Many commentators have suggested parallels between the current economic crisis and the Depression of the 1930s. While the economic situation is different in many ways, for all the challenges of this crisis, there are (as I have written elsewhere) some potentially productive parallels. Along with a wave of creative work reflecting the economic and social struggles of the working class, the 1930s generated a number of private and public programs to support those who were most vulnerable. The Catholic Worker Movement was one of these.
The Movement began as a newspaper, created by journalist Dorothy Day, but it soon developed Catholic Worker Houses that provided direct relief and spiritual support for those who were struggling to survive.
Seventyfive years later, the Catholic Worker Movement continues its work with the poor, and now it’s coming to Youngstown. On this week’s Lincoln Avenue – the first of a new season – I’m talking with Sister Ann McMenamin, from the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Together with colleagues from the Ursuline Sisters and other groups in the community, she is helping to organize a two-day retreat to explore the idea of establishing a Catholic Worker House in our community.
The retreat will be held at the Villa Maria Center, starting at 9 am on Friday, September 4. The program will include presentations by Martha Hennessy, Dorothy Day’s granddaughter and an activism in her own right, organizers from existing Catholic Worker houses, a play about the life of Dorothy Day, and conversations about how a local group can adopt this model here. While the lead organizers are Catholic, the program is open to anyone who is interested, and anyone can become involved in the project. For more information or to register for the retreat, call the Villa Maria Center, 724-964-8920.