A History of the First Catholic Worker Community in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1939-40

In June, 1939, the Catholic Worker began its seventh year of publication. In that issue, Dorothy Day joyfully announced that throughout the United States, there were twenty-two houses of hospitality, two farming communities and thirteen cells where the ideas of the Catholic Worker movement were discussed and practiced daily. One of these houses of hospitality, called the Matt Talbot house, was located in the downtown area of Worcester, Massachusetts. The purpose of this article is to explore the formation, development and termination of the Matt Talbot house and its community. How did this group of diverse and conscientious Catholics come together? How did they understand the Worker philosophy of personalism? What were the tensions and transformations within the community? In what ways did this experience affect their lives and visions? Continue reading “A History of the First Catholic Worker Community in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1939-40”

2022 Catholic Worker Gathering


  • Blessed Sacrament Church (551 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602) (Friday – Sunday)
  • Hogan Campus Center (College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St, Worcester, MA 01610) (Saturday)
  • The Mustard Seed (93 Piedmont Street, Worcester, MA 01609) (Sunday)

Friday, October 21

  • 2:30pm – 9:30pm: Registration at the Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church.
  • 4:30pm – 5:30pm: Talk at Rehm Library, College of the Holy Cross. Holy Cross alums speak about the Catholic Worker movement. Facilitated by David O’Brien, Holy Cross Professor Emeritus, and Frank Kartheiser, Holy Cross alumnus and co-founder of Worcester’s Mustard Seed.
  • 6:00pm: Dinner at the Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church.
  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm: Welcoming and presentation from the Mustard Seed community. The Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church.

Saturday, October 22

  • Breakfast will be served at the various places people are staying.
  • Morning prayer at Blessed Sacrament Church.
  • 8:30am – noon: Registration. Hogan Center, College of the Holy Cross.
  • 9:00am – 11:30am: Welcome and morning plenary. Hogan Center. Morning plenary: “Works of Mercy, Pacifism and the Green Revolution: Reflections from Catholic Workers on the Movement’s Charisms.” Presenters include: Mike Boover, Matt Harper, Martha Hennessy, Joanne Kennedy, Theo Kayser, Rosalie Riegle, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, and Brian Terrell.
  • 11:30am: Update on the canonization process for Dorothy Day, from the Dorothy Day Guild. Hogan Center.
  • Noon: Lunch at the Hogan Center for those who have signed up.
  • 1:30pm – 3:00pm: Workshops session 1, Hogan Center. Small group workshops.
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Workshops session 2, Hogan Center. Small group workshops.
  • 5:30pm: Dinner at the Hogan Center.
  • 7:00pm: Talent show in the Hogan Center ballroom.
  • 9:00pm – 11pm: Dance party in the Hogan Center ballroom with DJ with Arnie Hamm.

Sunday, October 23

  • 9:00am: Breakfast at the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker soup kitchen.
  • 11:30am: Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church.

The 2022 Catholic Worker National Gathering is October 21 – 23 in Worcester, Massachusetts. A lot of it is happening around Holy Cross and also the Mustard Seed soup kitchen, in honor of the Seed’s 50th anniversary. It’s been 12 years since this last happened in Worcester.

Here’s the latest draft of the schedule. To register, click here.

Group photo from the 2008 Catholic Worker National Gathering by Bob Fitch.

Bob Waldrop, 1952-2019

Bob Waldrop“We will not damn our souls to hell to satisfy corrupt politicians.”

Legendary Oklahoma Catholic Worker (and friend of this blog) Bob Waldrop has died at 67.

The Oklahoman:

Bob was buried in his overalls.

Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church in Oklahoma City for the funeral Mass of Robert Max Augustine Waldrop, who served as the church’s director of music and liturgy, was a champion of the poor and started the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House.

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy hit by a car while running; “full recovery may take several months”

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, “Worcester’s most-traveled, most-jailed, and most notorious political radical since Abbie Hoffman” (Telegram & Gazette), was hit by a car while running Monday evening on Franklin Street.

He and his wife Claire fund their community and ministry to the homeless, the Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker, in part by baking bread. Their son Patrick has set up an online fundraiser to help with expenses while Scott heals up.

Continue reading “Scott Schaeffer-Duffy hit by a car while running; “full recovery may take several months””

How’s Donna Doing?

She’s indefatigable, that’s how Donna’s doing.

Long-time Mustard Seed soup kitchen director Donna Domiziano is back at her post-Mustard Seed apartment off Vernon Street in Worcester. She’s in a wheelchair, mostly healed up after a fall, now doing lots of physical therapy in hopes of being able to get into and out of the chair by herself. At that point, she’ll have an easier time riding in cars, and will get back to visiting soup kitchens and homeless shelters, helping out and cheering up the many down-and-out Worcesterites she befriended during her 30 years living and working at the Seed.

She’s drawing parallels between her current situation and other unexpected setbacks in her life, times when she refused to give up, instead praying for God’s grace and knowing that, sooner or later, she’d see a new way forward. Totally inspiring, this lady, you should pay her a visit.

This week’s notes on the Catholic clergy abuse crisis

Here’s a summary I wrote for this week’s radio show that I thought I’d post here.

This week we are seeing a historic meeting on clergy sex abuse, including some Worcester participants; expanded rights for victims of abuse; financial difficulties in the Diocese of Worcester; and even some relevant anecdotes from my own life as a faithful Catholic.
Continue reading “This week’s notes on the Catholic clergy abuse crisis”

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy’s Catholic Worker murder mystery: Murder on Mott Street

Longtime Worcester Catholic Worker Scott Schaeffer-Duffy has written a historical-fiction mystery in which “teen detective” Tamar Batterham (aka Dorothy Day’s daughter) teams up with Catholic Worker co-founder Peter Maurin to solve a murder in the New York City of 1941.

Today the book launched at an event at Holy Cross.

I’ve only had time to read the first two chapters of Murder on Mott Street. My review so far: chapter one is a totally legit first chapter to a murder mystery. And I love how Scott closes it with a cliffhanger before devoting the 7 pages of the next chapter to a capsule history of the early Catholic Worker movement.

Worcester Catholic Worker community celebrates 30 years on Mason Street

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


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.


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.


Continue reading “Worcester Catholic Worker community celebrates 30 years on Mason Street”

A Day of Dorothy Day, March 15, 2016

There will be a day-long conference on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement this week at Holy Cross College, in Worcester, Mass.

At 4:30pm at the Rehm Library is a public presentation by Robert Ellsberg and George Horton.

Mr. Ellsberg was managing editor of the Catholic Worker newspaper during the last years of Dorothy Day’s life. As editor-in-chief and publisher at Orbis Books, he’s written extensively about her, and edited books of her diaries and letters.

Mr. Horton is a Holy Cross alum who serves as Catholic Charities New York Director of the Department of Social and Community Development. He is working on Dorothy Day’s sainthood cause on behalf of the New York Archdiocese.