Archdiocese Local

Dorothy Day exhibit highlights paradoxical ‘saint of our times’

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, is pictured in an undated photo. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has opened the canonical inquiry on the life of the social justice advocate, the archdiocese announced April 19. (CNS photo/courtesy Milwaukee Journal)

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — She died 38 years ago, but Dorothy Day still fascinates millions of Catholics with the witness of her life and clarion call for holiness and justice.

Now, thanks to a traveling exhibit sponsored by local members of the Communion and Liberation movement, many will have the opportunity to learn about this faithful Catholic who defies easy categorization.

The exhibit opened in New York City in January during Communion and Liberation’s annual New York Encounter. It will also go to Washington D.C. and other cities.

Before she died at age 83 in 1980, many considered Day a “living saint.”

And though the church has opened the cause for Day’s possible canonization — and as a result, she is now referred to with the title of servant of God — it didn’t start out that way.

Day was a journalist and social activist — even a political radical. In the mid-1920s, she experienced a profound conversion and became a devout Catholic.

Day united her faith with her passion for justice to the poor and marginalized of society and, with Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker Movement.

“Dorothy Day’s life is often misunderstood,” said Marina Carrizosa- Ramos, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood and of Communion and Liberation.

“She was a social activist, a mother, a writer, and a woman of deep prayer,” she said. “She participated in labor strikes, protested wars and served jail time on multiple occasions for civil disobedience.”

All these things were animated and informed, however, by Day’s Catholic faith.

“Dorothy was a woman of faith, prayer and obedience to the church,” said Carrizosa-Ramos. “She was a heroic witness to Christ and all the polarizations and paradoxes that are so human.”

Day is sometimes considered paradoxical because she transcended neat categorizations of faith and ideologies, displaying all-too-human contradictions.

This exhibit is not a bunch of “just random panels full of facts,” said Carrizosa- Ramos.

Rather, it will be like Day herself — a narrative that unfolds with the impossible unity that Christ makes in our lives.

The first section will be background about Day. The second section will present the misunderstood paradoxes of her life.

There will be a short video presentation by Tom Cornell, associate editor of The Catholic Worker newspaper, and Marcie Stokman, founder of Well-Read Mom, will give an introductory talk about Day.

The event is free and no registration is required, but donations are welcome to cover the cost of printing materials.

The exhibit will take place September 20 from 7-9 pm at St. Michael the Archangel Parish 14251 Nall Ave. Overland Park, KS and September 21 from 7-9 pm at the St. Lawrence Center 1631 Crescent Rd, Lawrence, KS.

For information about the exhibit, contact Carrizosa-Ramos by email at:

For more about the Communion and Liberation movement, visit the website.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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