She didn't mind the tumult so much as the lack of privacy in the houses, where volunteers live along with the destitute residents and so ''have to put the game face on'' as soon as they leave their rooms. She also had doubts about the food, which varies in quality and often suggests summer camp, and about the lack of air-conditioning.
But Ms. Theriault, whose seriousness is leavened by youthful optimism, moved in anyway. She ditched the trappings of her first-rate education and her life as one of two children in a middle-class family in Rumford, Me. While her friends earned graduate degrees or took professional jobs, Ms. Theriault, whose father works in a boys' home, scrubbed dented aluminum pots and escorted homeless women to health clinics. In so doing, Ms. Theriault joined the religiously inspired movement that Ms. Day and Peter Maurin, an itinerant French intellectual, founded in by starting The Catholic Worker, a newspaper, and aiding the homeless.
Against all prediction, the paper still sells for a penny a copy and Maryhouse and St. Joseph House, the group's other shelter in the city, at 36 East First Street, still operate nearly two decades after Day's death in at age Indeed, the group today counts more than shelters and farming communes here and abroad. The Worker seems to be a self-interest minimizer.
It accepts no money from foundations, government agencies or the Catholic Church. It maintains no savings account because it contends that earning interest is usury. It does not register with the state as a nonprofit agency, which would make contributions to it tax-deductible. In fact, it relies entirely on providential windfalls, which can come in the form of day-old doughnuts, a few wrinkled bills in the mail or volunteers like Tanya Theriault. After a few months at Maryhouse, Ms.
Theriault moved to St.
Joseph House. To make her student loan payments, she works eight hours a week at a nearby government-financed shelter for the homeless. This job exposes her to secular social-work culture, which she is quick to contrast with Catholic Worker methods. There's a lot of paperwork. We take them to the doctor. The Catholic Worker is not a place to dabble in such works of charity.
Dorothy Day herself said that the best way to serve the poor is to join them in poverty, which she herself did for 50 years. Pat Jordan, an editor at Commonweal, a lay Catholic magazine, worked closely with her when he lived at the Catholic Worker from to Yet even he is not sure how she stuck it out. As he wrote in a recent reflection on her spirituality in Commonweal, ''How Dorothy Day managed to keep her psychological wholeness over the years in the disorder, disease, mental confusion and violence that mark Catholic Worker houses was a practical miracle to me.
Theriault has been at the Catholic Worker for three years now.
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She said the experience has cured her of all world-altering ambition. It's the small stuff. She said that at least some who viewed her joining as a mistake no longer do so. But some have replaced their alarm with a misunderstanding: they romanticize her commitment.
Dorothy Day herself confused people when she began the Catholic Worker movement at age 35 in an aparment on East 15th Street. Eugene O'Neill and other bohemian friends thought she had gone over to the forces of reaction. She was also part of the hard-partying Provincetown Playhouse crowd, which drank away much of the 's at a Village saloon called the Hell Hole. During that time, she had an abortion, which she mourned for the rest of her life, and was divorced. In she gave birth to a daughter, Tamar.
But when she insisted on having the child baptized in a kind of dry run for her own entrance into the Catholic Church, the baby's father, an anarchist and nonbeliever, bitterly broke with her. This is not the classic resume of a defender of the faith. For many years the church did not support Day or the Catholic Worker. In the 's, it even asked her to remove the word ''Catholic'' from the name of the newspaper, which she politely refused to do. But over time she proved her loyalty on questions of moral doctrine, like its ban on married and female priests.
Simultaneously, the largely immigrant Catholic Church in America grew more secure in its cultural standing. And eventually, it allowed that Day's social activism on issues like labor and civil rights might be legitimate.
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Then last year, Cardinal John J. By taking this action, the church is implicitly recommending Day's vision of what constitutes a good and meaningful life. The matter is controversial, especially at the Catholic Worker, where some worry that the search for miracles and other saint-making procedures will denature the Dorothy Day they knew: the foe of unrestrained capitalism and the pacifist who attended daily Mass but did not shy from criticizing the church on issues of social justice.
The Catholic Worker abides no shrines to its founder. Except for a batch of photos in a Maryhouse office, it displays few pictures of Dorothy Day. The battered walls are covered instead with fliers and news clips and portraits of Cesar Chavez, Teresa of Avila and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Two kinds of photos of Day hang in the Maryhouse office. The first are published shots, and one of the most famous shows Day taking part, in her 70's, in a United Farm Workers sit-in in California.
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She wears scuffed shoes and a plain dress and is framed by the gun-holstered hips of a pair of policemen who are closing in to arrest her. And then there are the private scenes. Day reads to her grandchildren or pecks away at a typewriter on a fourth-hand desk. These glimpses of the ''real'' Dorothy Day are important, Ms. William Edwin Eben Griffin from tree Roberts. Record information. Larry W Griffin. William Griffin. Willie Boyd Griffin. Willie Boyd Griffin from tree Griffin. Father given name surname Record information. Mother given name surname.
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