Dorothy Day (1897-1980)
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“Words are as strong and powerful as bombs, as napalm.”
Dorothy Day used her words as an American journalist, social activist
and devout Catholic. Day helped establish the Catholic Worker movement,
a pacifist movement that continues to this day to combine direct
aid for the poor and homeless with direct action on their behalf.
In 1918, Day settled on the lower east side of New York and worked
on the staff of Socialist publications, engaged in anti-war and women’s
After the birth of her daughter, Day had what she described as a
spiritual awakening, joining the Catholic Church in 1927. The Catholic
Worker quickly spread across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom
to include more than 30 affiliated CW communities by 1941. More than
100 of those communities exist today.
In 1971, Day was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award named after an
encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of
good will to secure peace among all nations. Three years after her
death in 1980, Day was proposed for sainthood. Pope John Paul II
granted the Archdiocese of New York permission to open Day’s “cause”
for sainthood in March 2000. This officially made her a “Servant
of God” in the eyes of the Catholic Church.