A Few Words on the Scandals of Our Church

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This past Friday the 14th of September was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. While the center of our faith and our church is the Most Holy Eucharist the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Cross, specifically the Crucifix is the crossroads where Our Lord gave up His Earthly Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as redemption for our sins thereby converting the cross from an instrument of torture into a symbol of freedom for all who call themselves Catholic.

The teachings of Jesus are counter cultural. We do not understand why we must suffer during our lifetimes with health issues, financial matters, natural disasters and for many, being abused, homeless, hungry or alone. The answer is quite simple, our reward will be great in Heaven if only we pick up all the problems in life, throw them over our shoulder and carry them as Jesus carried His own Cross. The difference between our own cross and the Cross of Christ is that His Cross was made and is composed of ALL of our crosses, all our sufferings and all of our sins and so carrying it for Him who was sinless Himself and most pure, made His burden heavier and His task more daunting than we can ever imagine. The weight of our individual crosses can never come close to the weight of the Cross of Christ which encompasses all the crosses of the world, past, present and to come. And yet He offered Himself up to God the Father, with the full consent of His Mother, Our Blessed Mother, as a sacrifice so we might all share in the Kingdom of God. He died on the Cross so we might one day have infinite life with Him in Heaven. Who else would undergo such agonizing torture so you might go to Heaven? Who else loves you enough to die for you in this most harrowing way? Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the cross, an instrument of torture, becomes our symbol of freedom as it is the instrument leading us to eternal life, to eternal freedom.

Our Catholic Church is carrying a great cross created by its very own hierarchy, and as Catholics we carry the cross with her. We are mortified by the revelations made by the PA Attorney General and the comments from Cardinal Vigano. How is it the men to whom we look for guidance and interpretations of The Word are unable to apply the truth of The Word to themselves and their own behaviors? How are we to trust anyone, as it seems so many believe all our clergy, all of our church are either perpetrators or are complicit in these vile behaviors?  

Simply stated our Catholic Church is made up of human beings who by our very nature are imperfect and filled with concupiscence. What we must remember as our pastor so eloquently noted this past Sunday morning at mass, is that 98 to 99% of our clergy are not guilty of any of these behaviors, and these very same most atrocious behaviors are more prevalent in other public and private institutions than they are in our church. Please don’t think I am saying this makes the mistakes made by our clergy understandable. Even one offense of this nature is too many. I truly believe as Catholics all of us, priests, bishops, religious and lay people are called to a higher standard we have failed to attain. In our failure to reach those higher standards many innocents have been irreparably harmed.

So where do we go as Catholics from here? We double down my friends. We unite our individual crosses to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We unite our crosses to this most malodorous cross being dragged through the mud by our church. We assist our church in hoisting it upon our shoulders and we carry it with and for our church, with and for our clergy and mostly with and for the victims as Jesus carries and carried our crosses for us. We carry it with love, with compassion and with resignation knowing God is Mercy and we are called to be the same. We double down in prayer, we attend weekday mass as well Sunday mass, we spend more time in Adoration, and we beg for healing for the victims of these horrendous crimes. We pray, we fast and we sacrifice for all the lives destroyed by these horrific failures, as well as for all those priests and bishops who have sinned so grievously. We pray as Father Dunn asked all of us this past Sunday, for the 98-99% of good, holy, faithful priests and bishops who are thought guilty because of the sins of others. The priests, bishops and clergy maligned even though they have done no wrong. The innocents who carry the burden of the sins of their brother priests and bishops as the innocent Jesus Christ carried the burden of all of our sins to His Crucifixion.

We are all far from perfect my friends, and we are not to judge the people involved here, we are only to judge the sins perpetrated by them. Our Lord is Mercy. Along with Our Lady He will provide solace for the victims. He will forgive all involved in these scandals should each and every one repent appropriately. The resulting thorough cleansing of His Most Holy Catholic Church may make us a much smaller church, but we will be a new church built upon a solid, stable, faithful foundation rooted in the Word of God and we will regain our strength and numbers as we are restored to fertile ground.

We are the Church of Christ, built upon the Rock of Peter and satan shall not prevail. We need to be strong my friends, we need to be the Army of Christ. We need to pray the Rosary through the intercession Our Mother Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, who wants nothing more than to bring each one of us to the Heart of Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Persevere my friends, have faith my friends, be joy-filled knowing Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday, and your reward will be great in heaven. Let us soldier on, carry this cross for our church and pray we give some comfort to Our Lord God in Heaven who stands weeping for His beloved children and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Please take an extra minute to read below a much more intellectual reflection from Sundays’ Magnificat on The Cross and take a few more minutes to listen to Bishop Robert Barron on the scandals. His words are right on target.

God Bless You Always,

Love and Prayers,

Kitty

Take Up Our Cross

If we are going to stay close to the cross of Jesus with Mary, we must constantly increase our knowledge of the mystery of the cross to relive it….

