Though Dorothy Day believed the Catholic church was the church of the poor, she struggled with it seeming to be more of a friend of the rich and a protector of the status quo. She was at a loss about how to reconcile her faith and her commitment to social justice. Day was particularly devoted to St. Therese of Lisieux, who taught the way of holiness that lies in all the small encounters and duties of our daily life, if performed in a spirit of love and attention to the presence of God. Dorothy embraced this teaching and drew out its social implications. She believed that each act of love, each work of mercy, might increase the balance of love in the world. Each act of protest or witness for peace, though apparently foolish and ineffective, works at transforming the world. A clear example of this way of life was recently exemplified in the actions of Mark Bartholomew, a local worker in the Catholic Worker Movement here in Kansas City at Holy Family Catholic Worker House.
Mark Bartholomew crossed the property line at Kansas City’s new nuclear weapons parts plant on August 22nd during the official dedication of the plant. I was at the rally that day in support of his act of protest against nuclear weapons along with about 65 other peace activists. We had another rally this week in front of the courthouse in solidarity with him and Henry Stoever, who also crossed the line this past summer. Mark pleaded guilty of stepping across the line, and Judge Elena Franco sentenced him to 60 hours of community service. This sentence was longer than any other Kansas City nuclear weapon protester has received. During the rally, Henry Stoever, a peace lawyer, said, “It matters what we are doing here. These weapons have consequences. Duty and truth are essential focuses of a court and attorneys are supposed to elevate the law and improve the practice of justice. There is no acknowledgment by the city that these are weapons of mass destruction that violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and making these weapons has consequences of illness and death for its makers from the contaminants involved. Only through activism will we bring truth to the public.” I believe Dorothy Day would be proud of such social action for peace and her spirit was among us this past Tuesday as we gave witness to bring about justice.
Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.