Su Casa Prepares for the Future and Needs Your Help

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In 1990, when the founders of Su Casa Catholic Worker dreamed of offering sanctuary for refugees and victims of torture, they received a priceless gift– a 26,000 square-foot, 22-bedroom Franciscan friary built in 1898. For more than 25 years, Su Casa has provided shelter to immigrants because of this sacred space. Today we ask for your help in making our home a safer place for families to live.

In a historical moment when endemic racism and hatred have been exposed, we have found even greater strength and purpose. Our organization is strong as we continue our service. We believe in the transformative power of community and are committed to sustaining the legacy of Su Casa into future years.

Today we face a practical challenge that we are ready to meet, with your help. Over the last ten years we have made significant improvements to our historic building, but like most other structures built before the 1970s, our home is contaminated with lead paint, inside and out.

Our doors remain open, but our work of sheltering the homeless now has limitations. Every week we receive calls from women desperate to leave situations laced with risk – homelessness, abuse, debt, the underperforming shelter system. We are obligated, however, to respond to the outpouring of pain and hurt with two short questions: “How many children do you have, and how old are they?” Lead poses too great a health risk for us to accept expectant mothers and young children. Right now, we must turn these families away.

Our professional lead abatement costs have been estimated at $60,000. We now reach out to you, our extended community. Can you help us? And can you pass on this request to others who may have financial resources to share? While we rely on your monetary donations for this work to proceed, your prayers are also much-needed, that we may find strength and peace throughout this critical time.

Whatever you can give, or do, it is a blessing.

Maria, Edison, Erin, Manu, Michelle, Mike, Sean, Thomas, Lori, Chantal, Felicite, Frieda, Gayle, Jesse, Lydia, Rosalie, and Sonia

We are raising money for this effort through and we always accept donations via PayPal. You can do this via the Su Casa website or directly through Paypal using our email address. Please add “LEAD ABATEMENT” in the comment section. You can also mail your check made out to Central American Martyrs Center to Su Casa Catholic Worker, 5045 S. Laflin St., Chicago, IL 60609, with “LEAD” on the subject line. All donations are tax-exempt to the full extent of the law.

Dorothy Day–The World Will be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of my Grandmother

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On March 5, 2017, Su Casa will be blessed with a visit from Dorothy’s granddaughter, Kate Hennessy, who has traveled to the US from Ireland and will tour the Midwest and California before returning home. In her time with us, she will introduce her new book about Dorothy, recently published by Simon and Schuster.


4pm: Mass, with Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ, presiding 

5pm: Potluck dinner–bring a dish to share!

6pm: Presentation from Kate Hennessy

7pm: Scrumptious desserts




About the book: The life and work of Dorothy Day—the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, told in riveting detail by her granddaughter.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a prominent Catholic writer and social activist, and co-founder of the Catholic Worker, a movement with which Su Casa is associated. The Catholic Worker is dedicated to serving the poor and marginalized and resisting the social structures that cause such inequality. Her life has been revealed through her own writings as well as the work of historians, theologians, and academics, including Su Casa board member Rosalie Riegle.

What has been missing until now is a more personal account from the point of view of a relative who knew her well. Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty is a reflective, frank, and heartfelt portrayal of Dorothy and her family. It challenges ideas of plaster saints and of saintly women. Like St. Augustine, before her conversion, she lived what she called a “disorderly life,” during which she had an abortion and then fell in love with and lived with Forster Batterham. They had a child, Tamar Teresa, but when Day became a Roman Catholic the relationship failed. As we learn from Hennessy, though, they remained close friends throughout Day’s life as a Catholic Worker. After her conversion, Day was both an obedient servant and a rigorous challenger of the Church.

While tenderly rendered, Hennessy’s account shows Day as driven to do good but also dogmatic, loving but judgmental, in particular with her only daughter. She was full of humor and laughter, and, as Tamar said, would light up any room she entered.

An undisputed radical heroine, called “a saint for the occupy era” by The New Yorker and mentioned by Pope Francis when he spoke to Congress in 2015, Day lived her life against a backdrop of New York City from the 1910s to the 1980s and world events from World War I to the Farmworkers under Cesar Chavez, in a protest which was Day’s last arrest. This thoroughly researched and intimate biography provides a valuable and nuanced portrait of an undersung and provocative American woman.

