olive-branch-leaves-olives-silhouette-olive-oil-label-logo-farm-store-market-olive-branch-leaves-110729675.jpg

Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me a Saint

Dialogue Script


NINA POLCYN MOORE

She was long and lean and lanky.

REV. DANIEL BERRIGAN

And she was very talented and knew it.  And very beautiful and knew it.  And I never got the sense that she was ashamed of any of her gifts.

PATRICK JORDAN

She had a presence about her that you could tell when she was in a room.  Sometimes conversation literally would stop when she happened to come in the front door.

JOHN CORT

She was one of the best of spiritual writers, in this country or anywhere.

KARL MEYER

There’s a reason why the establishment press hardly ever mentioned Dorothy Day during her lifetime.  Dorothy Day had a radical analysis of the economics of society and what ought to be done about it.

TOM CORNELL

She had an enormous ability to enter other people’s lives, to experience what they experienced and to come out of it with a great longing that life shouldn’t be so hard for so many people.

TAMAR HENNESSY

She was so brave, such conviction.

MSGR ROBERT J.SARNO

Dorothy Day has been the kind of figure that has been sort of laying in the background, whose perhaps ideas were so advanced that they were not able to be recognized at the moment as perhaps being divinely inspired.


“DOROTHY”

On a bright, sunny day the ragged horde paraded three thousand strong through the streets of Washington, demanding health care, pensions and housing for the poor and the unemployed.  These were my people.  I was part of them.  I had worked for them and with them.  Now I was a Catholic and so could not be a Communist.  I could not join this united front of protest, and I wanted to.  Now I was just a reporter.  I could write, I could protest, but where was the Catholic leadership in the gathering of these men and women?  My self-absorption seemed sinful as I watched my brothers in their struggle, not for themselves but for others.

EILEEN EGAN

When Dorothy Day entered the Catholic Church, she had come from a Leftist background.  But she was used to working to change the world, to make a difference.  And she missed that because that attitude, that was the daily bread of her friends in the Left.

“DOROTHY”

After the march I went to the National Shrine and prayed that some way would be shown to me, some way would be opened up for me to work for the poor and the oppressed.  When I got back to New York, there was Peter Maurin.

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

(on radio)

You people must have faith.  You must not be stampeded by rumors or guessing.  Let us unite…

EILEEN EGAN

He was waiting for her at the home of her sister-in-law on the Lower East Side.  He had been a Christian Brother for a while, but he was an autodidact and he had read widely in the Fathers of the Church and the Scriptures.  And suddenly here was this new world open to her.

DOROTHY DAY

He had been a teacher in France, although he was brought up a peasant on the land.  And he had wandered around the United States working.  So he suggested this program of action, which included a paper, first of all.  And then the setting up of houses of hospitality as direct action.

MARY DURNIN

Peter, he had this vision all the while of The Catholic Worker.  And he waited to find someone who would put the show on the road, as it were.  And people directed him to Dorothy.

REV. DANIEL BERRIGAN

Peter was voluble, kind of a wandering soul, and a kind of born teacher in all that – and determined, determined to teach Dorothy.

JOHN CORT

He had learned never to breathe between sentences, see.  And if perchance you tried to break in, he would hold up a finger and fix you with a glittery eye.

EILEEN EGAN

And it shows her humility, that she was willing to sit down and listen to this man and learn from him.  And she remarked, “He would talk you deaf, dumb and blind.”  And he would.

ADE BETHUNE

Peter was a character.  Absolutely a character.  He loved nothing better than to stand up on a soapbox and recite his easy essays.  Chant them, really, with a very strong accent.  “The world would be better off if everybody was better instead of being better off.”

JOHN CORT

When you got to know him he was really a sweet guy.  And he’d give you his last pair of pants if you needed them.  He would quote Saint Basil, “The coat that hangs in the closet belongs to the poor.”  And that is a very profound thought, because it’s not just the works of mercy, what you give out of the goodness and sweetness of your heart, out of compassion, but it’s justice.

