Michael Geilenfeld is the Founder and Executive Director of St. Joseph Family Homes. Michael is an Iowan and a former Brother with Mother Teresa’s order. He has led a life of service to the poor. His calling has taken him to India, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam, California, El Salvador, and finally to Haiti. Michael established a home there in 1985 and gathered abused, abandoned, and orphaned children to fill it. St. Joseph Family Homes consists of three sites: St. Joseph’s Home for Boys is located in Port-au Prince. It is home to sixteen street boys. Wings of Hope is a special needs home in the hills outside of Port-au-Prince, located in the city of Fermathe. Its staff cares for 36 special needs children with severe emotional and physical disabilities. The third site is Trinity House, which provides living quarters for forty boys. Attached is Lekol Sen Trinite School, which has 74 girls and boys attending classes in grades K through 4. The total number of children being cared for is 166 at all three sites. All 56 orphaned boys go to school in the city in which they live (either Jacmel or Port-au-Prince).
Michael, and the 16 boys who formed St. Joseph’s Boys Home, traveled a hard road before finding their way home. Some saw their parents die and had no one to care for them. Others were forced into the common role of a child slave, known in Haiti as arestavek. Many were left to survive on the streets. Michael’s goal has been to offer a new life to these lost and rejected ones, and opportunities to fuel their dreams.
Michael has chosen to live his adult life in solidarity with the poor. Providing the funds to raise these children, Michael has had to rely on Divine Providence, using discernment and ingenuity to bring it all together. At the most basic level, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys supports itself by doubling as an inn, where travelers from all over the world receive lodging and discover a unique brand of hospitality. Those who have been recipients of this hospitality are sometimes moved to want to give back in the form of further personal and financial support. It is an uncertain existence, lived with the conviction that God will provide.
The most necessary thing: prayer. It is the way of life at St. Joseph’s. Prayer begins and ends each day, providing a framework of love and security. The following is a prayer that is prayed each day by Michael and the entire family.
PRAYER OF ABANDONMENT
Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all. I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love
of my heart, for I love you, Lord,
and so I need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands, without
reserve, and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father. Amen