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THE NATION: “Ossified and Dissipated” CW Movement Can Find Renewal in Youngest Voices
Renée Darline Roden (St. Francis CW, Chicago) has written a sweeping piece on the Catholic Worker Movement for The Nation. In The Anarchism of the Catholic Worker, she reports on how the movement is being re-imagined and renewed by a younger generation:
In the nine decades since its birth, the Catholic Worker movement has come to be many things: a labor movement, a countercultural commune movement, a back-to-the-land movement, a Luddite arts-and-crafts movement, and a peace movement. Simone Weil House is one of at least six Catholic Worker houses that have opened around the country in the past five years that are turning to Maurin and Day’s original vision of spiritual and economic change to combat the despair of late capitalism and the anomie of a younger generation facing financial devastation and environmental destruction.
“Young people recognize that capitalism is a failure, in the light of the permanent war economy and environmental crisis,” Martha Hennessy told The Nation. Hennessy, who is Day’s granddaughter and a member of the Maryhouse Catholic Worker community in New York City, believes the movement is in crisis, 42 years after the death of its founder. In her eyes, the movement has both “ossified and dissipated.”
“We can get stuck in our ways,” Hennessy said. Although established Catholic Worker houses in New York City, Los Angeles, Des Moines, and Houston continue to draw some young people, many millennial and Gen Z members are opting to start their own houses in order to reinterpret the movement’s traditions and principles for a new generation. Hennessy believes that the Catholic Worker can find renewal by attending to the youngest voices in the movement.
This newest cohort of Worker communities is less inclined to talk about organized resistance or mass political protest. They embrace the movement’s anarchism for its emphasis on local, personal community in a global, online age. They see it as a fundamentally creative endeavor to build a new society “wherein justice dwelleth,” as Day wrote in 1940, without waiting for permission from Big Capital, Big Government, or even their local bishop.
You can read the entire article at The Nation (subscription required).
The Dorothy Day, the newest addition to the Staten Island ferry fleet, had its inaugural voyage on April 28, and Kevin Clarke was there for America magazine. Several dozen Catholic Workers from local houses showed up for the event, he writes: “They briefly formed an ebullient picket line greeting commuters and tourists, handing out pamphlets and sheets with anti-war messages, excited to tell anyone who would listen all about Dorothy Day, the person, as The Dorothy Day, the ferry, lurched from its berth, beginning its first 25-minute trip across New York Harbor to Lower Manhattan.” He quotes Robert Steed, a former Catholic Worker and editor of The Catholic Worker newspaper, as saying that Dorothy would have approved of the honor “maybe even more so than being canonized.” Read the article in America magazine.
PITTSBURG POST-GAZETTE: William F. Buckley, Dorothy Day and a lesson in not looking bad in the future
Pittsburg Post-Gazette editor David Mills has written an opinion essay reflecting on the legacies of Dorothy Day and the founder of the modern conservatism movement, William F. Buckley. “In 1960, the leader of American conservatism treated a leading radical, and as it happened fellow Catholic, like an idiot,” Mills writes. “Day practiced what she preached, and to an extent that shames most of us. She could have been wrong about everything and still deserved admiration for her life. Buckley should have seen that.” Read William F. Buckley, Dorothy Day and a lesson in not looking bad in the future at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
THE RECORD: Digitization project makes The Catholic Worker, dating to 1933, available to all
Ruby Thomas writes about the digitization of The Catholic Worker newspaper; read the article in The Record, the newspaper of the Louisville Archdiocese,
COMMUNITY NEWS & MEDIA
New CW Listing: John Paul II Catholic Worker Farm
The John Paul II Catholic Worker Farm is the latest addition to the Catholic Worker community directory, bringing the total number of listed communities to 177. “Our mission is fourfold: to build a modern homestead, to foster organic community, to study and disseminate Catholic Social Teaching, and to pursue a life of holiness,” the founders say in their listing. “We strive to work with and not against the land to revitalize ourselves and our neighborhood in the truest sense of the word. We strive to follow Pope St. John Paul II’s admonitions to ‘open wide the doors to Christ’ and to ‘cast out into the deep,’ hoping to help build a more just social order.” You can find out more about this new community at their website.
