What is the Catholic Worker Movement?

...why the things are what they are, how the things would be if they were as they should be, and how a path can be made from the things as they are to the things as they should be.

Peter Maurin

Oakland Catholic Worker

The biggest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.


Dorothy Day

Obrero Católico de Oakland

The Catholic Worker movement was founded in 1933 in New York City during the Great Depression by Dorothy Day at the urging of Peter Maurin. It is best known for houses of hospitality located in run-down sections of many cities, though a number of Catholic Worker centers exist in rural areas. Food, clothing, shelter and welcome is extended by unpaid volunteers to those in need according to the ability of each household. There are currently over 200 Catholic Worker communities -- 178 in the United States and 29 international communities.

"Our rule is the works of mercy," said Dorothy Day. "It is the way of sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence."

The Catholic Worker is also the name of a newspaper published by the Catholic Worker community in New York City. From 1933 until her death in 1980, the editor was Dorothy Day, a journalist who was received into the Catholic Church in 1927. Writers for the paper have ranged from young volunteers to such notable figures as Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan and Jacques Maritain. (Many Catholic Worker communities publish newsletters or journals chiefly for local distribution.)


Today Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.


For more information about the Catholic Worker -- its history, the writings of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, a list of Catholic Worker communities inside and outside of the United States, other volunteer opportunities, and much more -- go to www.catholicworker.org.