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 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/