The cross is, above all, what divides and separates. In fact, it separates what belongs to the spirit from what is of the flesh (see Gal 5:24), what belongs to faith from what is of the law (see Gal 5:11), the old self from the new one (see Rom 6:6), believers from nonbelievers, Christians from Jews and Greeks (see 1 Cor 1:18 ff.), and the Christian himself from the world….

The cross is what unites, what breaks down the walls of hostility, reconciles people among themselves and with God….

Thanks to the cross of Christ those who were far off have been brought near, the dividing wall has been broken down, all are united….

The cross is both these things together. It distinguishes in order to unite. It separates from the world to unite to God; it rescues from corruption and unites all those who accept being crucified with Christ. It overcomes all differences, revealing their relative and secondary nature before the new radical difference, which distinguishes the friends from the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18)….

The cross separates and divides. This is true: it is the tool God uses to prune the shoots of the great vine of the Body of Christ so that they may bear fruit….

But above all the cross unites. It unites us one to the other. It makes us understanding and caring. Whoever suffers often becomes less egoistic and sees the needs of others; he is no longer impervious to compassion.

However, the cross unites us especially to God.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, o.f.m. cap.

Celebrating the Work We Do!

Happy September My Friends,

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It’s been awhile since writing to you all and it’s just because of the busy transitions we all undergo this time of year. Things at Joseph’s House are much the same as they are in your own home with new beginnings and transitions for many this time of year. Mom’s going back to school, mom’s moving in, others leaving us all while managing a home and activities and running 24/7/365 just like yours.

We have many events coming up where we could use your assistance, whether it’s representing Joseph’s House at the Parade of Homes or assisting handing out baby bottles at our Baby Bottle Drives, check out our events page and email us if you’re interested in helping!

We do have some excitement to share as our 4th Annual Volunteer Appreciation BBQ was held Saturday, September 8th at Sacred Heart. More than 125 attended this event including many moms and little ones from our earliest days. Volunteers serving more than 250 hours at Joseph’s House in the past 3 years were honored including Paulette Schillo with more than 700 hours and Mary Ann Muhunik with more than 500 hours. Other honorees included John Viscoe, The Byrnes family, Kathy and Katrina Schwanke, Nancy Cometti, Mary Burgoon and Michelle Argentieri. You can tell from the quote below that our volunteers are an integral part of carrying out our mission and embody the spirit and heart of Joseph’s House.

As a volunteer in the day care, I am so honored to be part of the Joseph House mission. Such a wonderful, beautiful place!
What a huge reward we get, seeing these moms and babies absolutely thriving. Joseph’s House is truly in the business of doing God’s work, every single day.
My heart is here at Joseph’s House- I just love coming here.
— JH Volunteer

Our BBQ event was also the venue for announcing the winners of our $5,000 Cash Prize Raffle! They are Kate Holmes as the $5,000 grand prize winner. Second prize winner Elaine Salvetti receiving $1,000, and third prize winner Suzanne Pietramonica taking away $500.

This successful event was sponsored by many local Rotary clubs and Knights of Columbus Councils and chaired by Sue Plemons and Torrey Lansing along with JH Executive Director Bronson Kopp.  Our chairs coordinated the volunteers, food and activities so everything ran flawlessly. Many thanks to all for your tireless work.

There are special thanks for many others as well, including Chick-fil-A Cicero, Byrne Dairy and Dunkin Donuts for donating yummy sustenance. Special thanks too for Rev. Richard Prior for the use of the beautiful grounds at Sacred Heart and Josh Kay the Life-Teen coordinator for his assistance with layout and bounce houses. Special thanks also to the Brusa family for the use of their tent and to Patrick Brusa for putting it up and taking it down again this year. Also volunteers from Immaculate Conception. Alex Peterson, Amelia Grenier and her mom Celeste, and James Dziergas and his mom Janet. Also, our Junior Auxiliary high school students, Madison Prowak, Mairead McIntyre and Erin Byrne always available and helpful to all.  Sharon and Sam Giordano were everywhere all evening as well helping in every needed way. “Many hands make light work,” and this crew proved that axiom to be true. Thank you!

Then there were our musicians brought to us by our friend Greg Hoover and the Syracuse Sunrise Rotary. These young high school musicians Haley Sweeney and Sydney Irving kept the mood mellow, and everyone humming the entire evening.

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On Wednesday September 12th, Joseph’s House was honored at a Biz Events gathering at Drumlins as one of Central New York’s Best Places to Work. It was a wonderful evening of networking and great food where we touched base with old friends and made some new ones. Although we were not number 1 in our category, we are the first not for profit to ever be included in this group and we gathered some great information that will help us be #1 next year! Remember, all things are possible with God! BIZ EVENTS 2019 here we come!!!

