Heard Around the Catholic Worker #9

In this issue: A new Catholic Worker in St. Louis; Claire Schaeffer-Duffy reports on her trip to Ukraine as part of the Zaporizhzhia Protection Project; St. Francis House plans a nine-day celebration for its 50th anniversary; “The Provocations of Dorothy Day” by Kate Hennessy; Vatican covers 90ths anniversary of CW; and much more.

Editor’s note: It’s been more than two months since I last posted this feature—a lot longer than ideal, as the length of this post shows. Going forward, I hope to post Heard Around the Catholic Worker on an every-two-weeks schedule; in the meantime, thanks for your patience.

Most of these items were first reported on the CW National Listserv in a more abbreviated format.

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

Openings & Closings

A New CW in St. Louis

Three friends are starting a new house of hospitality in St. Louis. The trio hosted a local gathering on April 30, coinciding with the eve of the Catholic Worker’s 90th anniversary, bringing together individuals eager to support their cause.

The founders are Lindsey Myers, a former Andre House member; Chrissy Kirchhoefer, previously associated with Columbia’s Kabat House and now part of NWTRCC; and Theo Kayser, currently an itinerant CWer and formerly of the LA Catholic Worker and Karen House, among others.

The new community has issued its inaugural newsletter, provisionally titled “In The Shell of The Old,” a nod to the well-known IWW slogan often echoed by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The newsletter is available via email.

The first issue of the newsletter includes a statement that reads in part: “The St. Louis Catholic Worker hopes to build a world where it is easier to be good, a world where each has according to their needs and gives according to their abilities, a world where interactions between peoples and communities is direct and personal and is governed by Love and concern for the common good rather than harmful institutions such as extractive capitalism or a militarized, carceral state.” You can read the entire newsletter here.

While Theo plans to continue his travels until fall, Lindsey, Chrissy, and a passionate group of supporters are exploring potential locations for the Catholic Worker house. They have also started hosting community-building gatherings on the last Saturday of each month.

For more than forty years, St. Louis was home to Karen House Catholic Worker, which closed in 2020.

Those in St. Louis wishing to stay informed about future gatherings, volunteer opportunities, or other local Catholic Worker activities can sign up for the group’s email list by completing this Google form or by e-mailing StLouisCatholicWorker@gmail.com. You can also connect with the group on Facebook or visit their website at www.stlcatholicworker.org.


In Our Time / June (Dorothy Day Guild): A conversation with historian Anne Klejment about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker, with a focus on Day’s pacifism. | Guild coordinator Casey Mullaney shares recent developments in the cause for Dorothy’s canonization. | The Spirituality of Dorothy Day’s Pacifism by Anne Klejment (via U.S. Catholic Historian) | “We Are Still Pacifists: Dorothy Day’s Pacifism during World War II” by Sandra Yokum Mize (via American Catholic Studies and JSTOR, full access available for the month of July).

Coffee with Catholic Workers / May (podcast, St. Louis Catholic Worker): Brian Terrell Explores the Evolving Identity of the Catholic Worker Movement. Brian discusses life on the farm, the significance of growing your own food, his experience living with Dorothy Day, and his belief that the movement risks losing its identity if it fails to carry on Dorothy and Peter’s vision of a revolution aimed at creating a world where it is easier for people to be good.

Casa Cry / June (Casa Maria Catholic Worker, Milwaukee): Dan Sitter, a longtime Casa CW, turns 100 years old in August; he is also the author of a novel, Costellos. | A new Worker has joined the Casa community; David is an EMT who attends Marquette University. Casa Maria also recently celebrated the birthday of longtime volunteer Amada Morales, who works with homeless mothers who are trying to re-establish custody of their children. Read about her in this Facebook post. | The whole newsletter is available by email from Casa Maria.

The Catholic Radical / June-July (Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker Community, Worcester, Massachusetts): Claire Schaeffer-Duffy reports on her trip to Ukraine as part of the Zaporizhzhia Protection Project, an innovative peace initiative that seeks to engage unarmed civilians in the establishment of a no-fire zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant: “During our first days in Kyiv, the fear I felt so acutely in Worcester diminished. The neighborhood of our hotel, with its bustling coffee shops and shiny Apple store, gave little evidence of the war. (John and Charles would observe its devastation on their return trip.) Or perhaps my fear quieted because of time spent with Ukrainian pacifist Yuri Sheliazhenko, and K and S, a young couple interested in nonviolence. Together, the three represented Kyiv’s tiny peace movement. They had lived through a hard winter of shelling and blackouts, and still they carried on. Courage is contagious.” | “Renewing Catholic Teaching on War and Peace,” excepts from an address by Cardinal Robert W. McElroy about creating “a framework for Catholic teaching on war and peace that places non-violence rather than the just war-ethic as the dominant prism through which to evaluate decisions in situations of deep conflict.”

