Please consider this message an invitation to discern whether you are at this time and place in your life in a position to respond to a grace that will require much of you, but also bless you in ways you cannot now imagine.
Eighty years ago, in 1933, Dorothy Day, a young journalist and convert to Catholicism, and Peter Maurin, a French émigré and former Christian Brother, responded to the Great Depression by founding the Catholic Worker Movement in one of poorest parts of New York City. They began with a shelter for homeless women, a soup kitchen and eventually a small farm where the Beatitudes and the Corporal Works of Mercy could be lived in their purest form — direct service to the poor in a Christ-centered faith community. Day was also a pacifist who saw war as undoing the works of mercy by taking public resources from the most needy to spend on weapons.
Forty years ago, in 1972, a young woman named Angie O’Gorman established Holy Family Catholic Worker House at 31st and Harrison in Midtown Kansas City. Over the coming decades, other people of many faiths joined that community and served at that location, experiencing what Dorothy Day once called a “school for the radical gospel.” Among the active figures at the house was Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, who, during his 28 years there, became known to hundreds of volunteers from many churches and organizations in the area who felt drawn to deepen their commitment to direct service to the needy, helping with hospitality, shelter and other forms of assistance to homeless and low income people. More recently, generous young people seeking more authentic lives of service have committed their idealism and energies to sustain the House by living in the community, serving its guests and, as Dorothy Day did, by organizing protests against the production of nuclear weapons in Kansas City.
Efforts to staff Holy Family House have always been a challenge. New volunteers are once again needed to sustain its Worker mission. Mature individuals, independent enough to give several months, perhaps a year of their lives to help guide the House into the future, are asked to consider becoming community members. This appeal goes out to anyone who has experienced the work of Holy Family in the past, to families who have known the blessing of serving there, or to anyone who at this point in his or her life is discerning how to take the next step in their own spiritual growth. The recent call of Pope Francis to recover the church of the poor and for the poor is one sign that something urgent and powerful is happening today, inviting people of good will and compassion to join together to make our divided world into a more just, loving and holy family.
If this appeal prompts you, please pray about it, talk to your family and friends, your local faith community, then contact HolyFamilyCW@gmail.com to arrange a visit to the House to begin a discernment process to determine if you are being called to serve in this way.