L.A. Catholic Worker Vision and Mission Statements

Listed below is the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Vision and Mission Statements

Deeply convinced of the Gospel’s radical truths, and inspired by the life of Jesus Christ, the saints, and martyrs, we strive to embody a Catholic Worker vision as articulated by our founders, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.

   Our emphases are the Corporal Works of Mercy (ministering to and living amongst the homeless, poor, sick, disturbed, and imprisoned), the Spiritual Works of Mercy (nourishing the spiritual hungry and renewing the Church through loving prophetic challenge), and taking action against the causes of poverty, oppression, racism, and sexism. We seek to be nonviolent and opposed to all war, and personify Jesus’ call to be peacemakers.

   Recognizing our own complicity in the world’s violence and injustice, we continue to clarify our thoughts and deepen our spiritual life through scriptural study, prayer, reflection, dialog, and action.

   We strive to form community with a strong Christian spirituality. This enables us to share our lives in voluntary poverty (simple living) with those who are broken; not just for their benefit, but ours as well, realizing we are all members of the Body of Christ and we celebrate this mystery in sharing bread with the poor and breaking bread in the Eucharist.

LOS ANGELES CATHOLIC WORKER MISSION STATEMENT

   As a Catholic Worker Community, we are grounded in the visions of Sabbath Jubilee and Restorative Justice. Our history is the history of the Hebrew Scriptures: of Genesis and Exodus, powerful stories of God’s economy of grace and God’s mighty outstretched arm to liberate the oppressed. Our history is the story of a dysfunctional family and tribe, of the concentration of power into monarchy, of exile and return. We cling to a vision of heroic smallness, that personal acts of kindness are the seeds of God’s Reign, and remaining marginal is essential to staying at the center of our story.

   Jesus is the heart of our story, as the Human One who calls us back to the vision of trust in God’s creation, release to the captives, and justice for the poor. The Sermon on the Mount is our manifesto with Matthew 25: 31-46 our action plan. We dedicate ourselves to comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable through the following:

  • Hospitality Kitchen and Dining Garden—Street Serving, Picnics, Food Distribution, Shopping Cart Distribution and Maintenance, and Sunday Drop-in Center.
  • Health Outreach—Medical, Dental and Vision, HIV/AIDS Outreach, Foot Care, Hygiene and Simple Meds Distribution.
  • Ammon Hennacy House of Hospitality—Short and Long Term Hospitality For The Homeless, Respite Care, Hospice Care, Hospitality Days, Hennacy House Band and Prisoner Support.
  • The Catholic Agitator—Our Bi-Monthly Newspaper.
  • Education, Outreach and Summer Intern Program.
  • Weekly Bible Study, Liturgy, and Culture Critique.
  • Sister House Networking and Annual Retreat.
  • Resistance—Anti-War, Anti-Death Penalty, Anti-Immigration Policy, Street Actions, Anti-Nuclear, Anti-Missile Defense, Anti-Drone, Anti-Recruitment, Local Black Lives Matter Support, and National School of the Americas (SOA) Watch Support.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/02/20/l-a-catholic-worker-vision-and-mission-statement

The Catholic Worker Aims and Means

Listed below are the Catholic Worker Movement Aims and Means as published in the 85th Anniversary Issue of The Catholic Worker newspaper, May 2018.

The aim of the Catholic Worker movement is to live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ. Our sources are the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures as handed down in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, with our inspiration coming from the lives of the saints, “men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses to Your unchanging love.” (Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer for holy men and women)

This aim requires us to begin living in a different way. We recall the words of our founders, Dorothy Day who said, “God meant things to be much easier than we have made them,” and Peter Maurin who wanted to build a society “where it is easier for people to be good.”

* * *

When we examine our society, which is generally called capitalist (because of its methods of producing and controlling wealth) and is bourgeois (because of prevailing concern for acquisition and material interests, and its emphasis on respectability and mediocrity), we find it far from God’s justice.

In economics, private and state capitalism bring about an unjust distribution of wealth, for the profit motive guides decisions. Those in power live off the sweat of others’ brows, while those without power are robbed of a just return for their work. Usury (the charging of interest above administrative costs) is a major contributor to the wrongdoing intrinsic to this system. We note, especially, how the world debt crisis leads poor countries into greater deprivation and a dependency from which there is no foreseeable escape. Here at home, the number of hungry and homeless and unemployed people rises in the midst of increasing affluence.

In labor, human need is no longer the reason for human work. Instead, the unbridled expansion of technology, necessary to capitalism and viewed as “progress,” holds sway. Jobs are concentrated in productivity and administration for a “high-tech,” war-related, consumer society of disposable goods, so that laborers are trapped in work that does not contribute to human welfare. Furthermore, as jobs become more specialized, many people are excluded from meaningful work or are alienated from the products of their labor. Even in farming, agribusiness has replaced agriculture, and, in all areas, moral restraints are run over roughshod, and a disregard for the laws of nature now threatens the very planet.

In politics, the state functions to control and regulate life. Its power has burgeoned hand in hand with growth in technology, so that military, scientific and corporate interests get the highest priority when concrete political policies are formulated. Because of the sheer size of institutions, we tend towards government by bureaucracy–that is, government by nobody. Bureaucracy, in all areas of life, is not only impersonal, but also makes accountability, and, therefore, an effective political forum for redressing grievances, next to impossible.

In morals, relations between people are corrupted by distorted images of the human person. Class, race and gender often determine personal worth and position within society, leading to structures that foster oppression. Capitalism further divides society by pitting owners against workers in perpetual conflict over wealth and its control. Those who do not “produce” are abandoned, and left, at best, to be “processed” through institutions. Spiritual destitution is rampant, manifested in isolation, madness, promiscuity and violence.

The arms race stands as a clear sign of the direction and spirit of our age. It has extended the domain of destruction and the fear of annihilation, and denies the basic right to life. There is a direct connection between the arms race and destitution. “The arms race is an utterly treacherous trap, and one which injures the poor to an intolerable degree.” (Gaudium et Spes)

* * *

In contrast to what we see around us, as well as within ourselves, stands St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of the Common Good, a vision of a society where the good of each member is bound to the good of the whole in the service of God.

To this end, we advocate:

Personalism, a philosophy which regards the freedom and dignity of each person as the basis, focus and goal of all metaphysics and morals. In following such wisdom, we move away from a self-centered individualism toward the good of the other. This is to be done by taking personal responsibility for changing conditions, rather than looking to the state or other institutions to provide impersonal “charity.” We pray for a Church renewed by this philosophy and for a time when all those who feel excluded from participation are welcomed with love, drawn by the gentle personalism Peter Maurin taught.

–A decentralized society, in contrast to the present bigness of government, industry, education, health care and agriculture. We encourage efforts such as family farms, rural and urban land trusts, worker ownership and management of small factories, homesteading projects, food, housing and other cooperatives–any effort in which money can once more become merely a medium of exchange, and human beings are no longer commodities.

–A “green revolution,” so that it is possible to rediscover the proper meaning of our labor and our true bonds with the land; a distributist communitarianism, self-sufficient through farming, crafting and appropriate technology; a radically new society where people will rely on the fruits of their own toil and labor; associations of mutuality, and a sense of fairness to resolve conflicts.

* * *

We believe this needed personal and social transformation should be pursued by the means Jesus revealed in His sacrificial love. With Christ as our Exemplar, by prayer and communion with His Body and Blood, we strive for practices of:

Nonviolence. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matt. 5:9) Only through nonviolent action can a personalist revolution come about, one in which one evil will not simply be replaced by another. Thus, we oppose the deliberate taking of human life for any reason, and see every oppression as blasphemy. Jesus taught us to take suffering upon ourselves rather than inflict it upon others, and He calls us to fight against violence with the spiritual weapons of prayer, fasting and noncooperation with evil. Refusal to pay taxes for war, to register for conscription, to comply with any unjust legislation; participation in nonviolent strikes and boycotts, protests or vigils; withdrawal of support for dominant systems, corporate funding or usurious practices are all excellent means to establish peace.

The works of mercy (as found in Matt. 25:31-46) are at the heart of the Gospel and they are clear mandates for our response to “the least of our brothers and sisters.” Houses of hospitality are centers for learning to do the acts of love, so that the poor can receive what is, in justice, theirs, the second coat in our closet, the spare room in our home, a place at our table. Anything beyond what we immediately need belongs to those who go without.

Manual labor, in a society that rejects it as undignified and inferior. “Besides inducing cooperation, besides overcoming barriers and establishing the spirit of sister and brotherhood (besides just getting things done), manual labor enables us to use our bodies as well as our hands, our minds.” (Dorothy Day) The Benedictine motto Ora et Labora reminds us that the work of human hands is a gift for the edification of the world and the glory of God.

Voluntary poverty. “The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge and belief in love.” (Dorothy Day) By embracing voluntary poverty, that is, by casting our lot freely with those whose impoverishment is not a choice, we would ask for the grace to abandon ourselves to the love of God. It would put us on the path to incarnate the Church’s “preferential option for the poor.”

We must be prepared to accept seeming failure with these aims, for sacrifice and suffering are part of the Christian life. Success, as the world determines it, is not the final criterion for judgments. The most important thing is the love of Jesus Christ and how to live His truth.

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Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/02/15/the-catholic-worker-aims-and-means

February 2019 Agitator

Here is the FEBRUARY Catholic Agitator

This Issue Is Dedicated To Jeff Dietrich – It Contains several photos and:

  • An Interview with Jeff Dietrich
  • Jeff’s Retirement: We Are Unworthy Servants by Jeff Dietrich
  • The Fishing Lesson by Jeff Dietrich
  • The following are reflections of Jeff by friends and current and former LACW community members
  • The Reluctant Resister Retires by Kaleb Havens
  • A Writer of Genius Status by Theresia de Vroom
  • Comforting The Afflicted by Dan Hirsch
  • Lavish Hospitality by Murphy Davis
  • Read and Learn by Joanne Kennedy
  • Serves At Your Side by Kate Chatfield
  • Bible Study by Martha Lewis
  • Neither Shy Nor Retiring by Ched Myers
  • Persistence by Larry Holben
  • Living Witness by Frank Cordaro
  • Laughter by Tensie Hernández

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/02/04/february-2019-agitator

A Sad Farewell To The “Washington Clippers” – Our Fantastic Foot Care Team

The past two weeks have passed extremely expeditiously. These five amazing women (and their helpers) have made many Skid Row residents not only happy, but feeling comfortable and grateful. They soaked and bathed tired, worn, and aching feet, cut and filed toenails, gently provided cuticle, bunion, and callus care. In-grown toenails and infections were also treated. They applied medication and lotion along with foot messages, and new socks and shoes when needed. These lovely women provide a ministry that allow their clients to experience cloud nine in a very harsh and oppressive environment.

We at the LACW are honored and privileged to have them join us in our work serving the poorest of the poor in Los Angeles. Pictured above are: Saima, Judy, Nancy, Rev. Kathleen, and Maggie–all from Olympia, Washington. Thank you for sharing your love and compassion. Hope to see you again next January, and many blessings through the year.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/01/27/a-sad-farewell-to-the-washington-clippers-our-fantastic-foot-care-team

The “Washington Clippers” Foot Care Team Returns

Each January, for two weeks, (January 14 – 27) five to seven beautiful, wonderful, and amazing women from Olympia, Washington, travel down to the LACW to offer full foot care to the Skid Row poor and homeless. Last week they began their ministry and have a fully booked schedule each day Tuesday – Saturday from 7:00 am until noon performing full foot care. Welcome back Rev. Kathleen, Maggie, Saima, Judy, and Nancy. See more photos HERE.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/01/21/the-washington-clippers-foot-care-team-returns

Finding Hope In Prison

The following is a reflection written by our sister house–the Guadalupe Catholic Worker co-founder Tensie Hernandez, who spent one week in federal prison for a nonviolent direct action last August at Vandenberg Air Force Base during a vigil commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This reflection was originally published in the Beatitude House Newsletter

By Tensie Hernandez

The marshal took one look at me and asked, “What is this you’re wearing?” “It’s my prayer shawl,” I said sheepishly, thinking he would ask me to remove it.

“Well, I guess it’s okay since you have a right to keep a religious article of clothing while we’re processing you,” he said while handcuffing me. I couldn’t have been any more surprised but grateful to have this shawl with me for the next six hours as I was transferred from holding cell to holding cell, waiting to be led to the Metropolitan Detention Center where I would be for the next seven days.

The shawl was given to me by my community the day before at a liturgy where I received their blessing and sending forth. It was the same community that also stood alongside me at the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base on the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, when we cried out for an end to the madness of nuclear weapons and their testing, and I crossed the green line. With the shawl around me, I felt the love and prayers from them and many others who affirmed the decision. The holding cells are, if nothing else, a place to wait. In the cold concrete cells, one enters into a certain space where the anticipation of what is to come along with the fresh memories of what was just lived come together in a kind of vortex that leaves one feeling hollow inside. It is an invitation to pray. And that is exactly what I did.

Arriving on the prison floor, I was greeted with the barking orders of the guard telling me to carry my mattress to the cell assigned to me. Immediately, a young woman prisoner ran over and offered her assistance in carrying the mattress. Having made it to the cell, another woman offered pants and a shirt as gifts so that I could remove the oversized jump suit that had replaced my street clothes and shawl taken from me minutes before. After initial exchanges and welcome from the three women in the cell, food was then offered. Within the first 15 minutes of being in federal prison, I was greeted with kindness, clothing and food; all offered by the ones this society says are despicable enough to cage like animals.

In a country where so much lip service is given assuring us of our collective freedom, those imprisoned are often considered pariahs. Incarceration is the trump card held by authorities wanting us to comply or else. But the prisons that cage our bodies can often be more secure than the ones that cage our spirits. The women in my cell had a certain freedom that could not and would not be confined. Many of the women, for example, had no one to give them extra money to put on their books and so they shared with one another. Elaborate meals were created with each putting in something from their commissary. I learned that you can even make Pozole (a traditional Mexican soup that’s usually made with hominy) using corn-nuts soaked in water! The letters that arrived for the few would be shared among the many and all would celebrate the pictures of the babies or other family members being passed around.

