Monthly Archives: August 2008
Years ago, when we first started the Cafe, we held it at St. Francis House on Sunday nights – a timeslot that was available to us and one that made it easy for families at our parish to be involved. After opening Jubilee House in the fall of 2004, we expanded its hours and eventually moved from serving twice a month to three times a month.
We are trying out a new schedule this semester: serving lunch/dinner from 12-6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays – and adding a once-a-month party on a weekend day. We’ll stick with the same simple (but hopefully delicious) menu for the Cafe – soup made with local ingredients, bread, and seasonal fruit. For the monthly celebrations, we’ll have some more flexibility. Still healthy, but some party food as well. We’re hoping this change will provide more good food and hospitality for folks who need it as well as opportunities for volunteers to help out regularly and share a good meal with some good people. And we are anticipating that the monthly parties will still provide opportunities for folks who are available only on weekends to participate.
Here’s how to get involved with Dorothy’s Cafe: On Tuedays and Thursdays we’ll get started 10:00 am, kneading dough, chopping vegetables, and setting up the downstairs as a cafe. Donations of local vegetables and fruit, as well as soup staples like dried beans, rice, pasta, etc. are very welcome. And we’ll need assistance in the kitchen and dining room as well. Food will be served from noon till 6pm, and there will be ongoing clean-up and socializing.
We anticipate a smaller crowd while folks get used to the new schedule, but we’ve already had people knocking at the door at noon and have been told that serving two days a week (8-9 times each month) will be a real help.
We are also excited about the monthly celebrations. Our first one will be our fourth anniversary party on the Feast of St. Francis – October 5. Look for details in late September about how you can participate.
Tomorrow is the first day of the New Dorothy’s Cafe. Our menu will include lentil soup with sweet potatoes, challah bread (thanks to the folks at Lighteredwood Ranch for the extra eggs!), and muscadine grapes. We’d love your help or to just have you join us at the table.
I am currently reading a new book entitled The Catholic Worker After Dorothy: Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation, by Dan McKanan. As part of that “new generation” since Dorothy’s death in 1980, I’m interested in what others thinks is at the heart of the Catholic Worker movement–why people think we do what we do. Early on in the book, McKanan asserts that it is the “works of mercy”–feeding the hungry, freeing the prisoner, taking care of the sick, offering shelter to the stranger, etc–that are at the heart of the Catholic Worker. He goes on:
Virtually all [who live, work or volunteer at the Catholic Worker] would agree that they have been changed by the practice of the works of mercy. Much more than writing a check to the United Way or the Internal Revenue Service, taking personal responsibility for the needs of the stranger changes the way one sees the world.
I think that there is great truth in what McKanan writes. It has been my experience (and I am guessing, many of yours) that we are transformed by the relationships that we cultivate at the Gainesville Catholic Worker–relationships that cut across class, race, religion, culture, lifestyle, politics, etc. The bowl of soup, the glass of water, the fresh bread–this is important; but more important is that we have come together in a place where if we open our hearts to people with whom we think we have little or nothing in common, if we listen to their stories and seek to understand how this world looks to those from the underside of life, then we are in that wonderfully dangerous place where we can be truly changed. We start to look at the world differently. Our values shift, priorities are restructured, and we start to remember what it really means to be human. And maybe that stuff we learned in Sunday school about everyone being created in the image and likeness of God, about loving and caring for our neighbors (and even our enemies) starts to make sense. And if we’re really lucky, our hearts and minds are no longer captive to what passes for wisdom in our society, but freed to imagine a different world, a different way of being, for ourselves and for others.
So for those of you who barely know the Gainesville Catholic Worker, consider this your invitation. Stop by this semester. Spend some days with us baking bread, sweeping floors, digging in the dirt, listening to stories, and sharing meals. I think you’ll find something good, deep and real here. And for those of you who know us well, welcome back–from your summer break away from school, from vacations or travels with family and friends and loved ones, from wherever you have been these past months. We’ve made some changes this semester (see the schedule and website for more info), welcomed new life into our home (Kendera had her baby, Moraa, in late July!), and we’re excited about the next stage in this ever-unfolding experiment of faith and hope we practice here. Come and see us, become a regular at the house for one (or more) of our projects (you know we need lots of help!), and bless us with your presence. We believe this work to be a “revolution of the heart.” Come and see why.
For information on what is happening this coming week, August 25-31, click here.