About the author: Kate Hennessy’s recent work includes a collaboration with the photographer Vivian Cherry on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker:The Miracle of Our Continuance. She has traveled extensively throughout the world, and her work has been featured in Best American Travel Writing.  After calling both Vermont and New York City home, Kate now lives in the west of Ireland with her husband.



Join Su Casa at the Iconic Hideout on November 15, 2016

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Join Su Casa at the Iconic Hideout on November 15, 2016 5:00pm – 7:30pm
1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago, Illinois 60642

Get ready for “On The Spot” freestyle funk collective’s explosive sounds that fuse improvisational rap with gut-filling soul, with guest appearances by Me’Chelle Renee and Circles & Ciphers, a youth led restorative justice group.

Then for something completely different, let’s go honky tonkin’ honey baby! You’ll lose your blues, wear out your shoes and get your twang on with Ethan Kinsella and the Side Winders.

Also featuring great conversation, Su Casa’s new video, news you can use, scrumptious delights prepared by the moms of Su Casa, a chance to win an amazing get-away package and dinner for 20 from Chipotle, and a wine pull!

Get your tickets at EVENTBRITE


Summer at Su Casa

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With summer in full swing, we open the doors at Su Casa countless  times a day – not only for the twenty guests and workers who call Su Casa home, but for a host of community members who both give and receive.

Volunteers arrive as early as 7:00am to help prepare breakfast for our neighbors at Frieda’s Place or weed in the Pie Patch garden.  Youth from the One Summer Chicago program soon follow to assist with the upkeep of our buildings and grounds while gaining both income and valuable employment experiences.  As the afternoon continues, teachers from Chicago Hopes arrive to share summer reading with the children of Su Casa, as well as our young friends from a near-by shelter.  And just in time for the dinner bell, we are often joined by former family guests, a handyman or two, and community professionals accepting our small gracias! for the pro-bono services they provide on a regular basis.

Ask any house manager – opening the door here can be a full-time job!

It is nearly one year since Su Casa made the critical decision to continue our mission, relying upon the radical generosity of supporters.  We thank you for the very necessary contributions our supporters made in 2015 to keep our doors open.  These enabled us to pay for winter utility bills, ongoing maintenance of our historic building, and an extensive and permanent asbestos remediation process to ensure the safety of our guests and neighbors into the future.

This summer, we reach out again to ensure that we can continue to invite our families, friends, and neighbors to hospitality, to healing, to home.  Whether it is a single gift or a modest, recurring donation, the impact of your help will be felt immediately!

Please feel free to send to our address below, or to give online at

In the meantime, we offer our prayers of gratitude for your open hearts.  Know that the doors of Su Casa are always open to greet you!

Community Mass and Potluck May 15

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Su Casa invites everyone to our community mass and potluck on Sunday, May 15th. Mass at 4pm, potluck immediately following. Fr. Cesaire Moussa from St. Joseph Parish will be celebrating with us. Please come, and bring a friend and some food to share!

Press Building Revitalization – Request for Proposals

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Su Casa Catholic Worker Community has been active in Chicago’s south side Back of the Yards neighborhood for over 25 years, serving some of the city’s most vulnerable families and individuals including refugees, survivors of torture, and survivors of domestic violence. The community consists of ‘workers’ and ‘guests’ living cooperatively in the campus of a former Franciscan Friary with a shelter for families experiencing homelessness as well as a soup kitchen.

There is another building on Su Casa’s campus that’s been vacant for several years, but holds tremendous potential for rehabilitation as a community center, office building, and/or communal living space. The “Press Building,” was the original home of the Franciscan Herald, published by the Friars who formerly inhabited Su Casa’s grounds. Today the nearly 3,000 square foot building needs some repairs to plumbing, walls, bathrooms, and kitchen prior to being revitalized. However, Su Casa is seeking partner non-profit organization(s) to reimagine the future of the building and expand the mission of the Su Casa Community.

In responding to this Request For Proposals (RFP) individuals and organizations have the opportunity to expand their own operations into a large, historic building with a dozen office spaces, a conference room, 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, and substantial outdoor space. Su Casa is willing to consider alternative rent payments under a potential lease, including tenants’ desire to fund building improvements in lieu of rent payments.

