Momentum Builds for the Canonization of Dorothy Day of New York
By Tresa Evans
While many (especially those in the Catholic Worker movement) consider the unconventional advocate of the poor and marginalized a saint, an official process is in progress to canonize Dorothy Day of New York. It began in the late 1990s, when the late Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, submitted the cause to Rome and named Monsignor Gregory A. Mustaciuolo as the Postulator in charge of the pursuit.
In March 2000, Cardinal O'Connor announced the approval by Rome of the cause which therefore gave Dorothy Day the title "Servant of God". Cardinal O'Connor gathered together a group of persons who personally knew Dorothy Day to gain their input and advice regarding how to proceed. Sadly, within the next few months, illness and death would befall the good Cardinal. During this time there was a lull in the canonization process. After a transition period the new Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Egan, renewed the cause of beatification and canonization of Dorothy Day.
The Guild of Dorothy Day was formed on June 7th, 2005, in New York City, thus fulfilling the vision of Cardinal O'Connor and his early committee. The Guild initially consisted of a core group of about 35 lay people as well as Monsignor Mustaciuolo; vicar general, Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan; and the Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan. The purpose of the guild "is to spread the word of her life, work, and sanctity; to identify the growing devotion to Dorothy Day by Catholics and non-Catholics; and to document her ability to intercede for people in need of God's healing mercy and assistance." About its purpose, Lourdes Ferrier, Coordinator of the Guild, said, "We want people to know who she was and what she did."
Born in 1897, Dorothy Day lived a life of lenience and excess. She had lived in a common-law
marriage and had an abortion. She turned a corner in her life when in 1926 she gave birth to her daughter Tamar. So taken by the love that she felt for her child, she began a passage from her former life of immoderation to a life of gratitude and sacrifice to God. At great personal loss, she embraced the Catholic faith and she and her daughter were baptized. In 1932, she co-founded the Catholic Worker movement with Peter Maurin, a French immigrant and former Christian Brother.
Subsequently, Dorothy Day lived in voluntary poverty and solidarity with the poor and marginalized. Her Houses of Hospitality, where she made residence, gave refuge to many weary in need of shelter and fed many hungry. She also fought tirelessly for peace and was a passionate advocate for workers rights. Using her past experience as a journalist, she, along with Maurin, published the Catholic Worker newspaper, where she wrote about a wide variety of subjects mostly addressing the social ills she witnessed so frequently. She embraced a dual labor of healing the hurts of society and struggling for a change in the system that was responsible for those hurts. "What we would like to do is change the world-make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute-the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor in other words, we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We can give away an onion."
"We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and dear God-please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend." ,wrote Dorothy Day in the article entitled "Love Is the Measure"; The Catholic Worker, June 1946, 2.
Dorothy Day also had a strong fidelity to the Sacraments and prayer, frequently receiving Reconciliation, attending Mass and praying the Rosary. Dorothy was an adherent of St Teresa of Lisieux, (known for doing little things with great love), and she frequented scripture which helped her radiate the commandments of the Gospel, to love God and love neighbor.
Today there are many who feel drawn to Dorothy Day as evidenced by the existence of 145 Catholic Worker Houses and Farming Communes in the U.S. and around the world and almost 100 Catholic Worker newspapers published under various names from these communities." Not taking away from other Saints, but Dorothy Day will be a saint that many people, especially women, will feel drawn to today because she was so 'real'. She made some wrong choices early in her life but she also lived life 100% and she felt that her experiences made her who she was. She was able to do great, extraordinary things with her life," said Ferrer
The work of canonizing Dorothy Day is gathering momentum as more people hear of Dorothy and the extraordinary life that she led. The Guild of Dorothy Day sent out its first mailing in April and as of July, there are over 100 members. Many long-time devotees as well as more recent followers have joined the guild. "We have even received many international calls from persons showing interest in joining the guild." said Ferrer. "The next steps are to document all received prayer petitions and wait to hear of any miracles that might be attributed to Dorothy Day."
For more information on becoming a member of the Guild of Dorothy Day contact: Lourdes Ferrer, Coordinator, Dorothy Day Guild, C/o Catholic Charities, Department of Social and Community Development, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022, (212) 371-1000 ext. 2474
Claretian Prayer to Follow the Example of Dorothy Day
Merciful Creator of us all,
in Christ Jesus, your Son, our Risen Savior,
you have brought light to the blind, comfort to the afflicted, and Good News to the poor.
We now remember with heart-felt thanksgiving
the generosity of spirit manifest in the life and labors
of your devoted servant, Dorothy Day.
In times of unrelieved hardship and economic depression, as well as in widespread prosperity and abundance, she spent herself in dedicated partnership
with the privations and disdain
felt by the homeless and the unwanted
as a champion of their rights.
An early, often lonely, witness
in the cause of peace and conscience,
at once fearless and gentle,
she braved the disapproval of the powerful,
rejection by the many who did not understand,
and even imprisonment.
Grant that we in turn may be moved
by your Holy Spirit, Father,to share her compassion and concernas true disciples of the Lord Jesus,
giving ourselves as she did to the love and care
of the neediest members of Christ's Body and committing our lives, our means, even our homes, to bring the light and hope, the justice and peace of the gospel to all your people.
This we pray in the Holy Spirit
through Christ our Lord, Amen
Claretian Prayer for the Canonization of Dorothy Day
Merciful God, you called your servant
Dorothy Day to show us the face of
Jesus in the poor and forsaken.
By constant practice
of the works of mercy,
she embraced poverty and witnessed
steadfastly to justice and peace.
Count her among your saints
and lead us all to become friends of
the poor ones of the earth,
and to recognize you in them.
We ask this through your Son
Jesus Christ, bringer of good news
to the poor. Amen
Prayer for the Intercession of Servant of God Dorothy Day
God our Creator, Your servant Dorothy Day exemplified the Catholic faith by her conversion, life of prayer and voluntary poverty, works of mercy and witness to the justice and peace of the Gospel.
May her life inspire people to turn to Christ as their Savior and guide, to see His face in the worlds poor, and to raise their voices for justice of God's kingdom.
We pray that you grant the favors we ask through her intercession so that her goodness and holiness may be more widely recognized and one day the Church may proclaim her Saint. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Prayer composed by Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York
Claretian prayers distributed by Claretian Publications
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