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Who we are

​London Catholic Worker

We are a community of the radical international 'Catholic Worker' movement started in 1933 in New York City by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The Catholic Worker is ecumenical, pacifist and anarchist in the spirit of gentle personalism. The London Catholic Worker was brought together by the Jubilee Ploughshares 2000 disarmament action. Those who came together had long sensed the need for a Catholic Worker community of hospitality and resistance in the world's second imperial city.

The three main themes of Catholic Worker life are community, hospitality and resistance. So we also engage in nonviolent activism for peace, justice and planet. We believe that the ‘works of mercy’ – feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, welcoming the stranger or migrant – are opposed to the works of war. So we protest injustice and violence as a witness to the presence of Christ in the ‘least among us’.

We publish a quarterly newsletter about our life and work, intended to ‘explode the dynamite of Catholic Social Teaching’, which you can read on the newsletters page of this site. Contact us if you are interested in going on the paper or electronic mailing list; all are welcome to participate in what we do so feel free to get in touch. You are also welcome to visit and participate in any of our projects.

We do not have paid staff, so we rely on volunteers and a live-in community. Please get in touch if you can help. We also rely on donations from our readers and friends to support our work.

To keep up on our news, sign up for our mailing list, blog and social media (Facebook, X and Instagram).

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Works of Mercy: Hospitality and Resistance

Catholic Worker (CW) communities are built around doing the ‘works of mercy’ – feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, visiting the prisoner etc. – and finding the often challenging face of Christ there. We are generally based in Houses of Hospitality, which are places for the works of mercy and centres of community. While sharing our lives with the victims of injustice and violence, we seek out the root of these problems and challenge the social and political systems that cause them. We see this work of resistance to injustice and violence as part of the “spiritual works of mercy”.

The Revolution of the Heart

 

In the spirit of ‘voluntary poverty’ none of us at the London CW are paid for our work and we are open to all who share our commitment: to hospitality, resistance, and community: to social justice, non-violence, and a ‘green revolution’: and who seek a living spirituality that can bring about a “revolution of the heart”, changing the world one heart at a time and making a world where it is easier to be good.” (Dorothy Day)

 

We take as our manifesto the Gospels, the lives of the saints especially our CW founders Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, and the CW Aims and Means. Our aim is, in the words of the IWW, "to build a new society in the shell of the old", "a society where it is easier to be good", bringing about a non-violent revolution by changing the world one heart at a time.

The Catholic Worker Movement

 

The CW was started in 1933 and has been comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable ever since. Beginning with a newspaper and then the first house of hospitality for the poor and homeless, the movement has spread gradually. There are now between 150 and 200 CW houses and communities, mostly in the USA and about 10 other countries, including currently in five countries in Europe.

Giuseppe Conlon House

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Giuseppe Conlon House was started by members of the London Catholic Worker in 2010, and has been through a few different incarnations since then. The house now operates under the auspices of Giuseppe Conlon House CIO.

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We decided we would like to honour the memory of Giuseppe Conlon by naming our house of hospitality after him. Giuseppe (named after the man who ran the local ice cream store) came to London in 1974, from Belfast where he lived, as an act of mercy, to visit his son in prison. His son was Gerry Conlon, one of the wrongly convicted and later acquitted ‘Guildford Four’. Giuseppe’s reward for his concern was to be arrested, tortured and framed as one of the ‘Maguire Seven’, all of them relatives of Gerry and Giuseppe. Giuseppe lived the rest of his life in British prisons and died in custody in 1980. Eleven years later the convictions of the surviving members of the Maguire Seven were overturned. 

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Gareth Peirce, lawyer in the Guilford 4 case, also represented CWer Martin Newell in the Jubilee Ploughshares trial and other ploughshares groups at trial in England. The themes of hospitality, imprisonment, visiting the imprisoned, miscarriages of justice and struggling to live a life of nonviolence in a world of institutionalised violence are common in the life of Giuseppe Conlon and in the experiences of both CWs and guests at Giuseppe Conlon House. The life and struggles of Giuseppe Colon are an inspiration to us all. His story, and the story of the Guildford 4 and others, are told in the film "In the Name of the Father" and books: "Proved Innocent" by Gerry Conlon (1990) and "Dispatches from the Darkside” by Gareth Peirce. At our opening ceremony in November 2010, Gareth Peirce spoke eloquently to the appropriateness of a house of hospitality bearing the Conlon name, reflecting on the struggles Giuseppe's wife Sarah endured visiting her husband in English jails through the five years before he died in custody. Gareth made the connections between what happened to the Irish community then and the experience of the Muslim community in more recent years. 

​Realities such as these make us both sad and angry. What inspires us is our faith and the lives of the saints, as well as the faithful witness of so many others, from Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin to many other Catholic Workers and friends in this country and around the world. These are what keep us going, keep us ‘keeping on, keeping on’. 

Volunteering Opportunities

We are looking for volunteers! If you would like to work with us,

whether full-time or on your own time, please do get in touch.

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