Heard Around the Catholic Worker #10

In this issue: Reflecting on “ecological conversion”; Theo Kayser protests NAATO exercises with Kommuniteten Senapskornet (Mustard Seed Community) in Luleå, Sweden; the canonization debate continues; a reflection on Dorothy Day’s complicated attitude toward sex; the complexity of racism in the Catholic Worker Movement; Des Moines CW receives a hefty bequest; and more.

If you have news to share, send it to jerry@catholicworker.org.

CW Community News

Casa Cry (Casa Maria CW, Milwaukee) / August: “We mourn the death of George Martin (died on June 16, 2023) who for many years worked for peace in the world.  He was involved with the civil rights movement and the Black Lives Matter actions.  May he now rest in the peace he sought for the world.  We also mourn the death of Ian Harrris, a strong supporter of Casa Maria and excellent teacher of nonviolence. He died on May 15, 2023.” | Contact Casa Maria CW to be included on their email list.

Bakhita Catholic Worker (Milwaukee) / July: Bakhita House has welcomed two new community members and plans for a nine-month “Dorothy Day Deep Dive.” “It will involve a cohort group of up to 18 people who will gather once a month, for eight months, learning about Dorothy and the Catholic Worker Movement. It is designed for those who have already read The Long Loneliness and want to take a deeper historical dive into the theological, intellectual, historical, and spiritual roots of the Catholic Worker.” | Get the newsletter by email.

The Catholic Worker (New York Catholic Worker) / June-July: In the lead article, Ralph E. Moore, Jr., argues that the prohibitive price of the canonization process may be intended to maintain racial segregation in the Church by excluding people of color from the process. | Bill Griffin remembers peace activist and author Stoughton Lynd. | Charlie Enúf decries the presence of far-right and fascist activists within the Catholic Church: “Why might people feel safe to don their fascist pride and logos within a Catholic Church? And why would they be allowed to process with Catholics over any cause? And why would they be accepted with a calm and open arm to hold a rosary and pray the prayers all of us were taught so young?” | Subscribe to the print-only paper by writing the New York Catholic Worker.

Via pacis (Des Moines Catholic Worker) / July: The DMCW received $150,000 from the estate of Sister Maggie O’Toole, a longtime friend of the community who passed away in 2019. Frank Cordaro recalls her and other great women religious in the Des Moines area; Sr. Jeanie Hagedorn writes a remembrance. | Rev. Bob Cook reports on his travel to El Salvador to help with a solar project there. | The DMCW welcomes two new volunteers: Mohammed Salah and Jack Connelly. It has six bedrooms open for more live-in volunteers. | Former DMCW Michael Sprong remembers Gerald “Jerry” Ebner, who passed away on April 15, 2023. “He died peacefully in a nursing home in Omaha, Nebraska. Last rites were administered by his good friend Brother Jason McGuire. If one looked in an encyclopedia for itinerant Catholic Workers, one would find a picture of Jerry. In his fifty years in the Catholic Worker movement, he served at several houses of hospitality, from the West Coast to the East Coast and throughout the Midwest. He was especially gifted at serving single men who were struggling with a wide range of personal problems.”

Redwood City Catholic Worker (Redwood City, California) / June: Susan travels to Germany to join Peace Camp Volkel; she is asking for help with expenses. | A recap of the good work of two religious sisters (friends of the CW community) who have transformed the city’s poorest neighborhood. “Sr. Christina was recently elected to lead her congregation of religious Sisters and has returned to Wisconsin – their gain is our loss.  People leave and love remains.”

Winona Catholic Worker (Winona, Minnesota) / Summer appeal letter: Includes financial disclosures. The community is investing in a new swingset for the backyard, long-delayed maintenance projects, and direct aid to guests. | Contact the Winona Catholic Worker to be added to their mailing list.


Sacred Tent Looks to Hire Two Female Community Members

“Sacred Tent is now hiring! We are looking for two young and responsible female live-in community members to reside at our community house in Clarendon Hills and offer up about ten hours per week to our ministry of serving the homeless. If you or someone you know is passionate about their Catholic faith and social justice and would like to work with us, please reach out.”

