Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897-1980)

for November 29

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" (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" (Egan, "Dorothy Day and the Permanent Revolution," page 22). (Taken from "The Catholic Connections Handbook for Middle Schoolers.")

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Dorothy Day was a 20th-century prophet who lived what she spoke about: "Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts." (Taken from “Good News Day by Day: Bible Reflections for Teens.”) Spend some quiet time with the Lord. Ask him to help you always make room for him in your heart, and to answer his call to love and serve others.


Just and loving God, you call each of us to serve others. Dorothy Day responded to that call, but went much further. She worked for social change, never losing sight of the core message of the Gospel. Help us to realize we are all called to share our bread with poor people. (Taken from “Good News Day by Day: Bible Reflections for Teens.”)