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.