High School Students Devote Hours to Dorothy Day’s Cause


As student transcribers in the diocesan inquiry of Servant of God Dorothy Day, two seniors at St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan have made history.

Christine Llano and Kayla Irizarry were each named typist/copyist of the diocesan inquiry of New York’s Ms. Day, as was Aulina Presendieu, sophomore religion instructor and director of library and media resources at St. Jean Baptiste.

Father Richard Welch, C.Ss.R., judicial vicar of the archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal who is also Cardinal Dolan’s episcopal delegate, signed the decrees (as did a notary) that named the three typists/copyists, and administered oaths of the same, which included a confidentiality component, May 3 at St. Jean Baptiste.

“It was obvious talking to them that they are on fire with the example of Dorothy Day and what they’ve learned,” Father Welch said of Christine and Kayla. “They’re transcribing Dorothy Day’s own handwritten diaries and letters” and other materials, he said.

“And they are a part of history. What they’re transcribing is very important,” Father Welch said, “because it becomes what we call the acts of the cause.”

Christine, a 2015 alumna of Sacred Heart School, the Bronx, said she is proud to have been chosen for the endeavor. “Knowing the (canonization) process and how difficult it is, to be a part of it is very surreal. To see a glimpse of everything was very, very interesting. As I learned more about her, I just felt very privileged to be able to do something like this. ”

Kayla, who graduated from St. Luke’s School, the Bronx, in 2015, said she is “very grateful to be a part of this project. It was very exciting. I feel like I learned a lot about her, and the canonization process. I feel very accomplished in a way because…I have done my part.”

When the work in New York is complete, it will be transmitted directly to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican in Rome. “That becomes part of the permanent record that will then establish the cause moving forward,” declaring Ms. Day venerable, followed by her beatification and sainthood, Father Welch said.

“Like I was kidding with the young girls, this takes many years, but they’re young enough that they’ll probably be around for the canonization.”

He also told them that they should try to attend the canonization. “Be present, because you were part of making this wonderful person for our age, this laywoman who still to this day is a shining example of heroic virtue.”

Father Welch said of Christine and Kayla: “You can see it in their faces, how inspired they are and privileged to be part of this process, which is quite technical and involved…They are personally being enriched by their work and, at the same time, they are making a significant contribution to the cause.”

Father Welch said he is “just so happy to have young people, a whole new generation—we’ll be bringing in more next year—getting involved in the cause.”

Ms. Presendieu, who has overseen the graduating seniors’ recently completed work—as will others, as is customary—estimated they collectively transcribed between 300 to 400 pages of Ms. Day’s writings in a corner of the school library since September on Wednesdays during the school’s Christian service day. Father Welch anticipated the transcribing task, likely to be resumed by other students, would be completed within the next year.


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