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Granddaughter of Dorothy Day to Speak at Georgian Court

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Author Kate Hennessy to Discuss Latest Book on Controversial Social Activist Day

Kate Hennessy, Dorothy Day’s granddaughter, is the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty. Photo: Garry Jones

In his September 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis included American journalist, controversial social activist, and Catholic convert Dorothy Day (1897–1980) in a short list of exemplary Americans, together with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton. On Tuesday, November 7, at 6:00 p.m. at Georgian Court University, Day’s granddaughter Kate Hennessy will discuss her new book, Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty, providing an intimate portrait of a woman who fought for the poorest of the poor. The discussion, which is part of Critical Concerns 2017, will take place in the Little Theatre on GCU’s Lakewood campus and is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow in the Sister Mary Joseph Cunningham Library.

Kate Hennessy is a writer and the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren. Her work has been included in Best American Travel Writing, and she is the editor of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance (2016), in collaboration with the photographer Vivian Cherry. In Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty (2017), Ms. Hennessy provides a frank and reflective, heartfelt and humorous portrayal of her grandmother as it unfolds against a backdrop of New York City from the 1910s to the 1980s and world events spanning from World War I to Vietnam. While tenderly rendered, this account will show her as driven to do good but dogmatic, loving but judgmental, in particular with regards to her only daughter, Tamar.

Dorothy Day: An Unusual Candidate for Sainthood

In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. She practiced civil disobedience, which led several arrests, including one in 1973 at the age of 75. Day was also an active journalist, and described her social activism in her writings. She co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933 and served as its editor until her death in 1980.

Day wrote about her conversion to Catholicism in her 1952 autobiography, The Long Loneliness, and Pope Benedict XVI used her story as an example of how to “journey towards faith in . . . a secularized environment.” Despite her earlier bohemian lifestyle, the Church has opened the cause for Day’s possible canonization, which was accepted by the Holy See for investigation in 2000, allowing her to be called a “Servant of God.”

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.