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January 24, 2022

Dorothy Day

If you had walked through New York City’s Union Square on May 1, 1933, you would have seen a short-haired woman in her mid-30s selling newspapers. The paper was called The Catholic Worker, and its first issue cost a single penny. Dorothy Day was the founder, editor, and main writer.

From an early age, Day was moved by the plight of the poor. Living in Chicago as a teenager, she saw wretched living conditions firsthand. She moved to New York and took her first job reporting on strikes, unemployment, and demonstrations. Sometimes she joined protests and went to jail with the protesters.

After becoming Catholic, Day covered a hunger march in Washington, DC. The experience would change her life. She prayed:
“Let some way open up for me to use what talents I possess for my fellow workers, for the poor.”

Day did precisely that. She went on to co-found the Catholic Worker Movement. It focused on issues such as war, civil rights, working conditions, and injustice. By the end of its first year, circulation of The Catholic Worker reached 100,000 copies. Houses of Hospitality opened across the country to serve the poor and homeless.

Day often referred to the New Testament’s Sermon on the Mount as the foundation of her views. She wrote:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers.”

The legacy of Dorothy Day lives on: Over 200 Houses of Hospitality operate in the US today. And The Catholic Worker is still being published. The price of each issue? Still just a single penny.

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