Diocesan Phase of Dorothy Day’s Canonization Cause Concludes at Cathedral Mass


Cardinal Dolan stamped wax affixed to a red ribbon atop a plain brown box in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sealing the last of 17 such boxes aligned in the sanctuary during a Mass commemorating the Conclusion of the Diocesan Phase of the Canonization Cause for Dorothy Day.

The cause for Servant of God Dorothy Day, a social justice advocate and native New Yorker who co-founded and led the Catholic Worker for 47 years, is advancing to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Cardinal Dolan served as principal celebrant and homilist at the  Dec. 8 Mass, which included representation from Rome, Dr. Waldery Hilgeman, the Roman postulator for the cause of canonization of Servant of God Dorothy Day.

The diocesan phase was spearheaded by the archdiocese’s Dorothy Day Guild, which amassed more than 50,000 pages of documents attesting to her holiness. The documents include interviews, writings and publications by and about Ms. Day. More than 100 volunteers, assembled by the guild, assisted the effort.

The Dec. 8 liturgy also marked feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Cardinal’s Advent liturgy with young people, the monthly Young Adult Mass sponsored by the archdiocesan Young Adult Outreach office.

Cardinal Dolan’s homily addressed God’s providential plan “in the life of Mary, our Mother, and in the life of Dorothy Day and in our own lives.”

According to the Dorothy Day Guild, Dec. 8 marked the 89th anniversary of a young Dorothy Day “famously praying ‘with tears and with anguish,’ after covering the 1932 Hunger March in Washington, D.C.” amid the country’s Great Depression “for some way to open up for her as a Catholic to serve the poor.”

Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, explained that she prayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that she would come to know God’s providential plan for herself, and would include devoting her life to a love of Jesus, to His Church and the poor.

“She’s one of our great ones, everybody,” Cardinal Dolan said. “She’s known throughout the world.

“Folks, you’re witnessing history,” said the cardinal before assembling the officials in the sanctuary for the ceremony, which included closing oaths by Cardinal Dolan and Father Brian Graebe, episcopal delegate for the cause. Father Graebe is the pastor of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan.

Afterward, the congregation offered a standing ovation with sustained applause.

George Horton, who serves as a vice postulator of the cause and member of the advisory committee for the Dorothy Day Guild, spoke with CNY after the cathedral Mass. “I feel such joy inside me for having reached this point,” he said. Although he did not know her himself, he said, he knows those who did “and the inspiration they are for living the Gospel.”

“It’s been almost 25 years and it’s been a labor of love of people that knew Dorothy and worked with her, and people who have learned about her through this process,” Horton added. “Many of them actually talk about their lives being transformed by learning about her and working on this cause.”

Horton is also the director of social and community development for archdiocesan Catholic Charities. 

“We say she’s a saint for our time,” he added. “At the moment with such division in our society, in our nation, divisions in our Church, she calls us back to a oneness where we recognize Christ in every human being and try to create a community  that will bring justice and compassion into our world.

“There may be people we disagree with,” Horton said. “There may be people that we don’t take time for, but she says start with that. Find Christ in every person, and welcome them. And then take care of their needs and then work for justice—change structures that create hunger, that create racism, that create poverty.”

As is customary at the Young Adult Mass, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament was offered, with praise and worship and confessions available an hour before the liturgy. Music was provided by Matt Maher. 

Brooke Barlock, 25 and Jonathan Ramirez, 28, were among the numerous young adults in attendance. Both belong to Epiphany parish in Manhattan and both work in finance.

Ramirez said “it is always special” to attend Mass on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Also, “welcoming Jesus, especially for Advent” and the celebration of the close of the diocesan phase of the cause of Dorothy Day were “a trifecta” of celebrations, he said. 

“It shows that Jesus is at work to this day, and every day.”

Ms. Barlock recalled learning about Dorothy Day in the classroom as a student at Regis Jesuit High School in the Archdiocese of Denver. Now, as a resident of Manhattan, to witness the close of the diocesan phase of the cause “is a pretty special historical moment, especially led by the cardinal.”

Asked what Ms. Day means to her, Ms. Barlock responded, “It’s good reminder in this city not to base a career off of status and rank and money,” rather, “it should be about the community that we’re serving…”