ADE BETHUNE

And a work of mercy is something not extraordinary; it’s very ordinary.  But you’re doing it for a different motivation.  You don’t expect to be paid, you don’t expect a thank you.  (LAUGHS)  You just do it – as a gift.


“DOROTHY”

We were in the third year of the Depression.  No smoke rose from the factories, mortgages were being foreclosed, breadlines of listless men wound along city streets.  It was for these people and their plight that we created The Catholic Worker in May of 1933.  The paper was planned, written and edited in the kitchen of a tenement on 15th Street.  There was no overhead in the way of telephone or electricity, and no salaries were paid.

TAMAR HENNESSY

Everybody would gather from all over the city, and they’d get that paper out in about twenty-four hours.  And then we’d all pile into the station wagon with the bags of mail and go down in the middle of the night, go down to the post office.  


MARY DURNIN

We used to sell the paper on the streets a lot: Times Square and Macy’s, or 14th Street.  And there’d be someone on the next corner selling the Daily Worker.  And we would say, “Read The Catholic Worker daily.”  (LAUGHS)

PAT JORDAN

I remember going to the printer and as soon as we got there, the printers would come say, “Is Dorothy coming?”  And you could tell what respect – even though they probably didn’t agree with the content of The Catholic Worker, say, if it was speaking against the Viet Nam war.  And I remember one saying to me once, “What a great writer.”  And so they’d seen an awful lot.  And to hear a printer who stops to read what’s going out through his shop, it was quite a compliment. [TYPEWRITER SOUNDS]

MARY DURNIN

I’m noticing the first Catholic Worker you had here, and it could almost have been printed today.  Because the problems are still with us.

DOROTHY DAY

If your brother is hungry, you feed him.  You don’t meet him at the door and say, “Go be thou filled, or wait for a few weeks and go get a welfare check.”  And so that’s how the soup kitchen started.  As a matter of fact, we didn’t start it at all.  We were feeding a houseful of people, but the soup-line started because one of the men, who had charge of the clothes room, didn’t have any more clothes to give out, so he began saying, “Just come in and have a cup of coffee.”  So pretty soon a line formed at the door.

JOHN CORT

One rather neat looking guy told me that he had spent time in jail for murdering the ice man who was making a pass, a play for his wife.  He grabbed the ice man’s hatchet and cleaved him through the brain.  Oh, it was a shuddering thought.  And we had a pleasant conversation.  (LAUGHS)  But you could meet people like that on that breadline.

EILEEN EGAN

Sometimes there was room for people to stay over.  But one night two women came, but they asked if they could stay over ‘cause they really were homeless.  And in the depths of the Depression many were really homeless.  So they asked Dorothy, and Dorothy said, “Well, you can see there isn’t a bit of space here at all.”  Actually, people were sleeping in the kitchen and so on.  And so a few days later one of the women came back, and Dorothy said, “Now, where is your companion?” And the woman said, “Well, when we left here we had nowhere to go, and she went over to the subway station and threw herself under a train.”  So that galvanized Dorothy.  She looked and saw that she had five dollars, and just a few houses down the street there was an empty apartment.  And she put down the five dollars.  And it was the first house of hospitality of The Catholic Worker.

MARY DURIN

And so they just begin, right there and then.  Didn’t wait for federal dollars or to make bylaws and set up committees and so forth.  They just lived it.

PAT JORDAN

I remember there was a couple who came in, and they were really bizarre.  One ended up nude on the fire escape outside, and things weren’t going right.  And eventually the whole community was just upset by it.  And these people were basically told that they couldn’t stay there anymore.  But I remember that they came back at Easter time.  They came back to have a part of the meal.  And everybody welcomed them and allowed them to be there.  And I thought, “This is that teaching of forgiving seventy times seven.”

“DOROTHY”

There were days when everything was peaceful.  No drunkenness, madness, quarreling.  Sometimes the house is like the reception ward at Bellevue Psychiatric.  One could only bow one’s head and pray.

