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: November 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Here it is November already, and another year is flying by. It’s a special year, too, the “Year of St. Joseph,” which was declared by Pope Francis as a way to promote this saint whose example offers hope during our troubled times.

St. Joseph, of course, is very dear to us at the Joseph House. Back when she started in 1965, our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, placed her ministry to the poor under his patronage. She later explained why:

I named what we did to help the poor “Joseph House” because St. Joseph was the provider for Mary and Jesus. Also, Scripture describes St. Joseph as a just man, and working for justice has always been very important to me. That lies at the heart of Joseph House.

Our founder touches upon some important ideas here, ideas which are central to our mission. Let’s unpack them a little.

As the provider for Mary and Jesus, St. Joseph speaks to us of the dignity of human work. He earned an honest living and used his gifts to be a co-creator with God of the world around him. St. Joseph served his community through his carpentry. The lives of his neighbors were improved because of what he did.

St. Joseph’s work was also directly connected to his support of family life. Why did he work hard? The number one reason was to care for the people he loved the most. St. Joseph provided a home for Mary and Jesus and everything the word “home” means: not only a place to live and food for the table, but love, acceptance, and a sense of security. The Holy Family were refugees in Egypt and then had to resettle in Nazareth. St. Joseph the provider helped his young wife and her precious Child to believe, “It’s going to be okay.”

As a just man, St. Joseph speaks to us on how to live in society. Justice is about “right” relationships: with other people, our community, and God. It involves giving to each what is due. A just person also recognizes that some debts can never be repaid: the gift of life, for example. (Try saying to God, “We’re even.”) Thus, justice requires one to be humble, merciful, and eager to make a contribution to the common good.

Sister did a great job in picking a role model for our ministry. What we have to do is live up to his name in our service to the poor. We need the prayers of St. Joseph—and we need you.

Your generosity allows our Crisis Center to help people who are struggling to provide for their families. You enable homeless men in our Workshop to begin new lives with decent jobs. Together, we stand in for St. Joseph in so many ways.

Lillian, 39, has four children. Her husband walked out, moved to a different state, and is not paying child support. Lillian had surgery over the summer and could not work for six weeks. Her little bit of savings did not last long. When she came to see us she was penniless. Her children were hungry and the water was going to be cut off in her rental home. We paid the bill of $317 and gave Lillian bags of groceries and a gasoline voucher. Lillian’s relief found expression in tears.

Tom, 56, had to stop working at his job in food service because of his bad heart. He now has to wear a heart monitor. With his life in a free fall, Tom is hoping there’s a safety net to catch him. He has applied for government help. In the meantime, we paid his rent ($300) so he would not be evicted.

Julie, 64, lives on a fixed income. She spends about $200 per month on prescription medications. Julie calmly explained how most of her health problems began after the near-fatal complications of her knee surgery. She was behind in her rent and in danger of losing her subsidized housing, so we paid the $273 that was due.

Laura, 41, is mentally challenged and receives disability. She is the caregiver for her 100-year-old grandmother. Their guardian angels must be working overtime. Laura had a disconnect notice from the gas company. We were able to pay the amount due of $400.

CHRISTMAS CONCERT: Back by popular demand, the Magi Fund is presenting “A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS” featuring the National Christian Choir, pianist Michael Faircloth, and the Salisbury Children’s Choir. One performance only, Saturday, November 13 at 3 pm, Emmanuel Church Auditorium, 217 Beaglin Park Drive, Salisbury. All proceeds benefit the Joseph House and the Christian Shelter.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, available at First Shore Federal Savings & Loan (all branches) and The Country House (E. Main Street, Salisbury). Call 410-749-1633 or visit magifund.com for information.

TURKEYS AND TOYS: Your donations can make this time of year a little brighter for those who are disadvantaged. Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 21. Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 12. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns.

All donations can be dropped off at our convent at 411 N. Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury. Thank you for helping us. The joy of the holiday season is made complete by remembering those who are less fortunate!

