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#1 of 8 Old 08-19-2002, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not really sure whether this belongs here or in Activism.

I'm not Catholic (not even Christian), but recently I have met a few Catholic Workers. I've been really impressed by them, by their activism, by their demeanor, by what I've heard of their philosophy, and I am intrigued.

Anyone a Catholic Worker here or have information about them? I looked them up on the web, but didn't really get the answers I was looking for.

I'm want to better understand what voluntary poverty is. Who do they give their money to? Who supports them? What if they want to leave the community? Are they given money back to help them get back into the real world?

Is being a Catholic Worker often a lifelong thing? Do people who become Catholic Workers usually accept the philosophy as a way of life? I ask because I have a friend with a young son, and she's been dating a Catholic Worker. She really admires where he's coming from, but his philosophies don't, in her opinion, mesh terribly well with raising her son in stable and secure (read consistent) environment.

I am also curious how accepted they are within the mainstream Catholic Church. Does the Pope recognize them? Do they recognize the Pope? How do other Catholics feel about them?
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#2 of 8 Old 08-19-2002, 01:13 PM
 
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My sister lived in a Catholic Worker house while she was in college (she didn't work there, she just lived there) and my cousin and her husband worked and lived in a Worker house about 10 years ago.

Worker houses were started by Dorothy Day. You could probably find more info on-line by doing a search for Dorothy Day.

As far as I know, Catholic Worker Houses are accepted by the church at large. Most volunteers work at a house for a period of time (a year or two, often out of college or as young adults). Alot of people stay connected to a particular Catholic Worker House and it's particular mission.

The house that my cousin and her husband worked at was in the California Bay Area and specifically for immigrant/refugee teenage kids from central and south america. My cousin and her husband were legal guardians/ foster parents for these kids. Now my cousin and her husband own a house and regular jobs, but they are still very committed to living simply and working for social justice.

My cousin was also very involved in the Catholic Worker House in a low income neighborhood here in Chicago before she moved to California. The house here has a soup kitchen, food and clothing pantry, etc.

My husband and I are Catholic and are working on living more simply and working on issues of social justice. Dorothy Day was an amazing person, but not somebody that I want to model in my life as a healthy parent. I want to work for social justice and live simply (as much as I can as an American with a house, car and computer!), but I don't want ANYONE (including my child) to live of life of POVERTY...

If your friend is dating a guy who lives at a Catholic Worker House, he may not plan on doing that for his entire life. Or he may - and I agree that that is probably not the most stable environment for a child. But we have alot of friends who did volunteer stints for several years (Jesuit Volunteer Corp, Peace Corp, etc) who go on to do other work (social workers, ministers, nurses, etc) and they are GREAT parents.

Blessings.
Kathleen
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#3 of 8 Old 08-26-2002, 01:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yogamama, thank you! What you say backs up the impression I was getting. They sound like they do great things.

My friend's boyfriend is not an active Catholic Worker, but he has been, and I get the sense that he is still wrapped up in the philosophy and is feeling very conflicted about how to apply voluntary poverty in his life at the moment. I am just hoping he works it out, because he's a great guy, they're a great couple, and he'd make a great father to her son.

BTW, I agree with your take on voluntary poverty.
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#4 of 8 Old 08-26-2002, 10:49 AM
 
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Hi hydrangea, how are you?

My experience with the Catholic Worker movement comes from helping to support a Catholic Worker house called Magdalene House in Oakland, CA. It was a Pax Christi Catholic worker house and as such was supported heavily by Pax Christi members in the SF Bay Area (BTW, Pax Christi is the Cahtolic Peace movement) The house was started by two lay women and a Jesuit priest. The house served homeless women and children in Oakland. Unfortunately, this house is no longer open, but there are still other Catholic Worker houses in the area.

As yogamama explained, the Catholic Worker movement was started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. There are now houses (and farms) all over the country. Some workers do short term stints and others devote their lives to it. I have a very good friend who was raised in a Catholic Worker house in Portland, Ore. He had a positive experience and is now very devoted to social justice work. My uncle lived with his family in a Catholic Worker house for several years and my cousins don't really talk about it..
I think can be good or bad depending on the parents, the support the house has, etc. etc.

As far as the relationship with the hierarchical Church, I think that the workers kind of operate outside that realm. Most tend to be "anarchists" by nature (Dorothy Day certainly was) What I mean by this is that they aren't by any means working in direct defiance to the Pope or hierarchy but they also won't go asking permission when they want to do something. I hope this makes sense. They believe that voluntary poverty, service to the poor and living the Gospel is the best way to express their faith. The hierarchy doesn't necessarily follow this philosophy with their own decisions and actions. For example, in Los Angeles the Catholic Worker house very actively opposed the fundraising for and building of a brand new Cathedral. They did not feel this is where the Church should be putting its money. But there are also many priests involved with worker houses.

I know many people who have worked in Catholic Workers and then very successfully transitioned to other nonprofit or activist work. They still held on to much of their Catholic Worker philosophy but also went on to raise families, buy homes, etc. etc.

I hope this helps.

-Deirdre
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#5 of 8 Old 08-26-2002, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Deirdre, very helpful.

It's groups like this, who, to me (an aetheist), give religion a good name.

BTW, did I ever tell you my real life name is Deirdre?
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#6 of 8 Old 08-26-2002, 04:55 PM
 
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I think you may have told me but I admit I forgot. I am glad you reminded me...we are few and far between Do you pronounce it like 'Dear-Dra'??
I have always liked my name, have you liked yours? It has been mispronounced so often! I remember I used to cringe during roll call in college classed because I knew it was going to get mutilated

Thanks for reminding me!
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#7 of 8 Old 08-27-2002, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I did tell you. Yes, I pronounce it that way

It's just startling to see your name on posts sometimes, especially since some of them I agree with enough that I would have posted them myself!

I have forwarded a few threads to my dh, and I always have to let him know you are not me. For some reason the posts that I think would interest him, you have always responded to.
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#8 of 8 Old 08-27-2002, 11:04 PM
 
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Deirdre-

I love it!

The hydrangea is my favorite flower....

We must be soul sisters!

BTW, keep us posted about what happens with your friend and the Catholic Worker....

-Deirdre
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