TAMAR HENNESSY

Peter used to call them ambassadors of God, and I took that right in.  And of course, that’s a hard lesson when there’s alcoholics and very, very sick and old – and disagreeable – people.  (LAUGHS)

“DOROTHY”

Not a week passes when there have not been knives drawn, the naked face of hate shown.  But then there are days when suddenly there is laughter, and one feels men have been wooed out of their misery for a moment by a sense of comradeship between the young people serving and those being served.

DOROTHY DAY

It’s often been said that feeding a soup-line is like putting a band aid on a cancer.  The thing to do is to change society, but meanwhile what about every poor human being that’s hungry?  Needs a place to sleep?  You have to think in terms of the present moment.  You have to do things that come to hand, and Scripture directs you along those lines, most certainly.  


DOROTHY DAY

When the City of New York, the greatest, richest city in the world, goes ahead and has to bring in the poor little woman who was covered with lice from head to foot from sleeping out in filth in broken-down buildings, with some loathsome sores - and to be very indelicate, a prolapsed rectum, covered with filth and excrement, urine and head lice and body lice.  And came and brought her to us, the police, the Brooklyn Police.  This is how extreme we can get.  This happens over and over again in the history of The Catholic Worker.

CHRISTIAN HARRIS

The reason they want to make all these laws and get homeless youth off the street, at the core of all the rationale is we despise poverty. What’s funny about it is the people who have actually been there, the people who have been on the bottom, who have experienced the worst of the worst, we’re the ones who despise it the most.

JOHN CORT

She loved the quotation from Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov,” something about the contrast being love and dreams, romantic love.  And love in action, which is a harsh and dreadful thing.  And life at The Catholic Worker was at many times a harsh and dreadful thing.

PAT JORDAN

She came down one time, and there was no money, and the house was just about – there was nothing to heat it with.  And she brought a piece of coal and put it in front of the statue of Saint Joseph, who was the patron of the house, and said, “You’ve got to do something.”  And later that day, literally, a coal truck came up and delivered a load of coal.  She used to say that every act of faith increases your faith.  You could see this in her over a lifetime experience.  I don’t mean anything blasé, because I said like, when she wrote the appeals, she sweated bullets for that.  But she had great trust in God’s providence.

ADE BETHUNE

I always considered that The Catholic Worker was really Dorothy’s own home.  And she had her guests, no matter how many.  (LAUGHS)  And she earned a living for them.  She earned her living by writing, by lecturing, and by begging

EILEEN EGAN

She was invited all over the country, to talk on the works of mercy, on peace, on community.

PATRICK JORDAN

She always said if somebody invites you to talk, go.  She said never refuse an invitation.

EILEEN EGAN

She didn’t enjoy speaking.  It was a great effort for her.  But she did it out of a sense of duty to spread the word.

TOM CORNELL

Dorothy was invited to go down to Koinonia in Georgia, which was a community of people on the land and had integrated some black families of the area into their operation, for which reason they were being boycotted by local merchants.  On top of that, their facilities were being bombed.  And so they decided they would put a nonviolent guard outside their property.  Dorothy sat there with a flashlight and a breviary saying the Holy Office, when I think it was three slugs went through that car.  Any one of them could have killed her, of course.

KARL MEYER

She believed in noncooperation with military conscription.  And she believed in nonpayment of federal income taxes because about two-thirds of federal income tax dollars, then and now, were spent for military purposes.

KARL MEYER

In the late ‘40s and ‘50s, during the height of the Cold War and the development of nuclear weapons, Dorothy had this strong pacifist stand.

OLD MOVIE SOUNDTRACK

You may be in your schoolyard playing when the signal comes.  You might be eating your lunch when the flash comes.  Duck and cover under the table.  We all know the atomic bomb is very dangerous…

TOM CORNELL

So when civil defense participation became mandatory by law in New York State, an annual program, she said, “No.”  