Thank you to our staff who made this win possible through the survey questions they answered. The best part of reviewing the survery results is seeing the word cloud that shows the words most used by our staff to describe working at Joseph’s House.

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All of our tremendous staff and their loving hearts and words come to Joseph’s House through one source and one source only, Our Lord God in Heaven. Thank you, Jesus for the staff you send our way and for their delight in working with your most vulnerable children. Thank you Jesus, Mary and Joseph for another successful BBQ event, our volunteers and for all those who made it possible and mostly thank you Jesus for this most sublime work gifted to us through Your love for us and for all humanity. We are blessed beyond measure in doing this work inspired through the Holy Spirit. We welcome you, our friends, to learn more about us, to join us for monthly mass, or to become a volunteer. There are so many ways to help us serve God’s creation. Join us, pray for us and visit our website. Thank you and May God Abundantly Bless You!

Love and Prayers,

Kitty

Buy Great Coffee and Support Joseph's House!

We are excited to announce that we have partnered with LifeBoat Coffee Company! LifeBoat bills itself as the "Official Coffee Company of People Who Love Life!"  What drew Joseph's House to LifeBoat is they are founded on 3 principles, first of which is: All human life is sacred, beautiful and deserving of protection from natural conception until natural death. No exceptions and no compromise!  They also believe coffee should be ethically sourced, sustainable and superior quality and taste AND they give back 10% of every purchase to YOUR favorite life-affirming charity! 

I encourage you all to read a little bit about the company and how the "Skipper" John Lillis started the nation's first ever front-line pro-life radio show in Sioux City, about 25 feet away from Planned Parenthood. The purpose of the radio station was to bring tens of thousands of people together via radio to pray that the women arriving across the street may change their mind and choose life for their babies. It's a story that is deeply moving and inspiring, I encourage you all to read more about it!

By using this link, or by clicking on the LifeBoat picture, 10% of your coffee purchase will come back to support Joseph's House!

Another Milestone at Joseph's House!

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There have been many memorable days in the history of Joseph’s House and many times so many wonderful things happen in the course of a day, or week its difficult to keep track of them all. This has been one of those most memorable weeks filled with memorable days. 

Thursday evening we welcomed our 49th new born child into the world and on Saturday we welcomed her into her very first home at Joseph's House. The young mom has been with us just two weeks and is happy to be in a loving supportive atmosphere as she takes on motherhood for the first time. This is always the best news to share as there is nothing greater than knowing the work we are doing by the grace of God is helping others and saving lives.

Another mom is ready to begin her college career this week at OCC while working full time in a job where the employer is so appreciative of her work ethic, she is altering her work schedule to accommodate her class schedule. Another one of our moms enrolled her 3 year old son into a pre-k class and is trying to figure out how she will get him there in the morning, get herself to school on time and get her other two little ones ready for daycare. In conversation with her yesterday we learned she is ready for the 5:00 AM wake-up call to get all the wheels in motion because she is excited by her accomplishments and is ready to do more and learn more to continue improving her life. 

 Our work at Joseph''s House is multifaceted and this past Wednesday was proof of just that as we received an urgent phone message from our friends at 40 Days for Life who needed our help with a 19-year-old on her way for an abortion. We immediately invited her to Joseph’s House and spent some time with her. With the help of 40 Days for Life counselors and JH staff this young mom changed her mind for now, but she still needs our prayers so she will not be pressured by others to consider abortion again.

The next event was a first time ever event for us. We are thrilled to announce the celebration of welcoming one of our most accomplished residents into our first Joseph’s House transitional apartment. This has been a dream of ours since our third anniversary celebration on March 19th, 2017. The vision for this expansion of our Exodus program was shared that day and just 6 months later a man approached us after we spoke at Blessed Sacrament Church and mentioned he had apartments he would like to remodel for our moms when they leave us. As an added bonus and an answer to a prayer, these properties just happened to be right in our neighborhood! Nowhere in our words on that Sunday, did we mention our thoughts on transitional housing for moms close to our home and yet this man approached us offering his assistance. This is how Our Lord works in blessing all at Joseph's House.

 One of our Exodus moms seeing her new apartment for the first time.

One of our Exodus moms seeing her new apartment for the first time.

To say this mom is excited and thrilled after working exceptionally hard over the last two years would be an understatement. She is overwhelmed by the adorableness of this small but efficient apartment and its proximity to our home. She was deeply touched by all the work done in the extensive remodeling by her new landlord, and the stocking of shelves and decorating by our Asst. Director for Exodus Sue Plemons, staff member Nicole Shadt and the students from St. Matthew’s in East Syracuse. 

