I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
– Rabindranath Tagore
The Catholic Worker movement, co-founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin during the Great Depression, remains one of our country’s most enduring, grass-roots forces for selfless service and activism, combining The Works of Mercy, voluntary simplicity and nonviolence in an effort to directly address injustice and inequity alive in our midst. Although its roots are in American Catholicism, its embrace has always been ecumenical, welcoming everyone committed to a peaceful path toward a peaceful world.
The Catholic Worker movement is well-known for its Houses of Hospitality, which provide food, shelter, and other resources to people wrestling with the challenges of poverty. Our decision to designate one of Canticle Farm‘s five community houses as a Catholic Worker house is integral, we believe, to our ongoing efforts to model structures and practices that promote peace in ourselves, our neighborhood, and our world.
Here, we provide a welcoming, temporary home to the re-entry population – people emerging from the prison system – where we endeavor to provide a safe, loving, healthy and constructive foundation for our residents, an avenue for compassionate community participation in the support of ex-prisoners as they endeavor to navigate the many great challenges typically associated with emergence into life outside prison walls. Many have been traumatized by the experience of prison, and the social barriers they face around re-integration are daunting and often hostile.
Our focus on the re-entry population is deliberate and well-considered. We join the ranks of a small but fast-growing movement collaboratively exploring novel holistic approaches to some of the most vexing structural challenges of our era.
In this regard, we work closely with the ‘Pathways To Resilience’ and ‘Planting Justice’, the Oakland-centered non-profits considered world-leaders in pioneering hands-on, integral, visionary approaches to the hodgepodge of food, economic, environmental and social injustices so powerfully afflicting the most marginalized constituencies among us. Where Planting Justice provides formerly incarcerated individuals with work, training, certification and other tools, skill sets and resources crucial to supporting their positive re-engagement with society and the planet, our House of Hospitality provides the shelter and home-centered resources so essential to supporting residents at this most difficult and vulnerable time of transition. Here, we endeavor to promote a character, ethic and model of mentorship reflecting the values and sensibilities of the larger Canticle Farm community – above all, our intent to foster generosity and forgiveness in the human community and compassion for all beings.
Where Houses of Hospitality have traditionally ‘stood alone’, Canticle Farm’s effort notably represents something of a new and visionary development in the Catholic Worker model: our home is born of, supported by, and integral to a larger intentional community committed to its sustenance and sustainability. It is our hope that our efforts to so fully include this service-dimension within the physical, economic, social and spiritual structure of our small community will provide a model encouraging communities of interest elsewhere, whatever their creed, color or focus, to also embrace the work so timely and vital to healing our broken world.
Please see our list of needs here.
Contact the Catholic Worker at Canticle Farm here.