Almost immediately after her death in 1980 controversy arose about whether Dorothy Day should be canonized a Saint by the…
Almost immediately after her death in 1980 controversy arose about whether Dorothy Day should be canonized a Saint by the Church.
Many voices are in support of the canonization process, citing Dorothy Day’s life as an example that has inspired them to prayer and action for social justice. Her faithfulness to the Gospel, living the “preferential option for the poor” and showing that a lay person can achieve heroic virtue are often cited.
Voices opposing the process say that Dorothy Day shunned the suggestion she was a saint and believe she would rather have any money spent on her canonization given to the poor. Others are concerned that her radical vision will be sanitized and spun to support Catholic traditionalism and a narrow anti-abortion stance, neutralizing her ardent pacifism, radical critique of society, and love of the poor.
“Dorothy Day is already a saint” is a common refrain, which reminds us that the Church doesn’t make saints, but only recognizes what the faithful acknowledge as the action of God’s grace in a person’s life.
Presented at the Dorothy Day Centenary Conference, Marquette University, October 10, 1997. This article also appeared in a shorter form as “The Trouble With Saint Dorothy“, U.S. Catholic, November 1997.
Many Catholic Workers support the process of adding Dorothy Day to the Church’s official roster of canonized saints—but not all do. While this opposition to the canonization process is often acknowledged, the reasons behind it are rarely detailed. In the spirit of “clarification of thought,” then, here are some of the those reasons.
Article by Robert Elsberg in The Catholic Worker, May 2015, pp 1, 5 . He writes in support of the cause for Dorothy Day’s canonization, addressing “the many deep admirers and even followers of Dorothy Day who have no doubts about her holiness but are skeptical or suspicious of the process of canonization. “
Jim Allaire is a retired psychologist and software developer. In addition to raising two sons with his wife, Barbara, he co-founded the Winona Catholic Worker (Winona, Minnesota). At about the same time, he began developing CatholicWorker.org with the help of many volunteers. He is also the author of two books: Praying With Dorothy Day (Word Among Us Press, 1995) and Costly Grace (iUniverse, 2009), a mystery novel. He currently resides in Newton, MA, near Boston.
Summary: Describes time spent at the beach house, and a retreat at Corpus Christi Monastery. Eulogizes two long-time Catholic Workers, Julia Porcelli Moran and Jim Rogan, who recently had died. (The Catholic Worker, January 1975, 1, 2, 8. DDLW #546).
Summary: A detailed account of a visit to the Blessed Martin House of Hospitality in Memphis where Helen Caldwell Day cares for the children of women cotton pickers. The problems of poverty. Urges use of spiritual weapons–poverty, precarity, self-denial, suffering. Says that only love can overcome the evil in the world. (DDLW #640). The Catholic Worker, November 1952, 1, 4.
Summary: A loving tribute to Fr. Lacouture. Outlines his priestly assignments but highlights his famous “retreat” that emphasized man’s dignity, the doctrine of the cross, and the call to saintliness. Says the retreat gave thousands great joy in the spiritual life. Notes the controversy that stopped the retreat, but also says, “He made all things new.” (DDLW #944).The Catholic Worker, Dec 1951, p. 1, 6
Summary: “The joyful story of the opening of Maryhouse.” Filled with gratitude she describes applying the finishing touches. Notes the large auditorium used for Friday meetings started by Peter Maurin. (The Catholic Worker, February 1976, 2, 4. DDLW #567).