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Dorothy Day

social activist, journalist, and cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement
Born: 1897
Birthplace: New York, N.Y.

From 1914 to 1916, Day attended the University of Illinois, where she joined the Socialist Party. In 1916 she began working for socialist newspapers in New York, including The Call, The Masses, and The Liberator. After much soul-searching, Day became a Roman Catholic in 1927. Her conversion alienated many of her radical associates, who were unable to reconcile her progressivism with what they regarded as a staunchly conservative religion. In 1933 Day and Catholic activist and philosopher Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper devoted to social activism and a radical vision of the role of the Catholic Church. As the newspaper's circulation grew, it kindled the national Catholic Worker movement, which urged Catholics to devote themselves to helping the poor and disempowered. Day remarked that “the mystery of the poor is that they are Jesus, and what we do for them we do for him.” Maurin and Day established a Catholic Worker house in New York for the urban poor, and by 1936 there were 33 such houses around the country. Today there are 130 "houses of hospitality" in 32 states and 8 foreign countries.

The movement also advocated pacifism and supported Catholic conscientious objectors during World War II. Day's pacifism provoked controversy and lost the movement members during World War II and the Spanish Civil War. Day and the Catholic Worker movement also strongly supported unions and labor reform, the civil rights movement, and nuclear disarmament. The Long Loneliness, Day's autobiography, was published in 1952.

Died: 1980

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