Inspiration

The Monica Miracles

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I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:5

The above quote from John is my favorite and it is the quote that was a catalyst for me as we worked to build Joseph’s House. Our hope and prayer at Joseph’s House is to always be fruitful branches on the Vine that is Our Lord Jesus Christ. Some days it’s easier to see the fruit than others and in the past few months we seem to have a bumper crop made up of a series of miracles we never saw coming our way.

Since our fifth anniversary celebration on March 19th of this year the miracles have included three more newborn babies making us a family with 55 newborn children who will forever call Joseph’s House their first home. The newborn miracles are what one might expect at a home like ours, however recently we have been gifted with a series of unexpected and somewhat phenomenal happenings we will refer to as The Monica Miracles.

Monica, born and raised in Ghana, Africa, came to us on March 26th of this year through a referral from our friends, the Sisters of Life. She went to the Sisters because she was a single mom expecting her second child, she was losing her apartment and she was all alone. Wanting to leave the NYC area, Joseph’s House seemed a good fit for her. We had taken in 3 new moms a few days prior to her arrival, so Monica’s intake was delayed a bit. On the day she was to meet with our Case Manager Rebecca, Monica was found unresponsive on her bedroom floor, her 13-month-old sitting in his crib looking confused and afraid. An ambulance was called and Monica, along with our CM Rebecca left for the Hospital.

The two amazing nurses who worked to save Monica’s life when she was in most critical condition. The visited Joseph’s House and brough in donations collected from their hospital unit for Mother’s Day.

The two amazing nurses who worked to save Monica’s life when she was in most critical condition. The visited Joseph’s House and brough in donations collected from their hospital unit for Mother’s Day.

The prognosis was not good. Monica had suffered an extreme episode of eclampsia. Doctors were able to safely deliver her little boy by c-section and were simply amazed he was born entirely healthy. Soon after delivering her child Monica went into cardiac arrest five times. Doctors and staff did chest compressions on her for five hours. She lost copious amounts of blood and was placed on a massive tranfusion protocol; the hospital nearly ran out of their supply of her blood type due to the number of transfusions. Monica was transferred to another near by hospital, a Level One Trauma Center. Doctors and nurses both let Rebecca and Bronson know they had never seen trauma like this. They gave little hope for her survival.

In the first week we constantly anticipated bad news. Bronson & Rebecca found themselves in the position of being Monica’s advocates and in charge of making her medical decisions as the few family members she had in the States were unknown . Rebecca and Bronson rarely left her side and conducted Joseph’s House business from ICU at the hospital for 19 days. Monica was showing few signs of responsiveness during these days. The complications were many, no one was sure how she was surviving but they remained hopeful. Over the next 7 weeks as she struggled to gain consciousness, many life-threatening complications occurred from blood clots, to infections and emergency surgeries to stop internal bleeding. Doctors were not sure she would recover and if she did, there was the possibility of longterm damage.

Back at Joseph’s House our other residents were scared, they were tearful and overcome with emotion thinking someone they considered a new friend may not survive and so we prayed with them. We encouraged them to pray on their own. We shared with them and with all our staff and prayer warriors, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a prayer we learned was a favorite of Monica’s and her family in Ghana. Many who had never heard of this prayer of God’s unfathomable mercy began reciting it and sending it on to others so they might pray for a miracle for this young mother and her children. Soon people all over Syracuse, in NYC and Long Island, down in Texas and in Kenya and Ghana were praying for Monica and the baby steps needed for her recovery began to take hold. The Divine Mercy image was displayed in Monica’s room the very first week she arrived in the hospital. The Divine Mercy Chaplet sung by Trish Short was played for Monica and although we were unsure she could hear at all, she responded to this prayer with tears even while in her coma. Her rosary was wrapped around her fingers and specific prayers were said asking the Blessed Mother to help Monica move her hands. The prayers were answered as her fingers regained movement & dexterity.

The doctors and nurses were amazed at the progress she was beginning to make, they were overcome with the dedication of our Joseph House staff most especially Rebecca and Bronson who were on the short list of visitors allowed to see Monica. They were also overtaken with the faith they observed from our staff members and some of them were moved to include the Divine Mercy Chaplet in their own prayers as well. The moms at the house began to realize God was hearing their prayers and their prayers were helping Monica to improve, to heal. Seeds of faith were being planted and sowed in our home and in far off places because of the tragedy suffered by this beautiful young mother. Through this tragedy and suffering God rained down mercy, and blessings abounded for Monica and for all those she touched. We could all see clearly Our Lord’s miraculous work through the hands of the doctors and nurses and in the transformations in Monica’s recovery. Most importantly the transforming power of prayer was made clearly evident to many of our residents and acquaintances near and far.

After 56 days, Monica returned to Joseph’s House on May 28th and was soon reunited with her children. She is still recovering and with the love and support of our staff, the other moms, volunteers and everyone’s prayers, she continues to improve becoming stronger every day.

As if all of these miracles of healing and the spreading of prayer were not enough, yesterday we learned of more miracles. It turns out Monica has an uncle in Ghana who is a priest. His name is Father Jacob and he traveled here to visit Monica and do some other priestly works. As He prepared to leave Ghana, he remembered a priest he had gone to seminary with in Ghana 33 years ago. He knew his friend was somewhere in the US but had no idea where. Imagine his surprise when he was reunited with his old friend, Msgr. Francis who just happened to be right here in Syracuse, New York at St. Rose of Lima Church. As if this GODincidence was not enough, Father Jacob also realized a Sister he knew 20 years ago was also here in Syracuse and so they all visited at Joseph’s House Friday evening, old friends brought together through a young mother’s tragedy, Our Lord’s intervention and Joseph’s House.

