Dorothy Day Awtt Portrait

Dorothy Day

Social Activist, Journalist : 1897 - 1980

“The biggest mistake sometimes is to play things very safe in this life and end up being moral failures.”


Dorothy Day was born in New York in 1897. Her childhood was spent mostly in Chicago, and she attended the University of Illinois in Urbana for two years before returning to New York with her family in 1916. Her reading of such authors as Leo Tolstoy and Upton Sinclair deepened her concern for the sufferings of the poor. Day’s conversion to Catholicism followed the birth of her daughter. She was now committed to a revolution of the heart, a revolution in which human individuals experience transforming change and the spiritual renewal that is the call of the Gospel to care for the hungry and despised.

In Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day met a like-minded believer and reformer. In 1933 the two began the Catholic Worker movement, which not only published an influential newspaper but founded a number of hospitality houses to serve the homeless.

“What we would like to do is change the world, make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.” The author of these words is even now being considered for sainthood in the church she loved, but shortly before her death in 1980 she said: Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.


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