82 years after the founding of the Catholic Worker movement on May Day 1933, and almost 2000 years after the founding of the Church on that first Pentecost, perhaps this is a good time to present our vision anew: Christ came to inaugurate a new world, and we are trying to live in that new world now. It really is as simple as that. In the words of Catholic Worker co-founder Peter Maurin, we are trying to “build a new society in the shell of the old.”
The specific means we use varies among the over 200 Catholic Worker houses and farms around the country, plus the handful abroad. At Casa de Clara we house homeless women and children. We distribute groceries to needy families in our neighborhood. We meet regularly for prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist. We live in voluntary simplicity, choosing not to draw a salary for our work, so that more can be spent on the needs of the poor. We rally at City Hall to call for more affordable housing. We protest war and the weapons industry. We live in community, sharing our lives and our resources with one another. We take seriously the Sermon on the Mount.
It goes without saying that we don’t live up to our lofty ideals. Sometimes our “new society” feels much like the old, as when we bicker amongst ourselves about dishes left in the sink or floors left unmopped. After a long day we raise our voices and cut each other off, and when our 4 year-old angel turns into a devil, my commitment to nonviolence is repeatedly tested – it’s a good thing she is cute.
Despite our shortcomings, we know we will never get anywhere unless we articulate our goal, and the direction of our efforts does, I think, make a difference.
For the rich and those who benefit from the status quo, we are too radical, questioning as we do the American capitalist system that creates enormous wealth for the few at the expense of so much suffering. For the revolutionary, we are too ineffective, encumbered as we are with the daily task of caring for individuals in need – cooking, cleaning, listening. For the secular left, we are too “religious,” wasting our time in prayer and contemplation, that opiate of the poor. For pious Catholics, we are too unorthodox, rejecting as we do the Church’s teaching on women’s ordination, gay marriage, and the just war theory.
For the poor who walk through our doors, we hope this radical, ineffective, religious, and unorthodox community is also warm, loving, and hospitable. Will you join us?
Peace and Love,
Fumi & the Casa de Clara community
Casa needs. Can you help?
- Blankets – We are out of blankets to pass out to our homeless neighbors sleeping in the cold.
- Household items – we currently need women’s hair brushes, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. Also a waffle iron
- Food in any amount; We operate a food distribution for needy families in the neighborhood on Wednesdays and Fridays. The best times to drop off food are Wednesdays and Fridays before 1 p.m. Milk, fresh produce, beans, and frozen meats are most needed.
- Donations: Checks can be made out to the San Jose Catholic Worker, or donate at www.sjcw.org
- Fresh cut flowers – our guests love coming home to fresh flowers. We are looking for someone who can help make our home beautiful for our women.
- Cars: for many of our guests, transportation is their biggest need after housing. We are grateful for any working vehicle you can give to us.
- Catholic Worker interns, who can commit 8 – 10 hours/week, or join us full-time in June, July, & August. Especially women!