Dorothy Day, a convert to Catholicism, a journalist, and social activist talks about her life and the influence of James Joyce.

Born in 1897 in Brooklyn, New York, Dorothy Day was a suffragist, journalist, writer, pacifist and social activist. In 1933 she founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin, a French Catholic social activist and theologian.

Initially they wrote articles for their newspaper, the ‘Catholic Worker’, but an encounter with a homeless girl made Dorothy Day wanted to take direct action. They opened their first house of hospitality with help from the local parish priest and his parishioners.

Dorothy Day sees the practical assistance of those in need as mandatory for anyone who calls themselves a Christian,

The very simple commandments laid down by Christ as an indication of the last judgement that is, whether we have taken care of the bodily and physical needs of those around us.

In 1926 Dorothy Day converted to Catholicism. She describes it as a gradual process, influenced by her reading of Saint Augustine and James Joyce,

The reading of James Joyce's book Dubliners but also 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' I would say that had quite a profound effect on me.

It was seeing the Catholic Church in the United States as the church of the poor that she appreciated. A strong sense of social justice from an early age meant that Dorothy Day felt an affinity with those on the margins of American society in the early years of the 20th century.

They were all the latest people who were exploited, they were the Irish of New England who were called ‘Micks’, and who were despised.

And although a devout Catholic, she does not agree with the institutional church’s current wealth, and argues that it has become entwined with the state. Renewal is necessary and not just in the spiritual sense,

I hope somebody comes along to show the way to deprive them of their holdings and stocks and bonds. Because I think the poorer we are, the closer we are to Christ.

Broadcast weekly from 1973 to 1975, 'This Day' is described in the RTÉ Guide of 7 December 1973, as "A magazine series on matters religious and otherwise, from up and down the country." The series was produced by Jeremy Johnston.

This episode of ‘This Day’ was broadcast on 9 December 1973. The presenter is Nodlaig McCarthy.