It’s a great feeling to have many reasons to be thankful. Do you know what’s even better? Being the reason that someone is thankful. You are just that for all the people who receive assistance from the Joseph House. You give to our ministry what it needs: your love and concern for others. Your prayers and contributions make our work possible, and we offer you our heartfelt gratitude. To you and your loved ones we wish a Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Do you have special prayer intentions? We would love to add our prayers to yours. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.

Your help is needed! The mission of the Joseph House depends on people like you. Find out how you can make a difference: Holiday Giving.

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: May 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

To be homeless means more than just being without shelter. It means to go without everything implied by the word “home.”

Imagine not having a bed to sleep in or a bathroom to use. Imagine not having a kitchen, with no refrigerator or freezer to store your food and no stove or oven to cook anything. Imagine no lights or heat or tap water whenever you need it. Imagine being exposed with no privacy, and yet at the same time feeling invisible because you’re ignored. A home provides many essential material things, that is true. But think of what it means to feel “at home,” to feel safe and secure and at peace. There we see the full value of having a place to call home—and the tragedy to be without one.

In responding to the issue of homelessness, there are two schools of thought: the “housing ready” approach says we need to take care of someone’s problems before he or she is ready for housing, while the “housing first” approach says we need to give someone a place to live before anything else can be done. Studies indicate that the latter is more effective. A person who is homeless has a better chance of dealing with other issues when he or she has a fixed address.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, had this in mind when she opened the Joseph House Village, a transitional housing facility for women and children, back in 1991. Her rationale:

“We need to give them time when they’re secure and can put their minds on developing themselves and not worrying about what they’re going to eat or where they’re going to sleep.”

It was this “nagging realization” that led to the Village (which later became independent and renamed the Village of Hope), and then the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men.

Some people who experience homelessness need the services provided by facilities like the Village and Workshop. Some, but not all: the leading cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. This is a problem across the country. At the Joseph House Crisis Center, we see many people who pay anywhere from 50 to 90% of their income and wages on rent. Paying this much isn’t sustainable, of course. It initiates a chain reaction of difficulties, including the very real possibility of getting evicted.

For someone with a low income, a housing voucher from the federal government’s subsidized housing program offers hope. With a voucher, a tenant pays 30% of his or her income toward the rent and the government pays the remainder. This type of rental assistance can make a world of difference. A study from New York City, for example, found that only 1% of families who left a homeless shelter for subsidized housing were homeless again within a year (the rates of recurrence are typically much higher). Unfortunately, funding for this program is no match for the need. Waiting lists are measured in years.

Having a place to call home is the foundation for getting on with life. There are many circumstances that lead to homelessness, and even when someone does have a place to live it’s not always healthy, happy, and safe. Through our work at Joseph House, we meet people wherever they are on their journey and do what we can to help. Through your prayers and support, you are part of this effort too.

Byron, 36, became homeless after he lost his job. He lived in his car with his 15-year-old son. Sometimes they got a respite in the house of a friend or acquaintance. Byron found a new job and then an apartment that seemed affordable. Moving in, however, was going to cost $1,125! That was the total for the deposit and the first month’s rent. It’s hard to save up that amount on low wages. We contributed $325 so Byron and his son would not be homeless anymore.

Darius lived in an old house that had been subdivided into two apartments. The house caught on fire and was badly damaged. Darius lost most of his belongings. He has fused bones in his ankle, the result of an injury sustained from falling off a ladder. Finding work is difficult for him. Darius had $400 to spare to move into a new place, but it was not enough. We paid the remaining $350 to the landlord.

Zachary is 80. His housemate suffered a stroke and had to go to a nursing home. Zachary is now solely responsible for the rent, which takes 97% of his Social Security. He’s not sure what to do. With nothing to pay toward his overdue gas bill, we contributed $350 to prevent a disconnect.

Vivian, 40, cannot walk because of an undiagnosed medical condition that is causing a buildup of fluid around her spinal cord. She has no income at the moment and no family in the area. Although Vivian’s landlord is sympathetic to her situation, he said he’d have to evict her if he didn’t receive any payment for the rent. Vivian reached out to many organizations for help to no avail. Then she contacted us. We sent $300 to her landlord.

Antoinette is only 20 and trying to get settled on her own. Her father is in prison and her mother is a drug addict. Antoinette found a job cleaning houses. Her grandmother, who has subsidized housing, gave her a place to stay. This was in violation of the lease, and if it was discovered they would both get evicted. Antoinette was desperate to move, but the deposits were steep everywhere she looked. We contributed $300 so Antoinette could move and her grandmother’s housing would not be in jeopardy.

Marlon, 64, is living on a fixed income in a trailer park. The lot rent takes 50% of his monthly check. There was a bad water leak underneath his mobile home, which can easily happen when the pipes are not properly insulated. Paying off the repair bills plus the huge water bill left Marlon with nothing for his other expenses. We paid $300 toward his electric bill to prevent a cut-off.

No matter what the need is, we are here to help. Thank you for your continued support of Joseph House. We appreciate you very much!

Springtime and Mother’s Day always inspire us to celebrate the gift of life. This is a time of renewal, and even though the covid cloud is still over us, we feel in our hearts a sense of hope. We pray for the world and we pray for you, that God in His great love for you will bless you and keep you safe. And may special blessings rest gently upon all mothers, God’s co-creators who fashioned the first home for each one of us.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

The Joseph House depends on you. You can make a donation here: Donate.
Please send us you prayer requests so we can pray for you: Contact Form.


To Be Homeless

To be homeless means that you have no place to hang up your coat, or your skirt, or your tie.
There are no pegs to put them on. The size of a closet doesn’t matter anymore. Only paper bags.

To be homeless means that you can never “put out the dog”—or the cat, or go to the door and call them inside and have their dish of food ready by the frig, and pet them as they lie by your rocking chair and curl up by the fire.

To be homeless means that you can never put up the window to let fresh air inside, nor close it to keep out the cold. You just look through other people’s windows.

To be homeless (if you have children) means that you cannot take them out and then say to them, “Come on, honey. It’s time to go home.” Nor tuck them in their own beds and read them a bedtime story, and turn out the light and say prayers with them. You just survive.

To be homeless means that you have no medicine cabinet to search for an aspirin, no telephone
to use to dial your doctor, no health care plan to refer to if you end up in the hospital, no sense of dignity to sustain you when you faint and fall soundlessly on the sidewalk.

To be homeless means that you will not be among those who decide whether they will eat in the kitchen or the dining room or maybe on the patio, nor whether they will barbeque hamburgers or steak, or have cold Pepsi and potato salad and pickles, or who will do the dishes afterward and put them in the cupboard.

To be homeless means that you join the millions of refugees across our world who roam from place to place without shelter, who agonize because they must beg or depend on people who have to give to them, and often those who have are afraid that if they give, they will have to look you in the face, and that will hurt more than they can bear.

by Peggy Heiner

In Remembrance: Anne Cuomo

Anne Cuomo, one of our many wonderful volunteers, passed away on February 3, 2021, from COVID-19. She was a special friend of our community.

After earning her B.A. in Mathematics, Anne worked for 34 years in the field of computer and software management for the Department of Defense. Her husband Peter died in 1986, and when Anne retired in 1997 she moved back to her hometown of Salisbury.

She came by one day and asked Sr. Mary Elizabeth, “How can I help?” Sister loved hearing those words. Our Representative Payee Program was in need of a Director, so Anne jumped in and got completely involved. The program is for people who have difficulty in managing their household budgets. Under our supervision, a volunteer handles the checkbook for clients in the program, helping them to avoid financial hardships.

Anne and Sr. Mary Elizabeth.

Anne was perfect for the job. She was thorough and meticulous and her personal warmth put people at ease. Anne would meet with potential clients, and if the program was a good fit for them, she would make the necessary arrangements at the bank. She liked to visit clients in their homes and take them shopping so as to better understand their spending habits. That enabled her to match each client with the right volunteer. Anne oversaw a few clients herself, even helping them move when they needed safer and more affordable housing. She was a dedicated advocate with a deep concern for the welfare of other people.

Anne quickly proved herself invaluable to us, and Sr. Mary Elizabeth invited her to join the Advisory Committee for the Joseph House Workshop. Anne brought her enthusiasm and efficiency to the huge task that lay ahead. The Workshop was initially just a dream, but over the course of several years Anne was instrumental in making it a reality. Her project management skills were a tremendous blessing. In addition, she brought a willing spirit, a kind heart, and a joyful sense of humor, and this made everything easier for all of us.

Anne became Co-Director of the Workshop (along with Dave MacLeod) during the time of the second pilot program. She recruited teachers and volunteers, and to prepare for the final version of the program she helped Sr. Mary Elizabeth establish the Advisory Board, on which she later served. Anne also found a seat on the Board for the Little Sisters—her wisdom was always in demand!

Anne and Dave MacLeod in front of the Joseph House Workshop (before the renovations).
Anne at the graduation ceremony for the second pilot program with other members of the Workshop team.

Anne made countless donations to the Joseph House in many ways, never holding back in giving her time, talent, and resources. She was loving and friendly to all, enjoyed music, and sang in the church choir. Ever so humble, Anne loved a good laugh and spread her cheerfulness wherever she went. She also had a precious cat, Sophie, and they were totally suited for each other.

Anne was so dear and loved by everyone, especially Sr. Mary Elizabeth and the Little Sisters, plus all who knew her at the Joseph House. In her later years at an assisted living facility, Anne was appointed the Goodwill Ambassador to greet the new residents. Her smile and friendly nature made everyone feel welcome. We’re not alone in missing her, but our loss is Heaven’s gain. May she rest forever in the embrace of God’s love.

Anne with a few other very special people at a birthday party for Sr. Mary Elizabeth. So many memories…

We wish we could offer a fitting tribute to all of our volunteers. Each one makes a difference, each one enacts the mission of the Joseph House to “Cry the Gospel with your life!” We lift them all up to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving.

Men with Hope and Purpose

The Joseph House Workshop is a long-term residential program for men who were homeless. It help them advance toward gainful employment and healthy new lives. Here is an interview with Nick, Assistant Director, who is also a Workshop graduate:

How many men are in the program? We have 4 men here now; one is in the employment phase and three have just started taking classes.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the program? The only changes here at the Workshop because of COVID-19 are that we do temperature checks and the residents do not go to outside meetings as they would have before the pandemic.

What part of the program are the men especially grateful for? The men are especially grateful for the chance to receive the tools to see things in a different way. They appreciate the kindness and love that they receive from the Workshop and all associated with Joseph House. They love the opportunity to “give back” to the community by way of community service over at the Crisis Center and helping the Sisters at the convent.

What are some of their goals? Their goals are gaining the ability to be self-sufficient, to stay off drugs and alcohol, rebuilding family relationships, obtaining a job and learning how to keep it, learning about building credit, getting a car and house. The resident in the employment phase is reaching every goal he has set here, he even says that he surprises himself on how much he has turned his life around with the help of Joseph House Workshop—he has held a job, started college, and is doing great in rebuilding his relationship with his wife and kids. Those who are starting classes are setting short-term goals to work on.

How are their lives different today compared to how they were before entering the Workshop? The biggest difference is that they have HOPE now, they have a PURPOSE.

Do you hear from former residents and graduates? Yes, we like to stay in touch. We believe everyone benefits from the program in different ways. They hold jobs and some have even started their own business. It’s heartening to see people rebuild their lives. The Workshop is a turning point for them.


The Joseph House Workshop was the final program that came into being through the vision and leadership of our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling.