If I had to choose three words to describe Joseph’s House they would be faith, family and love. They have educated us and given us the tools to be successful and self-sufficient women and mothers and during that process they have helped raise our kids with good family values and patience...Joseph’s House is a blessing and a true miracle to our kids and us moms
— Our newest Exodus mom

The progress this young woman has made in her nearly two years with us is remarkable. She was abused and battered when she came to us with no family in our area to help her. She was expecting her second child having no one to care for her son while she worked part-time in a warehouse job for less than minimum wage. She came to Joseph’s House and we quickly realized she had gifts and talents she was not aware of and were able to build up her confidence in her abilities through our life skills classes and the loving support of staff. The more she invested in herself, the more we invested in her future. The harder she worked for herself, the harder we worked for her. The more appreciative and helpful she was for others and for our program the further we went out on a limb for her. She has proven to us she is resilient, hard-working, a loving mother and is willing to sacrifice in order to excel in her life for herself and her children. As if all of this isn’t enough, she has come to understand when Our Lord is speaking to her in her heart and she is following His lead. We could not be prouder, more excited, more hopeful for her future and the future of Joseph’s House than we are right now! 

Another  highlight of the week was a fun night out for many at the New York State Fair. Chuck and Nancy Cometti once again invited all the moms, kids and staff from JH to join him and all their employees from Renewal by Anderson for a night of food and fun at the fair. Staff members along with seven moms, seven toddlers, three infants and two babies in waiting had a wonderful night of taking in the sights, smells, tastes and happenings of this annual event. The toddlers were amazed by the cows, goats and piglets. The moms reveled in the fresh air, the fun foods, stretching their legs and the camaraderie of sharing friendship and new experiences with one another. The most enduring memory for me will always be taking in how these moms and kids love, take care and enjoy one another and then realizing these young women and their children would have never known one another or any of us, if not for this home, if not for Joseph’s House.

We share all of this good news with you, our friends, our supporters, our prayer warriors so you might come to understand the power of your commitment as well as the power of Heaven in the continued blessings showered upon this mission of life, this mission of love. Thank you again for all you do for us and please spread the message of Joseph’s House far and wide so we might continue this life-saving work, this heavenly work for the Glory of the Kingdom of God.

Help us continue to carry out this work by supporting our $5,00 Cash Prize Raffle!  Our drawing is less than 2 weeks away! Tickets can be purchased at online  and only 500 tickets are being sold!

God Bless You My friends,

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Healing After We Fall

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 Happy Sunday Everyone,

Things at Joseph’s House are a little quiet as summer winds down and autumn approaches. We have many exciting happenings occurring in the coming weeks including our Volunteer Appreciation BBQ  and our $5,000 Cash Raffle, so while things are quiet in our home, I thought I would share some thoughts on healing.

One of the callings of Joseph’s House is to evangelize. As a great sinner part of what I have been appointed to do for others is to share the journey leading to the founding of this mission of life and love. This week as a follow-up to “Where is Your Calcutta?” I will share some thoughts concerning healing. All the moms who come to us need healing in some way and although it’s tough to teach all of this to them in a year or so, seeds are planted leading them in the direction of growing in reliance and trust in Our Lord, thus beginning the journey to healing. There are  also programs such as Project Rachel  through the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Syracuse where healing can begin after abortion. This is a wonderful program I have participated in. For others who may not understand healing is needed even from venial sin there is much to share.

It is our nature as human beings to sin. It is much more unnatural to not sin. We can sin in so many ways, “in our thoughts, in our words, in what we do and what we fail to do”, it’s nearly impossible not to sin daily. Even an accumulation of little sins, venial sins, can clog up the soul (think of your dryer filter if you don’t clean it regularly) so it’s difficult to hear God speak in our hearts. So how does one sweep the lint away and heal the wounds sin leaves on our hearts, minds and souls, especially grievous sin?

The best place to begin is down on our knees in conversation with God letting Him know we are remorseful. While this doesn’t assuage our sin or our guilt, it is the beginning of a dialogue with Our Lord hopefully leading us to the confessional and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

You may wonder, why bother going to a priest for forgiveness when I can speak to God directly? From personal experience I can tell you many times when confessing to a holy priest the words you hear from him after confessing your sins are the words of God himself.

When you approach the confessional know this, that I, Myself am waiting for you there. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy.
— Words of Jesus to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

In 1999 I experienced this mercy first hand in the confessional when I finally found the grace to go back to reconciliation after more than 35 years. There were many sins including the horrendous mistakes of my youth and after tearfully confessing them all, dear Father Joseph Champlain said to me, “You have suffered enough all of these years and I absolve you of your sins in the Name of the Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit.” He didn’t even give me any penance.

