like us to pray for?

• restored health
• medical bills
• spiritual and emotional welfare of a loved one
• safe pregnancy and birth
• selling a house
• job search
• happy marriage
• freedom from anxiety and depression
• respect for all life
• safety of a loved one in the armed forces
• government leaders
• pastors and church leaders
• justice for all
• lasting peace…

Please use our Contact Form to send your prayer request.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16


Please let us know if the images in this post are not visible. We have been having some technical difficulties.

What Am I Preaching With My Life?

Every religious community has its own charism, a particular way of life and a spirit that forms its identity. In setting the charism of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling looked to an obscure French priest who lived from 1858 to 1916. His name was Charles de Foucauld.

Charles spent his final years in the Sahara Desert, seeking to imitate the “hidden life” that Jesus lived in Nazareth. Emptied of pride and vanity, Charles embraced his littleness, eager to be non-threatening and approachable to others. He welcomed everyone as a “universal brother.”

Charles represented a new kind of missionary, one who practiced a ministry of presence. Although he wrote a rule for religious communities, it was considered too strict to be livable. Elements of his spirituality, however, can be applied to any number of circumstances, and in this way his life became the blueprint for the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth was already in tune with what defined Charles: love for the poor, faithfulness to the Gospel, simplicity of lifestyle, and a preference for silent adoration of the Eucharist. These became the identifying marks of the community she founded in 1974, and Charles is considered its founder in spirit. For the remainder of her life Sr. Mary Elizabeth modeled for us how to live his spirituality.

We are half a world away from the Sahara, and more than a century has passed since Charles’ death, but Sr. Mary Elizabeth showed us how to embody a key component of his message, which is, as he 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 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. 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. 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.

The Lord’s Prayer

Sooner or later, most of us will be in a situation where we don’t know what to say. We might be caught off-guard, or there’s something about the circumstances we’re in, or the person we’re speaking with, that ties up our tongue. It happens to just about everyone.

Sometimes words fail us when we are trying to talk with someone very important to us, even someone we love very much. Our feelings are no guarantee of fluency. If people kept track of whenever this occurred, there’s probably one name that would be on every list: God.

Being able to communicate with our Creator is one of the gifts of being human. But even though He made us, and loves us, and is always with us, we don’t always know what to say to Him. Scripture records that even the disciples of Jesus had this difficulty. “Teach us to pray,” they asked Him. Jesus replied with the prayer we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.”

We know the words by heart; they are truly a God-send. The prayer begins with a declaration of faith (Our Father who art in heaven). The petitions that follow summarize the Gospel, instructing us in what we need to desire from God: sanctification through the Lord (hallowed be Thy Name), hope (Thy Kingdom come), humble obedience (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven), trust in providence (give us this day our daily bread), contrition (and forgive us our trespasses), charity (as we forgive those who trespass against us), conversion (lead us not into temptation), and submission to His saving power (but deliver us from evil). It is the perfect prayer, given for our sake.

Perhaps the most important word in the Lord’s Prayer is the first: our. This prayer tells us who God is, and also who we are. If God is our Father, then everyone else is our brother and sister. His Fatherhood eclipses the boundaries of nationality, economic status, and religion that we tend to impose on the world. Too often we forget that Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread,” not “Give me my daily bread.” We belong to each other.

We cannot ask God for what we need without praying for those who go without.

Praying With Five Fingers

pope_francis_sept_2015

Through his ministry as shepherd and teacher, Pope Francis is presenting the Gospel with simplicity without sacrificing its depth. His words let the truth shine. His actions also speak clearly about the importance of humility.

While serving as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he taught a “simple” method of prayer to children. It’s easy to remember since it uses the five fingers of the hand. It’s also not just for children.

Using the fingers on your hand, start with the thumb and pray these intentions in this order:

1.) The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation.”

2.) The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3.) The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.

4.) The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5.) And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

The text for this prayer comes from the Catholic University of America website: www.cua.edu