You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance

Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance

Photographs by Vivian Cherry
Text by Dorothy Day
Edited, with an Introduction and Additional Text by Kate Hennessy
Copyright Date: 2016
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 128
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance
    Book Description:

    Compelling and prophetic, Dorothy Day is one of the most enduring icons of American Catholicism. In the depths of the Great Depression and guided by the Works of Mercy, Day, a journalist at the time, published a newspaper, the Catholic Worker, and co-founded a movement dedicated to the poorest of the poor, while living with them and sharing their poverty. In 1955, Vivian Cherry, a documentary photographer known for her disturbing and insightful work portraying social issues, was given unprecedented access to the Catholic Worker house of hospitality in New York City, its two farms, and to Day herself. While much has been written about Day, the portrait that emerges from Cherry's intimate lens is unrivaled. From the image of the line of men waiting for soup outside St. Joseph's on Chrystie Street to pictures of Day and others at work and in prayer, Cherry's photographs offer a uniquely personal and poetic glimpse into the life of the movement and its founder. In this beautiful new book, more than sixty photographs--many published here for the first time--are accompanied by excerpts of Day's writings gleaned from her column "On Pilgrimage" and other articles published in the Catholic Worker between 1933 and 1980. The result is a powerful visual and textual memoir capturing the life and times of one of the most significant and influential North American Catholics of the twentieth century. The aptly paired images and words bring new life to Day's political and personal passions and reflect with clarity and simplicity the essential work and philosophies of the Catholic Worker, which continue to thrive today. The Introduction and additional commentary by Day's granddaughter Kate Hennessy provides rich contextual information about the two women and what she sees as their collaboration in this book. In 2000, twenty years after her death, Archbishop of New York John J. O'Connor of New York City opened the cause for Dorothy Day's canonization, and the Vatican conferred on her the title of Servant of God. The Catholic Worker continues to flourish, with more than 200 affiliated houses in the United States and overseas. The miracle of this enduring appeal lies in Day's unique paradigm of vision, conscience, and a life of sacrifice that is one not of martyrdom but of joy, richness, and generosity--vividly portrayed through these photographs and excerpts.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-7139-9
    Subjects: Political Science
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. PREFACE (pp. IX-XIV)
  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. 1-15)
    Kate Hennessy

    On an early spring day in 1955 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, two women met who on the surface could not have been more different. One was an atheist born of Jewish immigrants, a young woman of thirty-five with no children, and a documentary photographer. The other was a Catholic of old American Protestant stock andMayflowerdescent, a grandmother of six with three more to come, and a writer, public figure, activist, and leader of a movement. But they shared a history formed and educated in the radical movements of their times and had been drawn to...

  5. one: HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY (pp. 16-42)

    Hospitality lies at the heart of the Catholic Worker, and the preparation of food for both the soup line and for house meals is a daily rhythm around which all else gathers. Hospitality is the sharing of not only poverty but also riches in the form of community. No questions are asked and no demands are made of those who arrive in need. People aren’t required to join in with the work, but many find their niches in cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, or mailing out the paper.

    The buildings the Worker bought or rented changed several times throughout the years,...

  6. two: THE PAPER (pp. 43-54)

    The Catholic Worker movement began with the newspaper. As a writer and journalist, Dorothy felt that starting a newspaper was a logical way to help make known the Worker’s program of houses of hospitality, roundtable discussions, and what her co-founder, Peter Maurin, called agronomic universities, or farms. The paper was also a vehicle to explain “the faith that is in us,” as Dorothy would say, and often her first piece of advice for those opening a new house or farm around the country was to start a newspaper. But it also carried stories of the times. The paper covered the...

  7. three: THE FARM (pp. 61-83)

    Farms have come and gone, and come again in the Catholic Worker. The farms, or agronomic universities as Peter Maurin called them, were to be where “workers could become scholars and scholars workers.” The son of a large French family linked to the same plot of land for generations, Peter saw the farms as the third plank of the Catholic Worker program, alongside houses of hospitality and roundtable discussions. On the farm, all could find work that was an alternative to work in factories, while also providing food for the house of hospitality.

    The Catholic Worker’s first farm opened in...

  8. four: THE DUTY OF DELIGHT (pp. 84-106)

    Dorothy was not a dour person, though she could seem so at quiet moments. She was vibrant with a solid sense of humor, and she laughed often. She loved art, music, and literature. She attended the opera as often as she could and listened to Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, and Wagner on her bedside transistor radio. It was essential to Dorothy that theCatholic Workerpaper include art as a tool of instruction and as a way to uplift the heart. She engaged the help of three artists who would each contribute iconic images to the paper. The first of these...

  9. five: PROTEST AND PRISON (pp. 107-115)

    Protesting and going to jail were not easy for Dorothy, but she believed that civil disobedience for unjust laws was necessary, and it was real suffering and a real act to go to jail for one’s beliefs. Each time she was arrested and imprisoned, she was reminded of how much need there is for those in prison, and how, hidden behind its walls, prisoners are forgotten. Dorothy didn’t advise that everyone go to jail, as she knew how physically and emotionally dangerous it could be for young men and women, and she didn’t always agree with some of the actions...

  10. six: PRAYER (pp. 116-127)

    There aren’t many photos of Dorothy at prayer, as she didn’t often feel comfortable with photographers at such moments. But she believed deeply in prayer, and she believed in asking for help for the littlest things and for the greatest. She believed in importuning God. Prayer also helped her through the noise, the drunken behavior, the illnesses and deaths, the constant loss of those she had hoped would stay at the Catholic Worker, and the myriad seemingly intractable problems she faced daily. During moments of crisis, such as driving an ill grandchild to the hospital, or when a man on...

  11. epilogue: WHAT CAN ONE PERSON DO? (pp. 128-129)
  12. EXCERPT SOURCES (pp. 130-132)
  13. INDEX OF PHOTOS (pp. 133-136)
  14. Back Matter (pp. 137-138)