New CW Community Shaping Up in St. Louis
A new Catholic Worker community is shaping up in St. Louis, Missouri. “Lindsey (formerly of Andre House), Chrissy (formerly of Columbia, MO and Kabat House, currently of NWTRCC), and Theo (traveling CW formerly of LA, Karen House, and more) have started laying the groundwork for opening a house of hospitality in the St. Louis area, so on April 30 (the eve of the CW’s 90th B-Day!) we hosted a gathering of a few dozen folks who are interested in being friends with such a project,” the founders wrote on the Catholic Worker Listserv. The community is looking at possible houses but is mostly focused on “build[ing] community around the project as we figure out next steps.” Read their latest newsletter and get future communications by filling out their contact form.
Iowa City Catholic Worker Raises $30,000 for New Living Space
More than 250 community members gathered for a celebration on Sunday, April 30, that raised more than $30,000 for the Iowa City Catholic Worker. The funds will be used to add finished living space to one of its houses of hospitality; the space will be able to accommodate a family.
Great Turning Catholic Worker Purchases Second House
The Great Turning Catholic Worker (Madison, Wisconsin) has signed a purchase agreement to buy the home next door to expand their hospitality and farming activities. Much of the purchase price was raised from donors over a four-week period, with about $40,000 left to raise before the deal closes on June 2. Read: Great Turning CW Purchases House; $40,000 left to raise by June 2nd.
Schaeffer-Duffy Calls for Communities to Support Russian Conscientious Objectors
Claire Schaeffer Duffy (Sts. Francis and Therese CW, Worcester, Massachusetts) recently called for Catholic Workers to sign a petition calling for a halt to the deportation of Russian conscientious objectors. “Last month the Biden administration deported at least one Russian defector without granting him a fair hearing. The Center for Conscience on War has called for a halt to such deportations and the granting of due process.” The petition can be signed at the website of the Center.
Obituaries: Ann Doyle, Co-Founder of Dorothy Day Tampa
Ann Doyle, co-founder with husband Michael Doyle of the Dorothy Day Tampa Catholic Worker community, passed away peacefully on April 28. She spent much of her professional career focusing on child welfare, and later in life founded several non-profit organizations, including Devereux Kids, Love INC, and Dorothy Day Tampa. Read her obituary here and watch the eulogy and funeral Mass here.
New Book: Confession of a Catholic Worker
Larry Chapp (Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm, Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania) has published a new book with Ignatius Press: Confession of a Catholic Worker: Our Current Moment of Christian Witness. Framing the book as a “confession of faith,” Chapp intertwines his personal narrative with the witness of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. The “real remedy to the disease of sin is not niceness, not political liberation, not fancy liturgical dress, but a free decision to live totally and joyfully in Jesus Christ, without compromise,” according to the book’s back cover copy. You can watch an interview with Chapp about his book at the Catholic World Report.
Besides releasing his new book (see item above), Chapp has also penned an essay for the National Catholic Register: “Christ Crucified and Resurrected vs. ‘The Therapeutic Jesus“. “What is the revolution that Jesus of Nazareth created, and why was it so shattering to the dominant power structures of the world and forever changed our view of who God is?” Chapp asks. The answer, he says, can be found in the cross: “if we are to be resurrected at all it will be as crucified and resurrected.”
Coffee with Catholic Workers Podcast Interviews Tensie Hernandez and Rosalie Riegle
In episode 14 of the Coffee with Catholic Workers podcast, Theo and Lydia interview Tensie Hernandez of Beatitude House (Guadalupe, California), who talks about how running a Catholic Worker in a small town is different than doing so in a big, bustling city. Then, in episode 15. they talk to Rosalie Riegle about the origins of the Catholic Worker, the Catholic Worker’s early involvement with the labor movement, and why the contemporary Catholic Worker has turned to other issues.