Sacred Tent / June (Sacred Tent Catholic Worker, Downer’s Grove, Illinois): “We have provided over 700 nights of housing to those experiencing homelessness since January! Huge shout-out to Joe Gonzales, one of our board members, for befriending and helping a young man in Aurora fix up his house to make it livable.” A former guest found a new home for the community’s bees, allowing it to continue producing honey. | Sign up for the newsletter at the Sacred Tent website.

At the Door / Spring (St. Francis House, Chicago): Reports raising $36,995, including $2,245 through gofundme, to replace the roof. Funds are still needed and can be donated at gofundme.com/franciscw. | “In April, the community closed the house for two weeks to reflect on its ministry and consider what the live-in Workers need to continue living out the mission. While these conversations are ongoing, the community did make a few changes to the hospitality schedule to make it more sustainable.” | The community will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with a nine-day-long festival from Sept. 28th to Oct. 6th, 2024.

Korrel Zout (Grain of Salt) / June (Amsterdam Catholic Worker): The community will hold a peace camp at Volkel Air Base from Friday, August 4 to Thursday, August 10, focusing on the climate and a nuclear-free world. | Interview with Jia Jia ter Kuile about her childhood in the Noëlhuis. | A reflection on radical hospitality: “For some time, or actually since the beginning, we have experienced how difficult it is to be truly hospitable. And what exactly is hospitality? When do you feel at home as a guest and host?“ | “Catholic Workers from the Mustard Seed community in Luleå joined a demonstration by Extinction Rebellion and Rebel Moms to raise awareness about climate change” at an annual skating event in the Gulf of Bothnia. | The community continues to participate in blockades of the trains that transport coal from the Amsterdam Western Port Area to other European countries. Six members of the community also joined thousands of others blockading the A-12 in The Hague to demand an end to fossil fuel subsidies. | Noël House now has a cat named Knurfje.

The Catholic Agitator / June (Los Angeles Catholic Worker): During Lent, the community partnered with Unite Here! Local 11 and CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) to coordinate a Stations of the Workers Cross. “Downtown we walked from one luxury hotel to the next—each station held at the resort’s back employee entrances. We gathered around beautiful altars crafted by the workers before their shifts, we listened to the testimony of housekeepers, dishwashers, and cooks—of their struggle for dignity, fair wages, and just contracts.” | Community members attended a screening of The Dirty Divide, a new film about Skid Row that “is literally told from our perspective at 6th St. and Gladys Ave. The stars are our friends from the garden and their stories are all too familiar.” See the trailer here. | After a long residency, Boots the cat has died: “He was a patient and sweet old guy who would make fast friends with anyone who sat on his couch.” | Also, articles on the beliefs and commitments of the LA CW; “The Call to Resistance” by Mike Wisniewski; “The Mystical Body” by Donald Nolla; “All the Difference” by Matt Harper.

Letters from Home / June and July (Romero House, Ames, Iowa): Beginning July 21, the community will be taking a 6 to 12 month break from overnight hospitality due to a lack of live-in volunteers. Beginning in August, the house will be down to one live-in volunteer. The community will continue to provide daytime drop-in hospitality.  The downtime will be used to make improvements to the house and for reflection on the community’s two and a half years of hospitality to unsheltered men. | “The million-dollar question: How do we practically live out solidarity? We are very eager to hear your thoughts, especially as we reform and remold our mission to best serve those in need.” You can submit your answer via this Google Form.

Coffee with Catholic Workers / May (podcast, St. Louis Catholic Worker): Joe Kruse Grew Up in the Movement (CCW Ep 17). Theo and Lydia interview Joe Kruse, a long-time Catholic Worker in Minneapolis about his involvement since childhood in the movement and his perspectives on labor, union organizing, and work in general.

