Dorothy Day with her daughter, circa 1932. From the Dorothy Day-Catholic Worker Collection at Marquette University .
Dorothy Day (1897-1980), along with Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933. As Laurence Downes recently summarized the tenets of this enduring human experiment in the New York Times:
Before converting to Catholicism, Dorothy was a journalist and something of a leftist, campaigning against U.S. participation in the great "capitalist war," (World War I) and for women's votes. Her subsequent writings in books and the Catholic Worker newspaper had as a primary aim, always, to share the delight and freedom she found in her encounter with the Christ; what made her such an engaging writer and thinker was that her evangelism was always embodied in vivid descriptions of mundane practicalities.
Dorothy was also the only person I knew well who lived through the 1906 earthquake, in her case as an eight year old in Oakland. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the quake, it seems right to share her story. This autobiographical account appears in The Long Loneliness, still in print and available.
Dorothy's account of the terror of that shaker does unsettle my complacent expectation that the earth will always sit solidly, doing its job of holding the city upright. One day it may not, but there is no knowing when. I find I can't hold the thought. I'm glad I don't have a professional responsibility for trying to get people to prepare for the unimaginable.