This experience gave me much to think about. It made me realize God knew how much I had suffered in my childhood and how those sufferings manifested themselves in my sin as a young adult. It made me realize God’s Divine Mercy was greater than my most grievous sins and it made me realize there was no safer place to speak of my mistakes than to a good and holy priest in a confessional. It made me realize although I would never forget the horrible sins of my past, Our Lord in Heaven had already forgotten all of them. Most of all, my experience in the confessional made me realize I was loved and for me this love of God was the greatest gift ever received. Since early childhood I had always believed I was created “bad” and God hated me. I truly believed God made good people and bad people and for some reason He chose bad  for me and I was destined for hell. That day in 1999 in the confessional with Father Champlain the fears carried since childhood were wiped away. I finally understood God Only Loves.

Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy….To avail one’s self of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative (in the Sacrament of Reconciliation) and to reveal to him one’s misery and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated.
— Words of Jesus to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

The Divine Mercy Our Lord speaks of is divine redemption and divine healing. It is the first step in falling in love with Christ, with Our church and with ourselves. It is the beginning of the journey to Heaven as we grow in trust of Our Lord knowing He is all merciful always, if only we run to Him through the Sacraments when we fall.

I cannot get enough of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I go often as I am now keenly aware of when I have offended Our Lord. Many times, my offenses may seem trivial, including a negative attitude, rudeness or indifference. Many times, it is the thoughts in my mind and what I fail to do. When these seemingly minor offenses are shared in the confessional and the filter of my soul is cleansed of the lint that’s been collected, the voice of Our Lord comes through more clearly. Hearing Our Lord’s voice clearly and consistently builds an awareness of what He considers sinful and is the beginning of being able to think as Our Lord thinks. It is the beginning of being able to understand how God works within us. It is the beginning of wisdom; unending trust and the knowledge God’s mind does not work the way the minds of human beings’ work. Most of all it is the beginning of happiness, of joy and the beginning of being able to take on and defeat any obstacle in your life according to God’s will. All in all, it’s the beginning of hope and there is not a better way to live than in the hope, trust and love of Jesus Christ!

I encourage you to visit your priest this week and go to Reconciliation if you haven't recently so you might begin this most wondrous journey. The National Catholic Register has a great blog post on the 17 Things that Jesus Revealed to St. Faustina on Divine Mercy and you can find more information at the Divine Mercy website.

In closing, I would ask you all to please, pray for our priests, our bishops and for our church during these most difficult times and pray most of all for the healing of all victims of this most scandalous abuse. Let us always remember God has Mercy for all sinners and to be merciful as He is merciful so all might be healed.

God Bless you my friends!

Love and Prayers,

Kitty

Exodus: The Support for Sustained Success

Happy Sunday Everyone!

As summer keeps plugging along and the calendar keeps reminding us that autumn is around the corner with each passing week, we thought we'd take this week to take a step back and talk about our Exodus program.  If you've followed these weekly posts, you've undoubtedly read references to our Exodus Program.  So what is Exodus?

Exodus is the continued support system that will allow and ensure the continued, sustained success of the women and children that call Joseph's House home.  Exodus is what transforms Joseph's House from a loving home, to a family, to a community. The following strategic priority areas are ones that will help lead to the true sustained success and independence of our Joseph's House alums. 

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Transitional Housing:

Throughout Exodus, we strive to provide a step down living arrangement that allows the moms and children more freedom than living at Joseph’s House but still provides the support necessary for our moms to achieve success.  Transitional Housing may include shared common living spaces, reduced rent, tenant responsibilities for maintenance beyond normal landlord tenant relationships and signed pledges/honor codes. The first Exodus Transitional Housing relationship is coming to fruition right now and we're hopeful our that our first Exodus mom will be moving into this transitional apartment in the coming weeks.

Continued Life Skills:

By continuing our life skills courses and routinely scheduled gatherings with our Exodus moms, they benefit from continued instruction on healthy parenting, financial literacy and budgeting, transitioning off public assistance, securing safe, affordable childcare, as well as job and skills training sessions.  More broadly, ongoing programming creates a supportive community environment where the alumni moms can rely upon each other, JH staff and volunteers to find strength to continue to thrive towards independence. Joseph's House has been blessed to receive a grant from the Berkshire Bank Foundation to specifically address financial literacy and health through these life skills classes.

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 Education/Training:

While some of our moms may begin working towards GEDs or equivalency during their time at Joseph’s House, they often require further instruction and tutoring to obtain their diplomas. Organizations like CNY Works, Inc., LeMoyne College, St. Joseph’s Hospital College of Nursing, Hillside Work Scholarship and OCC, among other organizations, provide continued education and vocational training which can assist the moms with furthering their education and leading them to brighter futures.

Through these partnerships, and in conjunctions with skills courses that are conducted at Joseph’s House, our moms can continue excelling in their employment by learning basic computer skills, accounting principles, professional etiquette and basic office skills allowing for additional employment opportunities.

