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3 hope to establish CW community in isles

An online newspaper introduces the Catholic Worker Movement to Hawaii

By Pat Gee

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:14 a.m. HST, Aug 07, 2011

  Courtesy Danny O'Regan Matthew Flynn, a co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in Hawaii, unloads food for the hungry at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Small government, helping the poor and justice for the common people are some of the goals of the Catholic Worker Movement, whose back-to-the-earth message has been introduced to Hawaii this month with the first issue of an online newspaper.

Matthew Flynn, one of three young Catholic men who want to start a CW community here, said the movement is considered radical in wanting to change government and economic systems to achieve global peace, social justice and a return to a simpler life.

They hope to establish a House of Hospitality to serve the immediate needs of homeless people in Honolulu. They also want to establish a farm on which people can work and live communally — traditional earmarks of the movement, he said.

The group's New York founders, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, "wanted Catholics to become social radicals; they believed you can seek justice and still be a Catholic" when it was common for most radicals to advocate atheism back in the 1930s, Flynn said.

"I think we should challenge people to live up to the church's teachings. A lot of Catholics are not talking or doing anything about it," he added.

Flynn is one of the editors of the St. Damien Catholic Worker, named in honor of Hawaii's patron saint, Father Damien De Veuster, who gave his life helping leprosy patients on Molokai. The quarterly's inaugural edition, consisting of four pages, was published on May 1, the 78th anniversary of the movement and its newspaper, The Catholic Worker, he said.

The idea of starting a Hawaii movement began in October 2009 at Ala Moana Beach Park during a Tuesday morning Catholic ministry that feeds the hungry, called "Father Don's Kitchen," said Flynn, 25, who moved here in 2009 after working with a CW community in South Bend, Ind. He started talking with Danny O'Regan, a new campus minister at the Newman Center at the University of Hawaii, who also had ties to CW. They developed their ideas with Logan Laituri, who recently left the state but still contributes to the cause via email.

The organization was originally established in New York in 1933 during the Great Depression by Day, a journalist/activist, and Maurin, a philosopher and peace advocate from France, according to www.catholicworker.org. Today there are nearly 200 CW communities in the U.S. and several around the world.

Primarily the movement advocates "a decentralized society in contrast to the present bigness of government, industry, education, health care and agriculture"; less dependence on technology and disposable goods; and moving away "from a self-centered individualism toward the good of the other," the website said.

Flynn said, "Peter Maurin liked the word ‘radical,' in the sense of getting back to the root of Christianity, of the Catholic tradition," which has a tradition of alms-giving and charitable works, he said.

"The movement is still radical, but radical in the sense of being rooted in very different social systems and, ultimately, for me, having our eyes on the kingdom that Christ has opened for us. … The Catholic Worker doesn't just oppose capitalism; it proposes a totally different idea of economy that values people over profits and material gain," Flynn said.

The movement's proponents tend not to oppose technology so much as the misuse of it, he added.

Future issues of the newspaper will encompass Catholic teachings and values, and discuss local issues regarding labor, the environment, lifestyles, social justice, peace and homelessness, he said. "We don't have to worry — no one's going to say, ‘You can't print that,'" said Flynn, an office assistant at UH's Bioscience Building in Kakaako.

The three organizers have met with representatives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu for advice and support, including Bishop Larry Silva and Patrick Downes, editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, the diocese's official newspaper.

In a written statement, Silva said, "Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement, which in its own way brings hope and love to those who are most in need. We are pleased that the Catholic Worker Movement has been established in Hawaii to carry on this legacy, and we hope it will inspire all of us to do what we can, wherever we are, to reach out to those who are in need."

On the Net:

» St. Damien Catholic Worker: stdamiencatholicworker.wordpress.com






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