Dorothy Day (1897-1980), the foundress of the Catholic Worker movement, was born in Brooklyn and was baptized at an Episcopal church in Chicago. In 1916 she settled in New York and worked for Socialist publications. In 1949 Dorothy described herself as an “ex-Communist.”
Road to Catholicism
As a young journalist in New York, Dorothy would sometimes visit a Catholic church at night. The Catholic climate of worship and spiritual discipline appealed to her. She saw the Catholic Church as “the church of the immigrants, the church of the poor.”
In 1922 Dorothy worked as a reporter in Chicago. She lived with three young women who went to Mass every Sunday and prayed each day. Dorothy was convinced that “worship, adoration, thanksgiving, supplication were the noblest acts of which we are capable in this life.”
In 1924 Dorothy bought a property in the New York borough of Staten Island. She started to live common law with Forster Batterham, who was anti-religion and anti-marriage. Dorothy’s growing interest in Catholicism often led to quarrels.
Unexpectedly, Dorothy discovered that she was pregnant. Despite the opposition of Forster, Dorothy kept the child and had her baptized in a Catholic church. After breaking up with Forster, Dorothy herself was received into the Catholic Church on Dec. 28, 1926.
Catholic Worker movement
On Dec. 9, 1932, Dorothy met Peter Maurin, who encouraged her to start a newspaper to “bring the best of Catholic thought to the man in the street in the language of the man in the street.”
In May 1933 the first issue of The Catholic Worker was printed. By December, 100,000 copies were being printed each month. The paper didn’t merely complain but called on its readers to make personal responses.
In his essays, Peter opposed the idea that Christians should take care only of their friends and leave the care of strangers to impersonal charitable agencies. Every home should have its “Christ Room” and every parish a house of hospitality ready to receive the “ambassadors of God.”
Eventually the editors of the paper started to welcome poor and homeless strangers, and by 1936 there were 33 Catholic Worker houses spread across the U.S.
A social worker asked Dorothy how long her “clients” were permitted to stay. Dorothy answered, “We let them stay forever.”
She explained, “They live with us, they die with us, and we give them a Christian burial. We pray for them after they are dead. Once they are taken in, they become members of the family, or rather they always were members of the family. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Pacifism: opposition to war and violence, was Dorothy’s position. She urged friends and associates of the Catholic Worker movement “to the caring for the sick and the wounded, to the growing of food for the hungry, to the continuance of all our works of mercy in our houses and on our farms.”
The Catholic Worker movement supported works of mercy, but not works of war.
In 1965 Dorothy went to Rome to take part in a fast, praying that the Second Vatican Council would issue a clear statement against war and violence. In December, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World was approved by the bishops.
The council described as “a crime against God and humanity” any act of war “directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.” The council called on states to make legal provision for conscientious objectors while describing as “criminal” those who obey commands which condemn the innocent and defenceless.
Dorothy died on Nov. 29, 1980. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York launched the canonization process in 1997, the 100th anniversary of Dorothy’s birth.
杜洛菲.戴爾 (1897-1980) 是「公教勞工運動」的創始者，美國布魯克林區出生，在芝加哥接受過基督教洗禮；1916年居於紐約，曾在多間出版社工作。