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Saturday morning Father Jacob gifted us with Holy Mass at Joseph’s House. It was attended by fifteen of the prayer warriors responsible for much of Monica’s healing. It was an incredible morning where the GODincidences of Monica’s journey became abundantly apparent to all. Father Jacob led me to understand through his words of wisdom; Joseph’s House is a branch bearing fruit on the Vine that is Jesus Christ. He made us understand without Joseph’s House, Monica and her two children may not have survived. He explained that in Ghana they don’t have hospitals to deal with the complications she experienced and if she had been in NYC in her apartment, no one would have found her and her 13-month-old because she was so very alone. He added that Joseph’s House is the vehicle Our Lord used to reunite old friends from Ghana in Syracuse NY, as well as family members unseen for seven years who flew in from Chicago this weekend to visit him, Monica and the children.

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There are more Monica Miracles to report in car loads of donations received from the Crouse Hospital nursing staff and new relationships built because so many new people have come to learn about our work. Bronson was told by doctors and nurses from the hospitals they have never witnessed an agency so dedicated and concerned for a client. This comment is testimony to Bronson and Rebecca who spent endless hours at Monica’s bedside to be sure she had “family” she could count on, to be sure she understood they would be God’s presence for her during all her difficulties.

I truly believe there are more Monica Miracles being prepared by Our Father in Heaven for Monica, her children and family and for Joseph’s House. We will be sure to keep you updated on all of them as they appear and until then we will work hard to remain in Christ as He remains in us so we might bear much fruit for Him and His Kingdom. God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Hope of Joseph's House

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As a mother delights in taking her child on her knees, in caressing & feeding him, so does our God delight in treating with love & tenderness those souls who give themselves entirely to Him, and place all their hope in His goodness & bounty.
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Happy Spring my friends! Happy Month of May, the month Our Most Blessed Mother, Mary. Happy Hope is another way we could begin the sharing of the most recent good news of Joseph’s House.

Our 53rd newborn baby recently came into the world, a lovely little girl whose mom is filled with anticipation and joy as she begins the journey of nurturing her most precious gift from God. Hope seems to be brimming over in our home, spilling out the doors and windows with the giggles of our 7 toddlers, the anticipation of our 8 moms and the murmurings of our 4 infants as spring fills the air, trees bud and flowers bloom.

Hope shines at Joseph’s House as a mom who has been struggling with health issues makes great strides to total healing and wellness. It is evident in the eyes of the moms in our home who have prayed for her recovery and have come to truly believe God hears and answers their prayers. Hope radiates as a young mom patiently deals with attending to her 2 little ones, taking one to school, one to daycare and getting herself off to a full-time job while taking a full course load at OCC. She is ready for finals with an average in the high 90’s and filled with the expectation she will pass her road test giving her the ability and the hope to graduate our program and live on her own. She readily admits, this would never have happened without Joseph’s House.

Hope is unmistakable in the demeanor and smile of a mom in recovery from addiction. She has a wealth of talents in the kitchen (to the delight of many!) plus musical talents with a voice to accompany the instruments. We are working on getting her a guitar so she can share with all of us her gifts from God. When I mentioned this to her she was simply elated and a conversation began about hope. Here is what she said to me:

Hope for me means the hard things that are thrown at us make us appreciate the small things in life. It’s not what we have or what we can get that others will remember; they will remember our spirit. My Higher Power, (God) is something that has carried me, not pushed me. Isn’t it ironic that is what Joseph’s House is too? It is truly a blessing to have a family here I never had before.
— JH Resident Mom

Hope is a virtue of the Holy Spirit that springs and blossoms according to one’s trust, faith and love of God. For many it comes from living through and graduating from the school of hard knocks as we realize our total ignorance and incompetence in choosing the correct path for our lives. It may be born of pain and yet somehow burgeons into a kind of euphoria as one comes to understand the wisdom in following God’s rules. Hope is born in the remembrance of God’s unending mercy for us who have caused Him much suffering through our sin. It is born as one takes inventory of the coincidences in their lives that have detoured them from a path of destruction to a path where one is led by Holy Spirit. Hope becomes apparent as we analyze and audit the miracles of our past that have bolstered us to the place where we are now blessed to reside. It transports us to a destiny where we are eternally efficacious and pragmatic as we step out in faith into the unknown future Our Heavenly Father has reserved only for us. Hope gives us the confidence to step out into the unknown, disconcerting days ahead, understanding every difficulty is an implement used by God to build our strength and fortitude. It makes problems disappear and gives one the resilience to welcome the uphill climb of daily life. Hope is sheer bliss, total ecstasy and what one looks forward to the most each morning allowing us to bound out of bed even after a sleepless night.

The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

All of you, our friends of Joseph’s House are a huge component of our hope. Through your unending support and prayers, it is made evident to all of us God hears and answers your prayers. Because of you, all of our dreams, aspirations and yearnings for the future are possible. We thank you from the depths of our hearts for all you do for us and we ask you to continue as our hope for the future is bigger than many believe possible. We can’t do what we do without you, so please storm heaven for Joseph’s House my friends, knowing we will always storm heaven for all of you. Enjoy a hope-filled spring and may God abundantly Bless You!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
— Jeremiah 29:11

Love & 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

The Life and Glories of St. Joseph

St. Joseph was a very brave man. When Mary was pregnant with Jesus, Joseph didn’t abandon her. He didn’t shame her. He didn’t let anyone else hurt her. Instead, he stood by her side. He defended the life she carried, Jesus Christ. He protected Jesus when he was the most vulnerable — when he was an unborn baby. And we are all called to do the same — to protect and defend the sanctity of every human life.
— Edward Healy Thomas