Catholic Worker 101

Some Answers to Your Burning Questions on the Catholic Worker

What are the beliefs of the CW? (In non-dissertation length, please!)

Anti-Racism, Privilege, and other Anti-Oppression Resources

This is a nice visual of our philosophy in a nutshell.  We want to learn to love more profoundly and radically.  To do this, we live in community and work to end oppression both by living with those most impacted by it, and by confronting it’s causes.

Catholic Workers can be found doing direct service – living in houses of hospitality, in rural agronomic universities, operating soup lines, etc, and working for social justice – growing our own food, working to end racism, and seeking alternatives to war.

We believe in personalism: that every person – regardless of gender identity, religion, country of origin, race, sexual orientation – is a manifestation of the divine, and that we should treat each other as such.  We strive to find creative and active nonviolent methods to resolve conflict on the personal and international level.  We live simply and share resources as we are able. We believe in taking personal responsibility for injustice, rather than waiting for the government or an impersonal agency to do it. We seek right relationships with the earth and each other, and seek to create small, personal systems and communities to achieve this.


I’ve heard that you people in the Catholic Worker aren’t Catholic, and don’t really work. True story?

Ha! You are a funny one.  The Catholic Worker has a wide diversity of religions represented – it appeals to a huge range of folks!  We have Catholics, ex-Catholics, and Protestants. There is a Mennonite Catholic Worker, and a CW full of Buddhists.  Like many things in life, it’s complicated and evolving. Each autonomous community has a different flavor, from conservative Catholic to mostly secular.  Similarly, each community’s relationship to the local Catholic Church is different.  Check out this insightful article on Dorothy Day’s relationship to the Catholic Church.

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Can I bring my [work group, Girl Scout Troop, school club, Church group] to the Karen House Catholic Worker?

We seek to create a space where folks can form relationships across the barriers of class, race, ability, etc.  Call us (314-621-4052) to arrange a visit. Please keep in mind the value of personalism; we are trying to create a warm home for each guest who stays with us (as opposed to what has been called a “poverty petting zoo“). We ask that groups be limited in size to 10 or under, and that you come with an open heart and mind. We welcome groups of folks to help us out- the Catholic Worker is completely dependent on individuals and groups to take house, cook dinner, play with kids, take out the trash, and sort donations!

How can I find a CW community in my area?

That’s an easy one!  Check out this directory for a list of CWs in the U.S. and beyond.


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