Conversations Over the Fencepost

The Beginning of the Alliance Catholic Worker

All of my life I have gotten much pleasure out of observing nature despite being a “City Girl.” One of my greatest joys in the Spring and Summer is to sit on my backyard swing with my morning cup of coffee and simply watch the birds on the fencepost. I wonder if they are contemplating the neighborhood gossip, their activities for the day, what challenges the neighboring squirrels will bring or what delights the bird feeder may have.

In my observation I am aware of an unspoken communication between these feathered friends. Often they light on the fencepost, or one will keep guard on a rooftop. Then they begin their routine of going at the feeder with gusto. Some will peck from the feeder while others will stay on the ground picking up what is dropped. Some compete for the best position on the feeder forcing others to find other sources of food. Sometimes they will cooperate, leaving food for the next flock. And sometimes they just gather in the yard, the finches, sparrows, wrens, King Cardinal and his Wife, and yes, even the cackles with their fledglings. All seem to enjoy my back yard without a care.

As I watch the birds I am reminded of God’s care for the basic needs of life. It is with this idea that I wish to introduce you, the reader to the beginnings of the Alliance Catholic Worker.

The Catholic Worker is a group of men and women coming together to care for the needs of the less fortunate. The Alliance Catholic Worker is based on the teachings of Jesus through words of Scripture, as well as on the teachings of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, who were instrumental in forming a community dedicated to living in solidarity with the poor and outcast of society. It is an awareness of those needs that brought the idea of the Alliance Catholic Worker to light.

Under the direction of Bishop John Michael Botean, Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Diocese of the United States and Canada, along with the expertise of Dr. Joseph Torma, PhD from Walsh University, the group initiated its formation. In the Fall of 2010 the group began with meetings of general information, including the showing of the film Entertaining Angels The Dorothy Day Story for the Parishioners of St. Theodore Romanian Catholic Church in Alliance, OH, as this was expected to be the newest home of the Catholic Worker. The beginning of 2011 brought on the study of the book Love is the Measure, A Biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forrest, discussion of the possibility of a newsletter, and the introduction of the film Entertaining Angels The Dorothy Day Story to the Parishioners of St. George Romanian Catholic Church in Canton. The group also attempted to become involved with the Alliance OH community by attending a community event entitled “Bridges Out of Poverty.” A trip to the Cleveland Catholic Worker enabled them to become familiar with how centers are set up. There was also an introduction of the idea of the Catholic Worker to the parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alliance, along with a third showing of
the film Entertaining Angels The Dorothy Day Story. Since January of this year, the Alliance group has been holding organizational meetings to determine how and when we should open up St. Theodore’s Hall to the public as the Alliance Catholic Worker.

Out of those meetings came the idea of holding a coffee and doughnuts social for the neighbors in the community. This was slated to take place on May 20, 2012. Thus it was with some trepidation, but much enthusiasm that we opened the doors to on May 20th as the Alliance Catholic Worker. The day dawned bright and sunny, a perfect day for “meeting our neighbors.” We had five adults and four children attend our offering of free coffee and donuts. It gave us a chance to speak with the adults to get to know them, as well as to introduce ourselves as neighbors who are interested in getting to know the neighborhood and its needs. Ideas were
discussed and possibilities brought forth, however the overriding request was to have something that
would bring the neighborhood together. Thus the idea of the Alliance Catholic Worker holding a social time once a month for two hours was the result of this day. It is in this way that the Alliance Catholic Worker can now begin to be a part of a neighborhood where we can serve others as we
allow them to serve us. So how are we to approach the idea of the Catholic Worker?

If you remember my opening story of the birds on the fencepost I wish to share this Scripture with you from Luke 12: 22-28 (Orthodox Study Bible):

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink: nor about your body, what you put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. And yet, I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. Now, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry saying, “What will we eat or “What will we drink?, or “What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow, will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

When I think about the Alliance Catholic Worker, the above scripture is what reminds me of its humble beginnings, and that scripture also enables me to be hopeful about its future. W h a t began as an idea, perhaps a “harebrained” one is now becoming a reality.

By Connie McAdams