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Transportation:

Most women who come to Joseph’s House rely solely on public transportation. Assisting our residents with clearing past traffic infractions, obtaining learning permits, 5-hour courses, driving lessons and driving tests will vastly expand opportunities for childcare and employment. The Auer Family Foundation has also agreed with this very important need and had awarded us a grant to help achieve this goal.  This investment will dramatically transform the lives of our moms and children by removing so many limitations on their success. 

As you can see, the love and care we have for our moms and their children doesn't end when they transition out of our home.  We want to see them continue to succeed and reach their God given potential.  Through our investment in them and their future, we want to instill the confidence and belief that they are capable of great things. Through our love, the love that we emulate of Our Heavenly Father, they gain the self-worth to continue to better their lives.  

Have a wonderful week!

God bless you,

Bronson

"It's Not About You"

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This little quote is the opening sentence in the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. While some of us had to actually read the sentence to understand our own lives should not be the most important to us, others seem to come to understand this truth intuitively. This is certainly the case with our Joseph’s House volunteers. This past week as well as this coming week we are honoring and acknowledging the efforts of these angels who serve in our home. Their assistance makes it possible for our moms to attend school, hold down jobs and receive needed counseling. The consistency and dependability of these generous men and women who provide daycare for the little ones ensures loving care and attention to them and also gives our moms the ability to save dollars for their transition to independent living.  Other volunteers help us keep our home safe and running smoothly by assisting with needed repairs and general upkeep. Many generous souls also serve on our board while even more  pray, organize fundraisers, paper and food drives and more.

All of these most generous people have come to realize total fulfillment in life comes when we stop obsessing about our own wants and needs and begin concentrating on helping God by helping others. True contentment is obtained when we put God and everyone else first and ourselves last. This truth while most definitely counter cultural, is the way to making  our confidence soar, depression disappear and happiness multiply in droves.

This truth is also the way our moms and their children come to understand there are good, loving people carrying the light of Christ in the world willing to sacrifice their precious time so their young lives will improve. In witnessing our volunteers sacrifice for them and their children, they begin to sacrifice for one another. They come to think of not only their needs but the needs of the others living in community with them. It is truly a blessing to witness the love and companionship they share, to witness them putting others before themselves, to see them reach out to one another on birthdays, for baby showers or simply when someone needs a shoulder to shed tears upon. Through witnessing the sacrifices of others, our moms learn the joy that comes in sacrificing themselves, they come to understand “It’s not about you.” This understanding enables them to share their gratitude through beautifully written notes like this:

They say it takes a village to raise a family. I couldn’t have asked for a better village than all of the Joseph’s House volunteers who take care of our kids and teach them and help them and help all of us moms continue to better ourselves and continue on a better path.
There are no words to describe the feeling of being away from your kids and knowing they are safe and loved. We appreciate all you have done and because of your dedication you have helped mold the next generation into something better. Thank you!

Words of wisdom from a young mom learning of God's love through the witness of our volunteers in sacrificing their time and talent for the family that is Joseph's House. 

We invite you to join us in honoring all of our volunteers and visiting all our moms and kids past and present at our Joseph’s House Volunteer Appreciation BBQ. The BBQ will be held at Sacred Heart Parish in Cicero from 5-8PM on September 8th. There will be food from Chick-Fil-A Cicero, Limp Lizard and Nestico’s and the cost is FREE! We invite you to attend 5PM mass at Sacred Heart and then walk over and join us for live music, great food and fun, as well as many kid friendly activities. This will be the last opportunity to purchase tickets for the Joseph’s House $5,000 Cash Raffle and the winning tickets will be pulled! Hope to see you there!  If you're interested in volunteering with us, just fill out our applicationwe'd love to have you!

Wishing you God’s blessings,

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

 

The Gift of the Present Moment

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I have frequently noticed that Jesus doesn’t want me to lay up provisions: He nourishes me at each moment with a totally new food; I find it within me without knowing how it is there. I believe it is Jesus Himself hidden in the depths of my poor little heart: He is giving me the grace of acting within me, making me think of all He desires me to do at the present moment.

What does it matter, Lord, if the future is bleak! I cannot pray for tomorrow’s needs…keep my heart pure, keep me in your shade, just for today.
— St. Therese of Lisieux

Happy Sunday My Friends,

I will begin with exciting future Joseph's House news, so we can later contemplate the gifts and graces of the present moment. If you are in need of planning a bit for the future, our Cash Raffle may be something to add to your list of to do items. Our $5,000 Cash Raffle kicked off this week and there are still tickets available! First prize is $5000, second prize is $1,000 and third prize is $500. Tickets are $50 each and only 500 tickets will be sold. The proceeds go directly to the daily programs in our home. The winning tickets will be pulled on September 8th at our Annual Joseph’s House Volunteer Appreciation and Family BBQ.

