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Holy Cross Lecture to Cover the Canonization of Dorothy Day - College of the Holy Cross

Pope Francis cited the Catholic worker as a great American in his address to Congress

Robert Ellsberg, editor in chief and publisher at Orbis Books, will give a lecture on the canonization of social justice activist and Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day. The lecture, titled “Dorothy Day: A Saint for Today,” will be held at the College of the Holy Cross on Tuesday, March 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library, and is free and open to the public.

Day (1897-1980) was a social activist and Catholic convert who co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that provides direct aid to the poor and homeless while advocating on their behalf. A proposal for Day’s sainthood was first submitted a few years after her death, in 1983. Pope John Paul II opened the cause in 2000, naming her a “servant of God” in the Catholic Church. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed the cause in 2012. Last fall, in his address to Congress, Pope Francis cited Day among four great Americans, praising her “social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed.”

“During her lifetime, Dorothy Day was often regarded as a marginal figure because of her commitment to justice, nonviolence, and her radical option for the poor. And yet now she has been proposed for canonization,” Ellsberg said. “How does her witness speak to our time? How does she reflect the vision of Pope Francis? And how does her story inspire and challenge to us to live more faithfully?”

Ellsberg joined the Catholic Worker Movement in 1975 and became managing editor of The Catholic Worker newspaper, serving alongside Day during the last few years of her life. He is author of “All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time” (Crossroad, 1997); “The Saints’ Guide to Happiness: Practical Lessons in the Life of the Spirit” (Doubleday, 2005); and “Blessed Among All Women: Reflections on Women Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time” (Crossroad, 2006). He is editor of “Dorothy Day: Selected Writings; By Little and by Little” (Orbis, 2005).

Ellsberg will be joined at Holy Cross by George Horton ’67, director of Catholic Charities’ Department of Social and Community Relations, who will also offer his remarks. Horton is working on Dorothy Day’s cause on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York.

The event is sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture and one of its Deitchman Family Lectures on Religion and Modernity. For information and directions and to view past lectures online, visit

About the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture:
Established in 2001 and housed in Smith Hall, the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture provides resources for faculty and course development, sponsors conferences and college-wide teaching events, hosts visiting fellows, and coordinates a number of campus lecture series. Rooted in the College’s commitment to invite conversation about basic human questions, the Center welcomes persons of all faiths and seeks to foster dialogue that acknowledges and respects differences, providing a forum for intellectual exchange that is interreligious, interdisciplinary, intercultural, and international in scope. The Center also brings members of the Holy Cross community into conversation with the Greater Worcester community, the academic community, and the wider world to examine the role of faith and inquiry in higher education and in the larger culture.

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