CW in the Media

An Interview with Martha Hennessy

Nate the Voluntaryist Livestream #295: A 39-minute interview with Martha Hennessy, mostly focused on the history of the Catholic Worker Movement.

Agenda-less Hospitality

Agenda-less hospitality | TheCatholicSpirit.com: Colin Miller, a member of the Maurin House Catholic Worker in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, on the “agenda-less hospitality” of the Catholic Worker. “You’d be surprised how many times the first questions I’m asked when someone learns about our little hospitality house are: What do we require of the guests? And do we help them get jobs? It’s not about that, I explain. It’s about answering the question, as an old friend once put it to me, ‘Is that a person?’”

Is the Catholic Worker Racist?

Is the Catholic Worker Racist? | Church Life Journal | University of Notre Dame: Benjamin Peters, co-founder of the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker in South Bend, Indiana, and a professor of religious studies at the University of Saint Joseph, answers the titular question in his opening sentence: “Yes, of course the Catholic Worker is racist,” but goes on to problemize the question. He begins by summarizing recent debate around the question, beginning with the 2015 Midwest Catholic Worker Faith and Resistance Retreat, the 2017 publication of an open letter on racism to the Catholic Worker Movement titled “Lament. Repent. Repair,” and the backlash it provoked from some within the movement. He then goes on to highlight critiques of the term “anti-racism” and suggests that the concept of racial capitalism might offer a more helpful framework. “While racism can certainly be focused upon, it cannot be isolated from other social injustices such as war and inequality. In this sense, criticism of capitalism in the US is a critique of racism. Likewise, criticism of US war-making—which ‘Lament. Repent. Repair’ portray as distracting the Catholic Worker from issues of race—can also be seen as a critique of racism.”

Love, Sex, and Dorothy Day

Love, Sex and Dorothy Day | America Magazine: “Dorothy Day synthesized seemingly contradictory values with insight and nuance. Perhaps the most perplexing of her beliefs were those on sexuality and romantic love,” writes Stephen G. Adubato. “While maintaining her commitment to celibacy and doctrinal orthodoxy, she continued to celebrate the gift of sexual desire.”

Where Your Treasure Is

Where Your Treasure Is | Plough.com: “Five readings from Christian thinkers challenge our assumptions about money.” Includes quotes from Nikolai Berdyaev, Basil of Caesarea, Maria Skobtsova, C. S. Lewis and Dorothy Day.

A Reflection for the Feast of the Transfiguration

A reflection for the feast of the Transfiguration | U.S. Catholic: Renee Roden (St. Francis CW, Chicago) incorporates her recent time living in Jerusalem in her reflection on the readings for the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6).

War Crimes and Bravery: Meeting Daniel Ellsberg in 1977

War crimes and bravery: Meeting Daniel Ellsberg in 1977 | Pearls and Irritations: Writer, activist, and one-time CWer Val Noone writes about meeting Daniel Ellsberg in 1977. He recalls having lunch with Ellsberg to discuss Ellsberg’s notes of a 1965 interview in Vietnam with a senior Australian Army officer, Brigadier Francis (‘Ted’) Serong.

A Housing Activist Opens Up His Backyard

A housing activist opens up his backyard to unhoused people; they say it’s improving their health | Connecticut Public Radio: Sujata Srinivasan reports on Rosette Village, a tent encampment for the unhoused located in the backyard of the Amistad Catholic Worker (New Haven, Connecticut). Features resident interviews, comments from Mark Colville.

Dorothy Day, Real Saint

Dorothy Day, Real Saint | Anderson Valley Advertiser: By Nicholas Von Hoffman: “If she were here now, there’d be no fashionable buzz. She wouldn’t be meat for Tina Brown at the New Yorker, not this one who disliked abortions, disliked homosexuality and put family life before all. Perhaps with her personal history, she thought she knew. With people like Dorothy, you can always pick and choose. You can remember her as a feminist, as a woman who lived the opposition to our foreign policy for decades, and you can forget she also said, ‘When man takes to himself the right to use sex as pleasure alone, cutting it away from its creative aspect by artificial birth control, by perverse practices, he is denying “the absolute Supremacy of the Creative Deity”.’ Well, she tried it both ways and decided that human life is more than a pig roast, that the problems of human existence transcend stumbling out of Barney’s loaded down with packages, trying to figure out how to get a cab.”