Click here for more complete information.

Call for Community

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For 25 years years, Su Casa Catholic Worker on the south side of Chicago has carried out the vision of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement by providing shelter and community for Spanish-speaking families, offering hot meals and food to neighbors, and crying out for justice in a broken world.

With a complete turnover of leadership, Su Casa has recently begun a new chapter. Nine of the 11 new members of Su Casa’s governing board are current or former members of Catholic Worker communities. We possess a deep love of Su Casa, an first-hand knowledge of its work and life, and and a commitment to the values and vision of the Catholic Worker movement.

Community and ministry continue at Su Casa, workers and families share life together, and hot meals are prepared for our neighbors. But there is a need to expand the worker community– both for the practical reasons of carrying out the work and to continue forming a mutually supportive, intentional community. Su Casa seeks long-term community members who are ready to enter into the rich tradition of Su Casa and to forge the future of Su Casa’s identity and mission.

We invite prospective community members to “come and see!” Individuals committed to sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry in the context of intentional community and solidarity with the marginalized are encouraged to contact Lori Ramos at to begin dialogue.

Our Mission Continues

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During his speech to congress in September, Pope Francis spoke of Dorothy Day and her call to work with the poor for social justice. “The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.” Su Casa has embodied this spirit by working to alleviate homelessness and hunger for two and a half decades. Twenty-five years ago, Su Casa was born as a response to the painful reality of Central American refugees fleeing military conflict in their homelands. Over the following years, where a church had once stood, the Cardinal Bernardin Garden would be cultivated by and for the community. In what had once been a distribution center for the Franciscan Herald press, meals began to be served to the people of Back of the Yards. And in the old friary, a ministry to house Spanish speakers would become the center of life for a Catholic Worker community.

Many challenges have arisen in Su Casa’s history. Each time these problems have appeared, however, the Spirit that guides Su Casa has shown the way. Recently, the Spirit guided the board of Su Casa as it confronted a new financial challenge. Many options were considered, including the possibility that Su Casa’s mission might have reached its end. After prayerful consideration, this board passed on its wisdom and experience to another team of those committed to carrying on the vision of a place dedicated to performing works of mercy and justice. When the new leadership met for the first time in August, we broke bread together with the guests of Su Casa and then joined them for a meeting where all of us shared what this place means to them. Many heads nodded with each response as we shared that our vision and our understanding of Su Casa are based in trust, community, service, warmth, healing, personal interaction, home, making a difference, a sense of family, and a culture of helping each other.

Because we believe in Su Casa, we humbly request your support. The situation is difficult. Finances are scarce and needs are as great as ever. Four families – mothers with their children – currently live here as guests. As winter nears, paying the gas and electric bills for our friary as well as the separate soup kitchen become necessary steps for survival. Please consider a donation or a pledge to Su Casa so that its mission will continue on for another 25 years. In the wake of a recent crisis, we are asking for immediate stretch donations from all those who love Su Casa, but it will be the small, consistent, monthly donations that will really enable Su Casa to thrive for years to come. Mail a check today to Su Casa, 5045 S Laflin St, Chicago, IL 60609, or donate on-line at If you can, set up a recurring donation.

Thanks to the blessings that are bestowed upon Su Casa through our relationships with Trader Joe’s, supporting parishes and organizations, and many generous individual donors, we plan to continue to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless in our midst. Your support makes these works of mercy and justice possible. We hope you will share your prayers and your resources with Su Casa to make sure this special place can continue to provide a space that welcomes those on the margins into a warm, inviting space. Your support will create a home, heal a broken soul, forge a community, and help us continue to usher in a new world.

Can you donate a vehicle?

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Our 15 passenger van is incredibly useful but requires a lot of maintenance.  We know we will need a replacement soon to continue picking up food and furniture donations as well as taking moms and kids on trips.  Do you or someone you know have an extra one or know where we can get one?
A small car would also be helpful!  We use public transportation most of the time, but sometimes we need to get someone to the doctor or do a short errand. Do you have a car in working condition that you don’t need anymore?


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