To celebrate the Workshop’s 15th Anniversary in 2020, three of the current residents wrote letters of appreciation addressed to Sister. Although they never met her, the men nonetheless are reaping the benefits of her lifetime of service:

“Dear Sr. Mary Elizabeth, My name is Andrew, a resident at the Joseph House Workshop. I am very grateful for all that you have done. The program has given me my life back. I owe everything to this program, from my relationship with Christ, family, and learning what it means to love and serve others. Thank you with all my heart.”

“Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, I first want to thank God for your love of wanting to help those who are less fortunate than others. What a blessing you are. I thank you for the Joseph House—it was not only a blessing for me, it saved my life in so many ways. Words cannot express my thank you. But now I know you are in God’s loving arms, grace, and hope for all you did while here. Thank you. – Thomas”

“The Joseph House Workshop has been one of the best decisions I have made in my whole 55 years in life. It was an experience that I grew closer to God like I have never been before. A group of guys trying to do the right thing and also accepting God in our lives. It has not been easy or hard, just trying to follow God’s will. Thank you Sis Mary Elizabeth for a place that made me a man fit for society. Love you for giving me a chance. Amen. – Maurice”

Sr. Mary Elizabeth and contractor Ron Alessi with plans for the Workshop, ca. 2004.

Read more about the program here: Joseph House Workshop

Be sure to read other posts about the Workshop:
A New Look at the Workshop
Building Success, One Little Piece at a Time
Look Up For A Sign
Newsletter: June 2018

Newsletter: February 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

February 14 is of course Valentine’s Day, but the day has another special meaning for us in that it’s the birthday of the Joseph House Crisis Center.

It was on February 14, 1984, that the Crisis Center officially opened, the beginning of a new era for the Joseph House ministry. The building where it’s located also received a new lease on life. Back in the early 1980s, the structure (a small warehouse) was being used to store voting machines for Wicomico County. The county was renting the property from the Campbell Soup Company, which used to have a plant in Salisbury. Through the diligent efforts of the mayor’s office and community leaders, use of the building was given to the Joseph House.

Although the building was a tremendous gift, and we desperately needed the space, it was far from being ready for its new purpose. As noted in the February 1984 edition of this Newsletter, what was to be the future home of the Joseph House possessed only a leaky roof, cement floors, and cinder block walls. In other words, “It was a start from scratch project.” But thankfully, many people rose to the challenge of the renovation, a testimony to their concern for the less fortunate.

The project took about three months under the supervision of Jim Berrigan. Local businesses donated supplies and tennis promoter Bill Riordan covered the extra costs. According to our Newsletter, “Almost all of the ordinary construction work was done by jobless men who had come to us for help. How fitting that the haven for the poor should be built by the hands of the poor.”

Home renovation TV shows are common today, and we are used to seeing people walking through “oohing” and “aahing” at all the marvelous changes. Well, that gives you an idea of what Opening Day was like. Here’s more from our Newsletter archive:

“We had set February 14th as our opening day, and although it was not quite finished we opened at 9:30 A.M. There was a considerable group that attended, and each person who entered was pleasantly surprised at the space, convenience and warmth of our new quarters…We noted that the most surprised persons were the two gentlemen who secured the use of the building from Campbell Soup. They were flabbergasted at the change.”

The Crisis Center before the renovation.
Opening Day, February 14, 1984. Our founder remarked, “God has really worked a first-class miracle here.”

In the history of the Joseph House, building projects are a recurring theme. St. Joseph is our patron, after all. The transformations involving wood and brick are only part of the story, however. A change also occurs in the people who bring to life the Crisis Center and our other ministries. “I am not the same person I was,” they often say.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, was well aware of this. She once said:

“One of the great joys that I had is that many of the people who come here to volunteer…have changed their attitudes about the poor completely, and have become people who are seeking for justice and peace….Without any arguments, without trying to persuade people, they have simply seen by the way of life that they adopted, after they came to help, that the world wasn’t the way it was when they first came.”

These personal transformations are not surprising because every instance of loving and serving the poor is an encounter with Christ.