TOM CORNELL

She went with Ammon and some people that Ammon gathered from the War Resister’s League, and sat in City Hall Park with signs saying, “There is no defense,” things like that.

KARL MEYER

Well, you know if an atomic bomb fell on New York City, on Manhattan, and you were in the basement in Manhattan, the Hudson River and the East River would be in on top of you very quickly.

KARL MEYER

And Dorothy and Ammon wanted to expose this as a way of propaganda, propagandizing people to accept the possibility of nuclear war.  I decided I’m going to go down and join them.  I raced out onto Fifth Avenue, looked up and down the street, grabbed a taxi.  I never took a taxi; I always walked.  And, “Step on it, buddy.  (LAUGHS)  Down to The Catholic Worker.”

KARL MEYER

I was twenty years old.  I’d never met them before.  She said, “Now you know, when we get arrested, we plead guilty and we don’t take bail.”  We went out and sat on the park bench in the sunlight in front of The Catholic Worker, and the police and the photographers from the press were there, and the siren rang.  And we were all arrested.  It was my first arrest, my first act of civil disobedience, and we were sentenced to thirty days in jail.

“DOROTHY”

I can only hint at the daily, hourly repetitive obscenity that pervades a prison.  Shouts, jeers, defiance of guards and each other reverberated through the cells and corridors.  Noise: that is perhaps the greatest torture in jail.  It stings the ear and stuns the mind.

DOROTHY DAY

We began talking about what makes for peace.  And that is the teaching in the Gospels, the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount and so on.  And to take them literally really meant that you began practicing the works of peace rather than the works of war.  Feeding the hungry when we’re destroying crops and sheltering the homeless when we’re destroying villages, wiping out cities.

EILEEN EGAN

We can disagree without bitterness, without harshness, without impugning the honesty of the other person: Nonviolence makes the world safe for conflict.  You can have conflict, but you don’t go to the point of killing.  And that was what Dorothy taught.

ROBERT ELLSBERG

The FBI had all kinds of informants and whatnot, trying to check out and figure out what kind of subversion was being practiced by The Catholic Worker, ‘cause it was pretty hard to get a handle on it.  For there was no separation between life and prayer and the ordinary activities of everyday life, whether that was making the soup or that was washing the floor or cleaning up the vomit on the floor.  And so there was a spiritual, contemplative dimension to all those things as much as there was to picketing at the White House or sitting in jail or those kind of things.

DOROTHY DAY

I don’t think anybody can realize, who hasn’t had this type of background, what a tremendous thing it is to have such men as a Martin Luther King assassinated.  He died for his faith in nonviolence.  And a Caesar Chavez, a leader of the farmworkers’ strike, another one absolutely dedicated to nonviolence.

EILEEN EGAN

From the beginning of the United Farmworker’s movement, The Catholic Worker supported Caesar Chavez.  So when there was the big, big movement against the growers, Caesar asked Dorothy if she’d come out.  And she knew that it would probably mean a jail sentence.


“DOROTHY”

I went out one morning and joined the picket line.  I thought of how each day these men and women had to work from daylight until noon, and stopped work only to resume it later on, when the heat was not so bad for the grape.  I saw children in the field helping their parents stripping, thinning, at a dollar ten an hour.  

EILEEN EGAN

And one morning Dorothy and I were out at one of the vineyards.  And a lot of the workers in that vineyard were un-unionized.  

ORGANIZER

Come on out, brother…

EILEEN EGAN

Caesar and some other leaders of the farmworkers were there saying, “Come out, come out.  You’re not slaves.  Come out and join the union.  Let’s be strong, let’s be together, let’s make a community.”  And while we stood there, fourteen people walked out and joined us, and they were greeted with great joy.

“DOROTHY”

Up at 2 am, picketed all day covering many vineyards.  Impressive lines of police, all armed.  We talked to them, pleaded with them to lay down their guns and clubs.

