Catholic Worker Hospitality House of San Bruno - Providing meals and shelter in San Bruno, California.

Christmas 2023

by Ella Chatfield-Stiehler

“All you need is love. Love is all you really need.” —The Beatles

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love, not just for some but for everyone.”
—Burt Bacharach

Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky from The Brothers Karamazov

A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. – Rom 12:9-10

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. –1st John 4:7-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest is love. –1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

A pharisee asked Jesus. What is the greatest commandment? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –Matthew 22:34-40


Dear Friends,

You are probably wondering, “What is with all the “love” quotes? Isn’t this a Christmas newsletter? Shouldn’t I be talking about baby Jesus in a manger, shepherds, and the Magi?” Good question. I’ve been writing that type of Christmas letter for over twenty-five years, so I thought this year I would do something different and maybe get to the root of what I think the season is all about, hence all the “love” quotes.

Advent and Christmas seasons are the time when we prepare for and celebrate the coming of love into the world in a special way with the birth of Jesus. As a follower of Jesus I feel called to be a person of love. The challenge is how to enflesh this love in my daily life. Too often I think of love as something sweet and easy, but as the above quote from The Brother’s Karamazov states: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.” If I want to commit my life to the Way of God, then I must embrace that harsh and dreadful love.

Indeed, the love that Mary and Joseph showed in the nativity story was a love of action. Nothing that Joseph and Mary did was easy. Joseph chose to care for and protect Mary and raise Jesus as his son, even though he was ridiculed and mocked by those around him. Mary was not given a dignified place to give birth and had to give birth in a manger. The story of Jesus’ entrance into
this world is harsh and dreadful, because it is not easy to birth love into a world that so continuously rejects it.

I like to think that love is what our work is all about at Catholic Worker Hospitality House. Whether it’s providing hot and hearty meals at our dining room or a safe and welcoming bed at our homeless shelter, or permanent affordable housing at one of our boarding houses, these actions are our attempts at loving God through loving our neighbors. I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t always loving, sometimes far from it, but we keep on trying.

But we don’t do this alone. We know that your generous support of our work is one way that you too love God and neighbor. We are so thankful for your past support and hope that you will continue helping us provide loving service to those in need.

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season,

Peter Stiehler
For all of us at
Catholic Worker Hospitality House


Can you help us host our annual Christmas dinner for our guests by cooking part of the meal? We need:

  • Ham, cooked and carved, enough for 10 people
  • Potato dishes
  • Milk or juice
  • Cookies, pie, or cake

Please bring food donations between 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Friday, December 22. We will be serving the meal between 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. that day. Food can be brought to our dining room at St. Bruno’s Church, located at 555 W. San Bruno Ave. in San Bruno. Please call us at (650) 827-0706 if you can bring anything or if you have any questions. Thank You!



If you’re interested in providing a gift for one of our guests, may we suggest gift cards as the ideal gift for this COVID impacted
Christmas? They would provide Christmas cheer for our guests and enable them to purchase the items they need and want. It would also limit your exposure to crowds this holiday season. We suggest gift cards to grocery stores, Target, and coffee houses. If you still want to purchase a tangible gift, may we suggest one of the following: sweatshirt, thermal underwear, hat and gloves, socks, or underwear. We thank you for your generosity in helping to make this holiday season special for our guests.