Dorothy Day

Activist / Journalist

Born: 8 November 1897
Died: 29 November 1980
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Best known as: Laywoman who co-founded The Catholic Worker
Dorothy Day was co-founder of a community of activists who published a newspaper while feeding, sheltering and living with the poor of New York City. The group and its paper, both called The Catholic Worker, set forth a radical Christian vision of a world made more humane through active love, sacrifice, personal freedom, pacifism and resistance of what they saw as the dehumanizing features of capitalism and nationalism. Day, from a nominally Protestant Christian family, had a recurring interest in things spiritual throughout her Bohemian young years as a journalist and activist for workers' and women's rights. She converted to Catholicism as a 30-year-old unwed mother. In 1933 she and an eccentric French thinker and vagabond, Peter Maurin, formed the Worker. In 2000 the Vatican agreed to the long protocol of considering her for sainthood. Some followers have objected, fearing that Day's message, often at odds with mainstream Catholic and American culture, will be toned down in the process.
Extra credit: Her daughter, Tamar (1926-2008), was born of what Day describes as her "common-law marriage" to Forster Batterham. Their relationship, loving and committed but marked by a disagreement over religion, ended when she had Tamar baptized... The Worker movement caught on fast and continues today. The newspaper's circulation grew to 150,000 by 1936 but declined during World War II because of its pacifist stance. Catholic Worker houses of hospitality still exist in America and abroad... Her 1952 autobiography is The Long Loneliness (Harper and Row).

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