EILEEN EGAN

There were thousands of people there, lots of supporters.  And so there came word  over the loudspeaker that Dorothy Day was needed.  And they picketed in a certain spot, and they were arrested.

CATHERINE MORRIS

It was her last arrest and my first.  And so we spent two weeks on a farm in the Fresno County system.  We were actually spending more time than just being on picket lines with the farmworkers; we were staying with them, and it was a very uplifting experience to be with them.

EILEEN EGAN

Dorothy wore the prison uniform, and before she left the jail, the farmworker women signed all their names.  So that was one of the proudest possessions that she had was the remembrance of her twelve days in jail.

“DOROTHY”

I am now confined by weakness and age and sternly suppress my envy at the activities of our young and valiant workers.  A good time perhaps to re-title my column “On the Shelf” instead of “On Pilgrimage.”  It is low tide on a dull day, and in my laziness I think about myself, a woman of long life, of varied experiences, of friends I’ve known and the life I once had.  All through my youth I had been inspired by the works of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Dickens.  I too wanted to write in such a way, so that people would see the injustice of things as they were.  So after my second year at the University of Illinois, I returned to New York and set out to find a writing job on a Socialist paper.

ADE BETHUNE

Her father and brothers were journalists, but they did not want her to be a journalist, because she was a girl.  And of course, she said, “Why should that make any difference?”  She wanted to be a journalist.  And it was really in her bones.

TAMAR HENNESSY

He was a southern gentleman, and women have a definite place.  

And she wanted to be a journalist.  Women don’t do that.  (LAUGHS)  That was a big thing: he threw her out of the house.

“DOROTHY”

And so with my mother’s backing, I went down to the East Side.  I was so horrified by its poverty that I needed to go there and live.  

“DOROTHY DAY”

The sight of homeless and workless men sleeping in doorways appalled me.  Cheap lodging houses, dingy restaurants, the clanging of streetcars jarred my senses.  Above all, the smell from the tenements horrified me.  It was a smell like no other in the world.  And one can never become accustomed to it.  I will never cease to be indignant over the conditions that give rise to them.  There is a smell in the walls of such places.  It is not the smell of life, but the smell of the grave.  Where were the saints to try to change the social order?  Not just to administer to the slaves, but to do away with slavery.

TOM CORNELL

Dorothy did not approach radicalism from a philosophical point of view.  She experienced things as a person with other people.  And if the other Communists or Socialists were fighting a good fight, she wanted to be with them.

“DOROTHY”

I finally got a job at The New York Call.  My assignments took me to picket lines and peace meetings.  I covered starvation and death in the slums.  And even interviewed Trotsky.


TOM CORNELL

I used to ask her every now and then about her days in Greenwich Village as an early literary person/activist.  She would say, “I spent far more time on the East Side with the Jewish radicals than I spent in Greenwich Village with all those artists and playwrights and stuff.”  Well, I don’t know whether she was being entirely candid about that.  But she did spend a good bit of time with the people that she met having worked on The Call, The Liberator, The Masses.

“DOROTHY”

I would meet Mike Gold, Eugene O’Neill and other fellow writers at a saloon we nicknamed Hell Hole.  It was on one of these cold, bitter evenings that I first heard “The Hound of Heaven.”  In an atmosphere of drink and smoke, Gene would recite all of Francis Thompson’s poem and would sit there, black and dour, his head sunk as he intoned, “I fled him down the nights and down the days.  I fled him down the arches of the years.  I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind.  And in the mist of tears, I hid from him.”  The idea of this pursuit fascinated me.  Sooner or later I would have to pause in the mad rush of living and remember my first beginning, and my last end.

JOHN CORT

People have been interested in whether or not Dorothy had some, you might say, of the usual, customary feelings of a woman, whether men were attracted to her or she to men.  And certainly the answer to both is a very strong, definite yes.  The novel that she wrote, which earned her twenty-five hundred dollars and made it possible for her to buy that little cottage out in Staten Island.  It’s called “The Eleventh Virgin,” and it was actually a very autobiographical novel.  And in that novel you get some of the more passionate and difficult years of her life, before she became a Catholic.  In particular a relationship with a real bounder of a womanizer with whom she was involved, and over whom she became heartbroken and was reduced almost to despair.  And I think an attempt at suicide.  And also an abortion.

