Worcester Catholic Worker community celebrates 30 years on Mason Street

posted by Mike on August 13th, 2016

Today we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Saints Francis and Thérèse Catholic Worker community.

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Folks from far and wide packed the backyard at 52 Mason Street tonight for a mass marking the 30th anniversary of the Saints Francis and Thérèse Catholic Worker community. Mass was celebrated by Father Madden from St. John’s.

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It was fantastic to see so many Central Massachusetts lay Catholic communities represented, as well as so many people from other communities of faith and action.

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Crazy weekend in Worcester

posted by Mike on May 6th, 2013

Two items from the weekend.

The body of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been at the Graham Putnam & Mahoney funeral home for the past few days. There have been small protests outside from time to time, and a visible police presence. I was shocked when I first heard about this, much less so when I heard that the saintly/cranky Peter Stefan was behind it. The Catholic Worker community is organizing a vigil Tuesday in support of burial of the dead (one of the Christian works of mercy.) More at the end of this post.

T&G:

For some 25 years, Mr. Stefan said, the Main South funeral home has dealt with burying the poor, the unwanted and even murderers. Because of that, Mr. Stefan said he’s even been involved in burials that took place well into the night.

Charles Pierce, Esquire: “Stop making jackasses of yourself in front of the entire nation.”

Dianne Williamson: Innocence, terror lay side-by-side at Worcester funeral home

Also, it’s being reported today that Worcester Bishop McManuswas arrested Saturday night in Narragansett, R.I., charged with drunken driving and refusing a chemical test”.

Bishop McManus released a statement this morning: “On Saturday evening, May 4, I made a terrible error in judgment by driving after having consumed alcohol with dinner. There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my action. More importantly, I ask forgiveness from the good people whom I serve, as well as my family and friends, in the Diocese of Worcester and the Diocese of Providence.”

Initial reaction in the diocese appeared supportive.

“Like any brother in our family that this could happen to, I would support him,” said the Rev. John Madden, pastor of St. John’s Church in downtown Worcester. “All of us have made mistakes in judgment. Like he’s said, we can only apologize and make amends.”

Update: In RI court, Bishop McManus pleads not guilty to DUI

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508 #213: Guns and Walmart

posted by Mike on March 6th, 2013

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy and Brendan Melican discuss and debate an upcoming anti-gun protest at the local Walmart.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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You can watch 508 Fridays at 7pm on WCCA TV13.

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No arrests in Worcester panhandling civil disobedience

posted by Mike on February 13th, 2013

In an act of civil disobedience against Worcester’s new anti-panhandling ordinances, three Worcester residents today begged for money on the median in Lincoln Square, directly across from police headquarters. The event was held on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which Christians mark with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

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Gordon Davis, a blind anti-discrimination advocate, held a bucket reading BLIND and represented the disabled. Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, a Catholic Worker who has housed the homeless in Worcester for decades, was dressed as St. Francis, himself a beggar. Robert Peters, a long-time Buddhist meditator, dressed in the robes he wears as a lay Buddhist.

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At least four people called the police to complain. According to the supporters demonstrating legally on the nearby sidewalk, the only police response was one officer giving the thumbs-up when he drove by.

In a statement, Chief Gemme said that “Today, between 1 and 2 p.m. there were 21 calls for service throughout the city. None of these calls were regarding panhandling.” (I’m not sure what the difference is between a call for service and these calls. Maybe there were 21 911 issues?)

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None of the beggars was arrested, cited, or warned. “This is a victory for Worcester,” said Schaeffer-Duffy.

Womag has more pix. The T&G reports “$14.68 collected,” all of which will go directly to those in need.

Ash Wednesday protest: Repeal Worcester’s anti-panhandling ordinance

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on February 5th, 2013

On Ash Wednesday, February 13, from 1-2 pm, the Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker community will sponsor a protest at Lincoln Square in Worcester calling for the repeal of anti-panhandling regulations passed last week. Signs will be held and the attached leaflet will be distributed.

Robert Peters, a long-time practitioner of Buddhist mediation, will wear a monk’s attire and hold a beggar’s bowl.

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, a one-time novice with the Capuchin-Franciscans, will wear a Franciscan habit and also carry a beggar’s bowl.

Robert will be on the sidewalk, while Scott will defy the anti-panhandling ordinance by begging on the median strip. Both of them hope to highlight the sacred place begging and giving to beggars has in all the world’s major religions.

