Tuesday, July 08, 2008

So, just say you start a Catholic Worker house; say you have a soup kitchen a few times a week, or more. How about the kids? Certainly, participating in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy can't hurt them, (in my mind, it can only help) but what about other things?

I found an interview with Tamar Day-Dorothy Day's daughter here. Here's the (long) quote from the piece:

“I loved the Catholic Worker. It was so exciting. I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it,” Tamar Hennessey told NCR in a phone interview from Vermont. Nonetheless, like her mother, Tamar Hennessey said it’s difficult to combine being a Catholic Worker with parenting. Hennessy said there may be some people who can do both, but usually people find they have to choose between them.

“I think you’ll hear a lot of contradictory stories. A lot of other children did have a difficult time being in the Worker,” Hennessy said. “I think Dorothy was very aware of the fact that you can’t do both well, and she was right.”

For herself, Henessey remembers growing up in the Catholic Worker as stimulating but physically grueling, especially with her mother often on the road.

“I was only 8 years old when it started. She was traveling a lot, and I was left to be taken care of by various people, and I got very ill. It was hard for both of us. She had her work, and yet at the same time she had me. She was very devoted. She was torn,” said Hennessy. “I did end up in boarding school for four years, which worked out well.”

Hennessy offered a sympathetic, nuanced account of Dorothy Day the mother.

“She loved her family so much, and in so many, many ways she kept me going. She missed understanding the material side of it. She expected a lot of going without. At the same time, she supported me a lot, and I can’t say enough good about that,” Tamar Hennessy said.

Hennessy acknowledged that Dorothy Day could be exacting. “She wanted everybody to be like saints. I mean, who can measure up to that?” asked Hennessy.

Married when she was still a teenager, Tamar Teresa Day Hennessy went on to have nine children and for many years led a hardscrabble existence living in the country. She was attracted to the Catholic Worker vision of rural families living on the land and tried to live that out with her own family, she said.

“I tried to hold on to those values. I tried to live simply. I tried to follow the Catholic faith. It did not turn out well. Right now I seem to have lapsed,” she said of her own religious faith.

Hennessy said people sometimes try to invent a rift between her and her mother that doesn’t exist. “I admired her overwhelmingly,” Hennessy said of Dorothy Day.

The story goes on and interviews other children of Catholic Workers. Just as interesting is the comment thread here at Vox-Nova discussing the interview (and where I originally found the link to the other article).

Oremus pro invicem!

No comments: