Founding of the Catholic Worker Movement

May 01

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. Dorothy Day, from The Long Loneliness Postscript.

May 1 is the anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Worker Movement in the United States, and it is no accident that it coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and International Workers Day. Founded during the Great Depression, Dorothy Day and her collaborator, Peter Maurin, started the Catholic Worker Movement to respond, in love and in line with Catholic Social Teaching, to the horrors they found on the streets of New York: the homeless, the bread lines, the unemployment. Their work, very personal and based in relationship with the marginalized, seems very timely right now, as we witness severe unemployment, bread lines, and homelessness.

If you are looking for a good read during the time of the coronavirus, The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day’s autobiography, changed my life (and many others) when I read it in the ‘80s. I can also recommend Loaves and Fishes, the story of the Catholic Worker Movement, as well as Robert Coles biography, Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion. There is also a new biography out and a new documentary, Revolution of the Heart, which recently aired on PBS.

There are over 200 Catholic Worker houses globally. All of them provide some sort of service of hospitality to those who are hungry, or homeless or living on the margins in their local communities. Many of them also pledge nonviolence and take action against war. Click here if you are interested in connecting with them to support and participate in their work

This video, about the Hartford Catholic Worker, illustrates the history and work of one community.