The Crisis Center is a symbol of hope in more ways than one. Its creation and birth is a story of how government, businesses, religious groups, and private citizens all worked together on behalf of those in need. Its mission continues through your support. Sr. Mary Elizabeth articulated this mission very simply: “We do anything that the poor need. We are free, that’s the beauty of our work. We are absolutely free to do anything that the poor person needs.”

Freedom has a purpose, to do what is right and good, and Sister wanted our freedom to be used to help stabilize family life. We do this by offering assistance to people facing crisis situations.

Cassandra and her family experienced a real nightmare. A fire destroyed their mobile home in the middle of the night (it was caused by a space heater). No one was injured, but all of their belongings became a burned and soggy mess. After being assisted by the Red Cross for two days, this family had nowhere to go. We paid for a week at a motel ($392), gave them groceries, a gasoline voucher, and a small sum of cash, and provided Christmas gifts for the four young children. Cassandra does condominium cleaning to earn a few hundred dollars per month. She used the week in the motel to find another place to rent.

Gabe, 37, got sick with COVID-19 and was not able to work for a while. His wife is pregnant and does not have a job. Gabe’s unemployment was delayed and he needed rental help to avoid being evicted. We sent $313 to his landlord.

Sofia and Ken have five children and are homeless. They have been living in motels for a few months. Sofia lost her job at a school because of the pandemic. Ken is also unemployed. With their money running out they needed help paying for a motel over Christmas. Sofia was scheduled to return to work in January. We paid the motel bill of $392.

Katrina, 29, a single mother of two, has also been living in a motel (for eight months). She works at a pizza place, earns about $300 per week, and almost all of it goes to the motel. We paid for one week to help her save for an apartment.

2020 CRISIS CENTER RECAP

Last year, more than ever, we had to abandon ourselves to the Providence of God. Like everyone else, we had to adapt quickly to changing circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crisis Center remained open and we implemented safety protocols, namely mask wearing and social distancing. Out of necessity, the Soup Kitchen was closed in March because it lacked the space to keep patrons safely apart (it won’t reopen until the virus is under control). Overall, less people visited us than in previous years, probably because they received a stimulus check and/or extended unemployment benefits. But these relief efforts only go so far—when people really need help, we are here for them.

The pandemic touched us directly in December when a staff member tested positive for the virus (which had been contracted elsewhere). Out of an abundance of caution we closed the Crisis Center for ten days, but no additional infections occurred. The staff member was hospitalized and has since recovered. We reopened the week before Christmas, with plenty of time for our Christmas gift distribution. Thank you for your support of the Crisis Center!

1,118 checks and payments were issued to assist with critical needs; 4,505 hot meals were served; 5,232 bags of groceries were given out; 308 households per month (on average) received food; 3,838 requests were made for services at our Hospitality Room for the Homeless (showers, laundry, clothing, food); 138 winter coats were given away; 415 children received Christmas gift bags.

LENT BEGINS FEBRUARY 17

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Many of us are spending more time alone than usual because of the pandemic. During this time of avoiding large gatherings, the words of Jesus from the Gospel remind us that God is always with us. If there are habits and activities that distract us too much in solitude, perhaps we can fast from them periodically and rest in the sanctity of our “inner room.”

The three pillars of Lent are prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. If you need special prayers for a particular need, please let us know. We will add our prayers to yours: Contact Form

The work of the Joseph House depends on private donations. Your support is gratefully received: Donate

As God changes us, we change the world in which we live. We get a little bit closer to a world of harmony and peace and of just being good neighbors to each other. Our dedication to the poor, the sick, marginalized, and vulnerable will always keep us on the right track. Let us continue to make this journey together, as faithful friends united in our care for all of God’s children.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

The Year of St. Joseph

Years ago, in December of 1964, our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth was at a turning point in her life. Unsure of her next move, she decided to make a pilgrimage to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, the largest shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph. She went there to have a heart-to-heart talk with the shrine’s namesake. Sr. Mary Elizabeth believed she had a calling from God, “a call within a call,” to begin a new mission of service to the poor. The problem was, she was alone and had absolutely nothing. How could she do what was being asked of her? She needed help.