The BBQ will be held at Sacred Heart Parish in Cicero from 5-8PM. There will be food from Chic-Fill-A, Limp Lizard and Nestico’s and the cost is FREE! Please register online and invite your friends and family!  We invite you to attend 5PM mass at Sacred Heart and then walk over and join us for live music, great food and fun, as well as many kid friendly activities. This will be the last opportunity to purchase tickets for the Cash Raffle and again the winning tickets will be pulled at this event. Hope to see you there!

Now for the present moment. It’s not even August 1st and everyone is already preparing for back to school. Someone I know went to Big Lots and said the Halloween decorations are already overtaking the store. Why is it so difficult for us to enjoy the moment, to live in the present which just by its name, The Present, we should understand is a gift?

As human beings we always have the need to plan for the future, and we would be remiss if we didn’t. However, when one lives in the moment, in the gift of the present, they receive innumerable gifts and graces simply because everyone else is too busy to notice them, too distracted to appreciate them and too anxious to realize the present moment is a gift from God because God lives in the present moment. The Present is God.

In today’s Gospel we see Our Lord living in the moment knowing His Father, Our Father is there and He will provide, while His disciples are worried about how they will feed the multitudes. The multitudes are not worried about their physical hunger but are simply awaiting the fulfillment of the deeper hunger required by their souls. Jesus takes pity on them and extinguishes both types of hunger satisfying their physical hunger in multiplying the loves and fish and providing sustenance for their spiritual hunger with the Fruit of His Word all while showing His disciples Almighty God is in their midst. He is in their presence.

At Joseph’s House we are required and blessed to live in the moment as we never know what problem or grace will arise and what the needs of the young women will be as they are sent to us. We never know how our cash flow will be from month to month. We never know when the roof will leak or our freezer will die. We never know when an unexpected blessing will come our way. We are constantly discerning His path for this mission relying on Him to touch the hearts of His people to support us and to send His lost children to find us.  We constantly come to realize He is with us each moment, every day and have found living here with Him in the present moment is the greatest source of peace ever known.

You might wonder where we encounter Our Lord and this peace each day. We encounter Him everywhere.  In the X's in the clouds we have come to understand are Kisses from Jesus, to the person who drops off a donation and offers 3 rugs exactly the correct size and color needed for an apartment for a mom transitioning to independent living.  In the flowers gifted to staff members from a mom once reclusive, depressed and anxious now living life joyfully believing she has a new future and God has a plan for her. We encounter Him in the moment we hear a little one utter his first words and witness his first steps.

These precious gifts are available to all of us. We only need eyes to see and hearts alive with His love. We only need to live for today and let go of the worry of past mistakes and anxiety of future needs. We only need to fill all who come to Joseph's House with the graces provided by Our Lord through our words and our actions. When our moms come to understand the abundance of love offered them and find safe haven with us, they find peace every day, sense God in their presence, and begin to partake in experiences like this.

Our moms relish these moments as many are experiencing them for the first time. They all have the opportunity to encounter people and places they would have never known if not for our home. Our live-in Missionary and part-time employee Nicole is the tour and recreation guide for these excursions as well as the favorite playmate of every child she has ever met. She is someone sent to us by Our Lord precisely in the moment she was needed most. She is an incredible example of the graces God gifts His most humble servants. She shares all the heavenly gifts given to her with others through her talents, her shy smile and soft voice. She is the perfect example of the joy of Christ being present each and every moment, and a living example of Our Lord's presence on earth. Nicole is simply a blessing beyond measure.

God’s Blessings to you my friends and enjoy today remembering the words of wisdom of St. Therese and praying Our Lord will keep all sheltered in His shade each and every moment so we might constantly glorify His Kingdom and share the gift of  God in the present moment with all those we encounter,  with all those in need.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Kisses from Jesus

This post was originally written March 23rd, 2015

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One very cold February morning just about a month ago, I was driving my grandson to school and there was the beautiful crystal blue morning sky we often see on frigid mornings. I looked up and saw an X in the clouds. There were streaks of clouds, perhaps from vapor trails, and where they crossed it appeared to look like the letter X. All of the sudden I said to Michael, "Do you see the X in the clouds?" He said "YES!" and I said, "Those are Kisses from Jesus!"  I'm not sure where those words came from, I had never heard them before, but it started a dialogue and a search for X's in the sky whenever we look towards heaven.

Today was a wonderful day in many respects and a terribly difficult day in others.  Before I left Joseph's House tonight I went to the Chapel to sigh to Jesus about the many dilemmas in my life and share with Him my aching heart. There was no reply, no little condolence, no sense of peace and I left the chapel rather dejected and feeling quite alone. My son called asking what was for dinner and that took my mind off the pity party I was experiencing and brought me back to reality.

As I began the drive home feeling rather hopeless, I looked up toward heaven and saw the sun going down into the western sky, and there they were, 3 huge X's in the clouds!!! Tears sprang to my eyes as I whispered "Thank you Jesus! Thank You Jesus! Thank You Jesus!"

