Welcome to the Winona Catholic WorkerWe are a Christian faith community living in the tradition of the Catholic Worker movement and committed to community, voluntary poverty, hospitality, stewardship, nonviolence, and faith.
We welcome our sisters and brothers in need, serving them as "ambassadors of God." We place our trust in God's providence, relying entirely on the generosity of many individuals, groups, and churches to support our work. We are not tax-exempt, nor do we receive any government funding, because we believe that we are called to do the Works of Mercy at a personal sacrifice.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
- You’re run by the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities, right? We are NOT overseen, governed, or funded by the Catholic Church. Neither are we Catholic Charities nor are we affiliated with them. Yes, it’s confusing because we have the word “Catholic” as part of our name. The Catholic Worker movement was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (both Catholic lay people). Back in the Great Depression days, the Catholic Worker was a newspaper published by Dorothy Day and others in New York City. (The paper still exists today). The paper’s purpose was to advocate for social justice, unionization of workers, and the rights of the poor. The Catholic Worker movement evolved from there, with houses of hospitality springing up across the country. The Catholic Worker’s tradition is founded on the Gospel’s mandate to perform the works of mercy (Matthew 25: 31-46) and Catholic social justice teaching. That’s where the “Catholic” part comes in.
- All the live-in volunteers and the core community are Catholic, right? Wrong again. We are a diverse faith community rooted in the Catholic Worker tradition. Over our history we have welcomed live-in volunteers who have come from many faith backgrounds. Indeed, some have not identified with any faith.
- Who makes the decisions about finances and how the houses operate? Major maintenance projects and purchases are decided by core community. This group includes all present live-in volunteers, along with community representatives who commit to weekly meetings and have extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the houses. Presently, core community members are Matthew Byrnes, Laurie Watson, and diane leutgeb munson. Live-in volunteers make the decisions regarding the day-to-day operations of the houses.
- What are the responsibilities of live-in volunteers? We do the same things you do in your own home --- cleaning, lots of washing dishes, house laundry (tons of bedding!), cooking, general maintenance and painting, errands, gardening, lawn care, snow shoveling, etc. We pay bills and deal with emergency house repairs. We also spend a considerable amount of time talking to student groups, potential guests and volunteers, and interested community members about the houses. On top of this, we publish a newsletter several times a year. In addition, we currently serve evening meals for as many as 25 people and provide emergency housing and hospitality to four men. This means taking the time to be present to guests, listen to their struggles, and be a friend.
- How much do live-in volunteers get paid? There’s a reason we’re called “volunteers”… we do not receive any financial compensation for the work we do. We each have a modest bedroom and eat what’s available in the house. When we leave community we are given a stipend amounting to $15.00 per month for each month we’ve been a live-in volunteer, provided the Catholic Worker bank account can accommodate that. Some volunteers choose not to receive this stipend; others use this money to help with relocation expenses.
- How do you pay for your personal needs? Many of us have part-time paid employment outside the houses. We limit our paid work to fifteen or fewer hours per week so that we can attend to our guests and the work in the houses. Paid work is a necessity for Matthew to repay student loans and for Laurie to pay a mortgage on a house that isn’t selling.
- You Catholic Workers are always so nice and accommodating…. Dorothy Day once said, “Don’t call me a saint!” I echo Dorothy’s words. Some folks think I’m a super woman for the work I choose to do. Those who live with me know my human limitations. I don’t feel so saintly when I say “no” to someone because I just don’t have the energy or patience or resources to provide for that need. Nor do I feel very holy when I lose my cool with a guest because I’m tired or feeling overwhelmed. I fall far short of sainthood. Please don’t be surprised because I fail to be my best self all the time. I’m the same as you --- don’t elevate me to sainthood. You’ll be disappointed….
- You can always help everyone who’s homeless, right? Sorry, that’s not even close to being possible. We have beds for four men in Bethany House. When the beds are full, we turn people away. Does that happen often? YES! Many Winonans assume that the needs of the homeless are being met by the Catholic Worker houses. WRONG! A handful of beds help a handful of people…the rest are left to fend for themselves. One of our most frustrating challenges is telling those seeking shelter that we do not have a bed for them.
- Will you be opening the Dan Corcoran House soon? We need 2-3 more live-in volunteers before we can consider that. Another key to reopening the Dan Corcoran House is community volunteers who will commit to joining us in the day-to-day work of the houses. It truly takes a village to raise a child and a large community to support families in crisis.
- All this sounds exhausting! How can I help? So glad you asked! Look further in this newsletter for a listing of volunteer opportunities at Bethany House!