So she went to St. Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, the one chosen by God to love and care for Jesus and His mother Mary, the one who protected them from danger, established a home for them and provided for their needs. She entrusted to St. Joseph all of her hopes and dreams, the desires of her heart that we’re waiting to be fulfilled. After spending long hours in prayer, she left the shrine and returned to Baltimore. She had a few ideas about the next steps to take, and confidence that she wasn’t really alone. Within a year she started the Joseph House ministry.

Now in December of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic that has caused suffering across the globe, Pope Francis is asking all the faithful to “Go to Joseph” (Gen 41:55). To highlight the unique importance of this saint, the Pope recently announced a “Year of St. Joseph,” extending from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021.

The purpose of this year is to encourage the faithful to learn from and follow the example of this beloved saint. In so doing, according to the official decree, people may find “with the help of St. Joseph, head of the heavenly Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations which today afflict the contemporary world.”

To coincide with this “Year of St. Joseph,” Pope Francis has written an Apostolic Letter entitled Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), which refers to “how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as ‘the son of Joseph.’”

The Letter presents a personal and prayerful look at the life and actions of St. Joseph in the Gospels. Special emphasis is given to Joseph’s role as a father, with Pope Francis describing him as a beloved, tender and loving, obedient, accepting, creatively courageous, and working father, as well as a father in the shadows.

The entire Letter is worth reading. Here is the link for the online text of Patris Corde:
http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20201208_patris-corde.html

Below are a few noteworthy passages:

“I would like to share some personal reflections on this extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience. For, as Jesus says, ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Mt 12:34). My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone.’”

“How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.”

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”

A painting of St. Joseph at the Joseph House Crisis Center.

“Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, his history and his plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture.”

“Nor should we ever think that believing means finding facile and comforting solutions. The faith Christ taught us is what we see in Saint Joseph. He did not look for shortcuts, but confronted reality with open eyes and accepted personal responsibility for it.”

“Just as God told Joseph: ‘Son of David, do not be afraid!’ (Mt 1:20), so he seems to tell us: ‘Do not be afraid!’ We need to set aside all anger and disappointment, and to embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish. Not with mere resignation but with hope and courage. In this way, we become open to a deeper meaning. Our lives can be miraculously reborn if we find the courage to live them in accordance with the Gospel. It does not matter if everything seems to have gone wrong or some things can no longer be fixed. God can make flowers spring up from stony ground. Even if our heart condemns us, ‘God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything’ (1 Jn 3:20).”

“Working persons, whatever their job may be, are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us. The crisis of our time, which is economic, social, cultural and spiritual, can serve as a summons for all of us to rediscover the value, the importance and necessity of work for bringing about a new ‘normal’ from which no one is excluded.”

“Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person.”

“Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”

“The aim of this Apostolic Letter is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal. Indeed, the proper mission of the saints is not only to obtain miracles and graces, but to intercede for us before God, like Abraham and Moses, and like Jesus, the ‘one mediator’ (1 Tim 2:5), who is our ‘advocate’ with the Father (1 Jn 2:1) and who ‘always lives to make intercession for [us]’ (Heb 7:25; cf. Rom 8:34). The saints help all the faithful ‘to strive for the holiness and the perfection of their particular state of life.’ Their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.”


The journey that Sr. Mary Elizabeth made in 1964 was an expression of her determination and faith. The shrine sits high above Montreal and one must climb many steps to reach it. But as it is in life, each step brought her closer to the goal.

It has been a hard year for everyone, and many people are feeling worn out and exhausted. The steps seem never-ending. Even if we feel like there is no one beside us, we can always reach out to St. Joseph. He will help us obtain the graces we need.

Our ministry is named after St. Joseph. We depend on his help all the time. The “Year of St. Joseph” is a blessing for the world, and we encourage everyone to spend some time getting acquainted with this trustworthy saint.

P.S. St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is beautiful. Here is the link for the website to make a virtual visit: https://www.saint-joseph.org/en/