Left Catholic / Fall 2022 + Winter 2023 (Ezine): Labor and Catholicism issue. “With such a broad theme, we hoped to publish a range of content on labor and the church. We knew that we could barely scratch the surface of all possible themes: the connections between Catholicism, immigration, and racialization; the exploitation of contemporary church workers; or the hierarchical Catholic imagination as an obstacle to political organizing, for instance. Our content in this issue is necessarily limited, but we feel compelled to specifically name the predominance of Catholic Worker voices as both a blessing and a limitation.” Articles include “Field Report: Catholic Labor Struggle in the Heartland” by Claire Lewandowski; “Labor And The Catholic Worker” by Theo Kayser; “In the Union” by Leslie Carranza; “The Working Class in Catholic Organizing” by Tess GC; “Things As They Are” by Liam Myers; art by Bex McIntyre and Joshua Dease; and two comics of Peter Maurin’s Easy Essays, “Commercializers of Labor” and “Selling Their Labor” illustrated by Joshua Dease.

Hildegard House Catholic Worker / Spring: The number of asylum seekers finding their way to Duluth has increased, and Hildegard House is leading an effort to establish a Welcome Center where refugees and asylum seekers could gather and find resources: “As more and more asylum seekers find their way to Minnesota, we are recognizing the need to develop the infrastructure necessary to welcome them safely and warmly into our city.” | Hildegard House has been blessed with more live-in volunteers for the summer: “We put out an appeal for help and we offered an opportunity to deepen spiritual growth through Hildegard House’s connection with the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholas-tica Monastery. It seems that this opportunity is what drew them most to our community. More and more, people seem hungry for spiritual direction and nourishment in navigating our place in this very injured world.” | Request a copy by contacting the house: hildegardhouseduluthcw@gmail.com

Bakhita Catholic Worker (Milwaukee) / May: “This past month we really were blessed by living in a joyous time that celebrated sobriety milestones with a rousing evening of singing, sauntering and celebration. Karaoke—Bakhita House style!  The singing, dancing and strutting was truly epic. And our trip to the Black Holocaust Museum, followed by delectable delights at Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille,  was an educational and bonding break from routine.  And finally, our newly planted garden, thanks to help from Sr. Margaret, Ron, Bri, Mario, Antoinette, Elizabeth, and our survivors is thriving and a testimony to the long agrarian history of the Catholic Worker.  It is definitely a humble beginning!” | Sign up for the e-newsletter at St. Bakhita Catholic Worker House.


Uganda Catholic Worker Seeks a House of Its Own

he Uganda Catholic Worker Community, currently homeless after eviction from its Kiboga district location, is appealing for US$56,000 in donations. The funds will be used to purchase a house, a key step in their plan for self-sustainability. By owning property and cultivable land, the community seeks to eliminate rental expenses and lower food costs, ensuring its continuity amid economic challenges.

Established in Kampala, Uganda, on Feb. 14, 2011, the community has a 12-year history of service, providing housing, clothing redistribution, and non-violence education. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have deeply impacted the group, leading to the loss of two members and their rented home. The effects of inflation, coupled with limited donations due to the group’s remote location, prompted their shift towards self-sustainability.

You can make a donation and learn more about the appeal at the GoFundMe established by Jim Dowling of Peter Maurin Farm (Australia).

Casa Alma Matching Grant

Casa Alma (Charlottesville, VA) was awarded a $25,000 matching grant to replace the deteriorating exterior siding at Carlton House. “We have already received $10,000 toward the match! Help us raise the remaining $15,000 by September 1.” Make a donation here

Communities Seeking New Live-In Community Members

Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm (Maloy, Iowa); Romero House Catholic Worker (Ames, Iowa).


London Catholic Worker at Prayer Vigil for Refugees

In the wake of the deadly shipwreck that killed several hundred refugees, the London Catholic Worker held a prayer vigil outside the Home Office to name and remember all refugees who have died trying to seek sanctuary in Europe and the United Kingdom. Read the entire news release from Brother Johannes Maertens of the London Catholic Worker.

DMCW Marches in Des Moines Pride Parade

The Des Moines Catholic Worker marked in the June 11 Pride Parade “to show that we support the wide spectrum of love and gender expression within our own community and in Des Moines.” See photos here.

CW in the Media

Kate Hennessy Marks CW’s 90th with “The Provocations of Dorothy Day” Series

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

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Biography Launches

A new book offers a detailed account of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton’s life and his steadfast commitment to peace, justice, and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The book, No Guilty Bystander: The Extraordinary Life of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is written by Frank Fromherz and Suzanne Sattler IHM, who are donating all the book’s royalties to the Kay Lasante Clinic in Haiti. The clinic was co-founded by the House of Grace Catholic Worker and Bishop Gumbleton.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is a retired auxiliary bishop of the Detroit archdiocese who has been a leading voice for peace, justice, and civil rights in the United States. He helped draft the 1983 U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference Pastoral Letter, The Challenge of Peace. One of the first bishops to speak out against the Vietnam War, he is a founding member and past president of Pax Christi USA, the American Catholic peace movement. He is also a founder and former president of Bread for the World. Since becoming a bishop in 1968, he has traveled throughout the world calling for an end to war and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

There will be a book launch at Sacred Heart Church in Detroit, Michigan, on Thursday, July 27th. Bishop Gumbleton, publisher Robert Ellsberg, and the authors will be among the guests. The event will be live streamed at the website of Sacred Heart Church. You can read Tom Fox’s review of the book at the PeaceWorks Kansas City website.

The Catholic Worker: Reimagining Daily Life

Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and the Catholic Worker Movement by Collin Miller in The Catholic Spirit: “The Catholic Worker holds not just a set of abstract social teachings, line items to take with you to the polls and then go back to life as usual, but a set of thoroughly Catholic practices to help reimagine daily life.”

Eileen Egan, Peacemaker and Friend to Dorothy Day

Eileen Egan challenged church hierarchy behind the scenes by Judith Valente in U.S. Catholic: A profile of Eileen Egan, pioneer in the Catholic peace movement and friend to both Dorothy Day and Mother Theresa: “It was Egan who prodded, pushed, and ultimately helped convince bishops at the Second Vatican Council to denounce acts of war on civilian centers and affirm the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to participate in combat. These are accepted principles today, but in 1965 it was far from clear that church leaders would affirm them. Egan teamed up with Day in those efforts. While Day and a group of 19 women fasted, Egan shuttled between bishops, handing each one letters offering a gospel-based rationale for both principles.”

Larry Chapp on Liturgy and Pope Francis

Wanted: Open, Honest Dialogue on the Liturgy by Larry Chapp in National Catholic Register: Chapp (Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania) asks: “So why not a synod on the liturgy so that all parties could come together in order to discuss as adults this most important aspect of the Church’s life? What could be more important to the life of the Church than a bit of parrhesia on the liturgy?”

CapTimes: CW Opens New House for Asylum Seekers

Madison has new home for asylum seekers, but it needs help by Allison Garfield: “A Madison couple is starting a house of hospitality for newly arrived asylum seekers just as Wisconsin is seeing a new spike in refugees, and they’re looking for the community’s help.” Profile of Andrea and Justin Novotney of The Great Turning Catholic Worker, with many photos.

Fr. John Dear Interviews Frank Cordaro

Fr. John Dear interviews Frank Cordaro (Des Moines Catholic Worker) about following the nonviolent Jesus. Catch the interview on YouTube.

Maryhouse Marks 90 Years of CW

Catholic Worker Marks 90 Years Of Sharing ‘The Peace of Heaven’ by Bill Miller in The Tablet (Diocese of Brooklyn). Includes brief interview with longtime Jane Sammon.

Iowa City Catholic Worker Witnesses Enormous Need at the Border

Iowa City Catholic Worker witnesses enormous need at the border by Barb Arland-Fye in The Catholic Messenger (Diocese of Davenport): “Emily Sinnwell, a family and psychiatric nurse practitioner and advocate for immigrants, wanted a firsthand view of what immigrants experience at the border and to get a better understanding of the current situation. When she learned that a COVID-19 pandemic-era health policy called Title 42 would expire May 11, she headed for the U.S. border in McAllen, Texas, just across the Rio Grande River from Reynosa, Mexico. The Iowa City Catholic Worker, which Sinnwell co-founded with David Goodner, has worked closely with a Mexican pastor in Reynosa who serves immigrants in camps and shelters there.”

‘I Did Not Realize That People Actually Try to Live What Jesus Taught’

Practicing the Presence of God by Kevin Ahern (Dorothy Day Center at Manhattan College) in L’Osservatore Romano: An overview of the Catholic Worker Movement 90 years on. Dr. Ahern opens by quoting one of his students’ reflections on learning about the Worker: “I did not realize that people actually try to live what Jesus taught.” He writes: “In the landscape of ecclesial movements, the CW is not easy to categorize, something that is both attractive and frustrating to my students.”

Dorothy and Peter, with Jesus in the Middle

A woman and a man by Giulia Galeotti in L’Osservatore Romano: Reflects on the Catholic Worker in light of the masthead logo. “The latest masthead, which is the one we see today, is drawn five years after Day’s death. On the left, we see a Latin-American mother. Because a movement, and the history of the Catholic Worker shows it, makes sense only if it is capable of rooting the Gospel in the ever-changing present. And so, this new drawing has been adorning the newspaper for nearly 40 years. A woman and a man on a journey, with Jesus, in the modern world. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.”

Daloisio Writes on CW 90th in Vatican Newspaper

The Walls Expand  by Amanda W. Daloisio (New York Catholic Worker) in L’Osservatore Romano: “May 1st is the 90th anniversary of The Catholic Worker. As Peter hoped, the work continues and The Catholic Worker remains more organism than organization. We will honor May Day as we do every year: some will hand out the newspaper in Union Square, some will join in labor demonstrations. We will come together for Mass and then share a meal. We will remember and celebrate, aware of the countless blessings that have brought us this far and the precarity of any future plans. All are invited, for indeed the walls expand.”

Vatican Paper: Subvert the Order Along Route 66

Subvert the Order Along Route 66 in L’Osservatore Romano (Italian only, subscription required).

The Good (Even Saintly) Ship Dorothy Day

The Good (Even Saintly) Ship Dorothy Day by Dan Barry in The New York Times: “While the Vatican decides whether Dorothy Day is worthy of sainthood, New Yorkers can ride on a Staten Island ferry named in her honor.”

Explore the Lake City Catholic Worker Farm

Explore the Lake City Catholic Worker Farm (with Sara and Paul Freid) on the Practicing Catholic Show (podcast): A short interview with Paul and Sara Freid about the Catholic Worker Movement and how they try to live out its principles at Lake City Catholic Worker Farm.

The Founders of the Maurin Academy Explain Themselves

A Twenty-First Century Agronomic University: The Maurin Academy by Laurie Johnson in Front Porch Republic. An introduction to The Maurin Academy, which offers alternative online public education and fosters local community in the spirit of the Catholic Worker: “We take to heart Maurin’s call to foster the three C’s of ‘cult, culture and cultivation.’ We want to do this in a way accessible for 21st-century people who get much of their information and even social engagement online. Part of the puzzle we want to solve is how to join that tendency to genuine local action and face-to-face friendship.” The new JPII Catholic Worker Farm is associated with the Maurin Academy.


Daniel Ellsberg, Witness to Peace

After devoting more than fifty years to the cause of peace, Daniel Ellsberg died of cancer on June 16.

As a military analyst for the RAND Corporation from 1958 to 1970, Ellsberg helped the Pentagon develop its nuclear strategy and was part of a team sent to Vietnam to research the war effort. He later leaked portions of the resulting 7,000-page report to The New York Times and other media; the leaked pages became known as the Pentagon Papers. The leak is credited with shortening the duration of the war; the government attempted to prosecute him under the Espionage Act, but the charges were dismissed due to government misconduct. The case resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision expanding press rights under the First Amendment.

Following the Pentagon Papers episode, Ellsberg devoted himself to resisting militarism and nuclear war. He was arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience more than 90 times, taught courses on the nuclear arms race at Stanford and Harvard Medical School, and regularly spoke out publicly warning of the dangers of nuclear war.

Daniel Ellsberg is the father of Robert Ellsberg, publisher of Orbis Books and a member of the New York Catholic Worker community from 1975 to 1980.

You can read more about Daniel Ellsberg, including many appreciations of his life, at Ellsberg.net. You can also read Frank Cordaro’s 2005 report on Ellsberg’s visit to Des Moines to speak on his experience and the Iraq War.


The Other Side of the Needle’s Eye by Peter Mommsen in Plough Quarterly: “What is money for? The history of Christian radicalism suggests one surprising answer.”

Rehabilitating Social Justice by Peter Petrusek in Word on Fire: “Beneath the rhetorical bomb-throwing of this ideological trench warfare, the authentically Catholic conception of social justice has lain mostly dormant. Whether due to timidity masquerading as humility (“being nice so as not to cause offense”) or ignorance of the tradition’s moral and political riches, the Church has regrettably, in the words of Catholic Worker Movement founder Peter Maurin—in an example that Bishop Barron frequently cites—suppressed the “dynamite” of her social teachings. It’s high time to let it blow. Both the left and the right are misguided about the meaning, purpose, and power of social justice, and we’re all suffering because of it.”

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