Dorothy Day was not your stereotypical Catholic.
Born in 1897, her working class background engrained in her a strong sense of social justice from an early age. After receiving a scholarship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she dropped out after two years to become more involved in socialist organizing, as well as antiwar and suffrage activism. She was deeply invested, partaking in hunger strikes and enduring brutal police abuse.
Day actually converted to Catholicism in her late 20s, as much a spiritual awakening as an act of solidarity with what was largely the faith of the working class people who surrounded her. Her life was peppered with love affairs, and she was upfront about her abortion. Dorothy Day was an extremely controversial figure, and most notably, the founder of The Catholic Worker, one of the major publications of the New Deal Left.
Since Day’s death in 1980, there have been vocal advocates for her canonization, but the Catholic Church isn’t known for administering sainthood upon socialist anarchist radicals who vehemently spoke for women’s rights. Recently U.S. Bishops called for her sainthood, the first statement made in favor of her canonization by ordained clergy.
Dorothy Day lead a fascinating life, and no Leftist worth their salt, secular or not denies her influence on the movement. The paradox is astounding, though; Catholicism as a cultural force, rather than the dogmatic hierarchy it often is, has a long history of Leftist activism in the U.S. Dorothy Day, the woman who said “Don’t call me a saint; I don’t want to be dismissed that easily,” would say that the Catholic Church doesn’t make saints, it can merely choose to recognize them or not.
The trailer for Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me a Saint: