During the recent US Catholic Bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, the bishops voted unanimously to move forward the process for the canonization of Dorothy Day – a decision that should challenge the Church and all of us to our core.
Dorothy died in 1980 and this month she would have been 115 years old. She was the cofounder of the Catholic Worker Movement and 32 years after her death, there are more than 200 Catholic Worker Houses- mostly in the United States, with some sprinkled across the globe – devoted to communal living, simplicity, prayer, taking care of the vulnerable, fighting for workers, saying no to racism and calling for an end to war. In Washington DC, we see them running soup lines on Thursday and holding a vigil in front of the White House on Fridays.
She is for me, as for many US Catholics, the single most important Catholic practitioner of our time. When I was a young Catholic Worker at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality in Rochester, New York, Dorothy’s life inspired me to understand that we have a moral obligation to stand with the vulnerable, the poor, the worker and the victim. She moved me to organize and wrestle with the many tools of social change – including civil disobedience. I remained tied to the Catholic Worker Movement for more than 20 years and have been able to get to know Dorothy from the many people that knew her.
I cannot adequately describe the life of this very human and extraordinary woman better than her own words can. One famed quote, “Don’t call me a saint, I don’t want to be dismissed so easily,” was more than humility – it was Dorothy Day reminding us that living the Gospel is not easy, but we are still called to follow its imperatives. Dorothy is a Saint of our day – a Saint for our time. She has much to say about the world we live in…