A Reflection on ‘Ecological Conversion’

Never too late for authentic conversion | Catholic Register (Toronto): On light of the Canadian wildfires, CWer Luke Stocking reflects on the concept of ecological conversion as introduced by Pope Francis in Laudato Si: “Sometimes people understand the idea of ‘ecological conversion’ in terms of purely material changes — like converting to ‘recycle more’ or ‘drive cars less.’ They set it up in contrast to more traditional spiritual understandings of conversion — converting to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God who saves the world. This is harmful because it makes it too easy to dismiss. What Christian would argue that converting to recycling was as important as converting to belief in Jesus? This is disintegration and the call of our faith is to integration. The Holy Father quotes Pope Benedict who said, ‘The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast’ (LS 217). This is a beautiful way to show the integral vision of an ecological conversion.”

Kate Hennessy’s “The Provocations of Dorothy Day” Series Continues in The Tablet

To mark the 90th anniversary of the Catholic Worker, Kate Hennessy is writing a series of nine essays for The Tablet (registration required) titled, “The Provocations of Dorothy Day.” The editors describe the series as a sort of “novena” of signposts for those looking to follow Dorothy Day. “There is little point in simply admiring the founder of the Catholic Worker,” they write. “If you’re going to pay attention to her, you must be prepared for your life to be turned on its head.”

So far, the essays include the following:

  1. Make Yourself Deeply Uncomfortable
  2. Follow Your Conscience
  3. Find Your Vocation
  4. Face Your Fears
  5. Fail Gloriously
  6. Open Yourself Up to Beauty
  7. Laughter: The Best Balm
  8. Love: And See the Face of God

Chapp: Synod is a “Cynical Game” and “Strategic Ruse”

The Orwellian Synod | Catholic World Report: Larry Chapp (Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm, Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania) warns that the synodal process initiated by Pope Francis is an expression of Catholic neo-progressivism that aims “to reignite the fires of that post-conciliar revolution and to reopen the debates over women’s ordination, contraception, intercommunion with Protestants, communion for the divorced and remarried, cohabitation, and a green-lighting of the whole LGBTQ+IA++ world of endless sexual identity acronyms.”

New on CatholicWorker.org

Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Peace Witness at Pentagon and White House – Catholic Worker Movement: Monday, August 7 and Wednesday, August 9 in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (Washington, D.C.).

Theo Visits Kommuniteten Senapskornet (Mustard Seed Community) in Luleå, Sweden: Theo travels north…way, way north…to visit Sweden’s Mustard Seed Community, where he joins in a prayerful protest of NATO’s “Arctic Challenge” and enjoys a lot of “fika.”

CWers Among Those to Protest U.S. Nuclear Weapons Deployed in the Netherlands and Germany: The following press release was issued by John LaForge, Frits ter Kuile, and Susan Crane in advance of Peace Camp Volkel August 4-10. The action centered on climate and nuclear disarmament issues is coordinated by the Amsterdam Catholic Worker, and the U.S. delegation includes many Catholic Workers.

Put to Work: All I was asking for was a little retreat and reprieve from all the sufferings of my heavy heart. Instead, Brian and Betsy and a menagerie of goats put me to work.

U.S. Catholic Leaders Embark on Peace Pilgrimage to Japan; Will Advocate Universal Nuclear Disarmament: A delegation from the Archdioceses of Santa Fe and Seattle is embarking on a Pilgrimage of Peace to Japan for the purpose of building stronger ties with the Church there and advocating for universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament.

Iowa City CW Raises Funds for Injured Migrant Farmworker: The Iowa City Catholic Worker recently appealed for financial help for a migrant farmworker badly injured in a grain elevator accident.

A Conversation about Nuclear Families & the Catholic Worker: Matt Harper of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker sent out this invitation for Catholic Workers to join a conversation about raising a family in a Catholic Worker setting. His note is reprinted below.

A Catholic Worker Primer (Chuck Trapkus): “A Catholic Worker Primer” was originally drawn by Chuck Trapkus in 1986 and continues to be distributed and reprinted in Catholic Worker circles as much for its ability to distill the essence of the Movement as for its fun and irreverent style.

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