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Dorothy Day, Co-Founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, Servant of God, 1897-1980, a Patroness of Migrants

Many hearts have been touched by the stories of the suffering of immigrants and refugees coming to the United States, and especially the deaths this summer in the trailer truck in Victoria, Texas

Dorothy Day

Many ask what they can do to help those who have been uprooted from their homes and families, those who have tried to come to another land in order to help those left behind or to make a future for themselves. There are so many ways to help-working for a more just global economic system so that people will not be uprooted, toward an amnesty for immigrants, for a more open policy for those who come to work in the U.S. Most immediately, one can help and serve immigrants along their way.

There is another way, however, both for the migrants themselves and for those who would like to help: Pray to Dorothy Day (and Peter Maurin, too), the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, to intercede with God on behalf of immigrants, asking for their protection, asking that they might have courage in the face of danger and keep and deepen their faith. Pray that others may open their hearts to them on their journey.

Dorothy often called those who came to the Catholic Worker Houses of Hospitality in New York and elsewhere “refugees from this ruthless industrial system.” The same can be said of those who are refugees from the ruthless global market, which makes it so difficult for them to stay at home and earn enough to maintain their families. Dorothy always supported poor, migrant workers within the United States. She encouraged others to practice voluntary poverty by supporting the United Farm Workers’ Union and by participating in their boycotts. At the age of 76 she was arrested in a protest supporting Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers.

Peter Maurin himself was an undocumented immigrant. During World War II the CW’s were concerned that he might be picked up and deported back to France.

We are sure that Dorothy, who always had a long list of people to pray for in her missal, is continuing her prayers for those most in need in heaven. Young people take note-Dorothy, sometimes presented only as a radical activist, believed very much in the value of prayer. For her, prayer was not just something for the ignorant and unwashed. Dorothy believed in praying for the living and the dead. She especially celebrated the month of November as the time to remember the poor souls in Purgatory.

Dorothy was so bold as to interpret Scripture literally in living the Gospel according to Matthew 25, the Sermon on the Mount and St. Paul on the Mystical Body, especially in Romans 12. Catholic Worker hospitality is based on Matthew 25:31ff., that what we do for those considered the least, the poorest, we do for the Lord himself.

Dorothy’s care for the poorest of the poor is a reflection of the Church’s concern for them. Her cause for canonization was in-troduced in Rome by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York.

Fr. Michael Blume, SVD, Under-secretary for the Pontifical Council for Migrants in Rome, recently visited Casa Juan Diego and celebrated Mass with us and with over 125 immigrants staying in our houses at the time. He brought greetings from the Holy Father to the people and expressed John Paul II’s and the Church’s concern for migrants.

Bishop Fiorenza of our diocese, Galveston-Houston, has encouraged us in this project of acquainting migrants with the life Dorothy Day and encouraging devotion to her, as has Father Blume.

A Dorothy Day holy card with a prayer for migrants is available free from the Houston Catholic Worker, P. O. Box 70113, Houston, Texas 77270.

Favors granted: Write to Dorothy’s postulator, Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, Archdiocese of New York, 1101 First Ave., New York, NY 10022.

Prayer for Migrants

Merciful God, you called your

daughter Dorothy Day to show

us the face of Jesus in the poor and the homeless,

and to show us your desire for

justice and peace on the earth.

Count her among your saints

and guide us to be friends of the

poor and to recognize you in them.

Dorothy Day, friend of the migrant, whose life and work

was a pilgrimage of love,

intercede for us.

Show us the love of the Father.

Help us on our difficult journey

that we may avoid despair and

grow in faith until we find our true home.


Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXIII, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 2003.