C027 The Celebration of the life and work of Dorothy Day, Christian Activist

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That this 79th General Convention recognize Dorothy Day, Christian activist, and her ministry among and to the poor, and as a Servant of God by adding her to the calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (or such other calendar as may be adopted for the use of The Episcopal Church) with the following text and propers:

Dorothy Day, Christian activist.

Suggested date of commemoration: November 29

Collects

O Lord, whose grace raises up Thy servants among Thy people: Thou hast given us the life of Dorothy Day, who fed and sheltered the urban poor; who planted hope amidst rural people; and who steadfastly advanced the cause of social justice and peace over greed and war; stir up Thy grace amongst us; that we, too, may provide shelter, food, and hope to those in need; and that we may pursue the justice and peace proclaimed by Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; who dwells with Thee and the Holy Spirit in Thy kingdom that would come amongst us. Amen

O Lord, whose grace raises up your servants among your people: you have given us the life of Dorothy Day, who fed and sheltered the urban poor; who planted hope among rural people; and who steadfastly advanced the cause of social justice and peace over greed and war; stir up your grace among us; that we, too, may provide shelter, food, and hope to those in need; and that we may pursue the justice and peace proclaimed by your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; who dwells with you and the Holy Spirit in your eternal kingdom that would come among us. Amen.

Propers:

1 Samuel 2: 1–10 (Song of Hannah)

or Isaiah 25: 1–5

Sirach 34: 14–20

or Romans 12: 1–16

Matt: 10 9: 34–42

Psalm 107: 1–9

The Life of Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn in 1897, to a middle-class family. She experienced an early life of social activism as a journalist, editor, novel and screenplay writer very much tossed on the seas of contemporary ideological currents. Not until her reception into the Roman Catholic faith in December 1927 did she find the disciplined focus of an ardent Christian faith to fuel her social activism. In 1933 she was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.

Attending daily local worship for prayer and the sacraments, Day launched a passionate career of radical Christian social action during the Great Depression, focusing on housing and the food needs of unemployed urban workers and their families in New York City. She used her pen to champion their needs. Criticized by some, including the leaders in her own beloved church, and often arrested for her activism, political labels never took hold as she consistently passed on government assistance for her work relying instead on the good will of donors and help from those who could find work.

Propelled by the economic conditions of the1930’s, Day’s program—typified by iconic soup kitchens— spread to other large cities across the U.S. and in at least 19 countries abroad. She also helped start a rural commune farm movement, emphasizing the values of community and fellowship over productivity. Today, there are over 200 "hospitality houses" world-wide. Her Catholic Worker newspaper served as a channel of information and encouragement selling always for a penny a copy.

Day's faith also expressed itself in her pacifism. She challenged U.S. participation in World War II and all subsequent conflicts up to the Vietnam War. She took up the cause of migrant workers, working with Cesar Chavez in the 60s and 70s.

The winner of numerous awards for her leadership and personal example, she chose deliberately to live in voluntary poverty among those whom she served. In 2015 Pope Francis in an address to the United States Congress cited her activist passion for justice and service to the oppressed and called her a "Servant of God". She died, beloved and admired, in a hospitality house for women in New York City at the age of 83. Her gravestone simply lists her name, the dates of her life, and her proclamation, "Deo Gratias".


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