by Cori Hilsgen
Kate Hennessy, the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the College of St. Benedict Gorecki Center 204 AB.
Hennessy is the author of “Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother.”
The book is the story of her grandmother’s extraordinary life told within the context of what it meant and how it influenced her only child, Tamar Hennessy. More than anything, it’s a story of the love between a mother and daughter.
Hennessy, who was 20 when her grandmother died, said she knew her grandmother well. Day was deeply involved in the lives of her grandchildren and they would spend as much time as they could visiting the Catholic Worker farm in upstate New York in the 1960s and 1970s.
Hennessy said she treasured those memories.
Day was a fabulous storyteller and Hennessy said she most clearly remembers her voice and laughter. She credits Day for being the person responsible for putting her on the path to becoming a writer.
Hennessy said she believes Day has much to say to us in our present difficult times. Much of what we are facing today, including homelessness and poverty, immigration, injustice and constant war are what she faced in her lifetime.
She believes Day gives us strength and a model of perseverance even in the face of apparent failure.
Hennessy attended New York University in New York City and the School for International Training in Vermont. She has traveled and worked around the world. This includes working at an international summer camp in the former Soviet Union and as an English as a second language teacher in Guatemala and to Tibetan refugees in India. She also walked 460 miles on el Camino de Santiago in Spain, a network of trails from France to Spain that make up the route of St. James.
Hennessy and her husband, Garry Jones, spend time both in Vermont and Ireland.
Day was a journalist and social activist who converted to the Catholic faith. She co-founded The Catholic Worker, a newspaper promoting Catholic teachings.
Founded on the principles of Day, who tried to act on the principles of Catholic social teaching by bringing persons and areas together to provide support for each other and by caring for people in need, there are many Catholic Worker Houses in the United States and abroad.
A Catholic Worker consists of people dedicated to loving and serving others through prayer and clarification of thought, which includes social action and hospitality. The Catholic Worker’s focus is ecumenical and invites other faiths to join the effort.
Hennessy’s talk is being presented by Central Minnesota Catholic Worker, CSB/SJU Department of Theology, Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture, CSB Campus Ministry, SJU Campus Ministry and St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary.