Longtime Catholic Worker, Brian Terrell, from Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, and co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence, has written a very cogent and pertinent ARTICLE about Catholic Worker movement co-founder, Peter Maurin’s vision for the movement and how today, more than ever before, that vision should be and is being fulfilled.
An excerpt: “Today it seems obvious that a return to the land, to a proper relationship with creation and to meaningful, productive work is integral to the aims of the Catholic Worker movement. For much of its history, however, since its beginning in 1933, this aspect of its founder’s original intentions was relegated to the margins of an already marginal movement.
For generations of young Americans attracted to Catholic Worker communities, the European peasant Peter Maurin might have appeared as obscure and incomprehensible as the very American radical Dorothy Day was accessible. Daniel Berrigan, in his introduction to Dorothy’s memoir, The Long Loneliness, published in 1981, a year after her death, reflected a common if less than generous perception of Peter and his vision: ‘They started a newspaper and the rest is history. They started houses of hospitality; that too is history. Peter was forever talking about something he called ‘agronomic universities.’ They started one, on the land; and that is something less than history.’
Over the past 30 years there has been a great shift in understanding and respect for Peter’s vision and what it means. At one of the sporadically convened national Catholic Worker gatherings, I think that this was in 1987, a “round table” discussion of Peter’s agronomic university was attended by a few of us farmers and the most pressing question that surfaced from the few mildly curious others who wandered in was “why bother with a garden when we have more donated old vegetables from the market than we can ever sort out?” Since that time, there has been a resurgence in Peter’s dreams of farming communes in the movement. At more recent gatherings, roundtables on rural issues and Peter Maurin are among the liveliest and best attended and this, the fourth biannual national Catholic Worker gathering is the largest ever.”