“DOROTHY”

Many a morning after sitting all night in taverns, I went to an early mass at Saint Joseph’s and knelt in the back of the church, not knowing what was going on at the altar.  I felt the faith of those about me, and I longed for their faith.  My own life was sordid.  And yet I had occasional glimpses of the true and the beautiful.  I met Forster Batterham at a party in the Village.  He was an anarchist and a biologist.  We fished together.  We walked every day for miles.  His enthusiasms were such that I could not help but be fascinated by the new world of nature he opened up to me.  Soon after, we began sharing my beach shack on Staten Island.  But he never allowed me to forget that this was a comradeship rather than a marriage.

EILEEN EGAN

I knew Forster.  He was a very courtly, fine gentleman, and a real agnostic.  He just didn’t have any belief at all.

“DOROTHY”

I was happy, but my very happiness made me know that there was a greater happiness to be obtained from life than any I had known.  I began to think, to weigh things, and it was at this time that I began to pray more.  I will never forget my blissful joy when I learned that I was pregnant.  I remember feeling so much in love, so settled, so secure, that now I had found what I was looking for.

TAMAR HENNESSY

When he was living with her, he didn’t want any babies.  He said this world is just too grim a place.  He didn’t want to add to it.  (LAUGHS)  But when I was born he was delighted, and we were real buddies for a couple years there.  We just hit it right off.

“DOROTHY”

When Tamar Theresa was six weeks old, we went back to the beach.  In the afternoon I put her in her carriage and went out along the woods.  Sparrows, hawks and laughing gulls made the air gay with their clamor.  We collected azalea buds, dogwood and apple tree branches to decorate the room.  Yet always those deep moments of happiness gave way to a feeling of struggle, of a long, silent fight still to be gone through.  There had been the physical struggle, the mortal combat almost of giving birth to a child.  And now there was coming the struggle for my own soul.

JOHN CORT

I think part of the tremendous joy that she felt about the birth of Tamar, which in turn led her into the Church and into a religious conversion, was the greatest joy comes after pain.  Pain and suffering, longing, loneliness.

SR. PETER CLAVER 

And she wanted Tamar never to go through the type of life that she had led.  And she had her baptized immediately against the desires of Forster.  And I always go back to her book, Long Loneliness, when she refused him entrance at her home on Staten Island.  How it crushed her, how she suffered, how she endured the pain of separating from the man she loved.

EILEEN EGAN

Dorothy’s work arose in some measure from the fact that she sacrificed the love of her life.  If she embraced the Catholic faith, he’d have nothing more to do with her.  And she points out how leaving him and leaving that love was the hardest thing that she ever did.

“DOROTHY”

I could not become a Catholic and continue to live with Forster.  It was killing me to think of leaving him.  I loved his lean, cold body as he got into bed, smelling of the sea.  I loved his integrity and stubborn pride.  But I too was baptized.  I had no particular joy in partaking of these sacraments.  I felt like a hypocrite if I got down on my knees and shuddered at the thought of anyone seeing me.  But I wanted to be poor, chaste and obedient.  I wanted to die in order to live, to put off the old man and put on Christ.

TAMAR HENNESSY

I regretted that they weren’t together.  I don’t understand it ‘cause they were so, so much in love.  I don’t know how she could have done that.  (LAUGHS)  It’s some kind of uncontrollable calling.  I think that must have been devastating to me even though I don’t remember it.  We took off and went to California.  Dorothy got a job with Pathé as a writer.