He will let you know He is with you at every moment, in the present moment, in many unexpected ways my dear friends, please look for Him everywhere, in the stars, in the clouds and in your hearts. In words of wisdom you may read, and in conversations you may share with those you know and those you don't.

Jesus is always there hoping and praying WE will take notice of HIM. That's how much He loves us!

Have a blessed night,

Love and Prayers,

Kitty

Where Is Your Calcutta?

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Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right where you are in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools….You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see”
— St Mother Theresa of Calcutta

I can remember clearly trying to fulfill the promise made to Jesus, “I will do whatever You want me to do if only you give my son back to me.”  I promised Our Lord on May 1, 2004. I kept searching for disaster areas all over the world where I could help believing I had to go far and wide to keep my promise. I wanted to go to Haiti when the earthquakes and hurricanes hit in 2008 and 2010. I wanted to join the Knights of Malta so I could travel to Lourdes, France and care for the infirm. I wanted to go to New Orleans when Katrina hit in 2005. I kept looking everywhere for what God wanted me to do and never considered looking in my own back yard. I never considered looking at home.

I have lived a blessed life growing up in safe, secure homes in some of the loveliest areas of Central New York. I can honestly say I never had the eyes to see what was happening here at home. I would drive through the southwest side of town and see the poverty, see people pushing grocery carts filled with their belongings, but it never occurred to me once I might be able to help my immediate neighbors right here at home.

Syracuse NY is ranked one of the poorest cities in the nation. One out of two children here go to bed hungry at night. The homeless population is staggering and growing. The abortion numbers for unmarried young women are high. You can see from the State Department of Health the number of women of child bearing age in Onondaga County in 2015.  You can also see the number of induced abortions in Onondaga County in 2015. Of course, these numbers do not include the number of abortions induced by the morning after pill.  You can also see the number of out of wedlock pregnancies in 2015. 

As they say, our lives come full circle at some point and for me the awakening came in front of planned parenthood on March 19, 2009. The minute I stepped foot on the sidewalk I knew I had found how to fulfill my promise made to Our Lord nearly five years before. I somehow understood He wanted me to serve those considering abortion, those who suffered not only from material poverty, but from the deeper poverty, the poverty of soul. I have never suffered from material poverty, however, I was and still am familiar with the deeper poverty of soul as I had spent at least 30 years of my life totally bankrupt in that regard.

You see as a young person in my early 20’s, I entered the building at pp and chose death over life, not once but twice. For more than forty years I have wondered about those children. I wonder who they might have become, who they may have married, how many more grandchildren I might have. I wonder who is suffering and alone because I have taken their best friend or their spouse. I think about the countless generations of people I wiped out, the descendants I destroyed.  I sit in mass many Sunday mornings and see three, sometimes four generations of families sitting together filling an entire pew delighting in one another because they did everything right, as I sit alone with tears in my eyes and a broken heart knowing I did everything wrong....and yet God forgives me.

In leading me to the spot under the tree in front of the sign at pp, the sign leading all to believe our plans for life are better than God's, Our Lord gave me the opportunity to make total reparation for the sins of my youth and let me know in the very first moment I arrived there He had forgiven me. I found my Calcutta on the sidewalk at 1120 East Genesee St. in Syracuse, New York. The very same place I made the biggest mistakes of my life.

O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Go, prophesy to my people.
— From today's opening Collect at mass

When I spoke with the young women in front of planned parenthood they all said the same thing. Their family would throw them out if they had the baby, they couldn’t afford to support their babies, their boyfriends threatened to leave if they chose life for their babies. I could relate to all of those dilemmas and the fear they induced and I believe that is why Joseph’s House exists. Joseph’s House gives all moms an opportunity to choose life, learn the true love of family, and find the path God has for their lives. Joseph's House can rebuild the deepest poverty in the young lives of these mothers, the poverty of soul.

I am not the least bit qualified to do this work but will strive always to do it as our Lord permits, for this work is my Calcutta, it is the plan given to me by Our Lord in reparation for the greatest sin a mother can commit against her children. My Calcutta has given me the gift of the showering of God’s mercy on my most bankrupt soul. My Calcutta has given me the opportunity to cradle a new born child in my arms knowing he or she has been saved despite my sin and because of my sin. My Calcutta has brought the most fulfilling joy to my life as I have come to realize I am cherished by God My Father no matter my past transgressions. My Calcutta is striving to always implement His plan to save the lives of His most precious children two generations at a time. Perhaps your Calcutta is the same, to help us do this most heavenly inspired work curtailing material poverty, poverty of soul and saving innocent lives right here in your own backyard, right here at home.

God Bless You My Friends,

Love and Prayers,

Kitty