35: Dorothy Day

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women in the ELCA, the 40th anniversary of women of color, and the 10th anniversary of LGBTQ+ siblings.

It’s an incredibly important marker for the ELCA, though it is only the beginning for the Church, as women are still denied ordination across the denominations and hold less than 15% of the leadership positions in the worldwide church! Therefore, in 2020, we in the Oregon Synod will highlight one woman from Christian history every week. Some you may know, others you may not, but all worthy of our respect and gratitude.

#35: Dorothy Day

At the age of twenty, she was arrested in front of the White House, protesting for women’s suffrage. By twenty-nine, she had a career as a progressive journalist, a colorful romantic past, and a baby daughter. At thirty she converted to Catholicism and began her life’s work as an advocate for the poor. Within a few years, she had co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement, which aimed to bridge the gap between rich and poor by bringing them together in community. She also helped establish houses of hospitality to provide housing for those in need; choosing one as her own home. For Day, Christianity meant living out the gospel, and the only way she saw to do that was amongst the poor. She saw no difference between herself and those she sought to serve. Her conviction led to a revival of the faith and a shift in American Catholocism. Though she never identified as a feminist, she was a single working mother, a supporter of women’s suffrage, and a female leader in a male-led church. She was an avowed pacifist who opposed the just war theory based on her interpretation of scripture, even when it stood in contrast to the position of the Church. In 1933, she co-founded the Catholic Worker, a newspaper that promoted Catholic social teachings. In 2000, the Vatican announced the start of her canonization process. In 2015, Pope Francis called her out as one of “four great Americans,” along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton. The movement she created continues to thrive and her life continues to inspire those wishing to live out their faith in action.