Anyone can start a Catholic Worker community, and there are many ways to go about it. Before you begin, you may want to browse our directory of Catholic Worker communities to see the many forms they take. Find a few that seem in line with your vision and reach out to them for advice; you may even want to visit several communities to get a more in-depth picture of how different communities handle the challenges they face. Attending regional Catholic Worker gatherings is another way to learn more, firsthand, about the ins and outs of starting a Catholic Worker community. (Plus, they are lots of fun, and it’s good to have support from others in the movement!)

If you haven’t already done so, you should probably also read about the history of the Catholic Worker on this website or in one of the many books written on the topic. Read the Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker, which is the closest thing to a founding document for the movement.

Finally, check out these helpful articles from seasoned Catholic Workers.

Advice from Dorothy Day

  • Houses of Hospitality (December 1936)
    Enunciates the principles for starting a house of hospitality. Emphasizes starting small and emphasizing Christian principles. “They [Houses of Hospitality] will emphasize personal action, personal responsibility as opposed to political action and state responsibility.”
  • We Go On Record: CW Refuses Tax Exemption
     Explains CW finances and why the CW refuses to apply for tax exempt status. Cites Ammon Hennacy and Karl Meyer’s tax resistance as nonviolent protest against war. Upholds the principle that governments should never do what small bodies can accomplish. 

How to Open a House of Hospitality

How to Open a House of Hospitality
Stanley Vishnewski was one of the first to join Dorothy and Peter in the movement and spent most of his life at the New York Catholic Worker. His article from 1965 contains seasoned wisdom borne of personal experience not only from the New York house, but from his travels to visit other Catholic Worker communities around the country. Many of his suggestions apply as much today as they did back then.

A Quick, 9-Step Overview of How to Start a Catholic Worker

FAQ: How do I start a Catholic Worker house?
As the title suggests, this is a thumbnail sketch of the steps you’ll probably want to ake to start your Catholic Worker community. (Written by Jim Allaire.)

How to Start a (Tampa-Style) Catholic Worker Community

The Tampa Catholic Worker Story
Dorothy Day Tampa founders Mike and Ann Doyle chronicle the steps they took to start a Catholic Worker community in Tampa, Florida, and offer practical advice to anyone thinking of doing the same. Their approach is a good fit for anyone looking to start an organization more in the mold of a typical nonprofit, with advice on recruiting volunteers and fundraising.