Report from the Conference: Dorothy Day: A Saint for Our Time

Guild Executive Committee member Geoffrey B. Gneuhs provides us with a report of his experience at the recent conference  “Dorothy Day: A Saint for Our Time”:

What we would like to do is change the world…by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world.”
—Dorothy Day

St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, hosted a conference on “Dorothy Day: A Saint for Our Time” March 7-8. Dr. Francis Sicius, a history professor at STU and a biographer of Peter Maurin, organized the convocation. Those of us from northern climes were quite delighted with the beautiful campus, the hospitality of the students, and the wonderful warm, sunny weather.

Attended by nearly one hundred people, over the two days, from across the country, the university and the Miami area, the conference was a gathering of scholars and workers as Peter Maurin would have wished. There were 25 papers and talks delivered by college professors and a high school teacher, as well as from representatives of several Catholic Worker communities.

Discussions ranged from Dorothy’s spirituality and the influence of the Fr. Lacouture/Fr. Hugo retreat, to her prayer life, to what her understanding of being a radical in the Christian sense meant, as well as to her spiritual and practical understanding of pacificism. One paper by Harry Murray of the Rochester CW confirmed that Peter Maurin was not a pacifist, as he registered for the Selective Service in 1942—and gave Dorothy Day as his contact person!

Other talks discussed Dorothy’s deep faith centered on the Mass and her commitment to the Church as well as her unique way of living a life of holiness while dedicated to justice. There were also presentations about life in various Catholic Worker communities.

The conference discussed how to make Dorothy and her saintly life better known to more Catholics and others, including this new website and other social media, through teaching in schools and colleges, as well as at the parish level.

On Friday night, three students, a pianist, soprano, and tenor, gave a superb concert of arias in recognition of Dorothy’s love of opera

Lance Richey announced that the University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana, will host a conference next year May 13-15, 2015, on “Dorothy Day and the Church: Past, Present, and Future.”

The meeting concluded with a Mass in the light-filled, pastel, adobe-like chapel, with an outdoor reception afterward.

There was a great spirit, vitality, and camaraderie during the two days that reflected a renewed commitment to the inspiration and example of Dorothy, thirty-three years after her death.

- Geoffrey B. Gneuhs

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4 Responses to Report from the Conference: Dorothy Day: A Saint for Our Time

  1. Tom Cornell says:

    Peter Maurin registered for the draft in WW II. I have a copy of his registration certificate. That does NOT mean that Peter was not a pacifist. ALL conscientious objectors recognized as such by Selective Serve HAD to register for the draft. Peter held to nonviolence but would not have stressed pacifism as WW II approached, Dorothy reported, saying that “men are not ready to hear….”

  2. Sandra Montalbano says:

    Peter Maurin was dutiful; had a sense of duty, as well as right and wrong. Who can tell what is in a man’s heart, when he knows he has a sense of duty?

  3. helene garcia says:

    I have been reaching out all over the Catholic community I prayed to Dorothy Day for someone and she delivered, what are the next steps?

  4. I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this specific problem plus it does indeed provide me personally a lot of fodder for thought. On the other hand, coming from what I have seen, I simply just trust when other comments pile on that people stay on point and not get started on a soap box regarding the news du jour. All the same, thank you for this exceptional piece and while I do not really go along with this in totality, I value your standpoint.

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