Granddaughter of Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day, Martha Hennessy to speak at Misericordia
DALLAS, — Campus Ministry at Misericordia University and Pax Christi of Northeastern Pennsylvania are presenting a special lecture by Martha Hennessy, a peace activist who is carrying on the legacy of her grandmother, Dorothy Day, on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library on campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.
Hennessy, 60, will present, “Dorothy Day: A Discipleship Needed for Today,’’ in which she will discuss her grandmother’s efforts to found the Catholic Worker Movement and how she devoted her life to serving those most in need. She will also share personal memories of Dorothy Day, and discuss how her movement continues today. Hennessy travels and speaks on the topics of life and work in community, Catholic social teaching, and peacemaking efforts in the tradition of the Catholic Worker Movement.
A retired occupational therapist, Hennessy divides her time between family in Vermont and work at the Maryhouse Catholic Worker in New York City, New York. An outspoken activist, she has been imprisoned for protesting war, nuclear power and weapons, the use of drones, and the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. She has traveled to Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Palestine and Russia to understand the effects of war on people. Additionally, Hennessy participated in a nine-day fast for peace, taught conversational English to Kurdish children in Iraq, and met with Palestinians on the border of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
The Claretian Missionaries put forth a proposal to canonize Day. Pope John Paul II granted the Archdiocese of New York permission to allow her to be called a “Servant of God” in the eyes of the Catholic Church. In the closing days of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI cited Day as an example of conversion. He quoted from her writings and said: “The journey towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly difficult, but Grace acts nonetheless.’’
The Rev. William Pickard, vice president of Pax Christi of NEPA and active in the Catholic Worker Movement, cited historian David O’Brien’s observation that Day is “the most significant, interesting and influential person in the history of American Catholicism.’’ Day, he said, was an example of “hands-on love,’’ a lay person who lived amid the squalor of city slums and treated the poor and outcasts with respect and dignity.
The Catholic Worker Movement was established in 1933 by Day and co-founder Peter Maurin in New York City to implement the teachings of the Gospels and Catholic social teaching. Their first project was the founding of the Catholic Worker newspaper. The basic concept of the movement was hospitality and pacifism, so together they and others began to house the homeless and also promote peace. As the movement grew, other houses of hospitality were established across the country. Today, 208 Catholic Worker Movement communities have been established in 39 states of the United States and an 28 internationally, according to the Catholic Worker movement.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT