Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897–1980)

Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897–1980)

If changing the world seems impossible, get to know Dorothy Day. She was your age about a century ago, but her legacy of compassion lives on today. An earthquake rocked Dorothy’s family in 1906, and they moved to Chicago’s slums. She overcame poverty but never forgot the pain it causes. She wanted to help others in need. “From that time on, my life was to be linked to theirs,” she recalled. “I had received  .  .  .  a direction in life” (Jim Forest, The Living Legacy of Dorothy Day).

Dorothy Day was a great writer with a strong sense of compassion and vocation. She prayed to find ways to use these gifts. She met Peter Maurin, a man with a mind for social change. He wanted to start a newspaper, so they launched The Catholic Worker. Each edition applied the Gospel to modern problems.

Writing was not enough, and Dorothy led the way in taking direct action. Catholic Worker houses opened their doors to hungry, homeless people. Catholic Workers marched with striking workers and went to jail for war protests.

Today, more than 185 Catholic Worker communities promote nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for people in need. Dorothy’s desire became a revolution. “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart,” she said, “a revolution which has to start with each one of us” (Eileen Egan, Dorothy Day and the Permanent Revolution, page 22).

(Image © Vicki Shuck/Saint Mary's Press)