As I observed all of this, the richness of humanity overwhelmed me and inevitably I would start crying at the sense of wonder and awe in observing the Kin-dom of God created among the women at M.D.C! Often they would gather around me wanting to console me as they thought I was crying because I missed home. I hadn’t anticipated finding renewed hope in humanity in prison and yet there it was together with the noise, sensory deprivation and confinement.

It is no accident that Jesus was born in a stable; that our Savior shared space with the cows and farm animals and that he had only his parents and the shepherds to celebrate his arrival into this world. God’s genius of incarnated love in the place you least expect it – incarcerated! Unexpectedly, Advent arrived early for me. I’m sure Judge LaMothe who imposed this “punishment” had no idea she was gifting me with a window into the mystery of God; One who wants to be born in a stable, in prison, in soup kitchens, in refugee camps, in the fields with the farm-workers. The radiant star that guides us is suffering humanity. The bad news, it’s everywhere. The Good News, it’s everywhere!

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/01/17/finding-hope-in-prison

LMU Bellermine Forum Presents: A Play By Catholic Worker Dennis Apel – NOTE NEW TIME AND LOCATION.

Crossing the Line: Featuring Dennis Apel, co-founder of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker, and Deborah Tobola, founding artistic director of Poetic Justice Project

Dennis Apel is a longtime antiwar activist and the co-founder, along with his wife Tensie Hernandez, of our sister house Catholic Worker community in Guadalupe, CA. In 2016, Apel and LACW Jeff Dietrich, served four months in federal prison for “crossing the line” during a protest at Vandenberg Air Force Base marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and then refusing to comply with probation.

In “Crossing the Line,” Deborah Tobola weaves together a narrative using journal entries written by Apel during his imprisonment that were originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent. Formerly incarcerated actors from Poetic Justice Project help bring the story of this longtime peace activist to life in a play that is authentic and accessible.

WHEN: Thursday, January 31, at 7:30 pm – Reception from 6:30– 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:  Loyola Marymount University

William H. Hannon Library, Von der Ahe Family Suite, Level 3

1 LMU Drive

Los Angeles, California 90045

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/01/10/enjoy-a-play-by-catholic-worker-dennis-apel

Karán Founds-Benton Memorial

Karán’s celebration of life memorial will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 11 am to 1:30 pm in Mission Viejo. Please call Sarah at the LACW – 323-770-4168, for location and to RSVP on or before Friday, January 18, that Karán’s family can plan accordingly. Thank you.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/01/02/karan-founds-benton-memorial

2019 Summer Intern Program Applications Now Available

Applications for the 2019 LACW Summer Intern Program are now being accepted.

This year’s summer program will begin on Monday, July 1 and end on Sunday, August 11. Please submit applications no later than March 1, 2019. Thank you.

To download the application and learn more about our Summer Program see our INTERN OPPORTUNITIES page.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2019/01/02/2019-summer-intern-program-applications-now-available

LACW Attends Skid Row Memorial

On Friday, December 21, LACW community members attended the annual Homeless Memorial for all Skid Row residents who died over the past year. Although the names of those associated with the Hippie Kitchen were not printed in the program, Catherine read the names of our guests at the Hippie Kitchen, along with our own Karán Founds-Benton. With each person named Catherine gave a brief background of who that person was. It was a nice ceremony to remember and honor our departed sisters and brothers. May they rest in peace.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2018/12/26/lacw-attends-skid-row-memorial

An LACW Christmas Blessing

This is our tree this year, and below is what the season is about: Welcoming, honoring, and following the Son of God, Emmanuel (God with us), who is the Prince of Peace, our Exemplar, and fulfilling the work he began in spreading the nonviolent Kin-dom of God.

Merry Christmas to all along with many blessings, and, of course, PEACE!

May each of us tirelessly work that we may enjoy peace with justice at all times.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2018/12/19/an-lacw-christmas-wish

Christmas Holiday Schedule

Please note that Hospitality Kitchen (aka Hippie Kitchen) is closed on Saturday, December 22. However, the garden will be open with coffee and Christmas treats if you are interested in helping.

We will be closed Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, will reopen on Thursday, December 27. We will also be closed on New Years Day, Tuesday, January 1, will reopen on Thursday, January 3.

Also, we DO NOT accept volunteers working for school service requirements or other forms of community service hours until the week after Christmas. We do not have space to accommodate the many people who wish to volunteer during this time period.

Thank you. Happy holidays. May your Christmas season be safe and filled with many blessings and much joy, happiness, and love.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2018/12/13/christmas-holiday-schedule