Dixon Hopes to Return to Israel for Trial of Settler Who Attacked Her
Cassandra Dixon (Mary House) says she hopes to return to Israel for the trial of the settler who struck her on March 7 while she and an Italian observer were in the hills outside of Hebron near a village called Tuba. The settler has been indicted for aggravated assault, with a trial currently scheduled for July. Read her statement here.
New York CW Publishes 90th Anniversary Issue of The Catholic Worker
The 90th anniversary issue of The Catholic Worker leads with an essay by Kate Hennessy titled “The Miracle of Our Continuance.” Also in this issue:
- A two-page spread featuring reflections by various CWers on the Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker.
- An article by Matthieu Langlois and James Murphy on the legacy of Peter Maurin’s brothers and sisters, six of whom entered religious life. (Family legend attributes the high number of religious vocations to St. John Baptiste de la Salle’s visit to a maternal ancestor.)
- A sketch of Peter Maurin written anonymously by Dorothy Day for the May 1940 issue.
You can request a copy of the paper from the New York Catholic Worker.
Casa Maria CW (Milwaukee) Vigils at Gun Store
The latest issue of Casa Maria’s Casa Cry newsletter reports that when the community vigils in front of a gun shop, customers often stop to ask: What would you do if someone came into your home and threatened to kill your wife and children? Don Timmerman writes:
“I always say that I will do what Christ did to those who threatened, tormented and eventually killed him. Christ chose to accept suffering rather than to inflict it on others, even on his crucifiers. He did not choose nonviolence as a strategy to overcome violence. He chose nonviolence because he truly loved everyone, even those doing terrible things. He implied that we will never be totally happy (saved) unless we love everyone and do good to all of them. The goal is to love everyone, not just to ensure that we live long lives. Our goal is to enter into everlasting life, to enter into a new life of love.”
To see the entire newsletter, drop Don an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haley House’s Annual Block Party will be held on June 3 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm on the same block as the community’s soup kitchen in Boston’s South End neighborhood. The event features live music and entertainment, cold drinks, food trucks, a silent auction, activities for kids, garden tours, and more.
Should a Catholic Worker vote?
In the Catholic Worker Movement Facebook group, Nick White asks about whether it makes sense to refrain from voting, especially in the face of the challenges facing the world today. Here’s an excerpt from his post:
I am beginning to question the validity of not voting, especially in opposition to overwhelming forces that, for one reason or another, do not pursue the common good. I am also beginning to realize that groups which do not presently pursue the common good, vote at each and every chance they get, as power begets power. I am also questioning the level of privilege that is involved in choosing not to vote. In the tradition of Dorothy Day and saints like Bl. Franz Jagerstatter, I do what I can to take back control over myself in the political realm, and for a long time, that has involved using the tools available to me in order to help my community, rather than placing my hope in the political realm.
So, how do I go about this? Is it wise to abstain from voting? Do I choose the lesser evil?
You can read the whole post and join the conversation at the Facebook group.
NEW ON CW.ORG
90th Anniversary Package
We’ve been marking the 90th anniversary of the Catholic Worker this month by running a special package, The Catholic Worker Movement at 90, that includes reflections from various Catholic Workers reprinted from the Catholic Agitator (Los Angeles Catholic Worker) as well as the writings of Dorothy Day and Jim Forest remembering the origins of the Catholic Worker.
New security measures on CatholicWorker.org
CatholicWorker.org was hacked by spammers over the past week; we’ve “hardened” our account login and added other security measures, so if you have difficulty signing into your community account, reach out for help: email@example.com.
New Affiliated Organizations Page
When John Paul II Catholic Worker submitted their new listing, they sent a separate listing for the Maurin Academy for Regenerative Studies, too. It’s not a community, though, so we created a separate page for listing organizations closely affiliated with the Catholic Worker Movement. Check it out and let us know if we missed any organizations that should be listed there. We also have an Allied Movements page that is due for a refresh sometime soon, too.
CatholicWorker.org Explores Newsletter
Would you like to get this news roundup in your inbox? We’re testing the waters for a newsletter focused on covering the Catholic Worker Movement; we’ll launch once we have enough subscribers to justify the effort. If you’re interested, sign up here.