Dorothy Day’s Granddaughter speaks in West Jordan, Utah


May 1, 2012 by Jason Brown


Me with Martha Hennessy at St. Joseph the Worker in West Jordan, Utah

As I walked into the newly renovated St. Joseph the Worker Church not far from where I live in West Jordan, Utah my eye immediately caught the familiar font of the Catholic Worker newspaper. On this international day of the Worker a small group of Catholics and labor union members gathered to dedicate a new mural dedicated to the legacy of Dorothy Day. We sat during speeches and stood to sing familiar hymns a liturgy to the worker. The final speaker was the silver-gray haired Martha Hennessy, the 7th grandchild of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day. Hennessy recently finished a seven day fast focused on Day’s canonization as a saint. Hennessy read from Utah legend Ammon Hennessy (no relation) and called Dorothy a mystic who felt called to care for the poor. For Day the Sermon on the Mount was a manifesto of the poor Christ, whose face she saw in the poor all around us. Day balked at ecclesiastical authority that saw her movement as too radical, and outside of orthodox Catholic practice. In her autobiography The Long Loneliness she claimed that work is worship but that capitalism is a form of slavery. Work rather should be a form of cooperation with the Creator and Redeemer. Anarchism, the oft maligned political philosophy for Day was simply embracing personal responsibility. Day spent her life serving the poor through her Catholic Worker Houses several of which are still doing this work. Hennessy, Day’s granddaughter, spoke eloquently and softly about following in her Grandmother’s footsteps; the Mary House where Hennessy works, houses 25 homeless people and volunteers.

4 thoughts on “Dorothy Day’s Granddaughter speaks in West Jordan, Utah

  1. Tod Robbins says:

    Thank you Jason! It’s about time I read The Long Loneliness. Where is the Mary House located?

  2. Jim Forest says:

    Maryhouse Catholic Worker is at 55 E. Third St. in Manhattan.

    Thanks, Jason, for your report about Martha’s visit!

    Jim Forest

  3. Work, as Jesus taught it, is creation. Doing Gods work on earth, creating things is as close as we get. Be that Growing food and being able to “create” new dirt by rotating the proper crops, building as Jesus the carpenter showed us, making art and music, all are creative forces.

    Capitalism as we have been forced to live with does not create. It rewards greed and fails to create with job titles like banker and upper management who do nothing but “earn” their way by passing pieces of paper back and forth.

    We are lied to every day by evilness. The very religions that claim to do Gods work are the host of the beast. Islam is “the way of peace” yet around the world Muslim extremists speak of a holy war. The historic church is responsible for crusade after inquisition after crusade after inquisition. Today the Catholic church is just now owning up to the child predators it hid within it’s own ranks for year. Born Again Christians like George Bush led us into wars of aggression against the wishes of the Christ yet telling the American people that “God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq.” Israel claims to be a holy nation but has gone against so much of the Torah I don’t even know where to start.

    Not just all true Christians, but all true people of Faith need to realize they are all Anarchists as well, they have to be because of the very nature of the State and it’s need of the use of violence to meet it’s ends. The U.S. government spends more of weapons then any other government and we spend more then the next top 10 combined. Each Year. When Egypt was in flames last year, when crowds of Christian protestors stood and blocked the tear gas canisters from hitting the Muslim protestors who were praying, you know what the tear gas canisters said on the side? Made in the United States. Because thats all we do anymore, the beacon of a free government leads the world in only two things. Making weapons of mass destruction and Locking People in Prison. For 5% of the worlds population the U.S. has 25% of the worlds prison population. To claim to adhere to any religion and support that is hypocrisy.

    The governments fight against activists in the U.S. is being won, do not doubt it. The Occupy movement was a flash in the pan, the Tea party was co-opted by the Republicans. Around the world radical political movements that seek to change the worldwide regime of violence against the working class have gained the support of religious people of all walks. They have banded together for peace, the goal of all religion. Here I see so few. If People do not start walking out of the churches and into the streets as they have in the rest of the world then we will not be able to turn things around.

    • Jim Forest says:

      >> If People do not start walking out of the churches and into the streets as they have in the rest of the world then we will not be able to turn things around. <<

      Do you mean abandon the Church? In the case of Dorothy Day it was staying in the Church that gave her the strength to persevere in going out into the streets.

      Jim Forest

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