Heard Around the Catholic Worker (#6)

The future of the Catholic Worker at 90; CWers turned sociologists; European Catholic Workers; Cherith Brook raises $190,000 for rehab project.

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


NCR: Recap of the 2023 Faith & Resistance Retreat; Generational Gap in CW Noted

Catholic Workers gather in Madison to protest new F-35 fighter jets by Brenna Cussen Anglada in National Catholic Reporter (April 12, 2023)

A detailed report of the weekend. Anglada also spoke to the generational gap that seems to be growing within the movement:

Given the seriousness of the cause we were there to protest — nuclear annihilation and environmental destruction — I was dismayed at the lack of attendance by young people. Only about 10 of us identified as “under 50.” This in stark contrast to the 2017 Chicago Faith and Resistance Retreat focused on racism, at which the vast majority of participants were under 40.

We lamented the seeming generational divide that has emerged in the Catholic Worker movement over the past decade between those of us who show up to protest war and militarism (largely elders), and those who show up to combat racism and climate change (overwhelmingly youth), and wondered how we might better emphasize the intersectionality of these evils.

TRUTHOUT: Imprisoned CWers Deserve More Support from Climate Activists

Sabotaging Oil and Gas Infrastructure Is an Act of Climate Heroism by David Klein in TRUTHOUT (April 7, 2023)

Klein considers the case of Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, two members of the Des Moines Catholic Worker community now serving long prison sentences for committing multiple acts of sabotage against pipelines and machinery used in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.

Far from being labeled terrorists, Reznicek and Montoya should be considered heroes for acting to protect the planet, Klein writes: “These two women, now languishing in prison, deserve more support from U.S. environmentalists than they have received so far.”

Book Review: Communion of Radicals: The Literary Christian Left in Twentieth-Century America

Review: What can the writers of the Christian left tell us about the future? by Terence Sweeney in America (March 3, 2022)

Sweeny reviews Jonathan McGregor’s Communion of Radicals: The Literary Christian Left in Twentieth-Century America. The book argues that Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day are significant literary figures of the Catholic left alongside more conventionally literary figures such as T.S. Eliot and Walter Percy:

Reading about Day and Maurin, I was reminded of the beauty of their writing and the moral force that beauty conveyed. They showed that writing can sometimes move mountains. These chapters are literary scholarship at its best; McGregor makes you want to read Day and Maurin again or read them for the first time.

A Look at Sociologists Influenced by Activism in the Catholic Worker

From Criticism to Activism: Sociologists Influenced by the Catholic Worker Movement by Harry Murray in The American Sociologist, February 27, 2023.

H/t Rosalie G. Riegle. From the abstract:

This article traces the infuence of the Catholic Worker Movement on a small set
of sociologists: Paul Hanley Furfey, Gladys Sellew, Mary Elizabeth Walsh, Gordon
Zahn, Michael Harrington (actually a political scientist), and the author. Experience
with the Worker moved these sociologists into addressing several interrelated social
issues: capitalism, militarism, racism, poverty, and homelessness primary among
them. It also led them to some rather unusual forms of activism, ranging from living
in interracial houses in poor neighborhoods during the 1930’s to civil disobedience.
The article concludes with an argument for incorporating such forms of activism
into sociological practice.

Murray is professor emeritus of sociology and anthropology at Nazareth College. He is also the author of Do Not Neglect Hospitality: The Catholic Worker and the Homeless (1990, Temple University Press).

“I see much good that has come out of having regularly committed civil disobedience for my sociological career,” he writes. “For one thing, jail is a unique window through which to view society – what goes on in the jail reveals how society treats its most marginalized members. and spending an occassional night or two in jail serves as a good barometer for what is happening in society. Nothing confrmed the reality of white supremacy as clearly as spending time in jail.”

Catholic News Archive Completes Collection Through 2021

The Catholic News Archive recently added scans of the first decade of the Catholic Worker newspaper to its online collection. Peter Maurin and Servant of God Dorothy Day founded the newspaper in 1933 to promote better understanding of Catholic social teaching and as the official publication of the Catholic Worker movement they created. The first ten years of newspaper scans were furnished by the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University from its Catholic Worker Collection with materials donated by the Joseph and Mary Alice Zarrella family. Of 112 issues added to the online archive from the Merton Center collection, 4 missing issues from the 1930s and 1940s were loaned to the project by the library of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana.


LA CW Agitator Looks at the Future of the Catholic Worker at 90

The April issue of the Agitator, the newspaper of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, features a series of essays from Catholic Workers reflecting on the future of the Catholic Worker movement. Some of the essay titles:

  • “Keep It Simple and Joyful” (Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham, Viva House, Baltimore, Maryland)
  • “Laden with Grace” (Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, Ss. Francis and Thérèse, Worcester, Massachusettes)
  • “We Have Not Truly Arrived” (Joanne Kennedy, Maryhouse, New York CW)
  • “The Catholic Worker Movement: Our Future” (Martha Hennessy, Maryhouse, New York CW)
  • “A Place for the 21st Century CW” (Michele Naar-Obed, Hildegard House, Duluth, Minnesota).
  • “From the Corporal Works of Mercy to the Spiritual” (Kateri Boucher, Day House. Detroit, Michigan)

You can read the newspaper online here.

Casa Esther: April 2023 newsletter

Casa Esther (Omro, Wisconsin) is looking to broaden its mission within its community, according to its April newsletter.:

When Casa Esther began, our mission focused on the needs of migrant farm workers in the areas surrounding Omro. While we continue to be a safe place for all immigrants to seek resources and assistance, regardless of their legal status, we also want to tune into some of the other unmet needs in our local community.

Casa Esther is in an unique position as a Catholic Worker House. Most CW houses are either in very urban settings, or they are farms. We are very much in the middle. So we are listening to local voices to find out what other ways we might offer care for the “needy” in our community.

One way we are doing this is by broadening our definition of what “needy” looks like in our community. It may include things like need for material assistance meeting basic needs, such as keeping up with rent and utilities. But it may also include things like need for community, for company, for conversation, for emotional and spiritual support, etc. We look forward to hosting more members of our community for soup, in the tradition of the Catholic Worker, and we remain open to exploring ways we can meet the unmet needs of our community

Frank Cordaro: “How to Read the New Testament and Other Stuff”

You can read the entire newsletter here.


Cherith Brook CW (Kansas City) Raises $190,000 for Storefront Rehab

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker (Kansas City, Missouri) has raised $190,000 for its storefront rehabilitation project, with construction scheduled to begin in August.



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