About the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker Community. . .

The short answer is. . . We are an unincorporated autonomous lay association within the Catholic Worker charism engaged in the works of justice, peace, and mercy as we have ability, resources, and opportunity.

The longer explanation. . .
Peter Maurin, who co-founded the  Catholic Worker movement with Dorothy Day in 1933, said that the "Catholic Worker is not an organization, it is an organism."

I think that is a good description. We are not an "organization" in the way that most people think of organizations. We don't have officers and a board of directors.  We aren't incorporated. We make decisions by consensus. We don't have membership cards. We barely have a mailing list. We're not officially a  "person of record under canonical law". We are an autonomous lay community within the Catholic tradition. There is no Catholic Worker hierarchy that tells us
what to do and what not to do. People don't get permission from someone to start a Catholic Worker house. When we decided to start this work, we just started this work.

It's that simple - and that complex.

Catholic Workers are personalists, that is, we believe in taking personal responsibility for living the teachings of Christ, all of them, especially the hard ones. Dorothy Day said,  "The Sermon on the Mount is our Manifesto!" Most people would agree that that is a fine pious statement, but we take it literally, or as literally as we can.

Each Catholic Worker House is independent and autonomous and self-governing. We all practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and we work to build a civilization of life and love. We believe in and practice social justice, and we hope that if we practice it hard enough, we will eventually get good at it.

Our particular apostolate is in the area of community and household food security. We deliver food to people in need who don't have transportation to get to a regular food bank.  We encourage gardening and home preservation of food and the planting of fruit and nut trees. We help people buy food directly from Oklahoma farmers.  We do other things, as needs and resources present themselves.

We also work for justice and peace in the world. We promote environmental sustainability and stewardship. We helped organize the Oklahoma Food Cooperative -- www.oklahomafood.coop.

We compile and distribute information on sustainable, simple, and frugal living (www.bettertimesinfo.org and www.energyconservationinfo.org ), and we publish the Better Times Almanac of Useful Information (http://www.bettertimesinfo.org/2004index.htm ).

Who, you may ask, was Oscar Romero?
He was the archbishop of San Salvador, who was murdered by his own government because he defended the poor. We have taken his name because we wish to follow his holy example of being a forthright defender of justice and peace.

How can people help? We can always use help delivering food to the poor. We meet, generally on the third and fourth Saturdays of each month (except November and December, which have a different schedule), at the Dorothy Day Center, 4909 N. State Street,  on the east side of the St. Charles Borromeo property, at 9 AM.

Each month we deliver to about 350 households, and there is a lot of fetching and carrying and work involved with that.  350 deliveries requires about 550 bags of groceries times 20 pounds per bag = more than 10,000 pounds of groceries.

If you know of people who don't have transportation, but need food, feel free to give them that number or call in their address and contact information yourself. We can always use  donations of food. Food can be left at any time on the porch at 1524 NW 21st Street, or taken to the church offices at Epiphany Church. If I am not in, just tell the church  secretaries it is for the Catholic Worker House. We especially need donations of peanut butter. That is an important food for the poor, and one of our major expenses each month is buying peanut butter. Another good item to donate is spaghetti sauce. We also need blankets, towels, socks, gloves, hats, for distribution to the poor.

We can also use donations of money to help fund this work. Because we are not incorporated, donations to the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House are not tax deductible. Dorothy Day was firmly against giving tax deductions for donations to Catholic Worker Houses. This is because for Catholic Workers, the means we choose to achieve our ends are as important as the ends themselves. If people want to donate to a Catholic Worker house, they should do so because it is the right thing to do, not because the government gives them a tax deduction.

The other thing that we need is for more people to live just and sustainable lifestyles. Mother Teresa used to beg the rich to "take less, so that there will be more for others."  How we live impacts the world around us. If we live lives of conspicuous consumption, greed, and gluttony, then that doesn't happen in isolation. Others will  have less because we take more. The problem of poverty is not just a problem of the poor, it is also a problem of those who aren't poor.

Our advice is simple: do what you can, with what you have, where you are. That is what we are trying to do, and we invite you to help. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!

Robert Waldrop, founder

Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, 1524 NW 21st, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106