The members of the Catholic Worker community have sent the attached letter to Worcester’s police chief, mayor, and all the city councilors describing their reasons for holding this protest. Any funds collected will be given directly to those who who continue to feel the need to appeal for help on the streets of Worcester. For more information, call Claire Schaeffer-Duffy 508 753-3588.
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Worcester Catholic Worker community celebrates 25 years on Mason Street

posted by Mike on August 13th, 2012

Worcester Catholic Worker, 25th anniversary

Folks from far and wide packed the kitchen and every other nook and cranny downstairs at 52 Mason Street tonight for a mass marking the 25th anniversary of the Saints Francis and Thérèse Catholic Worker community relocating to the house in 1987. Mass was celebrated by retired Worcester Auxiliary Bishop George Rueger.

It was fantastic to see so many Central Massachusetts lay Catholic communities represented, as well as so many people from other communities of faith and action.

See also:

Founders of the Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker community
The founding members of the SS. Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker. Back row: Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Justin Duffy, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy. Front row: Carl Siciliano, Sarah Jeglosky, Dan Ethier.

Mason Street Musings

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on August 6th, 2012

From the September 2012 issue of The Catholic Radical. [PDF]. Illustration by Sarah Jeglosky, 1987.

“You are evil!” S. shouted only an hour after he called us “good people.”

In truth, I can’t really blame him. He has a bad temper, especially when he’s drinking, but he’s otherwise a decent person. He came by looking for specific help, which Claire agreed to give to him. While the details were being worked out, he talked at me, effectively slowing down my work on a garden shed behind our house. When I started losing patience, I thought, “S. is Jesus,” but that was a pretty big stretch under the hot sun. Then he told me that he had been writing letters to Jesus. I couldn’t resist asking, “Have you gotten any letters back yet?” Ignoring me, he went on to disparage his family and to praise the Catholic Worker. “They live in a house, but this is a home,” he repeated several times. I feared this was a prelude to a request to move in with us for what must be his ninth or tenth time in twenty years. Read the rest of this entry »

Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker, Worcester, Massachusetts

posted by Mike on April 26th, 2006

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker community in Worcester, Massachusetts.

After their original house on Castle Street burned in 1987, they spent a short time living with the Little Franciscans of Mary before moving to 52 Mason Street, where the community remains to this day.

Part of our work is sheltering homeless men and women. As I type this, one man and two women are staying with us. This is unusually small-scale hospitality for a Catholic Worker, but typically intimate; I share the breakfast table with these folks, and last night there was some recrimination about who is eating all the Corn Pops. (Me.)

The other part of our work is fighting for peace and justice. I like to say that we’re basically like the Super Friends, but with less powers. The Catholic Worker is a center of anti-war activity in Worcester, and down through the years has been a leading voice on local issues ranging from lead pollution to supporting Coach Williams. Members have organized lots of protests, done lots of jail time for civil disobedience, and gone on lots of peace missions to four continents.

Founders of the Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker community
The founding members of the SS. Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker. Back row: Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Justin Duffy, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy. Front row: Carl Siciliano, Sarah Jeglosky, Dan Ethier.

The Catholic Worker is an anarchist movement. SS. Francis & Thérèse is not a non-profit corporation. The community receives no government money, and no financial support from the institutional church. (Although we get help from lots of individual clergy.)

Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy
The community in 2006: Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy. Photo by Mike Benedetti.

We support the work of the community by baking bread and begging. Members of the community also do freelance journalism, public speaking, and web design to pay the bills.

There is nothing in the way of hierarchy. The same folks who travel to exotic war zones also clean toilets. Four people are involved in the day-to-day decisions of the house, but dozens are part of the “extended community.”

Public reaction to the community has always been mixed. In 1997, when Dave Maciewski delivered medical supplies to Iraq in violation of sanctions, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran the subhead “Peace group beds down with Butcher of Baghdad.” On the other hand, about once a month I introduce myself to someone as a Catholic Worker, and the stranger responds, “Oh, Scott and Claire are my heroes!” In 2002, the T&G called Scott “Worcester’s most-traveled, most-jailed, and most notorious political radical since Abbie Hoffman,” which some would even consider a compliment.

My time here is coming to a close, but I would not be surprised if this community was still serving Worcester, and still pissing off meanspirited Worcesterites, in another 20 years.

We’re holding a Catholic Worker gathering July 2-4 in Worcester to celebrate the 20th anniversary. Details will be forthcoming.

You can call us at 508.753.3588, or e-mail theresecw@gmail.com.