“DOROTHY”

Dear Forster, I got your letter mailed Friday night this morning.  That was certainly quick enough.  I’ve been longing to hear from you, so it was sweet to write at once.  I miss you more than I thought possible.  And you know this job, no matter how much money it paid, means nothing to me.  I’d rather live with you, no matter how poor we were.  Well, perhaps some day I can bulldoze you into marrying me.  Do I have to be condemned to celibacy all my days?  Got to read a most awful script now.  Do write to me, dearest, because I think of you, and I want you night and day.  All my love, Dorothy.

TAMAR HENNESSY

They were going under, and they weren’t telling anybody.  So she got disgusted with sitting around with nothing to do, so she took her money and went to Mexico.

“DOROTHY”

New York was an occasion of sin.  I hunger too much to return to Forster.  I had to stay away for a while longer, so I went to Mexico City.  I would have remained perhaps if Tamar had not become ill.  She recovered as soon as we returned to New York, just after the May Day riots in Union Square.

TAMAR

When I had her at home she was wonderful.  You know, she could cook delicious little breakfasts and stuff.  I don’t know why I just remember the silly little things like a soft-boiled egg.  (LAUGHS)  ‘Cause I was almost eight when Peter showed up.  So most of that real closeness to Dorothy was all before then.  After then she was so busy.  I remember the early Worker just taking on like wildfire.  

“DOROTHY”

Tonight Tamar had a nosebleed, a headache, stomachache.  The little time I have with her, being constantly on the go, having to leave her to the care of others, sending her away to school so that she can lead a regular life and not be subject to the moods and vagaries of the crowd of us.  Never before have I had such a complete sense of failure, of utter misery.

ROBERT ELLSBERG

Surrounded by discord and squalor and dirt and noise and filth and violence, she could see the one beautiful thing.  And it might be just the way the light was on a building.

PAT JORDAN

But I remember, like on a Saturday afternoon, going up to her room, and the opera would be on.  And seeing her at times literally transported somehow.  I mean, I had a real sense when I saw her that way, and I saw her that way sometimes at prayer too, there’s this tremendous concentration and being present to what was so beautiful.

“DOROTHY”

There were days when I was not feeling too well, and I dreamt of having a small Greenwich Village apartment, one of those top-floor ones, with the sun shining in and a good view of the sky.  With lots of plants and books and a cat maybe.  And comfortable chairs and my own kitchen where I could cook up a storm, just for myself.  I pictured myself sipping coffee and reading, and yes, smoking cigarettes.

SR. PETER CLAVER

She really had the call for the vocation that she followed.  And it was a preference of love for God that she really overcame the desire to be the normal, devoted mother to Tamar.

PATRICK JORDAN

She loved Staten Island, she loved the beauty of it.  And at the Spanish camp she would go down to the beach when she could.  Naturally, the older she got the harder it was for her to get down there, but she would go down and sit on a log.  And she used to write to friends from there.

“DOROTHY”

Dear Forster, what with a heart attack, I’ve been ten days in bed.  Have to stay in bed another week.  These last sunny days I have sat out in the sun.  Today it was beautiful, and I’m feeling better.  Thank the Lord for the radio.  I have a good one and get good symphonies.  Tamar drove down Sunday.  In case you forget, your grandchildren are Becky, Susie, Eric, Nicky, Mary, Maggie, Martha Hilaire, and Katy.  All these are your progeny.  You should be proud of yourself.  None live in the city.  All raise their food and hunt and fish.  A good life, they enjoy it.  Much love to you and Pat, Dorothy.

PATRICK JORDAN

Dorothy had a little room up there on the second floor.  And she welcomed many people there. When she was up to it, then she’d come down and have supper with everybody.

TAMAR HENNESSY

Forster was coming every day too, he would sit by the bed there.  He was so worried, ‘cause he wasn’t ready to let go.  She’d been with an enlarged heart for about, since the ‘50s.  It’s a miracle she carried on the way she did.

SR. PETER CLAVER

It was her birthday, November the 8th, 1980.  We greeted one another, and we took, we held hands, and we prayed the Our Father together.  And I made the sign of the cross on her forehead.  We embraced.  And it was a farewell, for a long-life friendship.  With a dear, precious friend.  Because in three weeks I had a call from The Catholic Worker that Dorothy had died.

PATRICK JORDAN

The wake was at Maryhouse, and Dorothy was in a pine box, and people just kept coming from everywhere and every walk of life.  You could tell she really meant something to those people individually.

TAMAR HENNESSY

She was always there for me.   I mean, she was just, she did everything she could.

CATHERINE MORRIS

They walked her in her coffin from the house to the church.  And she took up her permanent bodily residence there on Staten Island.

KARL MEYER

And now that Dorothy Day is being considered for canonization, she’s still not too well-known.  But she’s a lot better known than she was in her own lifetime, and she’s a lot more accepted within the establishment Church.

MSGR. ROBERT J. SARNO

The saint is the concrete, historical presence of God in the world, pushing us, pricking our conscience, giving us that kick, giving that pinch to say, you know, “You’re lukewarm.  Decide, be.  There’s the spot, get to it, do it.”

NINA POLCYN MOORE

She really had a program of her own meditative life, and I feel very strongly that was very close to the Lord and that she probably was a mystic.

TAMAR HENNESSY

She was a bit too driven, I think, but you know, that was what she had to do.  We all had to accommodate to that.

MSGR. ROBERT J. SARNO

If you look at the lives of the saints, you know, many of them were horrible people to live with, because they had this drive, this vision as the gift from God, which drove them with a fury.

FR. JOHN FLANAGAN

It’s not going to make a difference whether she’s declared a saint, ‘cause people know from her own life that she contributed to the holiness of others.

REV. DANIEL BERRIGAN

I remember her saying in her usual salty, direct fashion, “Don’t call ma a saint, that’s too easy.”  I think her feeling was that that sort of thinking about her exempted people from, you know, stepping out of themselves.

CATHERINE MORRIS

To work from 1933 to 1980 when she died, taking care of people, cleaning up after people, all the things that she did, she did each thing she did a whole lot of times, and that’s pretty extraordinary.

ADE BETHUNE

When Dorothy died, everybody was wondering if The Catholic Worker movement could survive because it was so much herself.   And lo and behold, it’s still going on.  You just adopt the ideas and do them your own way.  (LAUGHS)

SR. PETER CLAVER

And she had a great facility to write, to put her ideas in words, which is a great gift and a great grace and a great heritage.

ROBERT ELLSBERG

She felt that there’s nothing we can do, whether in our family life or as neighbors. or as citizens or whatever, that doesn’t afford us opportunities really for heroic virtue or charity.

TOM CORNELL

So many people have said Dorothy was the retreat movement, or Dorothy was the peace movement, or Dorothy was the justice movement, or Dorothy was direct services to the poor.

REV. DANIEL BERRIGAN

There seems to be a lot of Dorothy to go around.  (LAUGHS)  And that is so beautiful.

FR. JOHN FLANAGAN

And we need maybe the example of a Dorothy Day, who broke down those barriers of race, of religion, of any type of sexuality, any type of lifestyle, and just went right to the core of the human person.

REV. DANIEL BERRIGAN

I can’t stress too strongly what she did about freeing me from the fatalism that looks on human misery as a something that, you know, is part of the nature of things.  Dorothy was saying this should not be, and this is due to our malice and our greed and our own violence.  This was very important to me, because I needed conversion.

CATHERINE MORRIS

Her message would be the same now as it was then: If you want peace, work for justice.

TOM CORNELL

We can realistically work for a society in which it is easier for people to be good, easier to be the people that they want to be, that they ought to be.  This is the social revolution, this is the bottom of it.

EILEEN EGAN

I don’t think there were many people who were talking about the need for voluntary poverty and for simplicity of life, community and gospel of nonviolence.  And so she was so often a lone voice in a community.  And she empowered you to do as she did, which was to stand alone.

END