17 November 2016, The Tablet

The canonisation of Dorothy Day: A saint for our time, now in the making

by Vicky Cosstick


As the United States enters a period of unprecedented uncertainty, the canonisation of a radical peace activist who was imprisoned several times is becoming increasingly likely

She truly was a saint, a saint for our time, those who knew her believe – although the canonisation of this complex and intensely human woman is no fait accompli, and they retain mixed feelings about it.

Dorothy Day was ambivalent herself. “I don’t want to be a saint,” she famously said, “I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” She would also say: “I wish they might wait until I am dead.” Day never wanted the focus to be on her, as Pat and Kathleen Jordan, who helped to care for in her last years, confirm. She always wanted it to be on the Gospel.

What happened to me, when I phoned to ask to visit St Joseph’s, on New York’s Lower East Side, where Day lived and which is now the motherhouse of the Catholic Worker movement, has happened to many others – I am simply invited to come and help.

The men in the queue outside direct me to bang on the door of 36 East 1st Street, just off the Bowery, once New York’s “Skid Row” but now populated by trendy bars, artisan boutiques and art galleries.

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